Thursday, 11 August 2011 15:53

Houston Considers New Body Shop Regulations to Increase Transparency with Consumers

The Houston City Council will soon consider new auto repair industry regulations for the city amid complaints that some body shops are deceiving consumers.

The changes would be aimed at increasing transparency within the industry, said Lt. Wendy Bainbridge with the Houston Police Department, according to KHOU 11 News Houston.

The city is in the process of drafting an ordinance that would mainly require better record-keeping at body shops, cap repair work without consent at $100 and mandate a written estimate of any special fees.

Industry representatives, including the Houston Auto Body Association (HABA), applaud some of the proposed mandates but are quick to say others may end up bogging down reputable businesses, slowing their ability to serve customers.

"We do think there’s a lot of good things in there, said James Brown, the president of the HABA, to KHOU 11 News Houston. "But there are a lot of things that still need some work. There’s a lot of things in there that give the insurance companies the same authority as the consumer—the owner of the vehicle—which we would like to see taken out."

The ordinance comes after one Houston City Council member said she received complaints about body work done without customers’ consent.

"They’d charge (customers) for the estimate. Sometimes up to $1,000. And if you wanted to get your car out, you had to pay the $1,000. We thought that wasn’t fair," Council Member Sue Lovell said to KHOU 11 News Houston.

The ordinance is expected to come up for a council vote within the next few weeks.

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