Massachusetts Right to Repair bill moves forward
Nearly 100 men and women who work in the automotive aftermarket industry converged on the Massachusetts Statehouse Tuesday, May 13, to call for passage of the Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Owners Right to Repair Act (H.B. 296).
Despite persistent claims by automobile manufacturers that repair shops are getting the information they need, the repairers told their legislators they continue to be shut out on critical information despite paying for high-priced 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.
H.B. 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,” says 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 H.B. 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, the AASP reports.
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.
The AASP reports "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 www.massrighttorepair.org.