Arizona Windshield Repair Fraud Perpetrator Sentenced to Prison

by Windshield Replacement Phoenix on April 7, 2012

A man from the heart of Arizona, Michael Swedo, was recently sentenced to five years in jail for a long list of Arizona windshield repair and replacement fraud counts that saw him stealing over $80,000 from various insurance groups.  The sentence was given out only this year, marking a sobering opening for the new year for auto glass repair companies in the state as well as all over the country.

Auto glass repair fraud was noted to have gone down significantly last year compared to its figures in 2010, at least according to data released by the NICB or National Insurance Crime Bureau.  In 2010, the fraud figures for the industry ballooned to an unbelievable figure over 26,000 in total, which fortunately went down in 2011.  The Bureau’s data had been welcome news to people operating windshield repair and replacement business all over the country, along with insurers who stood to be in danger of paying out millions of dollars for fraudulent claims on repairs and replacements that never actually took place.  However, around the end of the old year and with the beginning of the new, a handful of auto glass fraud cases have just been making the rounds of the news media—admittedly relatively small ones, with hardly any going over the hundred-thousand-dollar mark, but still a good reminder to auto glass businesses and insurers that they should be careful with their business this year.

At least one auto glass repair brand, Safelite, has actually partnered with the NICB in an effort to bring down the occurrence of fraud in the country.  Early in December of last year, NICB announced a strategic partnership with Safelite Solutions as well as Alliance Claims Solutions to fight insurance fraud, specifically fraud in the auto glass repairs business. It was perhaps only logical: Safelite Solutions is the TPA (third party administrator) for well over 170 fleet and insurance groups, covering the country with its reach.  As a result, the NICB had already worked with the company before on fraud claims and cases, and reported Safelite Solutions to be a pleasant working partner.  With the NICB so often requesting the assistance of the company in tracking down data on claims, a more formal relation permitting the Bureau to access the information more easily was perhaps long overdue.

Auto glass repair industry members are hoping that, with the rise of more and more partnerships such as this, the occurrence of windshield repair fraud and auto glass fraud shall be going down this year.  Incidents like the one with Michael Swedo, where 16 insurance companies were stung by the man’s Arizona windshield repair fraud streak, are hoped to only become reminders now of past years’ troubles.

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Provo Auto Glass Repair Shop Owner Reopens Museum of National Award Vehicles

by Windshield Replacement Phoenix on March 29, 2012

Those who are interested in automobile craftsmanship and unique builds should probably take the trip to Provo, Utah some time soon.  A local auto glass repair shop owner, Jerry Woodward, is apparently going to be reopening the Museum of National Award Vehicles on the 23rd of this month.  He is going to be showing off some of the cars that made him famous in the unique custom car market, including a model he calls the Thunder Rod II, which garnered the award for Most Beautiful Roadster in the Grand National Roadster Show in California in ’57.

Jerry Woodward has been building custom cars for some time now and in fact has a staggering number of craftsmanship awards under his belt: no fewer than 7 of them, to be precise.  Beyond that, he also happens to be in the Car Builders Hall of Fame.  Woodward’s family has long owned the facility that used to be (and shall be again) the Museum of National Award Vehicles, but it was shut for some time after the Woodwards’ main business, their auto glass repair and dealership, started taking off and needed space to expand.  Hence, the Woodwards decided to focus on their auto glass repair store first and close down the museum section temporarily.

Woodward said that he decided to reopen the museum for a few years again after hearing people say over and over that they wanted to see the vehicles he had built.  Many of these beautiful machines, like the Thunder Rod II, have won Jerry Woodward awards.  Besides the Thunder Rod II, another classic favourite is the Vortex that he put together in the early 1960s, which sports what was at the time a very unusual set of design features that permitted Woodward to snag the Grand National Car Show award at the time.

The Woodwards’ main business, Ace & Jerry Auto Glass, was named after Woodward and his father, who was the founder of the business.  The auto glass repair shop has had a long history in the area, having been opened at the start of the 1930s and gone on to maintain a strong presence in the local auto glass industry.  Boasting of fine skills and craftsmanship, the business’s auto glass installers claim at least 20 years of experience in their trade, assuring customers that they can depend on the shop for quality windshield repair, windshield replacement, or other services.  The company is also one of only three auto glass shops in the region recommended by the state’s Department of Transportation for those who might experience issues or require auto glass repair related to the I-15 project.

