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An Open Letter to the Media concerning Massachusetts Right-to-Repair

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE MEDIA CONCERNING MASSACHUSETTS RIGHT-TO-REPAIR
30 October 2012

Last Thursday, the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association (MMA) wrote to the Salem News responding to an opinion they published to vote "NO" to Massachusetts Ballot Question #1, protecting your Right-to-Repair. Despite a delivery confirmation, the Salem News chose neither to acknowledge nor publish the MMA's response. The MMA would like to openly share that response with all motor vehicle owners and operators as well as the rest of the media.

The MMA asks for your opinion and asks that you both vote with a resounding "YES" to MA Ballot Question #1 next Tuesday, but also that you contact your state Legislators to let them know that you emphatically support this legislation to include Motorcycles as well as other vehicles exluded in the "compromise", and would not support any form of repeal of the ballot question.

You can obtain the contact information for your Legislators here:

http://www.malegislature.gov/people/findmylegislator

For More Information, please see http://www.MassMotorcycle.org or contact mrfrep@MassMotorcycle.org 

The Original letter to the Salem News follows...


To whom this may concern:
 
I read with interest your opinion, “Our View: No on Question 1”from 24 October 2012 (http://www.salemnews.com/opinion/x674150323/Our-view-No-on-Question-1) concerning the “Right to Repair” Ballot Question. While my position andthat of the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association (MMA) and AAA is “Yes”, we were interested to understand your views.
 
The piece opens with a statement that there are a lot of movingparts; this is a correct statement, but I then wondered why the article doesn’t address them... The opinion piece merely addresses a compromise reached “in the waning moments of the last legislative session” (should have said,“under the cover of darkness”), when in fact, it doesn’t even begin to address the concerns raised by the AAA and MMA.
 
The article states that the compromise pushes the onboard diagnostic system mandate to 2013 and protects trade secrets and securitymeasures like electronic keys. That’s partially true. While the ballot question is indeed based on the original bill text, which was already 3 years old at the time of filing, it’s also based on a SAE standard from 2004. This now 8-year-old standard is already used in other components of vehicles, so it’s not like vehicle manufacturers are unfamiliar with it. And yes, the Auto Manufacturers could very well have come to a “compromise” 3 years ago bringing the same timeframe to bear. 3 years late, push the date 3 years. That said, I’m not sure the legislature would find much resistance to an amendment pushing the date out to 2018 at this point – we’re not trying to be unreasonable, just trying to move the ball from a start point.
 
With regard to security measures and trade secrets, as clearly noted in the summary from the Massachusetts Secretary of State, “required diagnostic and repair information would not include the information necessary to reset a vehicle immobilizer, an anti-theft device that prevents a vehicle from being started unless the correct key code is present. Such information would have to be made available to dealers, repair facilities, and owners through a separate, secure data release system. The proposed law would not require a manufacturer to reveal a trade secret and would not interfere with any agreement made by a manufacturer, dealer, or authorized repair facility that is in force on the effective date of the proposed law.”
 
Additionally, the opinion also states that manufacturers are “required to share” the information with independent repair shops. In fact, they are required to sell it to repairers at a “fair market value” that “does not unfairly favor dealers”.
 
Also removed from the compromise are penalties for non-compliance. Without them, there are no teeth to the “compromise” law.
 
So with that said, and the objections addressed, why would you oppose the Ballot Question?
 
Here’s why the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association supports Question 1. Simply put, Motorcycles are excluded from the “compromise”. There’s no clear reason why. The only thing verbally stated was that the SAE j2534 does not currently support motorcycles. Certainly cars and trucks have had significant computer controls for some time longer than Motorcycles, but isn’t this the perfect time to start? Also, the concern isn’t specifically true – it’s only true that most motorcycle manufacturers have not yet adopted it, but the real bottom line is that it’s not about the interface (and there are options in the proposed law), it’s about the information itself.
 
The “compromise” law excludes not only motorcycles, but also specifically exludes trucks over 10,000 pounds (as well as other vehicle types) from the definition of Motor Vehicles. These are all vehicles that are listed as Motor Vehicles in the Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 90 Section 1. These are all vehicles for which excise taxes are annually paid and registration fees received. And in the case of Motorcycles, these are vehicles for which a specialized class of driver’s license is obtained.
 
Trucks over 10,000 pounds may sound large, but recently I began taking note of pickup trucks – many in use by independent contractors, and almost all used by people who carry or tow larger campers are in this class of vehicle.
 
What’s also not clear is the impact to consumers. The opinion article cavalierly suggests that people should just go to the dealer and pay a little more for certain services. Has anyone researched the list of services that require access to these codes? The list is quite exhaustive already and as additional diagnostic features come out with every new vehicle model, will continue to grow. Also, dealerships for a selected vehicle are not always nearby. In my own case, the nearest Motorcycle Dealership is over 30 miles away – motorcycle service is not something you can usually wait for the vehicle since it needs to cool down before being serviced, thus a ride must be arranged for both drop-off and pick-up, resulting in double the fuel cost for a lengthy trip. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to use a service provider that’s only 5-10 minutes from my house?
 
The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association strongly urges you to review the facts in depth and reconsider your position on this important Ballot Question. The first of its kind in the nation, it may very well effect national legislation as well as similar legislation in other states. The MMA further encourages everyone to both vote “YES” on Ballot Question 1 and contact their State Representative and State Senator to inform them that they do not wish to see their vote overturned in favor of a “compromise” that only benefits car manufacturers.
 
Please reconsider your position on Massachusetts Ballot Question #1
 
Doc D’Errico
Vice Chairman, Massachusetts Motorcycle Association