Friday, 31 August 2007 17:00

BAR Chief Mehl Speaks at CAA Board Meeting

Recently confirmed Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) Chief Sherry Mehl was the guest speaker at the California Autobody Association (CAA) third quarter board meeting in Santa Clara in August.

        Chief Mehl spoke about the recent rejuvenation of the BAR, with the intent of building a basis for a very strong organization that operates fairly. Some of the things she indicated would accomplish that included more training for BAR managers; action against employees not doing their jobs; and new video conferencing with the twelve field offices and labs to communicate more efficiently. She has already brought in the Attorney General’s office to educate BAR employees on what constitutes fraud.

        Relating to the fraud issue, Chief Mehl spoke about the status of the new Autobody Re-inspection program, enabling consumers to have repaired vehicles re-inspected by the BAR. To this date, the BAR has had over 650 inquiries and over 100 consumers have called to say they were satisfied with their overall repair. The remaining inquiries have been narrowed to a small group of detailed inspections. She reported that the percentage of issue-related inquiries have not been anywhere near the old implied 42% fraud figure, which has proved to be inaccurate.

        She added that the exact definition of fraud was problematic since there has been a broad definition in play. She further stated that the investigations must comply with current laws and that clear and convincing evidence is needed.

        The CAA recently requested that the BAR form a Collision subcommittee to specifically discuss collision repair issues. Chief Mehl recently approved the formation of that subcommittee and will be working with the collision industry on getting it started. The CAA feels this is a major accomplishment that will see many benefits down the road for the industry.

Any questions?

CAA members were able to submit questions to Chief Mehl on various topics, such as the Progressive Concierge issue, insurance issues, legislation, and illegal shops. Chief Mehl discussed why the BAR rescinded a cease-and-desist order on Progressive’s concierge location in San Diego. Her disclosures were limited, however, due to ongoing litigation but stated Progressive agreed to certain limitations regarding removing parts for damage diagnoses. In addition, she explained how they will proceed after litigation is settled and once there is clear and convincing evidence to take further action.

        Mehl would not address the issue of insurer-owned (tied) shops. Progressive’s concierge service is a double-edged sword because if they do register with the BAR then they will be able to repair cars – opening the door for tied shops which have already been banned in Texas by HB 1131, recently affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals. CAA has taken a stand against insurer-owned shops.

        When asked about the BAR doing a labor rate survey, Mehl responded that the BAR does not have authority on rates. She proffered that this fell under the purview of the Department of Insurance (DOI).

        The next topic was AB1483, a bill which would require a repair shop to affirm on the first page of the invoice that the crash parts listed on the estimate were actually installed on the vehicle. Mehl stated that current state law is already in place to ensure this compliance, without a signed affirmation. The BAR opposes this bill and she hopes it will be vetoed. CAA is actively opposed to the bill because it is unnecessary and redundant under current law.

        Mehl expressed that focusing on illegal shops is an important issue, and legitimate shops should report unlicensed and unscrupulous enterprises to the BAR.

        In conclusion, Chief Mehl reiterated that she wants to hear about problems and work with the collision repair industry to solve them. CAA encourages its members to either notify the BAR or CAA on issues related to the above issues.

Golf tourney raises over $15,000

Earlier this summer, the CAA Santa Clara chapter hosted their Annual Golf Tournament to benefit the California Autobody Repair Political Action Committee, (CARPAC). The CAA Santa Clara Chapter has raised almost $60,000 the past four years for CARPAC. This year over $15,550 was raised by the efforts of Tournament Chair Sandra Douglas of Lowe Paint Company, San Jose and her committee.

        “This money will go toward subsidizing the efforts of CARPAC to assist the CAA legislation that will benefit the collision industry throughout the state,” Douglas said.

        In addition, over $2,000 was raised on the day of the event for Assembly 2008 Candidate Kelly McCarty of Riverside, 2004 past President of the CAA. McCarty was the featured speaker at the evening awards banquet, emceed by current CAA State President David Mello, Anderson Behel Body Shop, Santa Clara.

        McCarty took the opportunity to speak on the legislative and regulatory issues facing the collision repair industry, and what, as a State Assemblywoman she would do in Sacramento to help.

        The success of this tournament is in large part due to the support of the tournament sponsors, those suppliers to the collision repair industry often in the background. The Santa Clara chapter makes every effort to promote the sponsors through tournament signage, posters, and banners, as well as newsletter recognition.

         The winning foursome was sponsored by Mirka Abrasives, and consisted of Tony ‘TJ’ Johnson of TJ’s Auto Body, Bobby Hurst, Steve Severino, and Mark Willie of Mirka Abrasives. The Putting Contest, sponsored by Enterprise Rent a Car was won by Bo Magnussen of Magnussen Car West Auto Body. The Most Accurate Drive, sponsored by BMW of Mountain View, was won by Tracy Kuykendall of Kuykendall’s Auto Body for the men, and for the women, Frannie Killebrew of Anderson Behel Body Shop. The Closest to the Pin, sponsored by Hertz, was won by Dean Reynolds of Golden West Auto Body, and the Longest Drive, sponsored by LKQ Auto Parts, was won by Tim Segelke of Sherwin Williams.