Florida House Bill 5005, “Deregulations of Professions and Occupations,” sponsored by Rep. Esteban Bovo Jr., R-Dist. 110, includes provisions that would repeal Florida’s law requiring the registration of motor vehicle repair shops with the Motor Vehicle Repair Advisory Council and the regulation of motor vehicle repair.
The Florida Motor Vehicle Repair Act, which became a law, was created to assist consumers with matters relating to motor vehicle repair shops. The Motor Vehicle Repair Advisory Council was created to advise and assist the Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services in carrying out and reviewing the rules relating to the Florida Motor Vehicle Repair Act. The law applies to dealers of new and used cars, trucks and motorcycles; garages; service stations; self-employed persons; truck stops; and paint, body, brake, muffler, transmission, mobile repair and glass shops.
Registered shops must post, in a conspicuous location in the customer service area, the registration certificate and a sign advising consumers of their rights under the Motor Vehicle Repair Act and give the department’s toll-free telephone number for assistance or information. Shops must also include in the sign a statement advising consumers they are entitled to the return or inspection of replaced parts, if requested at the time the work order is placed. Finally, shops must include their registration number in any advertisements, announcements, or listings relating to motor vehicle repair in any newspaper, magazine or directory.
If Bill 5005 were to be passed as currently drafted, motor vehicle repair facilities will be deregulated. The Motor Vehicle Repair Act is vital to the motor vehicle repair experience for consumers in the state of Florida. Before 1993, there were approximately 5,500 consumer complaints per year related to automotive repair. Resolutions for these complaints went through the state court system, which was an expensive 2- to 3-year process. During fiscal year 2009-2010, there were only 1,743 complaints for the year, a 70 percent decrease since the start of the program. With the Florida population increasing 35 percent during that time, the effective decrease in complaints was actually closer to 80 percent.
The Florida Motor Vehicle Repair Act is self-funded by the automotive service industry, and helps to offset much of the cost for the call center for all of the motor vehicle-related programs. The annual cost of the program for 90 percent of shops is $50.
There are more than 22,000 auto repair shops in Florida. The program created by the Florida Motor Vehicle Repair Act is effective and successfully arbitrates nearly 70 percent of all complaints within 60 days.
ASA opposes these provisions included in House Bill 5005, saying the programs in Florida are cost-effective for consumers and the industry as a whole and that it has been a model program for other states.