ASA Testifies Before U.S. House of Representatives CommmitteePosted 11/16/2004
By Robert L. Redding, Jr.
The Automotive Service Association testified recently before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, R.-Fla., reviewed the issue, "Repairing the 21st Century Car: Is Technology Locking the Consumer Out?"
Bill Haas, AAM, ASA vice president of service repair markets, opened the hearing with a presentation on ASA's service information agreement with the automakers, discussing how all emissions and non-emissions service information is now available on the automaker Web sites.
ASA member Donald "Donny" Seyfer of Seyfer Automotive Inc. in Wheat Ridge, Colo., discussed the agreement and its effectiveness in the repair marketplace.
The hearing on Capitol Hill was attended by a large number of the subcommittee's members. ASA has worked hard in the past year to help educate repairers on the use of the automaker Web sites and their value to repair shop owners. Haas has conducted meetings concerning the automaker Web sites nationwide in approximately half the states. The Automotive Management Institute (AMI) now provides attendees credit for a class on the use of the Web sites.
The full witness list for the hearing included:
One of the most important points to come out of the hearing was the interest from members attending in maintaining a voluntary approach to resolving service information issues versus a federal government regulatory process.
Cabaniss reported on the progress of NASTF, an industry coalition structured to address issues repairers have with obtaining service information, tools, tool information and training from the automakers. NASTF has scheduled its semiannual meeting at CARS in Las Vegas Nov. 3. The most recent complaint report demonstrated a continued high success rate with an expeditious response time (see NASTF Report on next page).
complaint filed by repair shop owners and technicians at ASA's national headquarters in Texas.
The Federal Trade Commission submitted comments about NASTF to the committee after receiving questions from Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. The FTC said:
"The Commission understands that a sizeable group of automotive trade associations has formed a task group, the National Automotive Service Task Force, and has reached voluntary agreements for the provision of online factory service information to independent automobile repairers. The agreements are overseen and facilitated by this task force, which addresses specific complaints filed with it and also provides a forum for resolving broad issues of information availability. We understand that associations of affected independent repair shops have expressed conflicting views on the adequacy of this approach and the need for legislation.
"Self-regulatory programs, when successful, can address issues with greater speed and more flexibility than government regulation. That may be particularly true here where the groups would have much greater familiarity with automobile technology as it evolves than the FTC's attorneys and economists. If a suitable resolution can be obtained through the task force or similar mechanism, it may be preferable to governmental intervention."
ASA has had preliminary discussions about how we might advance the training component of our automaker agreement in the future. We hope to heighten this piece of the agreement in 2005.
ASA encourages repairers to use the automakers' Web sites and report any concerns to ASA or NASTF. To stay abreast of the ASA-Automaker service information agreement, visit www.TakingTheHill.com.
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