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A Boiestown autobody shop owner says his customers are being directed to other businesses because he is not on a preferred list.

The owner of an autobody shop in Boiestown said he is fed up with insurance companies using a so-called steering policy that is directing his customers away from his business.

Kevin Robinson, the owner of Spectrum Spray, said his business is down by about 50 per cent this year because people are being urged by their insurance companies to use shops that are deemed “preferred.”

Robinson said his shop is not big but he’s repaired and painted hundreds of cars during his decade in business.

But that has started to become more difficult in the last year.

"I continue hearing my customers saying things like, ‘The insurance company won't let me go to your shop, that I have to take it to these other shops they have arrangements with,'" Robinson said.

'They're using scare tactics getting the customers to go where they want them to go rather than where they want to go.'- Rob Dumais, Collision Repair Magazine Canada

He said some of his loyal customers have apologized to him for taking their vehicles to rival companies that were on their insurance company’s “preferred” list in Fredericton.

Galen Price was one of Robinson’s customers who felt it was unfair that the insurance company was trying to get him to take his vehicle to another shop.

"They told me to take my vehicle to a body shop in city of Fredericton and I could pick up a rental car and they would fix my vehicle. And I said, ‘No there's a guy up the road that does all my body work,'" said Galen Price.

Amanda Dean, the vice-president, Atlantic, for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said the use of preferred body shops is for the protection of their clients. She said the approved shops guarantee a good job.

Rob Dumais, a writer with Collision Repair Magazine Canada, said the practice of setting up preferred lists and sending customers to those businesses is called "steering."

Large body shops and insurance companies are making deals to send business each other's way, Dumais said.

"They're using scare tactics getting the customers to go where they want them to go rather than where they want to go," he said.

Corrections

  • Rob Dumais is a writer for Collision Repair Magazine Canada. An earlier version of this story indicated he wrote for Bodyshop Magazine Canada.
    Jun 02, 2014 10:18 AM AT