Saturday, 17 May 2008 15:06

Massachusetts Right to Repair Advocates Rally in Support

Nearly 100 men and women who work in the automotive aftermarket industry, including professional technicians from repair shops from around Massachusetts, converged on the Statehouse Tuesday, May 13th to call for passage of the Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Owners Right to Repair Act (HB 296). Despite persistent claims by automobile manufacturers that repairers are getting the information they need, the repairers told their legislators they continue to be shut out on critical information despite the small fortune they are now paying for tools, software and diagnostic information.

The lock-out problem is particularly acute on late model vehicles that are beyond the warranty but new enough that they are indecipherable without the correct codes and precise scanning tools.

 

HR 296, introduced by Rep. Vincent Pedone, D-Worcester, and state Senator Mark Montigny, D-Dartmouth, requires that car companies provide independent shops with access to the same information and tools that they provide their new car dealer franchises. The bill provides protections for car company "trade secrets" and would ensure that independent aftermarket service providers compete on an equal footing with the their new car dealer competition.

"The manufacturers keep telling people there is no problem, yet 100
hardworking individuals left their businesses and stores for most of the
day because the problem is persistent and growing," said Stan Morin, the
general manager for New England Tire in Massachusetts and the national
Treasurer for the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) which is
pushing for passage of the bill in Massachusetts. "People prefer their
neighborhood mechanics to the dealer mechanics, but our members are getting
pushed out of their garages by these major car manufacturers because they
can't compete on a level-playing field."

The rally was held at a critical time since HB 296 is scheduled to be
reported out of the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional
Licensure next week. However, the rally is only the beginning. Car
companies and their new car dealer franchises are working hard to defeat
the legislation.

Faced with the growing frustration and anger among independent repair
shops about the lack of access they have to repair information, the
Automotive Service Association last week launched a public campaign in an
effort to convince legislators that they are making a good faith effort to
make repair information easily accessible. That effort was met with
skepticism and even widespread disinterest at three meetings in
Massachusetts with independent repairers who said afterward they learned
little more than they already knew and found the manufacturers' claims of
transparency and easy access to information to be disingenuous.

"Now is the time for independent repairers and consumers to write and
call their legislators to urge passage of House Bill 296," said Morin. For
additional information on the Massachusetts right to repair act go to
http://www.massrighttorepair.org.

About Right to Repair:

The Right to Repair Act would require car companies to make the same
service information and tools capabilities available to independent repair
shops that they provide their to their franchised dealer networks. The
legislation further provides car companies with strong protections for
their trade secrets unless that information is provided to the franchised
new car dealers. For more information about the Right to Repair Act, visit
http://www.RightToRepair.org.

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