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Repair of windshield chips turns into matter of ‘Who you gonna believe?’

A clever trick or a convenience? You decide. I’m getting mixed messages.

Some weeks ago, an irate caller told me he’d been to the Green Valley Car Wash on Sunset Road in Henderson and had been pressured there to fix chips in his windshield. He was told it wouldn’t cost him a thing, because he had Allstate Insurance. Allstate waives the deductible.

Most folks’ reactions: Goody. Something for nothing.

This man was suspicious. He said no, but then got a hard-sell approach from a salesman saying he’d be a fool not to fix the chips for free. Irate Caller left angry.

To check it out, I took my car to the same car wash and was told about my windshield chips. I couldn’t see any chips, but with the help of the guy trying to sell me on fixing them, my finger found a few rough spots. My insurance? State Farm. The salesman said State Farm no longer waives the deductible for glass repairs.

When I showed him the multiple, more noticeable chips on the passenger’s rear window caused when my car was vandalized, the salesman said all the chips, windshield and side window, could be repaired for $45 without going through my insurance.

When I declined, there was no high pressure. However, I didn’t see any reason to repair practically invisible chips on my windshield.

Inside the car wash, I saw an elderly woman giving her insurance information to the full-time employee inside who handles the insurance end of the chip repair business. Did she really need the repair, or did she succumb to the idea of getting something for nothing? Who knows?

All American Auto Glass is the business operating the glass repairs in car washes around the valley, and owner Tony Bucca said he’s had thousands of satisfied customers during the seven years he’s operated in Las Vegas.

“They all can say ‘no’ if they don’t want it,” he said, insisting that his employees aren’t overly aggressive in their sales pitch and that Irate Caller was an anomaly.

Every location has a sign posted with a customer service hot line, and he said they work hard to satisfy any unhappy customers.

“We do everything we can to provide good customer service,” Bucca said.

Allstate Insurance isn’t too concerned about the repairs at car washes.

“If a chip is repairable, it’s a win-win situation,” said Allstate spokeswoman Shelley Beeler, agreeing with Bucca about it being a convenience for the customer, and one that might prevent further damage.

It might cost $60 to $80 for Allstate to fix the chips versus paying $400 to replace the entire windshield, she said. Allstate believes the car washes where this service is offered through a glass company can help consumers. But then she cautioned, “That’s if the car wash is professionally trained in auto glass repair.” If not, Beeler said, the chip repair can yellow out.

Tom Norton, from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a nonprofit funded by the insurance industry, said it’s fraud if a glass business submits claims for work it never does, or files claims for more work than it does. Or fixes chips that don’t need to be repaired. Yes, the service can be a convenience, said Norton, who is based in Boulder City. “Just make sure you really need it repaired.”

One persuasive sales technique he’s heard: “They’ll tell you if you don’t get it fixed, your windshield will be cracked.”

Bucca insisted his employees didn’t say things like that, and I didn’t hear that. And he said customers initial the number of chips being repaired so that the insurance companies aren’t overcharged for chip repairs.

I’m still straddling the fence. I didn’t think my hard-to-see windshield chips needed any repair, but my side window certainly did. And $45 wouldn’t have been a bad price to fix the deep chips on that window, if they did a good job.

But I didn’t have the work done, so I’ll never know. For me, it wasn’t going to be something for nothing.

Besides, my insurance guy looked at the side window and said it needed to be replaced, not repaired, although the salesman assured me he could fix it.

Who you gonna believe? The guy you’ve known for 30 years, or a guy in a car wash?

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call 383-0275.

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