Information on Demand

A look at both sides of the "Right to Repair" Act.


Parde adds complacency to the list of bill killers. "People just get tired of fighting. These guys can fight forever, but we're chipping away."

ASA's Redding offers that his organization is concerned that the voluntary process would be dissolved with passage of this bill. "Rather than filing a complaint, our concern is that a 1-800-COMPLAIN number would be set up through the FTC," he says. "The FTC is not interested in overseeing this because adding this to their jurisdiction would require money and resources to throw at it, which probably would not happen quickly."

AAIA's Lowe says, "In our opinion, consumers will have more choice on where they can get things repaired. All we're looking for is a level playing field. We have a difficult road against OEMs. This is going to be a tough battle."

"We're not after the intellectual property, says Parde. "If we need to strengthen the language, we'll do it. OEMs feel the aftermarket wants their proprietary information so they can turn around and manufacture cheaper parts. It's not about that, but if OEM's have language they want to satisfy this bill, we'll do it."

To Lowe, changes brought about with the passage of the bill would grow more significant over time.

"The main thing would be the long-term assurance that they will be able to get the information they need to repair vehicles," says Lowe. "It may not change things drastically the next day, but as technology advances, it will be in place and a way to take recourse in the event of non-compliance."

SOLUTIONS OFFERED

"We would like to end up with an industry solution and not a legislative process, says Redding. "I feel like it will be resolved in 2006, one way or the other, but legislative change won't come quickly -- the EPA took 13 years to do the Emissions Service Information Regulation."

Cabaniss advises that issues or complaints need to be brought forward. "We can't fix what we don't know so we have to hear about concerns and problems in the field."

A common bond opposing sides share is that training, more than any other issue associated with this bill, is absolutely necessary for the aftermarket industry. Training in accessing and applying data, obtaining and using tools, as well as how to best communicate problems to automakers are critical in servicing customers' vehicles.

"Whether there's a bill passed or not, we will always need a forum to hammer out the issues," says Cabaniss. "Advancing technology on cars will open another door with respect to tools and training. It's usually around three to five years before these new cars show up in the aftermarket. We need to, as an industry, take a look at some of these training issues and what they portend for the future. We need to think in terms of the future, not just what's happening today."

 

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