I-Team investigates complaints against auto glass repair company



Posted on May 9, 2011 at 6:37 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 10 at 11:15 AM

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - Back in March, WHAS11 first told you about an auto glass windshield replacement company soliciting business door-to-door without a license.

After the initial story, WHAS11 got calls from upset customers and a former employee, saying the company wasn't playing by the rules.

When WHAS11 looked further into the situation, we discovered a trail of lawsuits, consumer warnings and arrests spanning several states.

And as WHAS11's investigative reporter Adam Walser discovered, you could be paying the price for their profits.

Jeff Laduke, who works for glass wholesaler PPG Auto Glass, says salespeople from a company called Coast To Coast showed up recently in his neighborhood.

“I came out on the porch and told them to move on, that I didn't appreciate the way they do their business,” said Laduke.

Roy Parks was approached at his home, after salesmen spotted a small pit in his windshield.
But according to Parks, he did not need a new windshield.

That day, he says the salespeople worked the whole neighborhood for Coast To Coast Auto Glass.

The company has been named in two federal lawsuits alleging it didn't pay employees proper wages.

Both suits have been settled.

Coast To Coast also made news in Florida, after sales representative Jenna Parslow was arrested for allegedly breaking windshields in a parking lot and then approaching the victims offering to have them replaced at no cost.

Police say she was trying to increase her $45 per windshield commission.

So why the aggressive tactics?

Kentucky, like Florida and several other states, have a law that requires free glass repair with comprehensive insurance coverage.

These claims add up.  Each replacement runs from $150 to $1,500.

The Kentucky attorney general has received complaints about Coast To Coast, as has the Better Business Bureau, which gives the company an F-rating.   A spokeswoman described one of the calls she took recently from a local resident.

“They made me uncomfortable. They were very pushy about what they did,” she said.

And in South Carolina and Florida, police warned consumers and arrested salespeople who operated without a license.

Jim Mims is Metro Louisville's director of inspections, licenses and permits.

He sent a letter to Coast To Coast after WHAS11’s first story, but never heard back from anyone.

“They're transient, they move in and out of the community and that's why it's hugely important for people to know who they're dealing with,” said Mims.

And unlike other auto glass repair shops in Louisville, Coast To Coast doesn't operate out of one place.  So if you have a problem, there's nowhere to go.

The company gives lifetime warranty certificates to customers but WHAS11 checked and the website and phone numbers no longer work.

WHAS11 also found a fleet of abandoned Coast To Coast work vans in the Jefferson Mall parking lot.

But the sales continue under a new name: DNS or D&S Auto Glass.

New sales representatives attend pep-rally-style meetings each morning before pounding the pavement for a chance to replace your car windshield for free.

To get more claims, DNS offers cash payments in some states.  They even have an ad on YouTube.

In Louisville, new salespeople are aggressively recruited using ads on Craigslist and other employment websites.

Using a hidden camera, WHAS11 found a crowded waiting room of eager job applicants at the business park and eventually talked to the manager about sales openings.

“Top guys are making $800 to $1,000 a week,” said the manager.
He said volume is the key.

“Anywhere where there's a lot of cars, whether it's a gas station or a carwash,” he said.

There or in your neighborhood is where these solicitations are likely to continue as your insurance rates continue to climb with each new claim.

The same Arizona-based spokesperson who represented Coast To Coast also represents DNS Auto Glass.

WHAS11 e-mailed her a list of questions related to this story, but have not yet heard back from her.