A joint committee hearing was held by the Consumer Affairs and Transportation committees of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on "Right to Repair" on June 6. Testifying at the Philadelphia, PA, hearing were three panels of witnesses, including automobile maintenance and repair shop owners who expressed concern with so-called "Right to Repair" legislation that has been introduced previously in the U.S. Congress and several states. Neither the Congress nor any state has ever passed "Right to Repair" legislation.
John Francis III of Francis Automotive in West Chester, Pa., testified for the Automotive Service Association (ASA) emphasizing that automotive service information is already available to independent repairers and consumers. "At Francis Automotive, we use several third-party service information providers - ALLDATA, Identifix and an online service that includes technicians from all over the world, iATN - on a daily basis. As needed, our technicians will use automotive manufacturer websites. We have several aftermarket scan tools that we use and two auto manufacturer scan tools. Tools to perform reflashing are available for all makes of vehicles. It's a business decision regarding which tools to purchase. We have made a business choice not to purchase equipment to reflash BMWs and Mercedes. It is not because the tools and information are not available--they are available. But for our business model, we have chosen not to purchase this equipment."
Robert L. Redding Jr., ASA's Washington, D.C., representative, submitted comments on the National Automotive Service Task Force's (NASTF) role as "a voluntary industry organization, having served as a mechanism to share information and resolve issues that arise in the areas of service information, tools and training. In the United States, we have about 500 million post-warranty repair service orders each year. Independent repair facilities repair approximately 75 percent of these cars. NASTF is designed to address gaps in information that may occur in the repair. ASA and other industry partners have spent a great deal of time and resources on marketing the NASTF to independent repairers, encouraging repairers to contact NASTF if they had difficulty obtaining repair information from their third-party information provider or from the automaker websites.
"In 2008, the total number of service information requests received by NASTF was 44. This is out of 500,000,000 post-warranty repairs nationwide. In 2009, we had a total number of 45 requests for information and 65 requests in 2010. NASTF had no requests from Pennsylvania repairers and technicians for service information in 2009, one request for information in 2010 and no requests so far in 2011 despite hundreds of thousands of dollars spent marketing NASTF in the aftermarket, trade press articles and initiatives and promotions at industry events."
Matthew Godlewski, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said, "Automakers view independent repair shops as critical partners in vehicle repair. While factors such as styling and performance are key considerations when customers choose to purchase a vehicle from one of our companies--the factors of quality, dependability and reliability are among the most important in determining brand loyalty. A positive ownership experience for our customers throughout the vehicle lifecycle starts with the ease of getting their cars repaired. This ensures repeat business."
Godlewski closed by saying, "It is in the interests of automakers to partner with the aftermarket to ensure our customers can get their vehicles repaired."
Howard Pitkow, longtime ASA Mechanical Division Operations Committee member and owner of Wagenwerx Inc. in Wyndmoor, Pa., also spoke at the Pennsylvania hearing highlighting that "Right to Repair" legislation is not necessary and industry resources would be better spent on training for technicians.
To view a complete summary of the federal right to repair legislation, along with the full text, visit ASA's legislative website at www.TakingTheHill.com.