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California Bill Addresses Repair Fraud

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The California Senate is considering a bill (S.B. 427) that would deter
“parts switching,” or quoting one part on an estimate but instead
installing a cheaper or faulty part during the repair.

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The bill would require repairers who include the replacement of a
deployed air bag on a written estimate to repair and fully restore the
airbag to original operating condition, and failure to do so would be a
misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $5,000.

Further, S.B. 427 would require a notification to the consumer at the
time of estimate and final invoice that parts switching is unlawful. It
also creates a new consumer right to obtain copies of parts invoices
that show new parts were installed.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, is meant to enhance
California’s Automotive Repair Act, which regulates automotive repair
dealers and requires an itemized written estimate prior to commencing
work, as well as a final invoice listing all work done and parts
provided.

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Negrete McLeod estimates that 40 percent of the more than 1 million
Californians involved in accidents each year could be victims of repair
fraud and that parts switching costs California consumers millions of
dollars each year.

“A particularly disturbing form of ‘parts-switching’ involves air bags,
where the repair shop stuffs foreign materials in the airbag space
instead of a new airbag,” she said. “The consumer never knows until he
is in an accident and the air bag does not deploy.”

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