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A Publication of Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service
Vol. 10  No. 2         Spring 2004

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    Consumers Gradually Losing Choice Of Who Can Repair Their Car

Day by day, consumers are losing the right to choose which shop can work on their vehicle. Often today, independent repair shops are “locked out” from performing certain repairs. “Information Lockout” is the term used when referring to the lack or restriction of automotive service information. These restrictions often mean independent repair facilities, like ours, are locked out from repairing certain vehicle systems. This lockout can be as simple as a lack of printed repair information or it can be in a more sophisticated form like special tools or software that the automotive manufacturer only shares with its new car dealers. More and more car owners today are hearing their independent technician say: “Sorry, you’ll have to take the car to the dealer.”

Having to take a car to the new car dealer is not always the most convenient or affordable to customers. Many new car dealer labor rates are fast approaching $100.00 per hour. In addition, recent polls have shown that a majority of consumers like the convenience and affordability of local independent repair facilities. 

At last some relief may be in sight. This past February, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced “The Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act” (SB 2138). SB 2138 is the companion legislation to HR 2735, The Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act, re-introduced by U.S. Representatives Joe Barton (R-TX) and Edolphus Towns (D-NY), in July 2003. HR 2735 has, as of today, 85 co-sponsors, including Reps. Barton and Towns. The House Bill is assigned to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Below is a brief summary of the bill.

                              THE MOTOR VEHICLE OWNERS’ RIGHT TO REPAIR ACT

H.R. 2735: Introduced July 15, 2003 by Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX) and EdolphusTowns (D-NY)
S. 2138: Introduced Feb. 26, 2004 by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

                                                              WHY THIS BILL IS NEEDED:

    * Current automotive technology is being used to successfully “lock out” car owners from being able to repair and maintain their own vehicles. Modern automobiles contain many computers that control virtually every component such as the braking system, steering mechanism, air bags, ignition, and the climate control system.
    * Lacking the ability to “talk” to the car’s computers, owners or their auto technicians cannot accurately diagnose mechanical problems or install safe and reliable replacement parts that are compatible with the vehicle’s computers.
    * This means that later model cars can only be serviced and repaired at automobile dealer ships, which  makes shopping around for the best prices and most convenient service locations impossible.
    * Without the ability to choose, consumers are denied competitive prices and the right to choose where, how and when to have  their vehicles repaired—at affordable prices and convenient locations.

                                                                   WHAT THIS BILL DOES

    * Reaffirms the owners’ right to repair their automobile and keep their families safe.
    * Promotes consumer safety by allowing owners or their auto technicians’ access to the computers that control the systems and components that affect the safe operation of their automobiles.
    * Permits owners to choose the repair shop and the replacement parts to service and maintain their vehicles.
    * Authorizes the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to promulgate regulations to protect consumers and to promote competition in auto maintenance and repair.
    * Provides car owners a cause of action in federal court for violation of this Act.

                                                              WHAT THIS BILL DOES NOT DO:

    * It does not unconstitutionally take the manufacturer’s intellectual property.
    * It does not affect the dealer’s warranty agreement with the vehicle manufacturers.
    * It does not require manufacturers to disclose manufacturing processes or trade secrets.

You can make a difference and help this bill pass. Come into our waiting area and sign the petition in favor of THE MOTOR VEHICLE OWNERS’ RIGHT TO REPAIR ACT.  You can also read more about this pending legislation and even e-mail your senator through the following web site:

AAA Supports Reintroduction of Right to Repair Legislation

From AAA’s “News You Can Use”

AAA, the leading provider of automotive services to North American vehicle owners, said it will work closely with Representatives Joe Barton (R-TX) and Edolphus Towns (D-NY) to pass H.R. 2735, the "Motor Vehicle Owner’s Right to Repair Act." Recently, the representatives reintroduced the Motor Vehicle Owner’s Right to Repair Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. "AAA has been a strong supporter of this legislation for three important reasons: consumer choice; vehicle safety; and the right of car owners to own the information generated by their automobiles," said John Nielsen, Director of AAA Automotive. As technology has become more advanced, service data in today’s vehicles are increasingly governed by sophisticated computer systems. Some American and import automobile manufacturers are currently impeding independent repair facilities’ access to and use of data generated by automobiles sold to the public, leaving consumers with no choice but to take their vehicle to a dealer.

"Having confidence in a trusted service technician and having the opportunity to seek a second opinion are rights every consumer should have. And why not? Both usually lead to better customer service and lower prices," said Nielsen.

