Problems are starting to emerge with the new statewide program for automobile inspection stickers. Drivers say they are having issues getting new stickers, and it appears to be costing repair shops.
The owners of ALFA Auto Fuel in Roslindale said they spent more than $8,000 on a new car inspection machine that auto shops in Massachusetts were required to switch over to starting Oct. 1. But three days in, their inspection bay has been sitting empty due to the machines not working properly.
"They should reimburse us for the money we’ve lost. This is crazy," said Gloria Mantis of ALFA Auto Fuel.
Mantis said she has called the state hotline set up to help auto shop owners several times and received a message that said, "We are diligently working to correct the technical issues that are impacting the system."
"I do a lot of inspection stickers every month, almost 800 stickers, and this is a lot of business I’m losing right now," Mantis said. "And this is the second day nobody has called me."
At Center Automotive in Needham, they are also having problems with the machine, but said they are making it work.
"We found a way to make it work. It’s not right, but we made it work," said Jim O’Brien.
The garage said they dedicated an employee to just troubleshoot and fix the machine, but it still took hours to get up and running.
"It’s really killing us, and we have a line of people waiting to get things done," said O'Brien.
Some drivers can’t afford to wait – whether it’s a rejection sticker, an expired sticker or no sticker at all.
"I just got my vehicle fixed - it was in the shop for a couple of weeks. Now this has happened, so it’s making it even more difficult to get a sticker," said John Stenson, who went into Center Automotive in need of a sticker.
So far, Stenson said he’s been to four shops with no luck.
"Hopefully, the police will be a little bit lenient if I get pulled over with no sticker knowing all of the confusion going on," said Stenson.
Late Tuesday, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation released a statement saying in part, “Some stations which complied with purchasing the equipment and attending training have needed to be walked through steps again this week regarding how to log on, how to print stickers, and do other functions. Other stations... chose not to purchase equipment, attend training or did not take other steps necessary to continue to conduct inspections this week with the new equipment for each inspection bay.”