The Wrong Number

Incorrect Glass Parts Plague the Industry…
and the Reasons Run the Gamut

By Tara Taffera

The rate at which glass shops are receiving wrong glass parts seems to be on the rise, an AGRR magazine survey shows (see graphic at right). But before you start accusing the manufacturers and distributors, there is a whole host of blame to go around—including consumers (who have no idea if they have a lane departure system in their vehicle, for example). As a result, sometimes the wrong glass part is ordered, causing delays and frustrations.

In July, AGRR magazine polled auto glass shops to get to the heart of why these issues are occurring. The results could be grouped into a few main categories: glass that arrives damaged or scratched; the wrong part is ordered due to the fact that there is no universal way to choose the correct part number easily; and an ever-increasing number of ADAS options that makes this already difficult issue even worse.

Paul Morris, president of Jack Morris Auto Glass in Memphis, Tenn., helps put the issue into perspective.

“We do over 3,000 replacement jobs a month, and we almost certainly receive the wrong part more than 10 times per month, yet I think we’re probably better at it than most,” he said. “We don’t track it—we probably should! I’m guessing based upon how often I hear it we get the wrong part up to 5% of the time.”

“Perhaps the biggest reason is sometimes we don’t get the VIN number when we should,” said Morris. “Our customer often doesn’t have their VIN number handy, and sometimes our CSRs don’t want to bother them before booking the job. We use the information the customer gave us and make our best guess. We are usually right based upon our experience, but we are wrong a percentage of the time.”

There are a variety of VIN decoders or VIN look up tools that can help, yet sometimes even these can-not identify the correct part. Jack Morris uses a VIN tool that is integrated in its point-of-sale software. When questions still arise, the shop calls the dealer. However, the dealer sometimes passes on incorrect info, our survey respondents tell us. It’s a continuous cycle.

“The only way to be sure it seems is to contact the dealer, get the dealer part number, and cross reference … it’s very frustrating,” said one participant in our study.

It seems the more people thrown in the mix, the more chance for error, which makes double checking information always a necessity. “Many times the wrong parts are sent on referrals and dispatches from insurance companies—we always need to double check when the part is picked for us,” added another respondent.

Complexity Makes it Difficult

With ADAS options on the rise, glass parts are increasingly becoming more complex increasing the likelihood of misidentified parts.

“The amount of wrong parts is increasing dramatically due to the amount of options available per vehicle. Currently even the new F150s are causing us grief with the different options, lack of customer knowledge of their vehicle, and the VIN decoders not giving the right information,” said Dave Duensing of Texan Glass & Solar Control in the Woodlands, Texas. One respondent to the AGRR magazine survey added, “With OE manufacturers continually changing the ADAS camera brackets from year to year or even half the year, this problem will never go away.”

Auto glass shops also occasionally receive scratched or broken glass from their vendors. Donna Jenkins of Phoenix Glass Inc. in Phoenix, Ariz., said that “the biggest problem we have is getting good parts. They are either scratched, chipped, include defects, and so on.”

“We have a problem from time to time with all our vendors,” added a survey respondent. “They send scratched unusable glass often. What’s worse is they don’t seem to care when we tell them our customer drove in 25 miles for the appointment. Or they don’t help us get a piece of glass they accidentally left at another delivery stop. Sometimes one particular company calls us at 5 o’clock and tells us they didn’t have the parts we ordered. Then we have to call our customer to reschedule. Vendors don’t have good customer service like they used to.”

Another shop owner says that some of these issues relate to accuracy regarding inventory on the vendor website and poor communication. “We usually don’t know what is going to be missing until the delivery truck shows up,” said Dan Osborne of All Cracked Up in the Denver, Colo., area. “Our second biggest issue is the amount of blemishes and scratched glass we receive on a regular basis. Sometimes we have to re-order 2 or 3 times just to get a usable glass piece,” said Brenda Polzin of Tom’s Pro Glass in Faribault, MN. “It is very inefficient for us to be able to do our jobs and schedule accordingly.”

Customer Ignorance

Many respondents say one of the biggest issues is that customers don’t know the features they have on their vehicle when the first contact is made; they almost never have the VIN number.

“Most of the time VIN decoders only give year/make/model and customers aren’t aware of all of the technology their vehicle has. We order incorrect glass 90% of the time because the VIN decoder did not give options, and we have to see the vehicle in order to get the correct glass,” said Liz Oestreich of Cortright Auto Glass in Wausau, Wis. David Steinert of Monte Glass in Monte Vista, Colo., added that the company pays for Mitchell Glassmate to lookup the windshield parts, “however we are given a list of all available wind-shields for that model, which can be 1 or 52 different windshields … We then have to get the VIN and call a dealer (usually long distance) to get an OEM part number, and then we go back to Mitchell Glassmate and try to find the corresponding NAGS part number. A few shop owners have ideas on how to solve it. They can only hope those who can solve it are listening.

“A simple solution to the high number of NAGS numbers today would be to etch the number on every piece of glass,” said one respondent. “This would solve a lot of problems with installers and distributors, wasted time returning parts, etc.”

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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