June 20, 2012
The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association and the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition announced an agreement on compromise "right to repair" legislation that, if passed, would avoid the November ballot question fight.Right to Repair legislation would require manufacturers of motor vehicles sold in the commonwealth to sell vehicle owners and independent repair facilities the same non-proprietary diagnostic and repair information, including repair technical updates, that the manufacturer makes available to its dealers and authorized repair facilities."Our members not only are franchise vehicle dealers for the manufacturers but also act as independent repairers when working on vehicles outside their franchise line makes," says Robert O'Koniewski, executive vice president of the MSADA. "Therefore, a consumer's ability to have his or her car repaired by whomever he or she wants is important to us."Should the ballot question pass, and all polls indicate that it would overwhelmingly, there is a great possibility that our dealers will not have vehicles to sell to our customers beginning in the spring of 2014 as the manufacturers cannot, or will not, comply with the law. That is a prospect with which we cannot gamble our dealers' businesses and their customers' satisfaction," says O'Koniewski.The coalition and MSADA sent a joint letter to Massachusetts lawmakers asking them to act on the Right to Repair legislative proposal in advance of the final July 3 deadline for certified signatures on the Right to Repair ballot initiative to be submitted to the Massachusetts Secretary of State. Both MSADA and the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition would prefer a legislative solution to the Right to Repair issue as long as it contains strong consumer protections and remedies as proposed in the ballot initiative."Our fight has always been with big out-of-state car manufacturers on this issue," says Art Kinsman, spokesman for the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition. "Now legislators can be assured that the Right to Repair legislation before them will be a great benefit for all their constituents who make a living in the local automotive repair business. Of course, the greatest beneficiary is the car owner, who will have a true, unfettered choice of where they get their cars fixed."Related stories:Massachusetts Right to Repair Surpasses Ballot Petition GoalMass. Right to Repair Bill Jumps First Hurdle Dealers Weigh in on Question of 'Right to Repair'