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Calif. BAR stresses transparency, consent in subletting with regulation rewrite

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Associations | Business Practices | Legal | Repair Operations
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California shops must always inform customers of any subletting, new regulations adopted this week by the Bureau of Automotive Repair clarified.

The new rules also shift and revise sublet language to clarify that you absolutely can’t sublet anything without customer consent.

“This addition is necessary because the existing section 3359, when read by itself and not alongside Business and Professions Code section 9884.9(b), is susceptible to the interpretation that disclosure of subletting is only required upon request of a customer,” the BAR wrote to explain its September 2017 proposal of the rules. “The proposed language makes clear the full requirements pertaining to subletting, including that such must be disclosed on the estimate (or work order, as subletting can also occur at that stage) and authorized by the customer.”

Section 3359, which was tossed in favor of sticking the subletting language in another part of California’s regulations, had stated, “Upon the request of a customer, an automotive repair dealer shall disclose the location at which any repair work will be done other than repair work to be done at the dealer’s location and by the dealer or his/her employees.”

The BAR’s new rules also state that you need to let the customer know the subcontractor’s name as well as their “location,”

“This additional information is consistent with the goal of the existing regulation,” the BAR wrote. “It makes the disclosure more useful to consumers, who would be able to identify a sublettee more easily and thus make a more informed choice as to whether to approve the sublet.”

The revised regulations now state:

No automotive repair shall be done by someone other than the automotive repair dealer or his or her employees without the consent of the customer, unless the customer cannot reasonably be notified. An automotive repair dealer shall include with the estimate a statement of any sublet repair to be performed on the vehicle. If requested by the customer, an automotive repair dealer shall disclose the name and location of the facility performing the sublet repair.

Originally, the regulation was going to require the subcontractor be disclosed on an estimate, but the BAR decided it agreed with California Automotive Business Coalition Executive Director Johan Gallo and California Autobody Association lobbyist Jack Molodanof (Molodanof Government Relations) “that the recording requirement is unnecessary, will be an administrative burden on ARDs and may result in disciplinary action for verbally disclosing sublet information but failing to record it on the estimate or work order.”

“Although this documentation may be considered a best practice, it places another unnecessary administrative burden on the ARD resulting in possible disciplinary action for verbally disclosing the sublet information to the customer but failing to record on the estimate,” the BAR summarized Gallo and Molodanof’s comment.

Gallo had also argued that disclosing a sublet facility “may result in customers having buyer remorse and being unhappy with the referring shop’s price markup,” according to the BAR’s summary.

“A customer may not want work performed by certain facilities,” the BAR wrote, disagreeing. “Providing, upon customer request, the name and location of the facility performing sublet work will permit the customer to make an informed decision about whether to authorize the sublet work.

More information:

Final “Electronic Documentation and Authorization” order and text

California Bureau of Automotive Repair, September 2018

Final statement of reasons for changes and responses to comments

California BAR, 2018

Initial statement of reasons

California BAR, 2017

Featured image: California shops must always inform customers of any subletting, new regulations enacted in September 2018 by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair clarified. (Borodatch/iStock)

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