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Monday, 16 July 2018 21:21

AB 2825 Will Force Body Shops to Become Debt Collectors

Written by
Jack Molodanof Jack Molodanof

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Frequent communications and reminders (calling, texting, emailing, etc.) with the customer to pick up a vehicle when it’s ready may be considered “debt collection” and is prohibited under the bill. 


"Communications with the customer’s employer or family members to have the vehicle picked up is also prohibited, which will constrain and make the process even harder," Molodanof said. "Auto shops need to be able to communicate with their customers, and this bill will make all of that much more problematic."


Basic mechanics' lien rights will also be jeopardized if AB 2825 passes, Molodanof said. 


"Auto repair shops may only be able to recover 50 percent of the amount owed for services and repair after a lien sale based on guidelines of what the car may be worth as opposed to its actual value. The bill fundamentally changes mechanics' lien laws, and we believe that it's unconstitutional," he said.  


The proposed bill can also lead to what Molodanof calls "unintended consequences." 


"Since a repair business will not be able to recover all of the money owed for services and repairs, shops will have no choice but to start requiring customers to pay the entire amount upfront in order to begin repairs,” he said. “This will significantly impact consumers, especially low-income individuals and working families who depend on older vehicles." 


Another provision in the bill that will lead to further complications deals with what is known as "language access."


"There are five different languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog and Vietnamese, that will trigger this section of the bill," he said. "So, you'll now have to provide documentation in different languages for certain customers, including estimates and final invoices. The bill is complicating the process on so many levels because all of the laws that apply to debt collectors in the traditional sense will now apply for mechanical and collision repair shops. It’s bad policy to treat auto repair businesses as traditional debt collectors because they are not debt collectors; they are small businesses that repair and service vehicles. The bill also exempts new car manufacturer dealerships that own and operate repair facilities, but fails to exempt independent auto repair businesses that perform the same services, which is patently unfair." 


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