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Hammer Out Problem of Body Shop Fraud

September 15, 2003

Re "Fraud Rampant in Body Shops," Sept. 10: Wow! Talk about painting everyone with the same brush. As a body shop owner with a solid reputation for quality repair and honest dealings with both car owners and insurance companies, I was amazed that The Times took such a sweeping approach to a subject that is admittedly a problem in our industry. To the Bureau of Auto Repair, all violations including but not limited to unintentional mistakes and clerical errors are included in its "fraud" numbers.

There can be no doubt that there are shops indulging in and, in some cases, specializing in shoddy and/or fraudulent work. As one who cares a great deal about the integrity of my industry, I support the aggressive prosecution of those shops and sometimes feel that the penalties are not severe enough.

On the other hand, I also support a regulatory agency that is fair and understands the concept of "innocent until proved guilty."

Gene Ewald

Oxnard

*

We would like to applaud The Times and the Bureau of Automotive Repair for reporting the facts about fraud in auto shops. As a consumer organization that represents senior citizens, we are appalled that the BAR found that almost half the vehicles inspected showed evidence of people being charged for parts or labor they didn't get.

It is clear that way too many consumers are getting taken for a ride when they get their cars fixed at auto body shops. This is a ride that retirees and senior citizens can ill afford.

We are concerned about industry efforts to go after consumer protection agencies like the BAR. This report shows that the Bureau of Auto Repair is needed and the industry is in no position to regulate itself.

William Powers

Legislative Director

Congress of California

Seniors, Sacramento

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