The bill was first introduced during the last session of Congress, and AAA testified in support of the legislation before a Senate hearing in September 2002. As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides its 46 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding 100 years ago, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

Technicians File Suit Against Ford Motor Company

From The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

Washington, D.C., September 3, 2003  The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) will support auto technicians in a planned nationwide class action suit against Ford Motor Company. The IAM represents thousands of auto and truck technicians and is committed to improving the lives of workers in the industry.  Ford technicians, who have formed a group that is widely known as “Flat Rate Tech,” allege that Ford’s unfair warranty compensation program is costing technicians thousands of dollars a year in lost income.  Ford pays auto technicians and dealers a “flat rate” for warranty repairs, regardless of how much time it actually takes to make the repair. By setting unrealistically low repair times, Ford can reduce the amount it pays to dealerships and technicians performing the repairs, leaving it to technicians and dealers to make up for short repair times.

“Ford’s system is just trickle up economics. They are taking money from thousands of hardworking and dedicated auto technicians and dealers and putting into corporate profits,” says one of Flat Rate Tech’s founders Mark Ward. “Ford won’t listen to us. The class action suit is our way of telling Ford we have had enough.” “Their fight is our fight, too,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “Ford’s tactics are bad for all auto technicians, including the thousands who are IAM members. We’re proud to lend our expertise to the dedicated members of Flat Rate Tech who are leading this fight.”

Flat Rate Tech is an organization “created for and by Ford and Lincoln Mercury service technicians solely to speak as one loud voice rather than 50,000 smaller voices,” according to their website The fastgrowing site offers forums for Ford customers, technicians and dealers to exchange information and has a signup form for Ford technicians to join the planned class action suit.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) represents approximately 44,000 auto and truck technicians in North America.


Giammalvo’s Receives E-mail From Florida Concerning
Technician Certifications

Subject: ASE Question
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 08:35:06 -0400
From: "The Wilson's" <>

 Dear Sir:
 My brother (age 40) was ASE certified and was absolutely fantastic in his field with brakes. Unfortunately, a horrible accident rendered him brain damaged with other serious limb problems. While he gets around extremely well where he lives at an assisted living facility, he is still limited. Needless to say he was not able to keep up his ASE certifications. The assisted living facility he lives in does their own auto work. He cannot understand that the ASE certification is not required of every person that works on automobiles. Because of his brain injury, his reasoning powers are limited and it is a very touchy thing when you talk to him about something he feels so strongly about. He loved and still loves working on cars, but he is not looked at the same way and these people do not know him or his abilities as I do. Fact: To be a doctor you must have your license in medicine. To be a certified bookkeeper you must have your license to be a CPA.
QUESTION:  Is it a requirement that any facility that works on cars employ an ASE Certified Technician in order to be open for business?  I appreciate your time and thoughts to help me explain this to my dear brother. Cordially, Patti Wilson.  Also your web-site is extremely well thought out. I have printed out your glove box tips for my 22 year old daughter. Nice work. Wish you had a shop in Florida.

Reply to: "The Wilson's" <>
From:  Mark Giammalvo" <>

Unfortunately, ASE testing is a voluntary certification process. It is not a requirement in any state that I know of. Some states do require automotive technicians to be "licensed" by their state in a way that is similar to contractor licensing. I do not believe they test abilities as thoroughly as ASE does though. Various automotive associations like ASA and AASP have floated the idea among their various state senators but no state has yet to implement it as a requirement. I do not believe it has received enough public attention to pass. Thanks for the compliments on the site.


Need A Windshield Replaced?

 If you have a cracked or damaged windshield, give our service department a call. We can have your windshield replaced when you are in for your next service, or immediately, if you desire. With proper coverage in Massachusetts, there is no deductible on glass claims, so you will not be charged for the replacement. We will bill your insurance company directly. All you have to do before coming in is report the glass break to your agent or insurance company. Please note that we have been hearing about some insurance companies  telling their customers, they will only pay “certain shops” that “they recommend” to replace glass. In addition, some insurance company receptionists are connecting the customer calls directly to a national glass installation company.  The customer still thinks they are reporting the glass break to an employee of the insurance company, but in reality, they are now talking to a national glass chain employee that is going to try to “steal” the glass job.  This tactic is known as “steering,” in that the insurance company is trying to steer the customer to a certain glass facility. In some cases the customer is even told that they may have to “pay a cost difference” if they don’t choose a certain facility. These “steering” tactics are a blatant violation of state law. The customer has a “Right To Choose” which repair facility will perform the repairs. If your agent or insurance company suggests another facility, just tell them that Giammalvo’s meets all insurance price requirements and that you prefer to use us. If an attempt is still made to “steer” you to another facility, please contact Mark Giammalvo at once and he will contact your insurance company and resolve the matter for you.

