Right to Repair bill gets longer consideration in Mass. legislature

Jan. 1, 2020
Massachusetts lawmakers have a little more time to consider the state's Right to Repair bill. After a statewide poll of independent auto repair shops in Massachusetts showed overwhelming support for equal access to repair information, the Committee o
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Massachusetts lawmakers have a little more time to consider the state’s Right to Repair bill.

After a statewide poll of independent auto repair shops in Massachusetts showed overwhelming support for equal access to repair information, the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure extended its deadline for consideration of the Right to Repair bill for another 60 days.

Committee members today were informed of a survey conducted last week of more than 100 Massachusetts independent auto repair shops which shows that 99 percent support passage of House Bill 296, sponsored by state Rep. Vincent A. Pedone. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said they lose repair business every month when car manufacturers don’t share repair codes with the independent shops as they do with new car dealers.

The independent opinion poll was conducted by KRC/Communications Research from March 11-15, on behalf of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers among 115 owners of independent automotive service and repair centers in Massachusetts.

“Support for corrective legislation was overwhelming among these independent service centers,” says Gerry Chervinsky, president of Newton-based KRC/Communications Research. “No matter how big the repair shop or the degree to which this affects them, we found universal support for the statement that they ought to have the same ability to repair vehicles as dealerships.”

The KRC poll also found that the vast majority of respondents, 73 percent, say that their independent automotive service and repair centers are unable to work on at least one car a month due to their inability to receive adequate repair information, software, or tools. The plurality, 24 percent, says that this lack of access causes them to turn away more than 5 cars per month.  Only 17 percent of respondents say that they do not have to turn cars away for this reason.

Additionally, the lack of equal access hurts independent repair centers because of the number of unpaid hours spent researching diagnostic information on vehicles they ultimately cannot repair, according to the study. Almost all respondents, 90 percent, say that their independent automotive service and repair center wastes at least one hour a month in this manner, while the majority, 53 percent, say they lose at least nine hours a month.

“This practice could not be more anti-consumer,” says Pedone, D-Worcester, the chief sponsor of H296, which would require dealers and their representatives to provide the information for those repairs. “These cars belong to the owner of the car and that owner has the right to get it repaired wherever they choose. There are hundreds of business and thousands of employees at work in our independent service centers and they deserve to be protected every bit as much as the dealers.”

Pedone said that the committee now understands that this practice not only hurts the independent auto repair shops and the thousands of jobs associated with those businesses, but is a direct threat to consumers who increasingly find they have little choice but to go to the dealer for repairs.

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