Consumer Awareness + Consumer Involvement
Tempe, AZ (03/26/2001) - Last Wednesday in North Dakota, SB-2358 went down to defeat (74-22) on the floor of the Legislative House. The bill would have raised the standard of quality for Aftermarket Crash Parts and would have put "Choice" back in the hands of Consumers. It had sailed through the Senate sub-committee and Senate, had squeaked through the House sub-committee in a compromise form, but was rejected by the House.
. . . a Recipe for Legislative Success !
Sen. Randy Schobinger, co-sponsor of the bill, said he was disappointed the bill had failed and vowed to introduce it again in the next session in 2003. "I'll keep fighting the good fight [because] this is the right thing to do" said Schobinger.
Key opponents to the bill were Rep. Al Carlson (R-Fargo) and Rep. Elwood Thorpe (D-Minot). Mr. Carlson was quoted as saying . . . "What you might as well do is put it in neon lights and say there is something wrong with aftermarket parts." That conclusion, already reached by Consumer Reports in their issue of February 1999, was apparently dismissed out-of-hand.
Opposition to this bill successfully characterized it as being the interests of a few collision repair facilities seeking a higher profit margin at the expense of promoting a parts monopoly, costing jobs and increasing auto insurance premiums. To that end, it was pointed out that the North Dakota Department of Insurance had "No Consumer Complaints" relative to Aftermarket Crash Parts.
The opposition did not admit . . .  the bill would have encouraged open competition . . .  jobs would have been preserved (or expanded) because of open competition . . .  premium increases would have been unnecessary (as demonstrated in other states that had passed such legislation) . . .  Aftermarket Crash Parts accelerates a vehicles' post-repair reduction in resale value, and . . .  the North Dakota Department of Insurance refuses to accept "Consumer Complaints" on the issue of Aftermarket Crash Parts because there is no statutory or regulatory authority for them to assist Consumers with such problems.
We'll be Back Again in 2003 . . .
Perhaps the most important ingredient missing from this recent discussion was Consumer Input! Without input from informed Consumers, the opposition was able to portray the bill as being one of "Special Interests" and divert eyes away from its Consumer Protection rights. This should not happen again in 2003.
The Insurance Consumer Advocate Network invites Consumer Advocates to encourage their Legislators, Media Contacts and All Consumers to subscribe to the I-Can Consumer NewsLetter. This can be done OnLine at . . .
When a more Consumer Friendly Version of this Bill comes up again in 2003 Legislators, who by then will already have learned the Facts, will be hearing from informed Consumers expecting some form of legislative protection.
This approach of encouraging Consumers, Legislators and Media Professionals to subscribe to the I-Can Consumer NewsLetter is not exclusive to North Dakota. This approach needs to be implemented by All Pro-Consumer efforts throughout the country. Consumer Awareness plus Consumer Involvement will be the key to Consumer Protection Legislation.
Without Consumer Protection Legislation, a Consumer's only recourse is Civil Litigation! Doesn't it make better sense to stop consumer abuse at the cause, than to clog our courts with Consumers seeking relief from the abuse?
The Insurance Consumer Advocate Network is an InterNet based consumer advocacy effort designed to Increase Consumer Awareness as to Insurance Related Issues, Encourage Consumer Involvement with Insurance Related Efforts and Facilitate Consumer Contact with Pro-Consumer Entities.
The InterNet web site for the Insurance Consumer Advocate Network is www.iCan2000.com.