Consumer Rights in Auto Repair

The State of New York released a brochure to inform consumers of their rights under the “Repair Shop Act”, which is designed to help protect consumers from negligent or dishonest auto repair shops.  The best protection is to choose a qualified, reputable shop – but no matter which shop you choose, you still have certain rights as an auto repair customer:

   The Right to a Written Estimate

  Upon request, the repair shop must provide a written estimate, including parts and labor.  The shop may charge for the time it takes to make an estimate – but not more than the normal hourly rate.  The estimate must include each part, it’s cost, whether it is an aftermarket part, and the rate by which labor is calculated.  The shop may not charge more than the written estimate without permission.

   The Right to Authorize  All Work on Your Automobile

  The auto repair shop cannot perform any repairs without your consent.  If the repair shop prepares a work order, they must give you a copy – if you prepare a written work order, the shop must attach it to their invoice.  And if the shop gets work authorized over the phone, the invoice must include name of the person authorizing the work and the date and time of the call.

The Right to the Return of Replaced Parts

The car owner has the right to all replaced parts unless they are warranty or exchange parts, as long as you ask for them in writing before the shop begins work on your car.  However if work is authorized by phone the shop must save the parts so they are available upon pick up of the vehicle.

The Right to Inspect your Vehicle

  Auto repair customers have the right to inspect their vehicle before paying for repairs.  Customers do NOT, however,  have the right to remove the vehicle from the shop before paying, or enter “employees only” areas to inspect the vehicle.

The Right to a Detailed Invoice

After completing repair the shop must provide the customer with a detailed invoice that includes all repairs, replacement parts and labor costs.  The invoice must also include the odometer reading at the time the car was dropped off, as well as the reading at the time of the invoice.  If you got a written estimate from the shop compare it to the invoice and speak to management about any discrepancies before paying the bill.

Obligation of the Repair Shop Regarding Guarantees

   Auto repair shops are not required to guarantee their work, but if the shop chooses to do so, the terms and conditions of the guarantee must be printed on the receipt.

  These right are designed to protect you from negligence and dishonesty,  but they don’t solve every possible dispute.  If there  are any problems with the quality or price of the repair, they can usually be solved with calm, truthful discussion between management and the customer.  Shop owners never want a customer to leave unhappy, but negotiations are always best when everyone keeps their composure.

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