NSF International has certified PartsChannel Inc. under the NSF Automotive Collision Parts Distributor Certification Program, a program that certifies distributors who sell automotive collision parts.

The NSF Automotive Collision Parts Distributor Certification Program requires that distributors have quality management systems in place that address parts traceability, service and quality.

The program helps close the gap in the supply chain between parts manufacturers and body shops and was developed in response to the needs of collision repair shops, insurers and ultimately consumers.

PartsChannel Inc., a distributor serving the collision repair industry since 1985, is one of the first companies to earn this automotive parts distributor certification from NSF International.

Several crash parts bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the U.S. Amended crash parts bills have been introduced in Oklahoma, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, South Carolina, North Carolina and Washington.

The ASA says two state bills are of particular importance for independent repairers. Oklahoma Senate Bill 1458 calls for consumer notice and consent language, and adds new policy provisions including “emissions part” and “safety part.”

“Emissions part,” the ASA notes, requires the replacement of parts or systems related to the control, monitoring and release of waste gases and particles created as a byproduct of combustion. Those parts include oxygen sensors, catalytic converters, exhaust pipes, exhaust manifold, fuel distributor, electronic emissions control unit, onboard emissions diagnostic device (OBD), and related parts and components.

“Safety part” requires the replacement of parts or systems essential to vehicle operation. Those parts include suspension, electronic control units (ECU), brake parts, safety systems and supplemental restraint system (SRS) components, according to the ASA.

In addition, Hawaii Senate Bill 2326 amends the state’s current law by removing provisions requiring claimants to pay additional costs for the use of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. It also requires insurers to make available the use of certain used or aftermarket parts instead of “like kind and quality” parts in motor vehicle body repairs. The legislation reads as follows:

The Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade and Sales (PARTS) Act, a new bill introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives, proposes to reduce the patent period car companies have on their collision repair parts from 14 years to 2.5 years (30 months). H.R. 3889 was introduced on Feb. 2 by Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) to the House Judiciary Committee. A similar bill is currently being prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.     The bill would amend title 35 of current U.S. design patent law whereby automotive manufacturers may enforce their design patents on collision repair parts against alternative suppliers.

Both members serve on the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet. Lofgren introduced auto parts patent legislation in the last Congress.

The new subsection reads as follows: “It shall not be an act of infringement of such design patent to make or offer to sell within the United States, or import into the United States, any article of manufacture that is similar or the same in appearance to the component part that is claimed in such design patent if the purpose of such article of manufacture is for the repair of a motor vehicle so as to restore such vehicle to its appearance as originally manufactured; and after the expiration of a period of 30 months beginning on the first day on which any such component part is first offered to the public for sale as part of a motor vehicle in any country, it shall not be an act of infringement of such design patent to use or sell within the United States any article of manufacture that is similar or the same in appearance to the component part that is claimed in such design patent if the purpose of such article of manufacture is for the repair of a motor vehicle so as to restore such vehicle to its appearance as originally manufactured.”

CARSTAR held their annual outlook teleconference on February 9; CEO of CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts, David Byers, detailed the 2011 results for the MSO as well as their goals for 2012.

According to Byers, 2011 was a "very solid" year for the MSO; sales totaled over $600 million and exceeded the group's objectives for the year. 2011 was also a big year for continued growth and acquisition of new locations, which will also continue to be an objective for 2012.

"We have acquired 17 new locations in the last few months," said Byers. CARSTAR plans on focusing on growth in California especially for 2012. Byers also said that the new stores that were acquired in 2011 were very successful--seeing 50 percent higher revenues than stores acquired in 2010.

The affiliate associations of the National Automotive Trades Association of Canada (NATA) have joined with other major OEM associations in the United States and Australia in releasing the following position statement:

“As the largest association of grassroots collision repairs in Canada, we hereby recognize published repair procedures, as provided by automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEM) as the official industry recognized “Repair Standards” for collision repair. These standards, where they exist, shall be the basis for the establishment of training, testing, repair practices and documentations.

Whereas we acknowledge the OEM repair procedures are incomplete in comparison to the full scope of vehicles and repair operations which exist in the marketplace, the OEM published repair procedures shall serve as the baseline for industry repair standards, with the recognition that further development of procedures will be necessary in areas not covered by published procedures.”

As well as Canada’s National Automotive Trades Association, and the Collision Repair Specialists of Australia, other associations signing on to this statement are 22 U.S. state associations, as well as the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers , the Automotive Service Association, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists and the Assured Performance Network.

While most collision repairers assume Original Equipment Manufacturers’ (OEM) procedures are standards by default, it has never been officially established.

For further information, please contact Rob Lang, President, NATA at 604-273-1111 or
rmworks@shaw.ca or through the NATA web site at www.natacanada.ca

There is a new tow-for-pay scam going around and several body shops have contacted ABN to alert us.

The invitation comes by FAX or from a deaf-services relay call* (see update below.) The relay call operator will call you and say a deaf person has need for your services. Calls have been reported in California, Florida and Georgia.

The scenario is that their car needs to be towed from another state to be fixed at your shop. But they need you to pay the tow bill before the car can be delivered. Several shops have received faxes from someone using the names "Evangelist Jerry Bratt" or "Jacqueline Harris"; relaying the same scenario saying they had an accident in a 2007 Cadillac Escalade on their way to Kansas or to visit their mother. And of course it asks that you only contact this person by email. And they’ll be paying cash. And of course the shop needs to pay the bill.

The fax asks for the address of your shop.

For example, Robert Toler, owner of Toler Paint and Body Shop in Warner Robins, GA, received a fax from "Evangelist Jerry Bratt" on February 20. The fax came from an Atlanta area code fax number and relayed the same scenario as other reported occurrences, requesting the shop send money for the damaged vehicle to be towed to their shop.

Sherry at California Auto Body in San Diego, CA, received a fax from Jacqueline Harris on March 13 stating the same set up as the Jerry Bratt scam. The fax she received came from a number with a Dallas, TX, area code, but the faxes have not all come from the same number, or area code.

The last time this went around shops were expected to pay a tow bill over a $1000 and they tell you the "wrecker" will only accept a moneygram. Maybe also a request for a credit card.

Don't fall prey but alert us if you receive this fax or are otherwise contacted. The reported sending fax numbers are/were 202-204-0669, 469-519-0414 and 678-250-9047.

AT&T Relay Call Version of the Scam

In the deaf or disabled version of the scam, Vivian from Chico, CA, reported that "I was reading about the tow for pay scam in the March 2012 issue. I have a new twist on this scam for you. I received a call from AT&T to assist with a phone conversation, this person was on a system that is used for people with disabilities, who can't speak on the phone so they use AT&T services to call.

This person had the same information, they were from my town traveling to Texas in a 2008 Escalade and had an accident. My shop came highly recommended so they wanted to have it towed back to California.  The tow company didn't take credit cards and wanted me to run their credit card for $2500 to pay the $1500 tow bill and keep the remaining $1000 for the deposit on their repairs. Of course they wanted me to moneygram the $1500 to the tow company, after keeping me on the phone for 20 minutes the AT&T operator said her responses were not answers to my questions, she just kept teletyping the same thing to me if I could please help her, she had a disability.

After I asked for the tow co. phone no so I could contact them directly. She disconnected from the call. When I called AT&T they said the call was generated from a COMPUTER and there was nothing they could do about it, such as trace etc... they could be in another country. This is not only a scam but a terrible way to use a disability as a means to rip people off. I just thought I would inform you."

---Vivian from Chico