Senate Bill No. 550
(By Senators Ball, Wooton, Anderson, Ross, Hunter, Kessler,
McKenzie, Love, Schoonover, Helmick, Bowman, Fanning, Sharpe and
[Introduced February 16, 1998; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend chapter forty-six-a of the code of West Virginia,
one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article six-e, relating to
automobile repair fraud prevention; legislative purpose;
definitions; unlawful practices; estimate requirements;
invoice requirements; return of replaced parts; unauthorized
repairs; required notice to customers; enforcement, remedies
and penalties; and proposal of rules.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter forty-six-a of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by
adding thereto a new article, designated article six-e, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 6E. AUTO REPAIR FRAUD PREVENTION.
The purpose of this article is to safeguard the public
against fraudulent auto repair practices thereby enhancing public
confidence in legitimate auto repair facilities and mechanics.
For the purposes of this article, the following definitions
(1) "Automotive repair facility" means any person who
performs auto repair work on a motor vehicle for financial
(2) "Motor vehicle" is as defined in section one, article
one, chapter seventeen-a of this code.
(3) "Person" means an individual, corporation, business
trust, estate, trust, partnership, association, two or more
persons having a joint or common interest or any other legal or
(4) "Auto repair work" means performing or attempting to
perform repairs or maintenance on a motor vehicle for financial
(5) "Pattern of violations" means three or more violations
within a one-year period.
§46A-6E-3. Unlawful practices.
(a) Deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise,
misrepresentation or the concealment, suppression or omission of
any material fact with the intent that others rely upon such
concealment, suppression or omission of any material fact in
connection with auto repair work by any automotive repair
facility, whether or not any person has in fact been misled,
deceived or damaged thereby, or the act, use or employment by any
auto repair facility of a deceptive trade practice in connection
with auto repair work constitutes an unlawful practice.
(b) Acts or practices by an automotive repair facility
prohibited by subsection (a) of this section include, but are not
(1) Refusing to return a customer's motor vehicle because
the customer refused to pay for unauthorized auto repair work in
violation of section seven of this article;
(2) Misrepresenting that auto repair work has been made to
a motor vehicle;
(3) Misrepresenting that auto repair work is necessary to a
motor vehicle repair;
(4) Misrepresenting that the motor vehicle is in a dangerous
condition or that the customer's continued use of the vehicle may
be harmful or cause significant damage to the vehicle;
(5) Misrepresenting that the motor vehicle will or will not
pass state inspection requirements or is not otherwise in
compliance with state or federal requirements in connection with
soliciting auto repair work;
(6) Performing unauthorized auto repair work in connection
with a misrepresentation;
(7) Fraudulently altering any customer contract, estimate,
invoice or other document;
(8) Fraudulently misusing a customer's credit card; or
(9) Engaging in a pattern of violations of section four,
five, six or seven of this article or violating section four,
five, six or seven of this article with the intent to hinder the
discovery of practices or acts prohibited by this section.
§ 46A-6E-4. Estimate requirements for auto repair work.
(a) Written estimate and authorization requirements. --
Unless waived pursuant to subsection (b) of this section by the
customer or by a person the auto repair facility reasonably
believes is acting on the customer's behalf, the automotive
repair facility shall, before beginning any auto repair work or
transmission repair diagnosis on a motor vehicle, give the
customer a written statement which contains:
(1) The estimated completion date;
(2) The estimated price for the auto repair work including parts and labor; and
(3) The estimated surcharge, if any.
(b) Oral estimates and authorization. -- If a customer or a
person the auto repair facility reasonably believes is acting on
the customer's behalf, waives his or her right to a written
estimate, the automotive repair facility shall orally provide to
the customer or a person the automotive repair facility
reasonably believes to be acting on a customer's behalf, the
estimated price and completion date before beginning any auto
repair work: Provided, That the person giving the oral estimate
shall make a written record of the requirements set forth in
subsection (a) subdivisions (1) through (3) of this section, sign
or initial the written document and retain the document for a
period of no less than two years.
(c) Prohibited charges. -- An automotive repair facility may
not charge a customer without the consent of the customer or a
person the automotive repair facility reasonably believes is
acting on behalf of the customer any amount which exceeds the
estimate by twenty percent or fifty dollars, whichever is less.
Any charges which exceed twenty percent or fifty dollars,
whichever is less, must comply with the requirements of
subsections (a) and (b) of this section.
§46A-6E-5. Invoice requirements.
(a) Work description. -- An automotive repair facility shall
prepare an invoice which describes in all material respects;
(1) Auto repair work done by it, including all warranty
(2) All parts supplied by it;
(3) All labor performed by it. To the extent a charge for
labor is not based on actual hours worked, the invoice shall
specify that labor charge is based on a flat rate.
