I am going to go out on a limb and say that by now most of you have seen the catchy Safelite Auto Glass commercials on TV. SNL actually had a skit on their October 8 th broadcast. They seem like a fine company….until you learn a little more about them, and how they can pay the millions of dollars for those ads. First off, they purposefully attempt to hide the fact they are not an American company. They are owned by Belron Auto Glass, founded in South Africa in the late 1800’s. Regardless of your political views, if you are looking to make the United States economy stronger, using Safelite defeats that goal. In fact, Safelite is effectively putting the smaller, local glass shops out of business. This is causing the loss of thousands of US jobs.
Their trade practices are borderline illegal. Some background. Auto glass claims for insurance companies for insurance companies are a “nuisance” claim. Insurance agents used to deal with a lot of time consuming but low dollar amount glass claims. If even one policyholder’s house burns down, that expense would dwarf the total of all of the glass claims combined. Safelite saw a greedy, self serving way to take advantage of this situation. They put together a plan to create a division to take auto glass claim calls for the insurance companies. They approached Insurance companies offering to answer glass claim calls for them to reduce the amount of calls they received. The insurance companies would prepare scripts for the Safelite call center employees to read. Early on, Safelite did not even advise the customers they were not talking with their insurance company. If the customer does not request a certain glass company guess what happens? That’s right…..Safelite takes the jobs for themselves. This is a huge conflict of interest. They are now not only a glass company, but also a claims processor. This arrangement has put thousands of small auto glass companies out of business over the past 25 years. To name a few of the insurance companies Safelite has in its network are: Allstate, Geico, Progressive, Nationwide, USAA, Farmers etc.
Several States Attorneys General have brought lawsuits against Safelite to declare itself either a TPA or an auto glass installation company. Unfortunately, Safelite has the money to hire a bevy of lawyers and lobbyists to defeat these measures. As a small business owner, my only recourse is to educate the public about the situation. No matter who answers the phone when you report a glass claim, you have the right to request to use any glass company you wish. Safelite has trained its CSR’s to present rebuttals when you do not choose them. They will plant false doubts such as “the glass company you’ve requested MAY not offer a National, Lifetime warranty”. Fast Glass Service does. Another on is that the company you have requested may not agree to the insurance pricing and send you a separate bill for overcharges. Pure scare tactic. Since 1984, Fast Glass Service has NEVER done this. They are very good at trying to steer you towards using Safelite. Be firm and just say no! If we don’t help the small, local businesses thriving your only shopping choices will be Amazon, Wal-Mart & Safelite.
Keep the dollars you spend on auto glass local to Arkansas. Ultimately, money you spend with Safelite ends up overseas. Money you spend with us stays in Arkansas. We hire Arkansas workers, pay Arkansas taxes, sponsor local softball & baseball teams. Sponsor high school yearbook ads, 4H Clubs, Boy and Girl Scout troops. We donate money to Arkansas Foodbanks to fight hunger here…not South Africa or Belgium.
It makes me so very sad to read this 6 years later after watching Safelite and now Driven Brands turn our once profitable industry into a corporate wasteland. Since this article was written hundreds of thousands have lost their livelihoods to these 2 giants consuming the entire landscape using practices that are supposed to be illegal in the United States, practices that undermine our nation at every turn. I’ve been an auto glass shop owner, at one times a franchise auto glass shop owner for 10 years now. The last 3 I’ve watched my sales plummet to a barely livable wage, I can no longer afford employees or anything extra and my once thriving business is on it’s very last leg while oddly enough our industry is booming and growing faster than ever before. Customers are now convinced Safelite is the only company that can work on their new car or that insurance will cover as they (Safelite the TPA) rarely will even send us a work order and when they do is less than our cash prices, sometimes coming close to breaking even. If we reject their rates they use scare tactics to lure the customer aware telling the customers that were “shady”. Driven brands has bought out nearly every competitor around me as well as safelite doing the same. Driven brands made promises to rebrand all shops they acquired back in January to a single name (to not be deceptive to consumers aka a monopoly) but that was a lie. When a consumer gets on google to search an auto glass shop they’re shown a never ending sea of shops that are all owned by safelite or driven but with a million different names and nothing to inform the consumer that all three of the shops they just called for quotes were really the same company. It’s appalling, it’s also made it very apparent that there is no such thing as consumer protection laws/enforcement in this country anymore. Big corp is in the driver seat with no oversight and i’m afraid even if the public was to suddenly become aware of what’s happened it would still be too late. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, was nice to see an honest article in a sea of paid dishonest backlinks.