Rhode Island Governor Throws Monkey Wrench at Motoring Consumers by Allowing Anti-Consumer Bill to Become Law, States Care

Jul 18, 2006, 01:00 ET from Coalition for Auto Repair Equality

    ALEXANDRIA, Va., July 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Over 400 Rhode Island small
 business people and consumers faxed, called and signed petitions into Gov.
 Donald Carcieri's office requesting that he veto an anti-consumer,
 anti-small business bill, House Bill 7705. But, rather than listen to the
 pleas of Rhode Island's small businesses and consumers, he threw a monkey
 wrench at them by allowing the bill to become law on July 12, 2006.
     HB 7705 states that for any automobile which is LESS than thirty (30)
 months beyond the date of manufacture, the insurer and the auto body repair
 shop must provide a written notice to the vehicle owner that he or she is
 entitled to "original equipment manufacturer parts (OEM) in the repair of a
 motor vehicle body replacement part. To comply with this provision, written
 notice may be provided on the appraisal written on behalf of the insurer
 and the estimate prepared by the auto body repair shop.
     "This is in violation of federal law known as the Magnuson-Moss Act,
 passed in the 1970s, which prohibits repairs from being tied to warranties.
 And, the less than 30 months is definitely within the warranty period,"
 stated Sandy Bass-Cors, Executive Director for the Coalition for Auto
 Repair Equality (CARE). Consumers don't have to sign for car dealer parts.
     "This was truly a 'dead-of-night' bill. House Bill 7705 was in the
 Senate Commerce, House and Municipal Government Committee as a 'Study
 Bill'. The Committee Chairman, Senator Frank Caprio, unexpectedly called a
 meeting at 1 a.m. and passed the bill. House Bill 7705 quickly went to the
 floor and then the Governor's desk," stated Bass-Cors.
     "Laws such as HB 7705 plant the seeds of doubt in consumers' minds as
 to the high quality of aftermarket parts, making the aftermarket parts
 sound inferior. In actuality, aftermarket parts and car dealer parts are
 manufactured by the same companies, the only differences are that the
 aftermarket parts cost up to 50 percent less than car dealer parts and
 aftermarket parts come with life-time or long-term warranties, which car
 dealer parts do not.
     "All this legislation does is intimidate consumers into buying higher-
 priced parts. House Bill 7705 hurts low and fixed income motorists, hurts
 small businesses and will eventually hurt the Rhode Island economy that
 depends on a competitive auto repair industry. No one gains from passage of
 HB 7705, except those selling car dealer parts," said Bass-Cors.
     In addition to Rhode Island's small businesses who requested the
 Governor's veto, the Department of Business & Regulations, an original
 supporter of the bill, requested that the Governor not allow this bill to
 become law.
     "Rhode Island's independent repair locations number nearly 700. House
 Bill 7705 will make it much more difficult for them to repair and sell
 parts," concluded Bass-Cors.
     CARE represents companies in the automotive aftermarket, among them:
 NAPA, Midas, CARQUEST, AutoZone, Advance Auto, Jiffy Lube, O'Reilly's and
 others. Five million people nationwide are employed in the aftermarket in
 over 495,000 locations, including "mom and pop" shops.

SOURCE Coalition for Auto Repair Equality