Monthly Archives: February 2008

Right to Repair…(your ILS)

I saw an advocacy ad from the Automotive Industries Association’s Right to Repair campaign in my newspaper recently and it struck a chord (a similar US site here). Does this sound familiar:

Vehicle manufacturers are restricting access to tools, training and software to the aftermarket industry. Due to the increased sophistication of today’s vehicles, it is gradually becoming more difficult for independent repair facilities to access the information and develop the skills required to service vehicles.

I’ve always tried to give my dealer the benefit of the doubt, yet I always seem to get the bigger bills when I go there instead of my independent mechanic. These folks are courteous and professional, and I tend to end up there when I’m constrained for time (my independent mechanic is located much further from my office).

My last two repairs reminded me why I’ve always end up going back to my independent and why I’m sympathetic with the “right to repair.” With both recent major repairs I started out at the dealer, trusted their advice, agreed to proceed despite the high quoted figure, but at the last minute found the opportunity for a second opinion. Both times I needed an out of stock part, and during the delay just happened to call my independent mechanic for one or another reason and ended up chatting about the problem.

The most recent time, I saved well over $1000 pulling the car out of the repair queue and following the advice of my independent: different parts supplier and wiser advice.

So was my dealer trying to “rip me off?” Well, I don’t know but I don’t think so (at least not in any personal sense). I do know that the individuals I dealt with are hard working, courteous and professional (much like the ILS vendors I’ve dealt with). So what gives? It’s not so much a matter of “being ripped off” as it is who was better aligned with my interests. There was nothing personal like “let’s rip this guy off today” but rather the dealer wasn’t using the most competitive supplier for one of the expensive parts I needed, and in the other case didn’t give me the proper contextual advice (“hey George, this is an 8 year old car, do you really need to fix X in this manner since this is not a safety issue..”).

So it came down to who was most aligned with my interests, and what kind of marketplace serves my interests in the bigger picture. The independents do not have a “captured market” of warranty customers to bring in revenue, so they’ve got to serve your interests in ways that the dealers don’t, and thereby perform a much needed balance of options.

What’s interesting about the notion of “right to repair” is how such questions and issues pervade many sectors of the marketplace – we’re definitely not unique with this in the ILS space. And so we have our own “aftermarket” marketplace for discovery layer alternatives: with open source SOLR/Lucene derivatives, proprietary products like Endeca and many others which can help us “repair” or otherwise enhance the discovery part(s) of our ILS.

Next week’s Code4Lib 2008 conference will see an important update on the DLF ILS Discovery Interface Task Force API recommendation by Emily Lynema and Terry Reese. Keep an eye out for that report, especially if you’re in the process of selecting a new ILS (or reviewing your current one). It’s a good step towards protecting and enhancing your ILS investment, ensuring you have the necessary code/protocols in place to “repair” your ILS so that it could better integrate with vendor independent discovery systems.

The single source vendor should no longer be the only “repair shop” in town. You can find a copy of the draft report at the project home page wiki.