Auto Service World
Feature   February 1, 2004   by Jim Anderson, Editor

Protecting Our Right to Information

and thank you to our "tech in the bay"

Glenn McNally is on a mission. Glenn is well known to many of you in the industry as a technical trainer and outspoken industry voice and he’s on to something big enough to warrant some serious action from technicians and shop owners nationwide. It’s the information issue, or more specifically, the lack of information. For those of you who have been on Mars for the last decade or so, the issue is simple: Today’s high-tech vehicles require specific diagnostic information to allow technicians access to computer controlled systems. And the major automakers are reluctant to give up their code to anyone outside their dealer network. From a competitive standpoint, it’s understandable that manufacturers would be reluctant to surrender their code. Courts have upheld computer code as intellectual property and people copying software have been successfully prosecuted. Manufacturers have often cranky dealer principals to pacify, dealers who generate a substantial amount of revenue from the service bays. On the surface of the issue, they have a good case, yet they must be stopped. Ever had to send a vehicle to a local dealer for a MIL reset or for a code read? Ever had to buy a horribly expensive OE-only tool to keep servicing a specific brand? Then you have a sense of what’s coming if we don’t do something soon.

This is about establishing our right to operate our businesses in Canada and Canadians right to choice in who services their vehicles. In the U.S. right-to-repair legislation is on the books, and OE’s must reveal service-critical information. Glenn reports that he’s seen the same open access Web sites closed to Canadian technicians’ inquiries. Ottawa needs to know what’s going on and more importantly, that they need to put legislation in place immediately. What can you do? Call your association, your MLA/MPP and don’t forget your MP. Do they listen? I once knew someone who worked in the Prime Minister’s office in a previous government, and the rule of thumb they used was that an angry letter represented the opinion of about a thousand voters. In other words, it’s worth the time it takes to write a letter, E-mail or make a phone call.

Also worth doing, on my end anyway, is to say thank you to our “bay technician”, Valerie Perrott. Valerie is an Art Director, the person that assembles a magazine piece by piece, not unlike a major engine rebuild. It takes talent and experience to do it on impossible deadlines and like your customers, everyone wants it fast, good and cheap, and she managed all three. Valerie passes the torch about five desks down, to her husband, Ron Taylor, so SSGM is still “in the family”. Thanks Valerie.