What to Expect During a BAR Visit

Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) field representatives routinely visit facilities for various reasons, but most visits involve performing routine inspections or investigating consumer complaints.

Periodic inspections provide a great opportunity for BAR to communicate with facilities. BAR is required to ensure that automotive repair dealers (ARDs) and brake, lamp, and Smog Check stations are performing their licensed activities in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations. However, these inspections are also an opportunity to ask the representative any questions you may have regarding procedures or how the laws and regulations apply to the licensed activities you perform.

During an inspection, the owner or Responsible Managing Employee (RME) will be required to provide invoices, certification books, or other documents to review. The representative will often have you confirm calibration on test equipment and will verify that required tools, manuals, signs, and BAR publications are present. If any deficiencies are noted during the inspection, you will be asked to correct them. A follow-up visit may occur or you may be asked to submit proof of correction in the form of a receipt for equipment service or the purchase of required tools/signs.

Most facilities in California are committed to operating their business in a professional, ethical manner with the goal of 100 percent customer satisfaction. Despite these efforts, occasionally a customer will be unhappy and will contact BAR to file a complaint. During the 2014-15 fiscal year, BAR received approximately 19,000 consumer complaints by telephone, online, by mail, or in person at a BAR field office. The majority of complaints allege misdiagnosis, poor workmanship, and warranty issues. The Automotive Repair Act requires BAR to investigate these complaints and allegations.

BAR’s objective is to ensure that each complaint is thoroughly investigated and to work towards a fair and just resolution for both parties. Since BAR receives a wide variety of complaints, the inquiry process is adjusted to best address the specific allegations. When a complaint has been filed against your facility, it is reviewed in the field office and assigned to a representative, who will contact the consumer to obtain a statement and review any paperwork provided with the complaint. The representative will then visit your facility to get your statement and ask for any necessary documents such as repair orders or parts purchase invoices. The complaint inquiry may require several contacts with your facility and the consumer.

The representative’s role is to facilitate a resolution to the complaint and to provide information to the facility that may help prevent similar misunderstandings. The representative will prepare a report and make a recommendation to resolve the complaint, which might include reworking the vehicle, issuing a refund, or that no action be taken. BAR does not have the legal authority to direct a facility to rework a vehicle or refund money. The representative will usually discuss his or her findings with both parties and any violations of the applicable laws and regulations will be addressed with the facility owner and/or RME. Complaints that result in findings of fraud or other serious violations may result in additional investigation and the filing of a disciplinary action.

Visits to facilities are one of BAR’s most effective tools to meet our statutory mandates and achieve our mission. If any questions or concerns about a BAR visit are not resolved by the representative, you may contact the supervisor at the local field office for assistance. Your cooperation during BAR visits allows us to perform our functions with minimal disruption to your business day and supports our common goal to ensure a fair and competitive automotive repair marketplace for California consumers.

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