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One of the biggest auto glass repair companies in the country, Belron-owned Safelite AutoGlass, has just filed a suit against a Denver-based Auto Glass Repair Company named Safevue Auto Glass for a medley of offences that include deceptive trade practices, fraud, and misrepresentation.  According to Safelite, the biggest and most noteworthy beef they have with the other auto glass repair company, however, is that it has been making false claims of affiliation with the company—claims that, in some cases, Safelite representatives allege to have even stepped up to the level of the other company suggesting heavily that they are in fact Safelite.

According to the larger auto glass repair company’s complaint, they have come across multiple cases where consumers have reported Safevue’s phone marketing representatives to be misrepresenting the company with a view to making consumers believe that it is Safelite.  A particular example cited by Safelite is particularly intriguing: apparently, one consumer was so troubled by the marketing calls she had been receiving from Safevue’s representatives—who, she claimed, had been leading her to believe that they were from the Belron-owned company—that she ended up calling Safelite’s customer line.

The Safelite auto glass repair customer care representative took action and got in touch with Safevue, keeping the customer on the line so that they could discuss the matter and clarify the difference between the two companies.  However, the representative from Safevue allegedly told the customer, after being asked whether or not they worked with the Belron-owned company, that their company did indeed “work with them [Safelite]” and was in charge of handling majority of the auto glass insurance claims.  The Safevue representative also noted, however, that they were “a separate entity”.

The Safelite representative then demanded to know the grounds for these claims.  The other company’s representative then went on to tell them that the two companies used to be affiliated.  This is a claim, obviously, that Safelite denies.

One major problem for Safelite’s image, as far as companies are concerned, is the way that Safevue representatives operate: unlike Safelite, Safevue has telemarketers that make outbound calls.  Since this is something Safelite has generally avoided doing, company officials are understandably troubled, especially when it is their brand that gets criticism and complaints from consumers irritated by the marketing calls to their homes.

The nationwide auto glass repair company is also alleging trademark infringement, and says that the other company is attempting to enrich itself by riding on the wave of Safelite’s success as a windshield repair and replacement brand.  There has yet to be word from the other company as to how it shall react to the lawsuit and the allegations.

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A man from Windsor, Ontario, has just had a very narrow escape from death—by a gap of only a few inches, to be precise.  Daniel Halliday, a Scotsman who has seen the horrors of war, had what he claimed to be the most horrific experience he had ever had recently, just as he was out on a casual drive.  The 86-year-old war veteran was driving along E.C. Row Expressway when a huge piece of metal slammed into his windshield, shattering it and sending glass everywhere and just barely missing his head.  Halliday ended up having to get a windshield replacement, but clearly, it could have been far worse.

The piece of metal responsible and the cause of his windshield replacement was a spring leaf over a metre in length and a good few inches wide.  This huge and heavy piece of metal is usually an element of the suspension system in cars, specifically those from earlier decades.  The spring leaf cannoned into Halliday’s vehicle so swiftly that he said he did not even have any time to react: so strong and fast was the projectile that it actually went straight through the octogenarian’s vehicle, exiting through the rear window, which also required an auto glass replacement job as a result.

Halliday said that he feels extremely lucky following the incident, even if he did have to fork out several hundred dollars just to cover the cost of his windshield replacement and car repairs.  Investigators say, upon inspection of his vehicle, that Halliday’s head must have been mere inches from the spring leaf when it went shooting through his car, meaning that a few more inches of difference would have decapitated him instead of leaving him paying for auto glass repairs and nursing a bit of a shock.

Police also noted that they could not determine the origins of the spring leaf yet, and guessed that, as is often the case with such objects, the item was either kicked aloft by another vehicle in front of Halliday’s or had been dropped by a vehicle before him.  Either way, another major point of relief for Halliday was that he had no passengers at the time.  Police say that any passengers would have been likely to suffer major or even fatal injuries based on what happened in the incident, and Halliday agreed with them.  He did note, however, that he felt a little bit of annoyance now that the event was over.  Although he still felt lucky to escape with this life, he also said that he now has to swallow the cost for the deductible when he gets his windshield replacement and auto glass repair work done.