In Passing.

(Obituaries Courtesy The Standard Times) Note: Due to recent requests, we will be adding family survivors to our customer’s obituaries as space allows.

Dalpha R. Lavallee, 89, of New Bedford died Thursday, April 8, 2004, at St. Luke's Hospital. He was the husband of Irene (Lada) Lavallee. A lifelong New Bedford resident, he was the son of the late Arthur J. and Rose A. (Nerbonne) Lavallee. He was a communicant of St. Lawrence Church, where he was a Eucharistic minister for many years and a member of the choir. Mr. Lavallee was formerly an upholsterer for the Auto Top Shop. He served in the Army during World War II and was a recipient of the American Theater Ribbon, American Defense Medal and World War II Victory Medal. He was a captain in the Army Reserves, retiring in 1974. During the 1930s, he served in the Civilian Conservation Corps in Wyoming. He was a member of the American Legion Post 1. Survivors include his widow; two sons, Peter D. Lavallee and his wife, Janice, of San Diego and Mark A. Lavallee of New Bedford; three sisters, Bernadette Loveridge of New Bedford, Claire Mosgofian of Natick and Yvonne Smith of Fall Church, Va.

Leonel Joseph Manny, 84, of Fairhaven, died Sunday, Jan. 25, 2004, at The Oaks after a long illness. He was the husband of Anita Jeannette (Plante) Manny; they were married on his birthday 61 years ago. Born in New Bedford, the son of the late Aldemard and Alice (Gagnon) Manny, he lived in Fairhaven since 1925, where he was a communicant of St. Joseph Church. Mr. Manny was a quality control inspector at Aerovox Corp. for 45 years until retiring. He was a World War II Army veteran assigned to the 3187 Signal Service Battalion and held the rank of tech fourth grade. He served in the Battle of Rhineland and was a recipient of the Good Conduct Medal, Victory Medal and European African Middle Eastern Theater Campaign Ribbon.  Survivors include his widow; two sons, Ronald Manny and his wife, Marie, of California and Donald Manny and his wife, Lorna, of Florida; a daughter, Susan Ewing of North Dartmouth; a brother, Oliver J. Manny and his wife, Rollande, of New Bedford; five grandchildren, Rebecca Prouty, Joseph Arthur Manny and Geneva Abril, all of California, Stephanie Manny of Lakeville and Christine Manny of New Bedford; four greatgrandchildren, Holly Prouty, Autumn Prouty, Vanessa Abril and John Abril, all of California; and several nieces and nephews.

Miguel Carvalho, 48, of New Bedford died Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2004, at Lahey Clinic after a long and courageous battle with his illness. Born in Sao Jorge, Chaves, Portugal, the son of Pedro Carvalho of New Bedford and the late Teresa (Ferreira) Carvalho, he lived in New Bedford for 36 years. He was a communicant of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church. Mr. Carvalho had been a laborer for Modern Continental Construction Co. and J.F. White Co. He was a past member of the Clube Recordacoes de Portugal and an avid sports fan, his favorite teams being the Benfica soccer team and the New England Patriots. Survivors include his father; a daughter, Trista Lee Carvalho of Fairhaven; four brothers, Jose Carvalho of Taunton, and Herminio Carvalho, Julio Carvalho and Fernando Carvalho, all of New Bedford; a sister, Maria Odete Miranda of Acushnet; his fiancee, Joyce McCarthy of New Bedford; and many nieces and nephews.

Harold "Coop" "Hal" M. Cooper Jr., 78, of South Dartmouth died unexpectedly Sunday, Feb. 22, 2004, at St. Luke's Hospital. He was the widower of Helen G. Cooper. Born and raised in New Bedford, he was the son of the late Harold and Dora Cooper. He was a member of St. Paul United Methodist Church. Mr. Cooper was the founder and president of Cooper Insurance Agency in downtown New Bedford for more than 50 years. He was a leader in the New Bedford community and was active in many local organizations, including the New Bedford Kiwanis Club, the Interchurch Council of Greater New Bedford, New Bedford Child & Family Services, the YMCA, Masons and the Country Club of New Bedford. He was a graduate of the New Bedford public school system and Brown University. He served as a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy.   

We appreciate your business.
Please drive carefully.
Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales, Inc.
1476 Purchase Street
New Bedford, MA 02740
Phone: (508) 999-3213

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