The Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Action and Consumers Union are urging California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign A.B. 2825 (Assemblywoman Wilma Carter, D-62nd), which would require repairers to give customers wholesale invoices for crash parts that cost $50 or more and mandates that estimates and final invoices contain a disclosure that parts switching is illegal. The Collision Repair Association of California (CRA), the California Autobody Association (CAA) and California Motor Car Dealer Association oppose the bill.
Consumer groups for the bill say it’s designed to protect motorists from potential auto body repair fraud.
“Consumer groups are united behind A.B. 2825 to put a dent in parts switching and auto body repair fraud in California,” said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. “By signing A.B. 2825, the governor will be taking a giant step toward smashing parts switching, deterring auto repair fraud and saving California consumers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.”
Current law requires consumers be provided an itemized written estimate prior to work commencing and a final invoice listing work completed and parts provided. Under A.B. 2825, consumers would be notified at the time of the initial estimate and again on the final invoice, that parts switching is illegal and constitutes fraud. The legislation also requires auto body shops to provide customers with copies, if requested, of the invoices for installed parts.
Dubbed the "paperwork act of 2008" by the CRA, the bill, which passed the state assembly Aug. 18, would make California the first state in the nation to require businesses to turn over wholesale records to customers. The bill’s supporters believe consumers should have the right to see these records.
“A.B. 2825 will better educate consumers and provide customers with an important new right to receive actual copies of invoices for all crash parts installed on the vehicle,” Ditlow said. “Some car dealers support the bill because they lose business to dishonest body shops.”
Given that the state Bureau of Automotive Repair updated invoice requirements through rulemaking last year, the CRA believes the purpose of A.B. 2825 is unclear.