Following extensive debate, a Massachusetts legislative committee has approved legislation (House Bill 296) that will provide independent repair shops the same access to diagnostic repair information and tools that car companies make available to their franchised dealers.
The Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure voted to report the landmark legislation out of committee favorably, where it will next appear before the Committee on Ways and Means.
Car manufacturers have lobbied hard against the legislation that’s co-sponsored by state Rep. Vincent A. Pedone (D-Worcester) and state Sen. Mark C. Montigny (D-New Bedford), arguing that independent shops already have access to the information they need. When independent repair shops met with their local legislators and debunked that claim, manufacturers then suggested that the independents wanted “trade secrets” or proprietary information.
“We’ve been clear from the beginning of this process that what we want and what consumers want is repair and diagnostic information that many of these manufacturers are selectively withholding,” said Stan Morin, who manages a repair business and serves as the lead advocate for passage of the legislation on behalf of the Massachusetts Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP). “We don’t want or need their trade secrets or any information that could even vaguely be described as proprietary. If they’re providing this repair information to dealers, then it isn’t the secret recipe for Coca-Cola and they can provide that information to us.”
Joining the Massachusetts Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) in its longstanding support of the legislation is the New England Service Station & Automotive Repair Association, Inc. (NESSARA); the Massachusetts Auto Body Association (MABA); and the Central Mass. Auto Rebuilders’ Association.
“The Massachusetts Auto Body Association fully supports House Bill
296," said MABA President Ed Boermeester. "This legislation would ensure fair and equitable competition in
the marketplace, which ultimately benefits consumers by providing
greater choice at lower prices.”
"We want to make sure that our members, and the industry as a whole, retain the ability to locate the information needed to repair all vehicles," said NESSARA Executive Director Paul F. O’Connell. "We fully support this legislation’s effort to keep the choice of where to have your vehicle repaired in the hands of the consumer.”
“It’s time to deal with this issue and bring some integrity back into the process,"
said CMARA President Tom Ricci. "Saying there isn’t a problem doesn’t make the problem go away, and this issue is becoming more serious and affects local jobs and the consumer’s satisfaction.”
For more information, visit www.righttorepair.org.