Monday, 05 March 2007 17:13

Oklahoma Right to Repair Act stirs up both support and opposition

 The Right to Repair Act introduced in Oklahoma has stirred up support from CARE and opposition from OKABA towards the pending legislation.
 Democrat Lucky Lamons introduced House Bill 1584 in Oklahoma legislature on February 6. The legislation seeks to allow motorists to choose where, how and by whom to have their vehicles repaired.
 Sandy Bass-Cors, a representative of The Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, CARE, is in support of this bill. She said that independent collision repair facilities would benefit from this legislation.

 “Right now in vehicles, especially the newer ones, doors are wired with automatic door locks. If someone has his door banged up and takes his vehicle to an aftermarket place and wants it worked on, the aftermarket place cannot go in and repair and reprogram it themselves. It affects the entire aftermarket, the collision people, and the hard parts people. It’s a very serious situation. The collision people are going to be losing business.”
 “A lot of the body shops don’t realize that every year more and more of the parts are coming off highly computerized,” Bass-Cors said. “Pretty soon they won’t be able to replace many of the parts, such as bumpers and doors.”
 The bill states that, “the limitation of access to vehicle repair information regarding who can repair motor vehicles and what parts may be used to repair those vehicles limits consumer choice and thus limits competition.”
 The new legislation would require the automobile manufacturer to provide, upon request of the vehicle owner or repair facility, information necessary to diagnose, service or repair a vehicle.
 In strict opposition to this bill is the Automotive Service Association, which said in a recent press release that the bill “would place the burden on a state government agency and the courts to assist repairers in acquiring automotive service information.”
 A number of independent repairers have contacted their representatives in opposition of this bill, including Gary Wano Jr., president of Oklahoma Auto Body Association, OKABA. He said that most of the language in the bill is already being followed.
 “I think the issue is that the consumer does not understand these rights, and may not even know they exist,” Wano said. “Regrettably, that may be the same on behalf of the repairer.”
 The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association expressed strong support of the bill.
 “The Oklahoma bill strikes an important balance between preserving competition in the state’s repair industry and providing strong protections for the car company’s legitimate intellectual property rights,” said Aaron Lowe, vice president for government affairs, AAIA. “Although AAIA continues to strongly push for a national solution to this Right to Repair issue, car company and new car dealer opposition means that every avenue must be pursued to ensure a level playing field in the vehicle repair aftermarket. AAIA looks forward to working with Oklahoma’s aftermarket groups and motoring public to help move H.B. 1584 toward passage as soon as practically possible.”

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