One Arlington, Texas auto body shop owner is joining collision repair facilities nationwide in taking on insurance companies.
After an auto accident, car owners face navigating the options of what auto body shop to use. Many times insurance companies will offer a list of preferred repair facilities.
But according to Don Harris of Arlington’s G & M Collision Center, this type of steering from the insurance companies is not allowed.
The issue itself is not new. It dates back to before the 1963 Consent Decree, which came from a court case. The case originated from how insurance companies were affecting customers and manipulating the competitiveness of this area of the auto industry.
“The 1963 Consent Decree prevents all auto insurance companies that were involved in the settlement from directing or influencing any person to do business with a damage appraiser,” said Congressman Joe Barton, who serves the 6th District of Texas.
What came from the decree was the consumers’ option to choose a repair center.
"I support a free market and parties’ ability to execute transactions according to their negotiated terms,” Barton said.
However, some insurance companies are attempting to use preferred repair center lists again and even encouraging the use of after-market parts, according to Harris.
“After-market parts don’t always fit and they’re not crash tested,” Harris said.
But he added that he hears that after-market parts are the same as genuine parts from the automakers all the time.
Harris wants to make sure his customers, and any car owner, has a choice and get the best service and parts. He is taking part in a lawsuit to help re-enforce the 1963 Consent Decree.
With more than 21 years of experience, Harris has seen how things have changed in the industry and says it has changed heavily in the last 10 to 12 years.
Harris had tried to aid a petition to the White House called Enforce Safe Car Repairs to Save Lives. The aim of the petition was to have the Justice Department enforce the Consent Decree.
Harris aided the petition through trying to raise awareness through an email sent out earlier this year, which explained the petition and the reason for it.
However, the petition didn’t get the needed signatures in time.
Harris said he doesn’t think they’ll try the petition again. One reason for his view is the challenge of getting signatures, because most people don’t know about the Consent Decree.
At the end of the day, it’s still about the customers and quality work for Harris.
“I refuse to have an unhappy customer,” he said.
Thank you to the Arlington Voice for permission to reprint this article.