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30th September 2020 Issue no. 527
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US Auto Club urges State Assembly Members to side with consumers
The California Assembly is expected to vote again soon on Senate Bill 750 (Hernandez), which is sponsored by BMW and opposed by the Automobile Club of Southern California. The bill would permanently exempt BMW from a California law that requires manufacturers to provide vehicle owners safe and secure options to conveniently and quickly obtain replacement keys when their key is lost, stolen, or broken.
SB 750 would benefit BMW at the expense of California motorists and allow the company to withhold from car owners data needed to access and operate their vehicle.
"During a recent vote on SB 750 in the California Assembly, many legislators refused to vote for the special interest bill despite pressure from BMW and car dealers," said Steve Finnegan, the Auto Club's government affairs manager. "The Auto Club applauds their courage and their willingness to stand up for California consumers. And we encourage them to stand firm if and when the legislation is reconsidered this month."
The Auto Club-sponsored "key code" law, which took effect in 2008, requires vehicle manufacturers to securely share information with pre-screened and approved locksmiths enabling the locksmiths to create duplicate car keys at a vehicle owner's request 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Manufacturers used to keep this information secret, even from the vehicle's owner, so instead of being able to authorize a locksmith to make a replacement key, the owner had to have the car towed and wait - sometimes for days - for the manufacturer to authorize a replacement.
Because of the "key code" law, auto manufacturers have established a secure database that provides information to independent locksmiths whenever they need to replace a car key. That database is used not just in California, but nationwide by almost all auto makers - foreign and domestic.
"However, BMW, which received five extra years to come into compliance with the law, is now seeking a permanent exemption," said Steve Finnegan. "We don't think that's fair to BMW owners, who currently must wait a day or more to have a replacement key shipped to them, or to the other vehicle manufacturers that have done the right thing and complied with the key code law.
"SB 750 is special interest legislation that runs contrary to California's long history of consumer protection," said Steve Finnegan. "We thank the California Assembly members who did not support this special-interest bill last month and are urging them to do the right thing again and continue standing firm against SB 750," Finnegan added.
15th August 2012