In a guest column written for The Des Moines Register, State Rep. Wayne Ford, D-Des Moines, discusses a new law, which will take effect on May 1, 2010. The new law will prevent automotive repair shops from holding customers’ vehicles until repair bills have been paid.
Below is the article as it appeared on The Des Moines Register website.
Guest Opinion Column: Law Protects Drivers from Dishonest Car Repair Shops
By STATE REP. WAYNE FORD House District 65 March 26, 2010
Dishonest auto repair shops will no longer be able to hold a customer’s car ransom in order to coerce payment of a disputed bill, thanks to legislation signed by Gov. Chet Culver. Senate File 2108 will take effect on May 1.
Under the current Artisan Lien Law, a person who repairs another’s property has a lien on the property and may hold it until agreed upon or reasonable compensation is paid for the repair work.
For most items, this does not produce a major hardship on the customer. But when it involves the family auto, the consumer is over a barrel because they need the car to get to work, go to school, and do all the other things a family needs to live.
Even if the repair shop carried out unauthorized repairs, or presents a bill much larger than the estimate, the customer is often forced to pay whatever the shop demands.
Senate File 2108 creates an exception to the law. A car owner may complain to the attorney general and, after a prompt investigation, if the attorney general has reason to believe the repair shop has engaged in a deceptive act, the repair shop must return the car within one business day of being notified.
This will not prevent the repair shop from putting a lien on the vehicle or taking any other legal action to collect the bill. However, by returning the vehicle, it will give the average Iowan the ability to stand up to a dishonest auto repair shop.
I am very proud to have supported this legislation. In the 14 years that I have served my district, this issue has been a consistent problem during my tenure. It sends a clear message to auto repair shops that enough is enough.
To read this article on The Des Moines Register website, visit http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20100326/OPINION/3260309/-1/ENT05/Guest-opinion-column-Law-protects-drivers-from-dishonest-car-repair-shops.