By Keith Whann
If you are like most dealers, it’s been some time since you had the paperwork and signage in your service department reviewed and updated. This area of the dealership is often overlooked from a compliance perspective.
Inconsistent disclosures in service paperwork, missing information and contradictory signage posted in the service department are common errors and easy targets for state regulators and consumer attorneys alike.
The following is a list of suggestions to help you set legal and regulatory compliance benchmarks for your service department:
Paperwork: Dealers should have their service paperwork reviewed and updated on a regular basis. Start by reviewing the repair order and other service related paperwork to ensure that they contain all of the information and disclosures required by applicable law.
Customers should also be provided with the appropriate estimate choice form before any services/repairs are performed and a system should be in place to obtain proper authorization for any additional services/repairs that become necessary. The dealership’s warranty and return policies should also be clearly communicated to customers and be consistent in all of the service paperwork, such as the repair order, repair invoice and after hours repair authorization.
Signage: Signage posted in the dealership’s service department is necessary not only to make appropriate disclosures to customers, but also to comply with safety-related laws and regulations. You should also have signs that restrict the access of customers to certain areas. In those areas where employees are performing services and repairs, signage should be posted explaining the proper use of safety equipment and the safety equipment, such as first aid kits, eye wash stations and goggles, should be located in close proximity to the signs and easily accessible.
Service Department Policies and Procedures: All service employees should receive information about the service department’s policies and procedures, as well as appropriate training. Don’t forget about protecting the confidential information you collect and store in your service department.
Make sure the paperwork you are using, the fees you are charging and the signage that you have posted in your dealership’s service department are in compliance. Doing so will help to limit your potential liability and increase your overall profitability.
Keith E. Whann, founder of the law firm of Whann Associates LLC, offers advice to assist consumers and car dealers in the purchasing of an auto, and is often referred to as the “Car Counselor”. Read the here.