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What Now? Car Dealers, R2R Coalition Agree on Bill Revisions

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Massachusetts independent tire dealers and service centers have to wonder where they sit now that a car dealer group and the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition signed off on compromise Right to Repair legislation.

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Should that revised legislation be adopted by state lawmakers and signed by the governor, the Coalition’s efforts to put the entire Right to Repair question before state voters this November would be gone.

Yesterday, though, both sides were congratulating each other over the compromise bill, yet released no details on the proposed language changes. “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,” said Robert O’Koniewski, executive vice president of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association. “Therefore, a consumer’s ability to have his or her car repaired by whomever he or she wants is important to us.

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“As part of the legislative process we have been working with legislators, the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition, vehicle manufacturers, and all other interested parties to achieve a consensus on a bill that would ultimately avoid the November ballot question while fixing the problems in the petition that directly impact our member dealers,” he said.

“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.” 

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“We are especially pleased that the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association has joined us in pushing for a legislative solution to the Right to Repair issue,” said Art Kinsman, spokesman for the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition.

“At the heart of it, Right to Repair has always been about fairness in creating a level playing field between the car and truck manufacturers, franchise new car dealers and their independent counterparts in the aftermarket.” 

The Coalition represents 40 consumer and aftermarket organizations, more than 2,000 independent repair shops, and the car dealer group sent a joint letter to Massachusetts lawmakers asking them to act on Right to Repair legislation in advance of the final July 3 deadline for certified signatures on the ballot initiative to be submitted to the Massachusetts Secretary of State.  

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“Our fight has always been with big out-of-state car manufacturers on this issue. 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. Today’s accord proves that both new car dealers and independent repairers together have their customers’ best interests at heart,” said Kinsman.

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