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A startling even stopped traffic on New York City’s Williamsburg Bridge on the 10th, when a woman suddenly leapt from the bridge and onto the street below.  The woman, later identified as 34-year-old Jenna Marie Filippi from Queens, survived the fall and landed on an SUV parked on the section of Pitt Street just at the intersection with Delancey, and ended up smashing the windshield, requiring the owner of the vehicle to get a windshield replacement.

Authorities have yet to release more information on the victim aside from her name, age, and the fact that she is currently out of danger, according to the hospital to which she was taken.  The 34-year-old apparently drove eastbound on Williamsburg Bridge around 2:30 in the afternoon, then stopped her vehicle, which was a 2007-production Acura at the location where she jumped.  Witnesses recount seeing her getting out of the car very simply and just climbing over the bridge’s railing, then making the jump.  The vehicle on which she fell was a Honda Ridgeline, and one look at the pictures shows that a windshield replacement would indeed be necessary for the car’s owner, given that the force of the impact of Filippi’s body hitting the auto glass shattered it.  The SUV on which she landed happened to be registered to a local police detective.

The most remarkable fact of the incident, according to onlookers, was the sheer calm with which the woman did the deed.  According to the eyewitness accounts, she neither yelled nor seemed to rave prior to the jump.  Witnesses also noted the utter lack of hesitation when she leapt from the bridge, driving many to wonder what could have caused her to do such a thing.  While ideas about suicide are already in play, investigators are still waiting for more information from the woman herself, who was taken to the hospital shortly after the incident and said to have sustained several traumas.  Still, witnesses said that she was moving right after she landed on the SUV’s auto glass.

The incident halted all traffic on the Williamsburg Bridge, both lanes being stopped as onlookers and local police strove to help the woman to an ambulance and to ascertain exactly what had happened.  Williamsburg is not exactly a popular place for jumps of this type, although there has been previous incident before—one that, fortunately, did not require the concerned individual to go to a hospital or anyone to get a windshield replacement.  In that earlier incident, a man was intending to jump from the bridge to the street below, a drop of about 6-7 metres, when local authorities arrived on the scene and managed to persuade him not to make the jump.

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Another spate of auto glass vandalisms has been breaking out in Bedford Township, Monroe County.  This is yet another area in the United States to be hit by vandals, who have caused several thousand dollars of damage already, usually from windshield repair and windshield replacement jobs.  While the number of victims have fortunately not climbed to the heights that were achieved by the vandals of Billings—which stacked up victims by the hundreds—they are a fair number, and are certainly no less serious in the eyes of the locals, who are urging police to find the culprits and put a stop to their antics.

Approximately two score victims have already been reported to the local police, who are still trying to collect more information on the crimes and their perpetrators.  Police are fairly certain that most of the reported cases are indeed related—that is, that they are all from the same group of auto glass vandals.  Even though most auto glass vandalisms typically take place in a select neighbourhood, which helps to establish a pattern, these have been spread out throughout the entirety of Bedford.  Authorities are understandably concerned and are worried that if no leads turn up soon, even more people shall have to spring for a costly windshield replacement or windshield repair.

While windshield repair typically costs only about $50 or so, a windshield replacement is far more serious.  The average windshield replacement for a regular car is $300, but many vehicles can end up costing more, some even going into the thousands.  Vehicles that might require more expensive windshield replacement prices would be unusual or luxury models, as well as those that have special technologies integrated in their windshields, such as HUDs (heads up displays) or various sensors.  This can obviously pose a problem to those who have limited budgets, and can be a headache even to those who have the wherewithal to pay for a $1000 replacement, due to the nature of the cause.

Authorities say that the vandals seem to be making their rounds at night, as most auto glass vandals do, to avoid being caught.  The suspected tool would be the usual BB gun, one of the most common culprits in this line.  Police say that it is likely that the vandals, when caught, shall be looking at felony-class charges due to the amounts that have spent in windshield repair and windshield replacement jobs already.  However, this is also dependent on the culprits themselves, as charges are typically scaled down from felonies into misdemeanours when the culprits are found to be juveniles.  Whatever the case, residents hope that the authorities shall be sending out more night patrols to prevent the vandals from attacking their cars.

