Houston City Council Wants to 'Increase Transparency' in Collision Repair Industry - BodyShop Business
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Houston City Council Wants to ‘Increase Transparency’ in Collision Repair Industry

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The Houston City Council is set to consider new collision repair industry regulations stemming from complaints that some shops are taking advantage of consumers. The ordinance would require better record-keeping at body shops, cap repair work without consent at $100 and mandate a written estimate of any special fees, among other requirements, KHOU 11 News reported.

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The changes would be aimed at increasing transparency within the industry, according to the TV station.

The Houston Auto Body Association (HABA) said there were both good and bad elements to the ordinance.

"We do think there’s a lot of good things in there," said James Brown, HABA president. "But there are a lot of things that still need some work. There’s a lot of things in there that give the insurance companies the same authority as the consumer — the owner of the vehicle — which we would like to see taken out."

The ordinance came about after a Houston City Council member said she received several complaints about repairs being done without customers’ consent.

"They’d charge (customers) for the estimate, sometimes up to $1,000. And if you wanted to get your car out, you had to pay the $1,000. We thought that wasn’t fair," Council Member Sue Lovell told the TV station.

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Jeanette Rash, owner of Fast Tow, one of the "most influential" towing companies in the city, according to KHOU, supports the ordinance. She’s also the manager of Houston’s Safe Clear program, which removes cars from freeways after accidents. Rash noted that while heavily regulated tow-truck drivers aren’t permitted to actively solicit business for body shops at crash scenes, they can recommend some, if customers ask.

"The problem is, some shops pay the tow operators to bring them to them, and then they’re turning around and putting it on your bill, which is not proper," Rash said.

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Rash told KHOU that her drivers have "business relationships" with some body shops and are sometimes paid a commission for referring drivers to certain body shops after collisions.

The ordinance is expected to come up for a council vote sometime this month.


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