My name is Norine Raypold and my husband and I own a 6 bay shop in Spruce Grove, Alberta. We run a top notch shop and our business is increasing all the time. The reason for contacting you is I would like an address or e-mail for the shop owners responding to the article in Taking Sides. These shop owners sound very much like they also run a good shop.
I also have the privilege of being the secretary for the Canadian Independent Automotive Association, and founder and a Board of Director. I would like to contact Craig Harley, Howard Chew and Darryl Saundry. As in their letters they speak of issues that are exactly what the CIA Association is trying to bring across to the rest of the shops across Canada. I do understand that you may not be able to pass on this information.
P.S If any one is looking for information on the CIA Association they may contact me.
Thanks for writing Norine. We don’t normally print the contact information unless the reader, like you in this case, is looking for direct response from SSGM readers. That’s because with something like 100,000 readers in over thirty thousand shops, replies could get overwhelming! It should be possible to find the contact info from the Internet, and hopefully, those readers will get in touch with you directly. In the meantime, stay in touch; the business needs representation, especially if it’s national in scope.
AIA president Ray Datt responded to my “Jim’s Rant” in the May issue of SSGM:
I am writing you this email in response to your recent ‘Rant’ in SSGM Magazine (May 2005). I am in full agreement with your statement of the facts. It is true that the right to repair issue is a serious threat to both independents and consumers and until now there really hasn’t been a national voice to represent the ASP’s in Ottawa. However, I would like to bring to your attention the significant steps that AIA Canada has been taking to remedy that situation.
As you know, in the US, all vehicle manufacturers make service and repair information available on the Internet through EPA legislation (for emissions related information) and a voluntary agreement is administered through the National Automotive Service Task Force. All of these manufacturers have been contacted by AIA Canada for an official position as to whether this infrastructure is available to Canadian installers. A letter has also been sent to the co-chairs of NASTF to solicit their assistance in building “NASTF” North.
AIA also circulated a questionnaire through trade publications and several other organizations to quantify the extent and nature of the access problem. This questionnaire is also on our website. Your assistance in motivating service providers to participate in this survey would help us quantify the problem for our discussions with government.
These have been first steps but we realize we need to do more. As you know, AIA Canada has had to re-invent itself in the last few years in response to the new realities in the aftermarket. Part of that re-invention has been to look at who we represent. If we are to truly be ‘the voice and the resource’ of the aftermarket, then we recognize that we have to broaden the scope of our membership to include other business lines in the industry. The ASP provincial associations are our first step in broadening our reach. One of the main reasons we started with the ASP associations was so that we could more effectively represent the industry in our right to repair lobby efforts in Ottawa. Let me be clear that we are not looking to recruit individual ASPs as members. The provincial organizations are already representing them well at the local level and we are not looking to replace them. We are looking to work with the provincial associations to bring value to their members by providing a national voice on key issues to the industry — whether they are lobbying efforts in Ottawa or image enhancement programs like Be Car Care Aware.
In the past year, AIA has organized 2 meetings with Provincial ASP associations to organize a national strategy on right to repair. These meetings have been extremely positive with virtually all the associations showing not only willingness but a true excitement about the prospect of joining AIA and gaining the benefits of a national voice. As a result of those initial meetings, AIA has extended an invitation to Provincial ASP associations to participate in the national dialogue on right to repair and other issues as members of AIA.
President, Automotive Industries Association of Canada
Jim Anderton replies:
Ray, as I’ve stated in this month’s “Rant”, we’re lucky in the service aftermarket to have the AIA working on issues like right-to-repair, especially in the absence of a national voice for service providers. It’s that lack of a national voice, specifically by and for ASP’s that troubles me. It’s an odd situation that provincial associations must turn to a national body that their constituents can’t join or influence to get a coherent message across to the public and on Parliament Hill. In a perfect world, you would liaise and coordinate with a national ASP representative in a position similar to yours. But setting up a national body can’t work without grassroots support from coast-to-coast, and I don’t see it, at least not yet. In the meantime, keep up the good work, because issues like right to repair could severely damage the service aftermarket before we can get organized, if ever.
Sean O’Gorman of Glenn’s Small Car in Vancouver Island’s beautiful Comox Valley, disagrees with Tom Brown’s “Plan C” A/C service strategy from July’s SSGM:
Good day Jim:
I have just finished reading the article PLAN C in the July issue of SSGM. I am surprised that an industry publication like yours that supports bringing the industry and its image to a much higher level through good management and excellent practices, like the practices laid down by MAP, would even run an article like this one. It is practices and repairs like the one suggested in this article that help to promote the shabby image that this industry has. You can bet your bottom dollar that this customer will not remember the service writer saying that this is just a patch and that there is no warranty, when this system fails one month later and his $250.00 is gone and there is no come back. He will probably rant at the shop and then tell anyone and everyone how he was ripped off. And as a shop I know found out when they did such a patch for a customer, the work order stated that it was such and that there was no warranty, and even though the customer signed it, the customer took them to court and won. They consequently had to repair the system properly for the customer for free. You have to sell a lot of repairs to make up for this kind of loss. This article also promotes use of non-certified techs to perform this service. I think that maybe Mr. Brown needs to step back and decide if he wants to be part of the cause or the solution for the problems this industry has. At what cost profits? Better to suggest that the gentleman take the repair somewhere else than to promote this kind of thinking and practice. If you can’t do it right, don’t do it.