 

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The pinch weld is a spot that usually suffers when a vehicle has been the victim of a bad windshield replacement.  Most people do not know what the pinch weld is, though.  One other way of describing the pinch weld would be to call it a channel, as it certainly looks like one.  This channel is the groove or small canal made of metal where you typically fit a piece of replacement windshield auto glass to a vehicle’s frame, and it is where the urethane adhesive used for this procedure is applied.

Now when a windshield replacement is done by a genuinely skilled, properly trained specialist, you have very little to worry about with your pinch weld.  Unfortunately, in most cases, technicians for this work are a little less than perfectly trained.  This makes a difference when they start removing your old windshield from your car’s frame for a replacement.  Technicians are required to cut away almost all the polyurethane in the pinch weld for this, but some go a little too far with their instruments and end up damaging the actual pinch weld or body of the vehicle.

These scratches may seem minor at first, and you shall in all likelihood not even notice that anything is wrong with your car right after the replacement.  The new windshield shall seem to be fitted properly.  But if these scratches are not treated—which is something an expert in windshield replacement would have done before installing your new windshield—they lead to rust, and this rust can be one of the worst things you can ever get in your vehicle’s pinch weld.

Just one of the possibilities here is that the rust shall eventually eat away enough of the pinch weld to ruin the attachment of the windshield to the vehicle, leading to a serious compromise in the part’s structural integrity and raising the chances of cracks propagating while also making your vehicle less safe.  Another possibility is that if something does happen to your windshield again, you shall not be able to get the replacement you require for it, simply because it shall be impossible to attach a new piece of glass already to your corroded pinch weld.  In fact, if you bring a vehicle with such a pinch weld to a true windshield repair expert, you shall likely be denied the replacement you want, as it is against proper procedure to install a new windshield on a corroded pinch weld.

In that case, the only way for you to get another windshield replacement shall be to get a pinch weld repair or replacement too.  This obviously brings up the costs of repairing your vehicle.  To avoid things like this happening, simply ensure that you bring your car only to reputable, very well-trained experts for any repair job.

 

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Duratuf Shows Off Durasafe Auto Glass at 2012 Auto Expo

by Windshield Replacement Phoenix on January 12, 2012

The Auto Expo for 2012 is well under way and already some interesting items have been displayed at the show, with one of the most interesting being in a booth for the Indian glass company Duratuf.  The glass maker has set up a display promoting its famed ultra-tough auto glass, marketed under the brand name of Durasafe.

The display at the Expo shows a banknote behind a pane of the Durasafe auto glass, with passers-by being invited to take a hammer from one of the obliging attendants of the display and made to whack at the glass until they can break it and thus extract the banknote.  The deal, according to Duratuf, is that anyone who manages to shatter their Durasafe auto glass product may have the banknote fair and square: otherwise, the hammering should have released some pent-up tension for the participant, at the very least.  Needless to say, the company’s claim of its Durasafe product being resistant to burglars appears to be valid, with the banknote still intact and unclaimed at the time this article was written.

Duratuf, which was established in the early 1990s in Bhadhurgarh, claims to be the country’s largest glass maker, with four large manufactories in Bangalore, Haryana, and Delhi (two being in the last location).  The company specialises in polycarbonate as well as glass products for the automotive as well as construction market, and its Durasafe product is actually said to have around four times the strength of regular glass.  While most products of this type (toughened glass) are usually quite limited as to the range of applications in which they may be used, due more to the difficulties or logistical costs of shaping them in a particular way, Duratuf’s big claim to fame in the market is that its Durasafe product may be shaped or curved easily to the precise measurements or curvatures that clients request, making it a versatile offering in a world beginning to have a stronger interest in theft-deterrent fabrication materials, especially for automobiles.

While the Durasafe auto glass was being shown at the Auto Expo due to its use in auto glass replacement work for those requesting greater security and sturdiness of their vehicles, it may also be used in other industries and fields.  For instance, Duratuf actually markets this particular product heavily in the architectural and construction sectors, as well as the residential sector.

