NABC Responds to CBS Body Shop Report

February 17, 2004

The National Auto Body Council responded last week to a report that aired on the CBS Evening News. Below is a letter from Charles Sulkala, executive director of the NABC.

February 12, 2004
CBS News
524 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

Attention: Tom Flynn

Dear Mr. Flynn,

Last evening, (February 11, 2004,) CBS Evening News broadcast a segment on collision repair. As the “teaser” Dan Rather told the viewer to stay tuned to see how consumers are possibly being ripped off by collision repair shops, and that the viewer might be surprised by who actually owns many of the shops.

Unfortunately, the segment, itself, didn’t live up to its sensationalized billing.

The segment opened with a conversation with a vehicle owner who claimed to have received a botched repair on damage caused by a rear-end collision. There was a subtle inference of fraud being involved. This is most likely because the California Bureau of Automotive Repair was supplying the background information. There was simply no evidence given to support such an allegation in this broadcast which we would have expected from responsible journalism.

The big “surprise” was that insurers own collision repair facilities. Both the collision repair industry spokesman and the insurance industry spokesman presented credible viewpoints as to why this was, or wasn’t a bad thing.

Because both industries have vested, and often conflicting, interests in the repair process, the surprise basically resulted in a “So what?” response.

The National Auto Body Council’s position is not to quarrel with the viewpoints expressed in the segment. Rather, it is with the sensationalized lead-in that was used to keep viewers glued to their television screens. It did a disservice to every shop owner whether their facility is owned by an Insurer, Dealer, or Independent.

The National Auto Body Council is not opposed to such programming when it serves the community interest. However, not only did this bit of programming not do that, it failed to address the issues and questions posed by its own teaser. Our hope would be that a positive story about the real people in this industry could be considered in the near future depicting what the real “Eye on America” is all about as it pertains to those in the collision industry.

We would be more than happy to help your effort in that regard.

Charles S. Sulkala
Executive Director

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