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Right to Repair bill moves on in Massachusetts

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The Massachusetts Legislature's Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure approved House Bill 228, the state's Right to Repair bill, on Feb. 8, 2010. The bill will now go to the state Senate for debate.

The Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act requires auto manufacturers to make the same repair information and diagnostic tools that they provide to their franchised new car dealer service centers available to independent garages and consumers -- for a similar price.

As drafted, the bill allows the consumer or independent repair ship the right to take legal action if car manufacturers continue their practice of locking them out of certain repair codes and tools needed to complete repairs.

“The committee (members) lived up to their charge," says Art Kinsman of the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition.. "They took a stand to protect the consumer’s right of choice to patronize the more economical local independent auto repair shops.”

House Bill 228 sponsor Rep. Garrett Bradley (D-Hingham) says Massachusetts residents should have the right to use the repair shop of their choice.

"Car dealers will have to compete for business with qualified local repair shops, and that will result in significant cost savings for consumers.”

The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition released an economic impact study late last year showing that vehicle repairs cost an average 42% more at new car dealerships than at independent repair shops.

“The right to repair act is a pro-consumer bill, and I hope it continues to quickly move forward in the legislative process," says Senator Stephen Buoniconti (D-West Springfield), sponsor of Senate Bill 124, which mirrors Rep. Bradley’s bill. 

“I thank the committee for listening to the needs of the people that they represent,” says Glenn Wilder, owner of Wilder Brothers American Car Care in North Scituate. “This bill is of dire importance to every consumer who drives, especially with the number of (car) dealerships closing. Consumers' choices should remain their own as far as where they take a car to be repaired."

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