WASHINGTON-With the recent introduction of its ASA World Wide Web Site, the Auto-motive Service Association has officially hit the information superhighway. Participants at the ASA annual meeting in Washington, April 22, were told by ASA President G.W. ``Bud'' Merwin III that getting on the Internet was a natural move for the association because ``eighty percent of our members use computers in the shop.''
The ASA World Wide Web Site (http://www.asahop.org) has two main purposes, Mr. Merwin said: to make information about the ASA and its members readily available to consumers; and to make ASA programs and information readily available to members.
In the web site's first month alone, it was contacted 6,000 times, he said. Now, four months later, there have been 24,000 further ``hits'' on the site.
Finding the nearest ASA-member shop has been the most common use of the web site thus far.
``We've already received reports of shops receiving new customers from the ASA web site,'' Mr. Merwin said. ``Our best testimony comes from our members.''
All ASA consumer and trade news releases, including the monthly President's Message and the association's AutoInc. magazine, became available on the web site May 10.
The ASA will celebrate its 45th anniversary in June, Mr. Merwin said. Its membership in 1995 hit the highest level ever-12,041, a net increase of 470 from the previous year.
There are now ASA chapters in all 50 states and 14 locations outside the U.S., he noted; the newest affiliate, added last year, is ASA Jamaica.
Chapters in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Missouri, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona all had major membership growth last year as well, he said.
One of the major problems faced by the ASA in the past year was the potential threat of ``managed care'' or ``preferred provider organization'' (PPO) auto insurance.
As with PPO organizations for health insurance, Mr. Merwin said, managed care for auto insurance would consist of insurance companies providing PPO lists of repair and body shops for motorists, and refusing to pay full benefits unless they patronized garages from that list.
``PPOs would limit competition in our industry, raise repair costs and lower the quality of repairs,'' he said. ASA Washington Representative Robert Redding testified before the New Jersey Department of Insurance last year on the detrimental effects of auto insurance PPOs.
Fortunately, in meetings with ASA officials, insurance company executives said they have no current plans to introduce PPOs, Mr. Merwin said.