For several years our association
has been fighting for the rights of vehicle owners to choose where they want to
have their vehicle serviced and repaired. Sounds like a no brainer – you
buy a car, you buy everything in it including the information and data needed
to keep it running properly. The owner of the vehicle decides where to
take it when it needs work. But some car companies and their allies don’t
To guarantee that consumers have
this choice, all repair shops – not just new car dealerships -- must have
access to the information about the vehicle to fix it. And here is where the
whole issue gets dicey.
The car makers want consumers to
take their vehicles to their franchised new car dealerships so some are
withholding some of the repair and diagnostic information from the independent
repair shops. Of course the car companies say all of the information that the
dealers have is being made available to all repair shops. We say it is
not because it is not. Sure, there is tons of information available but
at least partially because we have kept the heat on threatening legislation –
the Motor Vehicle Owners
Right to Repair Act.
Just imagine if there was no Magnuson-Moss
the law which prohibits a vehicle manufacturer from voiding the vehicle
warranty because service was done by a non-dealer – even though that is a
common misperception. Withholding service and repair information from
independent repair shops should be prohibited as well. And if ‘all’ the
information is available, why spend millions blocking a guarantee?
Let me point out that 75 percent
of all vehicle service and repair is performed by independent repair shops in
neighborhoods throughout the country. Only 25 percent of the work is done at
dealerships and that is slipping now that there are fewer dealerships, so they
don’t even have the capacity to handle a larger share of vehicle service.
double negative here but we are not saying that consumers should not take their
car to a dealership for service and repair. We are saying that they should have
the right to take it wherever they want to.
To me, the
car companies’ protectionist position defies logic and long-term brand loyalty
strategy. Wouldn’t you want the people who purchase your new car to have a
convenient, affordable and pleasant experience with quality service and repair
wherever it occurs so that when they are ready to trade up they would stick
with your brand?
tuned because we are not giving up the fight until we get a law
passed or we get the car
companies to join us at the bargaining table to hammer out a non-legislative
agreement with teeth in it. Clearly, we are not going to roll over and give up