Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

CRA challenges BAR over Progressive license

It has been several months since Progressive Insurance opened its first Concierge location in the San Diego area without registering with the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR). On May 11, the BAR determined - based upon an on-site visit - that the Progressive Service Center, in fact, met the requirements of an Auto Repair Dealer (ARD) and must register with the BAR. (Autobody News, July 2006)

The BAR sent a letter on August 1 to the location telling them to register with the BAR or cease operation of the facility. Since then the California Autobody Association (CAA) and the California Repair Association (CRA), along with others, sent letters to the BAR asking about the status of Progressive's registration and requesting that new BAR chief Sherry Mehl expedite the decision process.

As late as October 26, Glenn Mason, spokesman for the BAR, stated to Autobody News: "Progressive's Concierge program continues to be under review by the BAR as to whether its activities constitute activities of an automotive repair dealer."

Lacking any other avenue to compel the BAR to address the licensing issue, CRA turned to the court system. On October 27, papers were served on the BAR demanding a writ of mandate to force BAR to make a decision regarding Progressive - either by closing the shop for non-compliance or explaining the BAR's reasoning for not requiring registration after all.

The Automotive Repair Act requires that every automotive repair dealer register with the Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs (parent organization to the BAR). The petition goes on to explain that Progressive has refused to comply with the cease and desist letter, borne out by the fact that the Progressive Service Center continues to operate.

Moreover, the BAR has refused to enforce the provisions of the Automotive Repair Act requiring registration of ARDs with respect to Progressive. It gives the appearance that the BAR is selectively enforcing the provision of the Automotive Repair Act requiring such registration.

The petition states that "the issue involved is one of public interest ... in that protection of the public is the BAR's highest priority in exercising its licensing, regulatory and disciplinary function. Failure to enforce the Automotive Repair Act creates unfair competition in the marketplace and exposure of the public to unscrupulous, incompetent, dishonest automotive repair."

While CRA has no "plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law," the association requests that the BAR be compelled to close the case on the issue of Progressive's registration. CRA, with its petition, wants to force the BAR to take the same action against Progressive as it would any other shop out of compliance.

Stay tuned.


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