Mass. repairers pack Right to Repair hearing

March 22, 2012

Auto repair technicians and supporters of the Massachusetts Right to Repair ballot initiative packed a hearing yesterday at the state’s legislature.

Many testified before the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure to urge legislators to vote on the measure. The legislation requires car manufacturers to sell all relevant non-proprietary repair information to local neighborhood car mechanics and repair shops.

Ray Magliozzi, co-host of the popular Car Talk radio show that airs on National Public Radio, testified in favor of the legislation as a consumer and independent repair shop owner.

“This legislation protects consumer choice and levels the playing field for independent repair shops,” he says. “Right now, many repairers do not have access to the information and the customer pays big for that disadvantage.”

Rep. Daniel Winslow (R-Norfolk) testified, asking the legislature to support the bill before the May deadline when it will be sent to the November ballot. Supporters of the bill criticized the big carmakers for breaking off negotiations and ignoring polls that show up to 87% of the public supports the bill.

“This legislation is about protecting customer choice, promoting safety, and saving consumers time and money,” says John Paul, the AAA “Car Doctor” and radio personality. “Consumers are enduring expensive dealership costs and the legislature has the ability to bring relief now. They need to act.”

More than a dozen consumers attended the hearing. John Caldwell of Boston, testified that, “I have firsthand experience taking my car to an independent mechanic I know and trust, only to be sent away to a more expensive car dealer.” More than 100,000 Massachusetts citizens signed the Right to Repair initiative petition that will appear on November’s statewide ballot if legislators do not act first.

“It’s time to believe the truth about Right to Repair. Big car manufacturers just don’t want to do this, and they will literally say anything, contradict any fact that is right in front of us, if it will serve to create fear and confusion about R2R,” says Art Kinsman of the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition,