Friday, 05 August 2011 09:44

Right to Repair Will Go Before Voters on the 2012 Massachusetts Statewide Ballot

In response to more than 50,000 letters from consumers who support the Right to Repair legislation, the Right to Repair coalition announced August 3 it has submitted language to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office for approval as a 2012 ballot question. The coalition is still aggressively pursuing passage of its original legislation but the deadline this week for ballot submissions comes at the same time as the continued legislative push.

“As the original sponsor of the Right to Repair legislation, I intend to push as hard as I can to show my fellow elected officials that the current legislation is the best way during these challenging economic times to provide cost savings and convenience for financially-strapped car repair consumers,” said State Rep. Garrett Bradley (D-Hingham). “But, with the deadline coming this week to submit ballot questions for 2012, the coalition is doing the right thing for motoring consumers by keeping that option open,” Bradley said.

Consumers across the state visiting local mechanics or neighborhood parts stores have been filling out support letters and sending them in to their state legislators. While the possible 2012 ballot question would achieve the same goal of allowing consumers to have their cars completely serviced wherever they choose without being forced to go to one of the carmaker dealerships, one option filed with the Attorney General includes language different from the current legislation. The ballot language would require new car dealerships to provide all the necessary non-proprietary repair information directly to consumers at the time of purchase of a new vehicle. This would put choice and convenience directly into consumers’ hands.

“Whether it is our original language requiring the car makers to sell the repair information to the local, independent mechanic or whether it is a 2012 ballot question to have the car manufacturers provide the data directly to consumers, this is one break in this tough economy that consumers need,” said Art Kinsman, spokesman for the Right to Repair coalition.

There is precedent for states requiring the automakers to be responsive to local needs. California, for example, has passed legislation over the years requiring certain pollution control equipment for cars sold in its state.

The current Right to Repair legislation would require auto manufacturers to sell to local, neighborhood independent technicians the diagnostic and safety information needed to repair customers’ cars. Currently, only some information is shared, limiting consumer choice and making business difficult for neighborhood shops.

The bill is now awaiting a vote in the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. In the interim, consumers are picking up postcards at their local repair shops and parts stores in an effort to rally behind the bill.

In addition to individual consumers, several organizations representing consumers and car owners support the bill as well. These include: AAA Southern New England, The Massachusetts Independent Auto Dealers Association, New England Tire and Service Association, Retailers Association of Massachusetts, Bridgestone Retail Operations, LLC, American Car Care Centers, more than 1,000 Independent Repairers, Massachusetts Insurance Federation, Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, The Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, Midas International Corporation, Firestone, Consumer Electronics Association, Massachusetts Locksmiths Association, Automotive Oil Change Association, RetireSafe, AutoZone, NAPA, Allied Auto Parts, LKQ, Meineke, Pronto, Carquest, Valvoline Instant Oil Change, American Military Society, Consumer League for Economic Auto Repair, Advance Auto Parts, Engine Repower Council, Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association, Automotive Recyclers Association, Tire Industry Association, Service Station Dealers of America and Allied Trades, Massachusetts Motorcycle Association, Auto Recyclers of Massachusetts.