bureau of electronic appliance repair

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A Brief History

The Bureau of Repair Services was established in 1963 through the enactment of the Electronic Repair Dealer Registration Law. In the early 1970s, the name was changed to the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair.

The Electronic Repair Dealer Registration Law was primarily the result of the combined effort of three groups: the California State Electronics Association, the Governor's Consumer Council, and the Department of Professional and Vocational Standards Advisory Committee. The groups' intent was to provide protection to California consumers against fraud and negligence in the home electronics repair business. Although home electronics consisted mainly of radios and television sets, the law also regulated the repair of stereo components.

By the late 1950s and the early 1960s, fraud and negligence in the television repair industry were becoming big problems for consumers and law enforcement agencies. The TV industry experienced tremendous growth during the 1950s, and TV sets were relatively expensive household purchases. For many, when a TV failed replacing it was not an option. So, the demand for TV repair services was quite high.

Since the technology was still new in the 1960s, most consumers knew little of the mechanics or costs of television repair. This lack of knowledge put consumers at a disadvantage when they dealt with individuals who offered repair services, and they were vulnerable to being victimized by unethical businesses. It was increasingly common for consumers to complain about repair businesses charging too much for services or charging for services that were not needed.

Fraudulent and negligent practices became the most frequent sources of complaints to the Better Business Bureaus. The term "tube takers" was coined to refer to unscrupulous repair people who would diagnose, and replace, tubes as "faulty" regardless of their actual condition, and then charge high fees to consumers for the service. Consumer safety was also a concern. Negligent repair could lead to fire, shock, picture tube implosion, and other serious safety hazards. In response to increased consumer complaints and safety concerns, consumer advocacy groups and the television repair industry sought protection from the state.

State officials determined that the fraudulent and negligent practices taking place in the TV repair industry jeopardized the welfare of California citizens. They put in place business registration and a set of rules and regulations. As a result, in 1963 the Electronic and Repair Dealer Registration Law was enacted, establishing the Bureau of Repair Services. The Bureau was created within the Department of Professional and Vocational Standards. In 1970, this department became known as the Department of Consumer Affairs.

The period of 1963 - 1965 served as a trial period for the Bureau. At the end of that period, hearings were held to help state officials determine whether the Bureau should continue on a permanent basis. At those hearings, testimony from various consumer groups indicated that:

  • The Bureau provided a central clearinghouse for complaints, which facilitated efforts to monitor and track unethical practices and perpetrators;
  • Local law enforcement officials experienced relief from the obligation to conduct investigations for fraud in repair practices; and
  • District Attorneys felt relieved from the burden of handling most complaints through criminal prosecution procedures

State officials concluded that continued regulation was desirable. Therefore, the Bureau's trial period ended and it continued its role of regulating repair businesses without restricting entry into the industry. This arrangement was intended to provide the state government with a means to monitor businesses in the service and repair industry, and of disciplining or removing from the marketplace those businesses that operated in a dishonest, unethical or dangerous manner.

Over the years, the list of authorities and responsibilities assigned to the Bureau by the legislature has increased. The following is a list of those responsibilities:

Effective Responsibilities Extended to Include
June 1973 Major home appliances
June 1975 Appliances in private motor vehicles
January 1979 Microwave ovens
January 1983 Installation and repair of automobile radios
Personal computers
Satellite antennas and related equipment
January 1984 Video monitors
January 1987 Mandatory written estimates
June 1988 Cite and fine authority
January 1991 Installation and repair of automobile burglar alarms
January 1993 Home office products
Disconnection of service dealer's business telephones
Issuance of infractions
January 1994 Service contracts
January 2002 Deregulation of cellular phones

Today, the Bureau remains firmly committed to promoting and protecting the interests of consumers and is ready to address the issues facing the electronic/appliance repair and service contract industries.