Tuesday, 01 February 2005 00:00

CBS new report validates AMs call for Right to Repair Act

America's car owners are having increasing trouble getting their cars repaired, according to a recent CBS television "Consumer News Alert." CBS News anchorman John Roberts says car dealers' service departments are gaining ground, and that could cost consumers time and money. The news segment aired January 21 on the "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather."

"The trouble is caused by the car code monopoly, which may soon become illegal if a bill soon to be reintroduced in Congress becomes law," stated David Parde, president of the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE)

The Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act is a pro-consumer bill. It's about ownership and the right of consumers to choose where, how and by whom to have their vehicles repaired, even if they wish to work on them themselves. It ensures that all vehicle owners and independent auto service centers have access to the information necessary to diagnose and repair vehicles at an affordable cost.

The bill known as The Motor Vehicle Owners Right to Repair Act gained 118 co-sponsors in the U.S. House and 11 in the U.S. Senate before the close of the 108th Congress. It is expected to be re-introduced in the current Congress. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued negative comments regarding the need for the legislation. (See ABN, November 2004)

Parde continued, "The news report clearly validates what we have been saying all along, that the car companies are trying to create a "car code monopoly" to put the independent repair shops out of business. We hope news reports like this will spur Congress to give the green light to the "Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act."

Highlights of the news segment

• A Manhattan car dealership director openly admitted that the car companies depend on profits from service more than they do from sales. He said, "Parts and service side really is paying more and more of the bills of a business. And the industry's relying not so much on the profits from the sales and depending on service." They want control of the service and repair information so that they can control the market.

• A car company spokesman said, "All of our manufacturers have made the commitment and are supplying the exact same repair information to the independent technicians that we supply to the dealers now."

CBS correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi countered by saying, "But a recent survey paid for by independent mechanics found almost 60 percent of them say they couldn't access the information they needed, and more than 50 percent turned away customers."

• Surprisingly, the Manhattan dealer concurred. He stated that the "the dealership definitely has a leg up" (on independent repair shops). He stated that "the dealership gets their software updated daily by a satellite link from the manufacturer, and that they couldn't do their jobs without it."

Alfonsi summed up the segment by saying without the "Right to Repair Law, "drivers may have to rely on the dealership to get that "check engine light" fixed. And while that could drive some consumers crazy, it might also drive the independent mechanic out of business for good."

More information and the transcript can be found at www.careauto.org.