June 10, 2012 | last updated June 10, 2012 6:37 am

Right To Repair Preserves Customer Choice


Like thousands of other people in Massachusetts, I signed the Right to Repair initiative petition, and I called my legislators to ask them to pass the law.

I understand the Legislature has some tough votes, but Right to Repair? Come on. It will save you and me money right now by giving all of us a choice in where we get our cars fixed, and ultimately, for how much.

I've experienced firsthand getting sent by a mechanic I know and trust to a dealer I don't know to complete a repair. It cost me time and money, something we're all short of nowadays.

My wife and I both run small businesses and we take our personal and small fleet of business vehicles to Tom, a local, independent mechanic just down the road from us. We have always trusted Tom to gives us a fair deal and fix only what needs fixing.

Recently the dreaded "Check Engine" light went on in my wife's SUV. She drove the vehicle to Tom's, only to find out, after hours of diagnostic time, that Tom could not obtain the repair codes necessary to diagnose and repair the vehicle. As a result, the vehicle had to be taken to a dealer 25 miles away to be diagnosed and repaired.

That night at dinner, my wife told me the story, and I thought: This situation where car manufacturers have a monopoly over repair codes just cost my family time and money, and prevented me from doing business with the repair shop of my choice. That's unfair, and it's wrong. If I don't have a choice of where I get my car fixed, do I really own it?

What's hard to believe is that big car companies like General Motors and Chrysler continue to lobby to kill the Right to Repair bill. After taxpayers like you and me bailed them out, this is how I get repaid?

Car companies say all the information is available. So tell me then, General Motors and Chrysler: Why is this bill such a threat to you? You ought to realize that I'll be a happy customer when I can fix the car I paid you for anywhere I want, especially after the warranty is up.

I've heard the radio ads from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. They try to scare people with talk about jobs overseas and the death of innovation in all industries.

Don't insult my intelligence. I read the bill. It requires auto manufacturers to sell non-proprietary computer code information to local, independent mechanics. It also says in plain English that nothing in the law will require them to divulge trade secrets.

Right to Repair is a no-brainer for anyone who owns a car. That's why if the Legislature doesn't pass it, I'll vote for the ballot question in November.

It's my car, I paid for it, so I'll get it fixed where I want.n

Jeff McLeod is a small business owner from Marshfield

and one of the original signers of the ballot

petition for Right To Repair.

Read more

Branches Agree On Auto Repair Info Access


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