‘I’m not doing anything wrong. But I’m getting penalized.’
BAKERSFIELD — Ross Allen owns Allen’s Auto Service in Bakersfield, and is its only employee. He sits in the small front office of his business, a space smaller even than your average bedroom, with automotive fluids, tools and basic necessities across the shelves, many of which seem to have been unmoved for years. But the shelves may soon be cleaned, and permanently emptied — all because of a new regulation most drivers haven’t even heard of.
The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) calls it the Automated Vehicle Inspection Program, or AVIP. Come March, it will be the state’s vehicle inspection program. The most obvious change: no more paper. Now the inspection process will be entirely digital, conducted with a touchscreen tablet rather than with carbon paper. But there are several other changes, especially behind the curtain, that have frustrated those in the automotive service industry.
Chief among those are the financial costs of the new system. The AVIP equipment package includes a ruggedized tablet, a wireless OBD scan tool, to read engine malfunction codes, a wireless printer, a wireless router and the AVIP software. The total cost is $1,624.26, plus applicable taxes, if paid upfront. Monthly payments are another option: $57.15 per month, totaling $2,057.40 after 36 months — plus applicable taxes.
But those who purchase the equipment are also required to have a “dedicated, unrestricted” Internet connection, without firewalls or password restrictions. Businesses without an Internet connection, or unwilling to dedicate their current connection to the AVIP, must begin paying for Internet service.
Then there are the costs of operation. The equipment’s manufacturer, the Parsons Corporation, based in North Carolina, will receive $2.21 each time an inspection site conducts an inspection — paid by the inspection site. That’s on top of the $6 per sticker inspection sites already pay to the DMV.
“If I could stay in business with 100 [inspection] stickers, that’d be great,” Allen said. But for every 100 inspections Allen would conduct under the new system, he would pay Parsons $221.
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