The whole industry will be better off.
Glenn’s Small Car
Jim Anderton replies:
Sean, any customer who can afford proper system repairs should do so. There’s no question that OEM-type repairs with OE or equivalent parts are the gold standard, but in many parts of the country, A/C work is expensive enough that the work goes unrepaired. What do you tell the customer with a 15 year old car that wants one more season out of it? You are also correct in your assessment that there’s some risk of an unhappy customer if the repair fails prematurely, but that’s where it’s important to note the “no warranty” nature of the job in writing, on the work order.
It’s a good sign that your business can refuse this kind of temporary repair, but it’s also important to know that it’s out there, especially when you’re recovering refrigerant that may have sealer mixed in. As for the use of non-certified techs, at SSGM we never advocate that untrained personnel should perform any kind of automotive service, and in the case of A/C work, it should be done by a licensed technician. Whether he or she needs an A/C ticket depends on the presence of R-12 or R-134a in the system as well as provincial regulations. In most provinces, a licensed technician can fill an empty system with hydrocarbon refrigerants without regulatory issues, but in places like Ontario, it would have to be tagged as empty by an ozone- depleting substances cardholder. Deter them if you can, but if they really need a cheap but temporary repair, it is an option for some shops.
Gary Ball, Chairman of the Newfoundland Labrador Automotive Service Association sent SSGM the following summary of the state of the business back East, along with a plea for the industry to form a united front, coast to coast:
I am sure you are all aware that since the removal of the mandatory vehicle program in 1994 the condition of vehicles traveling our roads and highways has deteriorated to a level we never thought possible.
These vehicles must be repaired or taken off the road, period.
Critics will say we want them back for financial reasons; however we must put the safety issue and the environmental issues first and foremost. And like any other service business we will be paid for saving lives and preserving the environment for future generations.
How many vehicles have you seen this week which should not be on the road for safety related or environment related problems, and how many has your group seen. The figure taken from a sampling in January at twenty independent shops indicated that approximately 62% of the vehicles checked would not pass a minimal safety inspection and when the owner’s were advised only 33.6% authorized the necessary repair.
Twenty eight percent of 480,500 registered vehicles is a staggering 134,540 unsafe or environmentally unfriendly vehicles traveling our road ways.
If just $200.00 dollars we spent on these vehicles the revenue generated would be $26,908,000.00.
I ask you is it worth getting involved to save a life, protect the environment and be paid for taking the initiative. The answer must be yes.
This has been a great industry and still is, but because we have let our guard down in the past, Government sees us as insignificant in relationship to the consultation process, on items which have a negative impact on our industry and they will continue to do so until we organize a united front. That is why it is not only you who should be involved with raising the stature of your occupation and industry it is your co-workers and family members etc. who should be writing letters to the paper, phoning talk shows and phoning government members of parliament insisting on change.
Everybody has an idea which when uncovered has the power to move mountains; we do not have to move mountains we only have to believe as a group what we are doing is of value to those around us and the Earth we share with them.
No more putting this industry down, we as professionals have a duty to inform the public and correspond with government our concerns regarding vehicle safety and related environmental issues. We are the professionals not some uninformed Minister or MVR employee trying to protect their job and unwilling to get involved because it is politically incorrect to do so.
Please consider your future and the negative impact that government policy without consultation can have and has had on you and your employer.
Please let your out of province partners be party to a national automotive recognition program; it can start right here.
Yours in auto service,
Gary Ball, Chairman
NL.A.S.A. (Newfoundland Labrador Automotive Service Association)
Unit 50 Hamlyn Road Plaza
St. John’s NL A1E 5X7
Jim Anderton replies:
Gary, the problems you mention are seen across the country, with billions in unperformed maintenance and repairs slipping though the cracks every year. I’m not sure that mandatory vehicle inspections are the answer, however. My main concern is that it might drive owners into new cars and trucks, a situation that’s pretty tempting with current promotions like zero-percent financing and employee pricing for everyone. How about a stamp or seal for the owner’s manual (from a licensed tech) showing that scheduled maintenance has been performed? It could be displayed as a condition for license plate renewal. Politically, mandatory inspection might be seen as a cash grab by the industry. If you can get enough MLA’s on side however, it would get some of the junk off the roads. Let’s just be sure that that’s what we want.