BETHESDA, Md.-To better help itself secure a consumer's ``stamp of approval,'' the Maintenance Awareness Program (MAP) is working with the Better Business Bureau to develop a dispute resolution system that will become a blueprint for the way MAP-affiliated companies do business. MAP, which recently split from the Automotive Parts & Accessories Association, is attempting to establish itself as a liaison between reputable automotive service providers and motorists. The group now operates under a new parent, the Automotive Maintenance and Repair Association.
Under its dispute resolution system, MAP said that service shop customers who feel a complaint has not been satisfied would contact MAP-or a local Better Business Bureau (BBB), depending on how the program is organized-and detail the situation.
The BBB would then contact the shop in question to receive its side of the story, MAP explained, and mediate between the two. The process would not be completed until both sides felt the situation had been resolved fairly through mediation or the dispute was taken to arbitration.
A system is also being set up through which shops would become MAP-certified. Usage of a dispute resolution system would be one of the criterion necessary for shops to receive certification-a ``signal to consumers that MAP has standards for its member shops and that they abide by certain rules,'' the organization said.
That certification would give consumers ``confidence and trust in these shops,'' according to MAP.
Since its founding following auto service fraud allegations against Sears, Roebuck and Co. two years ago, MAP has begun devising and implementing, among its members, Uniform Inspection Guidelines for vehicle systems including brakes and exhaust. MAP said that ``rather than featuring a clean, safe repair shop,'' its shop certification drive will be centered around the adoption and implementation of its inspection guidelines and other MAP standards.
The program will have specifications to measure a facility's performance and its adherence to legal requirements and safety standards.
MAP outlined what the program would include:
Mandatory participation in MAP's ``Pledge to Consumers and Standards of Service'';
Mandatory adherence to use of appropriate Uniform Inspection Guidelines;
Mandatory participation in the Dispute Resolution System;
Display of the MAP logo in the approved manner, with return required if a shop is decertified or disqualified;
Employment of trained customer service personnel; and
Possession of garage keepers' legal liability insurance.
Any shop applying for certification would agree to release to MAP documentation of specific past complaints, which may be a factor in renewing certification. MAP said it will check the level of complaints and review any that remain unresolved, which should be below an agreed-upon minimum.
An ``out of trust'' or ``felony'' situation would be automatic grounds for decertification, MAP said.
Subcommittee members charged with reviewing and implementing MAP's certification program include representatives from Pep Boys, the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Merchants' Inc., Monro Muffler and the National Midas (Muffler Corp.) Dealers Association.