The Rubber Manufacturers Association's proposal to allow Web-based tire registration would decrease, not increase, tire registration levels and create further levels of confusion regarding registration, according to CIMS Inc., an Akron-based private registration firm.
The company said it ``believes that adding another layer of paperwork burden is an injustice to all tire dealers-especially those who are doing an outstanding job of complying with current regulations,'' CIMS President Paul J. Kruder wrote in an April 11 letter to the Tire Industry Association (TIA), which supports the RMA position.
Ann Wilson, RMA senior vice president-government affairs, wrote the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration March 28 urging the agency to change its regulations regarding tire registration to allow Web-based registration.
The current rules mandate a registration form ``not less than 0.007 inches thick,'' which makes Web-based registration impossible, Ms. Wilson said. The current paper forms aren't usually sent back to the manufacturer, and those that are returned are often incomplete or illegible. RMA data show that no more than 10 percent of tire registration forms are properly filled out and returned, she said.
Mr. Kruder, however, said the RMA ``has not based their...outdated 10-percent registration level on their own current survey or any other credible study of present tire registration levels.'' CIMS' All-Brand Registration Form has simplified the registration process vastly, he claimed, as have tire dealers' point-of-sale systems that capture tire registration data. Many dealers then send these data to the CIMS Tire Registration Clearinghouse, he said.
The RMA proposal wouldn't eliminate the requirement for a paper form, Mr. Kruder said, but only require that dealers provide a further ``supplemental form'' instructing consumers on how to complete tire registration for ``those few tire manufacturers/brand owners who actually implement a Web-based system.''
When asked for CIMS' estimate of the current registration level, Mr. Kruder said there's no such thing as an all-around average registration level.
``When people ask me about registration levels, I ask them, `What kind of environment are you talking about?''' Mr. Kruder said. Company-owned stores have registration levels of virtually 100 percent, he added, while independent chains have increased their registration percentages enormously in recent years.
Ms. Wilson said the RMA has seen the CIMS letter, but the association's position has not changed. ``Obviously we disagree (with CIMS),'' she said. ``This industry would not do anything we thought would decrease the rate of registration.''
TIA was scheduled to discuss the Web-based registration issue at its board meeting May 8-9, according to Becky MacDicken, TIA director of government affairs.