Secretary of State
Consumer Information Sign Requirement
A repair facility is required to display a consumer information sign informing its customers of their basic rights under the Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Act [MCL 257.1332a(1)]. The sign is designed to inform customers of their rights on written estimates and final invoices. The sign must contain the mailing address, email address and telephone number of the Office of Investigate Services and be of a size, construction and wording as explained in Appendix A of the Repair Facility Manual. The sign must also be legible and easily visible to customers.
A consumer sign must be displayed in the cashier's area and at each location where customer service orders are written.
The repair facility is responsible for purchasing or otherwise obtaining these signs. A local sign company in your area should be able to produce a sign using the above specifications.
Defining the Customer in Insurance-Paid Transactions
In any repair transaction, the "customer" is the owner or operator of the vehicle brought for service or repair. In a damaged vehicle transaction, the customer is not the insurance company or extended warranty company, unless the customer has given the insurance company a written, signed authorization to act as his or her agent in the transaction.
Approval for repairs may be given only by the owner of the vehicle or the person operating the vehicle when repairs are requested. Unless the insurance company presents the repair facility with a signed, written authorization from the owner or operator to contract for repairs, no work may commence at the sole direction of the insurance company or extended warranty company. Generally, the repair facility must still give the customer a written estimate. In a few cases, the facility may obtain a signed waiver of estimate, as provided in the law.
For additional repairs costing more than 10% or $50 (whichever is less) above the original estimate, specific written or oral authorization must be obtained from the customer, unless the customer specifically gives the insurance company or extended warranty company a signed, written authorization to act as his or her agent in all aspects of the repair.
The following conditions must also be met:
A repair facility is required to provide a written estimate in each instance when the price of the diagnosis, service or repair of a motor vehicle will be $50 or more. The price of the estimate must reflect as closely as possible the actual cost of the repair (see Waivers, Section 4-4, in the Repair Facility Manual for possible exceptions).
A written estimate must contain the following information:
Exceeding Written Estimate
If the repair facility informs the customer that the actual price for a repair will exceed the written estimate (or the stated limit in a waiver) and the customer does not want the work performed, the customer is financially liable for all reasonable costs to return the vehicle to the condition it was in when it was brought to the facility;
A repair facility may not have the opportunity to give the customer a written estimate when a vehicle is towed to the facility or left before or after the facility's normal business hours. In these instances, the facility may comply with the written estimate or waiver requirement by doing one of the following:
"No Charge" Estimate
A "no charge" estimate is a compliant estimate. It advises the customer that the facility will make no charge unless the customer specifically authorizes more work. The estimate may be amended later either by written or oral approval from the customer. It is important to write "No Charge" on the estimate. The estimate amount should never be left blank.
The need for some repairs cannot be determined without first inspecting or disassembling a vehicle or a component. Only the cost to disassemble and inspect can be accurately estimated. Estimates for only the cost of disassembly and/or inspection are called diagnostic estimates. Diagnostic estimates may be provided under the law. Here are the steps:
Use of Written Waivers
In some cases, a customer may waive a repair facility's obligation to provide a written estimate. This is done through use of a written waiver of estimate. See Appendix B in the Repair Facility Manual.
Waiver of Estimate
A repair facility may obtain a written waiver of estimate from the customer under the following conditions:
When an emergency occurs and a certified mechanic is not available, a customer may voluntarily request repairs using a waiver of liability (see Emergency Waiver, Section 4-4.3 in the Repair Facility Manual).
NOTE: If a facility uses the emergency waiver in a situation where one or more of these conditions is not met, this will be considered an attempt to avoid compliance with the law and an illegal use of the waiver.
Long Term Waiver
A repair facility may make a long term written arrangement either with an individual customer or with a commercial or "fleet" customer. This is called a "long term" or "blanket" waiver of estimate. An estimate or a waiver of estimate is not needed for each vehicle repaired. A long term waiver may be executed in the form of a contract between the facility and the customer. The contract should meet the following conditions:
NOTE: A waiver of written estimate does not affect the customer's other rights under law.