"The operational issues with the refinish times in the October CD are revised in the November CD," Scott Jenkins, senior director of "Estimating Solutions" for ADP said. "The November CD is consistent with the September CD. If the user did not load the October CD, they were not impacted. We are instructing our customers to load the November CD immediately upon receipt."
The October CD included many decreased refinish labor times of 10 percent or more. Refinish times for 2000-2004 Ford Taurus hood, for example, dropped from 3.9 on the September ADP CD to 3.4 on the October CD. Times for a 1999-2004 Pontiac Grand Am fender dropped from 2.4 to 1.9, and the front door time for a 1999-2004 Chevy Cavalier dropped from 3.1 to 2.8.
ADP claims no malice of forethought
Although some have looked for some sort of intent behind the widespread reductions, ADP, while avoiding using the term "mistake," maintains that the problem was an "operational issue," not an attempt to shave labor times.
"Some of our clients have experienced an operational issue regarding refinish labor on hoods, doors, fenders, roofs, decklid/tailgates and back doors," Peggy Adams, operations manager for client services for ADP, wrote in an email response to questions about the October CD.
"All new estimates created with the November CD reflect the updated refinish labor. When the November CD is loaded, our clients will need to deselect the 'Using Original Labor' box in the 'Open Estimate' dialogue box when updating an estimate or supplement created with the October CD. Consistent with ADP's ongoing commitment to quality, we have insured the November CD contains the most accurate, detailed, vehicle-specific data in the industry. We apologize to our clients for any inconvenience we may have caused."
"The Shoplink Update shipped with the November CD will contain additional details," Jenkins said. "We are asking our clients to please contact our Client Services team for any questions or further assistance. ADP's Client Services team will be happy to address individual situations with our clients."
Conflicting and ambiguous explanations
The issue has resulted in a flurry of email activity between shops and industry organizations since it came to light in early November. Part of the concern was fueled by the fact that various ADP personnel were giving conflicting - or, at a minimum, ambiguous - responses to questions about the labor time changes. An ADP tech support employee, for example, told one ADP shop customer in the Pacific Northwest that the revised times were based on "new time studies" ADP had done.
Another shop owner reported receiving a similar explanation: That time studies using "new equipment readily available in the market" showed that paint operations took less time.
"He would not specify which new equipment was being used, or which vehicles or repairs were being studied," the shop owner said. He did, however, say "that since not all facilities are currently equipped with these new technologies, ADP is...reverting back to their old labor times until the majority of the market has updated their equipment."
Shops deserve compensation
The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers/New Jersey (AASP-NJ), which was among the first organizations to bring the lower times in the October CD to light, is pleased that the drop in times is being corrected. But the association feels shops who have used or continue to use the October version of the ADP database deserve compensation because of the inaccurate data.
"AASP-NJ is strongly recommending reimbursement from ADP to its members for the subscription cost of its Shoplink product, prorated for the amount of time that the October release was in use and until such time that a repaired database is made available," the association said in a written statement. "AASP-NJ is also seeking reimbursement for measurable damages resulting from artificially low estimate totals that cannot be recovered at a future date."
"ADP shouldn't be able to just dismiss this as a 'software defect,' correct it and move on," Charles Bryant, executive director of AASP-NJ, said. "There has been money lost, and we intend to pursue all channels to get it back."
A list of affected procedures can be found at www.adp.com. Click on "Claims Services" in the upper right corner, then click on "Support." The List of Vehicle Files affected by October CD link is at the top of the page.
John Yoswick is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon, who has been writing about the automotive industry since 1988.