Georgia dealers unite to halt tire bill

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Georgia tire dealers are banding together to defeat HB 377, a proposal in the Georgia House of Representatives designed to force tire manufacturers to disclose national tire adjustment rates.

The bill, which also prohibits the sale of tires at outlets where adjustment rates are not published, "is harmful to small business all across Georgia," says James "Lindy" Bryant, executive director of the Georgia Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association (GTDRA).

In a letter to Don Wix, chairman of the Georgia House of Representatives Sub-Committee on Small Business, Bryant outlined objections to the bill on behalf of the GTDRA:

1. The bill requires retail tire dealers in Georgia to post information to which they do not now have access. Moreover, there is no means by which any retailer can compel a manufacturer to provide such information.

2. It is our understanding that all tire manufacturers consider this information highly proprietary. While we have no means of proof we believe that there would be sufficient variations between manufacturers' calculations of their respective adjustment rates as to make any meaningful comparisons unreliable. We say this based on conversational evidence from dealers about their own experiences and reporting requirements.

3. The bill is punitive in that it prohibits the sale of tires at any location where the required "rates" must be posted. This is unreasonable and would have an immediate adverse effect on some 1,500 retail tire outlets in this state.

4. The recently enacted TREAD (Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation) Act, signed into law on Nov. 1, 2000, gives Federal agencies sufficient authority to collect and report data such as would be needed to calculate a rate such as is contemplated in this bill.

5. We believe that any action such as HB 377 would be premature. The TREAD Act contains a specific deadline of June 30, 2002, by which time all rulemaking required in the act must be complete and in place and any action now at the state level would be counter-productive. We think it far better to wait for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to complete its work and implement its rules.

Bryant and a contingent of six independent dealers testified before the sub-committee last week. They included Bob Rogers, Mableton Car Care Center in Mableton; Tony Sexton, Toby Sexton Tire Co. in Loganville; Kim Willis, Willis Tire & Auto in Griffin; Scott Beasley, Duncan Tire in Dublin; Bill Raffield, Raffield Tire Master in Macon; and Mike Wilkinson, Wilkinson Tire Center in Tucker.

According to the proposed legislation, manufacturers would be required to reveal national adjustment rates for tires, defined as “the percentage rate of tires taken back by a manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, retailer, or seller as adjusted tires in relation to the total number of manufactured tires which are the same or similar in design and manufacture to the adjusted tire.”

The disclosure bill defines “adjusted tire” as a tire “returned to a retailer or seller, distributor, wholesaler, or manufacturer by the buyer or user of said tire because of defects in workmanship or materials or because of any other reason for which the buyer or user of said tire receives a free replacement tire or a credit in whole or in part towards the purchase price of a new replacement tire.”

Also, no tires could be sold to any consumer “at any retail location in this state where national adjustment rates are not published and available for inspection as set forth in subsection (b) of this Code section."

The Rubber Manufacturers Association also is urging the delay of HB 377.

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