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Office of Consumer Protection

Licensing & Registration

Motor Vehicle Repair, Maintenance & Towing

Disclosure of Charges

Labor Charges:  County law requires that the repair invoice disclose whether labor is charged by clock hour, flat rate manual or other flat rate measure.  Many invoices just say "flat rate used" or similar language.  This is not sufficient to make customers understand the system.  The disclosure needs to be as specific and descriptive as possible.  For example, our sample invoice states, "Unless otherwise specified, labor time billed is flat rate time estimated for each job in industry manuals and not actual time spent."  This language is not required, but we believe it is a better description of the flat rate manual system.

the OCP is calling on every shop to make better disclosures of the labor billing system before the work is done.  This should include signs posted where customers authorize repairs.  If a shop has a night-drop system, a sign should also be posted by the night-drop box, or on the night-drop slip/envelope.  Our staff is available to give you assistance in wording these or any other disclosures.

Miscellaneous Charges Customers must also have notice of any miscellaneous charges before work is started.  Miscellaneous charges may include shop supply or hazardous waste disposal fees.  The County Code considers a conspicuous sign to be evidence of notice, so these disclosures can be included on the same sign describing the labor billing system.  The section on miscellaneous charges must state that the charge will be made and the method of its computation.  As with labor charges, there also need to be disclosures to give notice to customers making night drops.

Miscellaneous charges should also have some relationship to the work performed on a particular car.  For example, if the work is a minor adjustment not involving any potential waste, a hazardous waste disposal charge is inappropriate and will surely generate consumer complaints.

Storage Charges:  Consumers must have notice of the shop's storage charge policy before the charge can be imposed.  Again, a conspicuous sign is evidence of notice.  Even if you give notice, storage charges may not accrue until 24 hours from the notification to the consumer that services are completed, unless otherwise agreed.

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