Most of us are probably familiar with this famous line screamed by a TV ex-anchorman while on air in the film “Network” (1976): "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
Doug Marshall, the owner of Autotrends in Oakland, CA, can relate. He has filed more than 100 complaints with the California Department of Insurance (CA-DOI) in the last decade with little satisfaction. He reached his breaking point after a recent case involving Farmer's Insurance.
He eventually won the case on behalf of his customer, but Marshall isn't happy about how it went down.
"All I want them to do is what they're supposed to do," he said. "The insurance companies know that there is no accountability or enforcement, so they aren't worried about them. It's a complete waste of time, and that's why I have been filing fewer complaints altogether within the past two years."
Most shops don't have the time to file complaints and go to court. There is the fear factor as well.
"Most body shops are afraid to speak out against the CA-DOI, and they don't want to rock the boat because they're afraid to lose their DRPs," he said. "I've tried to get someone else to talk on the record about this, but they all get cold feet. They have told me off the record that they agree with me 100 percent, but they don't want to get involved."
The final straw involved a recent case in which Marshall was embroiled for more than a year. It led to six different court appearances before he won.
"I don't really feel like I can say that we won because in the end, all we received was the money that was owed to us," he said. "We got a 2014 Hyundai here, and it required a new quarter panel that we included in our initial estimate. Farmer's denied it and when they lost, they appealed, so we had to wrestle with them after two months of back-and-forth. The car should have been here in the shop for 7--10 days max, but it sat here for 60 days and the storage fees kept adding up.