PartsTrader Now Available Nationwide
PartsTrader (www.partstrader.us.com) has announced that its parts procurement platform is now available nationwide. Active collision repairers and parts suppliers in all 48 continental states and the District of Columbia can now access the online program. The company stated that there are more than 7,500 repairers and 8,500 suppliers active on the system.
“A dedicated field presence in each new market by knowledgeable PartsTrader staff has been a big help in assisting our customers adapt to a new parts purchasing process,” said Dale Sailer, PartsTrader’s vice president of Business Development. “Our field staff has focused most of their effort on training users and listening - bringing suggestions for new functionality and integration back to the product team that have increased our value to users with each new release.”
PartsTrader launched its initial pilot product 25 months ago. It is an online marketplace that provides collision repairers with a single source for procurement of parts from OEM dealers, auto recyclers and alternative parts suppliers. It has also received a fair amount of criticism from the auto repair industry because of insurance company State Farm’s requirement for repairers in its Select Service program use the software to order parts. The Automotive Service Association (ASA) argued the program may harm repairers by limiting their right to choose their parts vendors, increasing cycle time, increasing indirect costs to consumers, increasing administrative time, impacting profitability and reducing the number of local automotive parts sales, thus negatively impacting local economies.
PartsTrader claimed that the program is continually evolving to incorporate industry feedback and provide repairers with a platform that positions them at the center of parts procurement. It insisted that the program allows repairers to choose which OEM dealers they invite to quote, who to order from and when to order.
“Our core application is now very different from when we started over two years ago,” said Rob Cooper, PartsTrader CEO. “We are committed to giving repairers and suppliers a product of choice by continuing to adapt it to their changing needs. Earlier this year we introduced the industry’s first system for tracking two-way repairer and supplier performance feedback. For example, repairers now have the ability to rate suppliers based on service and quality of the parts delivered. This ensures that each party can make a fully-informed business decision before placing or responding to an order. Most recently, we’ve enhanced vehicle mapping capabilities and improved integration with the estimating systems, and have many more exciting feature on the near-term horizon.”
No matter the changes, PartsTrader, and its mandatory use by State Farm, continues to face adverse reactions from the rest of the collision repair industry and its partners.
In April, the Indiana Autobody Association (IABA), along with more than a dozen Indiana collision repair facilities, filed an antitrust lawsuit against more than 25 insurance companies, including State Farm. The lawsuit, “Indiana AutoBody Association v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance,” accuses the insurance companies of violating antitrust laws by depressing repair rates and steering customers away from shops that don’t comply. This lawsuit follows a similar one filed in Florida in March, “A & E Auto Body v. 21st Century Centennial Insurance,” where the reasons for this suit were also the depressing of repair rates and steering.
The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), based in Manassas, Va. (www.a-r-a.org), reported that state legislators in Iowa introduced legislation in January 2014 that would prohibit an insurance adjuster, appraiser, insurance producer, insurer or employee of an insurer from requiring a repair facility to use a specific vendor or process for the procurement of parts or other materials necessary for the repair of a motor vehicle. The Automotive Service Association (ASA) stated that it has been working with the independent repairers, and their state affiliate associations, that have taken an active role in addressing the insurer parts procurement mandates on a state level.
In New York two pieces of legislation outlawing insurance company requirements to use a specific vendor or process for the procurement of parts or materials are still alive in New York following introduction in late September 2013. The two bills, Assembly Bill 7234 and Senate Bill 5786, would add the prohibition to an existing statute governing insurance companies that makes it illegal for an insurer to require repairs be made at a particular repair shop.
To view more on the State Farm PartsTrader issue and ASA’s actions, visit the Automotive Service Association’s legislative website at www.TakingTheHill.com. ARA also has a representative on the PartsTrader Advisory Board and has reported regularly on the program. ARA is actively monitoring and soliciting feedback from ARA members regarding their experience with the PartsTrader.