Notwithstanding the above, if the labor charge is part of a
packaged price product, such as an oil change, the invoice need
not specify the labor component of that charge; and
(4) All auto repair work that is performed by persons other
than the auto repair facility. The auto repair facility shall
retain the name, address and telephone number of any other
persons performing auto repair work and disclose such information
upon request of the customer or a person it reasonably believes
to be acting on the customer's behalf.
(b) Used, rebuilt or reconditioned parts. -- The invoice
shall state clearly if any used, rebuilt or reconditioned parts
were used in the auto repair work or if a part of a component
system supplied is composed of use, rebuilt or reconditioned
parts. Nothing in this subsection limits the provisions of
article six-b of this chapter.
(c) Copies of invoices. -- The automotive repair facility
may give the customer a copy of the invoice and retain a copy for
no less than two years.
§46A-6E-6. Replaced parts -- Requirement for return to the
An automotive repair facility shall offer to return all
replaced parts to the customer or a person acting on his or her
behalf, except parts which are returned to a manufacturer or
distributer, hazardous materials or other items which the
automotive repair facility is otherwise required to properly
dispose of or recycle. Nothing herein requires the auto repair
facility to retain replaced parts after final invoice.
§46A-6E-7. Unauthorized repairs.
An automotive repair facility may not charge a customer for
repairs not originally authorized or requested by the customer,
or a person the auto repair facility reasonably believes is
acting on the customer's behalf, unless the automotive repair
facility receives written or oral permission from the customer in
conformance with this chapter. To the extent a charge does not
exceed an estimate by twenty percent or fifty dollars, whichever
is less, no cause of action pursuant to section nine, subsection
(c) of this article accrues. Nothing in this section precludes
enforcement pursuant to section three, subsection (b)subdivisions(6) and (9) of this article.
§46A-6E-8. Required notice to customers.
(a) All auto repair shops not otherwise complying with
subsection (b) of this section shall post a sign, in a manner
conspicuous to the public, which states as follows:
(1) The customer is entitled to receive a written or oral
(2) No auto repair work charge may exceed the estimate
without the customer's consent;
(3) The facility shall offer to return to the consumer all
replaced parts except those under warranty or trade-in parts
returned to a manufacturer or distributor; and
(4) Complaints can be made to the attorney general's office
of consumer protection.
(b) To the extent an auto repair facility does not post a
sign pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, an automotive
repair facility shall, prior to performing auto repair work,
disclose to the customer on a separate document or the written
estimate itself the following language:
"PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
CHECK ONE OF THE STATEMENTS BELOW AND SIGN
I UNDERSTAND THAT, UNDER STATE LAW, I AM ENTITLED TO A WRITTEN
_______ I REQUEST A WRITTEN ESTIMATE.
_______ I REQUEST AN ORAL ESTIMATE.
_______ I DO NOT REQUEST A WRITTEN ESTIMATE AS LONG AS THE
REPAIR COSTS DO NOT EXCEED $_______. THE SHOP MAY NOT EXCEED
THIS AMOUNT WITHOUT MY WRITTEN OR ORAL APPROVAL.
_______ I WAIVE MY RIGHT TO AN ESTIMATE.
The above language shall be in bold typeset at least as
large as the size of the print in the main body of the document.
The requirements of this section shall be effective as of the
first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-eight.
§46A-6E-9. Enforcement and remedies; penalties; rules.
(a) The attorney general shall administer this article and
may propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the
provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code
to implement these provisions.
(b) A person violating the provisions of section three of
this article is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction
thereof, shall be fined not less than five hundred dollars nor
more than two thousand dollars, or confined in the county or
regional jail not more than six months, or both fined and
(c) Transactions where an automotive repair facility has violated the requirements of section three, four, five, six or
seven of this article shall be voidable by the consumer in
actions brought in a court of competent jurisdiction. In
successful actions brought by consumers under this subsection,
the automotive repair facility shall be liable to the customer
for twice the amount of any consideration obtained in violation
of this article and the costs of the actions: Provided, That the
customer must first allow the auto repair facility the
opportunity to resolve the dispute prior to filing an action
under this subsection; and the court may further award a customer
reasonable attorney's fees.
Nothing in this subsection prohibits a person from otherwise
seeking a recovery in an action for damages against an automotive
(d) The remedies and penalties provided in this section are
not exclusive and shall be in addition to any other procedures,
rights or remedies which exist with respect to any other
provisions of law, including, but not limited to, state or
federal criminal prosecutions or common law or statutory actions
brought by private parties.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide consumer
protection standards to prevent automobile repair fraud.
This article is new; therefore, underscoring and strike- throughs have been omitted.