The India-based Auto Expo is the biggest car-centred exhibition in the entire country.  It is also widely recognized in other countries because of its accreditation by OICA, also known as the Organization Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles. About two dozen countries are represented through the presence of various organizations in the show, with interests ranging from auto glass innovations to full-car designs and exhibits.

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A joint venture that was proposed only some time ago between the auto glass repair and automobile distribution company, D’Ieteren, and Volkswagen Financial Services AG has just been approved by the European Commission.   The proposed joint venture is going to see the birth of an entity known as Volkswagen D’Ieteren Finance, which is supposed to handle a number of financial aspects of the retail of Volkswagen’s cars in Belgium.

The venture between the auto glass repair and auto distribution giant and the automobile maker is going to be stepping on someone else’s turf, which is why the EC had to check whether or not it would also be stepping on someone else’s shoes in that process.  The Commission’s Merger Regulations were used to evaluate whether or not the new entity (Volkswagen D’Ieteren Finance) would have the potential to deny other players a good chance at competing with it, due to the power of the two companies involved in the merger.

As is typical of discussions and evaluations of this type, the main questions were how many players are involved in that specific area of the market and what the current structure of the market is.  The former relates to the health of market activity in terms of competition, as regulations of this type are in place to prevent unhealthy monopolies from forming and thus limiting the number of options for consumers as well as other groups involved. The latter is the starting point used by analysts and experts to make projections of the economic fallout of the new venture’s existence in a descriptive form.

After careful consideration, the EC decided to give the two major auto companies the go-ahead to form the new entity.  The two companies are reportedly already getting talks underway to finalise the venture.  The product of their joint efforts shall undoubtedly be significant to the industry, given the strength of the two companies by themselves.  Volkswagen is one of the largest, most recognisable car brands in the world, and its Financial Services subsidiary is the actual part of the group that handles the international financial services of the company or brand.

As for D’Ieteren, it is a Belgian company that is most known for its services in auto glass repair and replacement as well as automobile dealerships.  The former is through the other, immediately recognisable company that is under its control: Belron, the leading company in the world when it comes to auto glass repair and replacement services.  The latter is through D’Ieteren Auto of Belgium.  The company is not restricted to these ventures, however, as it also deals in the car rentals market with its majority ownership of Avis Europe, one of the most known brands for car rentals throughout the world.

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Utah Auto Glass Repair Shop Helps Recondition Donated Minivan for Local Family

by Windshield Replacement Phoenix on December 22, 2011

An auto glass repair shop, ABRA Auto Body & Glass, was one of the participating shops for the Recycle Rides program run by the National Auto Body Council.  The goal of the program is to produce one car each year for a donation to a selected family in the United States that is in great need of transportation but does not have it.  Participating shops either make donations to the cause in the form of cash for the project or donate their actual services and expertise, helping to repair the selected car and get it to the proper condition for use by a family.

The auto glass repair brand ABRA regularly participates in this program and helps significantly in the reconditioning of the donated vehicle.  The vehicle that was donated this year was a minivan.  Minivans are typically selected for the program because of the logistics behind most of the needy families, which often have been selected due to having quite a few children with complicated health issues that require special transport.

Special transport is a major issue in many countries today besides the US.  A lot of public vehicles available for commuters are not exactly as friendly as they could be to those who are differently-able, and this means that it is significantly harder for some to get around our cities compared to the rest.  While some parents can afford to pay for special facilities or cars for their children so affected, not all can—and with the economy the way it is at the moment, that issue is becoming more and more serious.

The family to which the vehicle was donated this year was the Rivera family.   They have three children, two of which were born with myelomeningocele.  Since the children have special treatments to attend due to this complication, the family also has to make regular trips to see the doctor each month.

The participating shops in the program put together a car that would make these trips as well as other ones easier for the Riveras.  This meant including details such as extra seats in the automobile for the children’s comfort and safety.  The Riveras were interviewed about the donation and expressed their thanks to the people who had made the donation possible, emphasizing how much the donation would help their family.  The mother of the children also spoke about how important it was to finally get private transportation, given that it was already in the winter season.

The auto glass repair and body work company ABRA was not alone in its work of putting together the donated vehicle, with other well-known donors and participants being Safe Kids Utah, Costco, Primary Children’s Medical Center, and others.

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