Chapter 109:4-5 Informal Dispute Resolution Mechanisms for Settlement of New Motor Vehicle Warranty Disputes
(A) Authority, rules of construction, purposes
(1) This chapter is adopted by the office of the attorney general of Ohio pursuant to division (A) of section 1345.77 and Chapter 119. of the Revised Code.
(2) Without limiting the scope of any section of the Revised Code or any other rule, this chapter shall be liberally construed and applied to promote their purposes and policies.
(3) The purposes and policies of this chapter are to:
(a) Define with reasonable specificity the process for the qualification of informal dispute settlement mechanisms for the resolution of new motor vehicle warranty disputes between the consumer and the manufacturer or its agents.
(b) Encourage the establishment and qualification of dispute resolution mechanisms for settlement of new motor vehicle warranty disputes.
Each procedural rule and every part of each procedural rule is an independent rule and part of a rule, and the holding of any rule or part of a rule to be unconstitutional, void, or ineffective for any cause does not affect the validity or constitutionality of any other rule or part of a rule, and, to this end, each and every rule, paragraph, sentence, clause, phrase, or provision of this chapter is hereby declared severable.
(1) The definitions found in Chapter 109:4-4 of the Administrative Code shall also apply to this chapter.
(2) "Qualified board" means an organization, person or entity which conducts a dispute settlement process which has been reviewed by the attorney general and approved as having met the qualifications specified in Chapter 109:4-4 of the Administrative Code.
(3) "Provisionally qualified board" means an organization, persons, or entity which conducts a dispute settlement process which is not able to submit a complete application under the requirements of Rules 109:4-5-02 and 109:4-5-03 of the Administrative Code, and is granted a one-year approval under the terms of rule 109:4-5-04 of the Administrative Code.
(A) Application by a board for certification as a qualified board shall be made in writing to the attorney general.
(B) Applications shall include at least the following information unless specific exceptions are provided in this rule:
(1) Name, address, and telephone number of the board. In the event the applicant does not maintain one or more Ohio addresses and telephone numbers at the time of application, the application shall set forth the specific plans for making the board accessible to Ohio consumers.
(2) The manufacturers, vehicle makes and vehicle models for which the board is authorized to hear disputes and render decisions and copies of such authorization.
(3) Copies of all warranty documents and disclosure information used to alert consumers to the board and the warranty proffered by the manufacturer for each vehicle make and model, together with any other informational material, advertising copy or other notices used to inform consumers concerning warranties, the availability and operation of the board and any other manufacturer dispute resolution procedures.
(4) Copies of all written operating standards and procedures promulgated by the board, as required by paragraph (C)(1) of rule 109:4-4-04 of the Administrative Code.
(5) A description of the general qualifications and the duties of the arbitrators, neutral technicians or consultants, and all other persons employed by the board.
(6) A description of all training programs conducted for the board's arbitrators, and the plans for any such programs should approval be granted.
(7) Copies of the indices required by paragraphs (D)(2), (D)(3), and (D)(4) of rule 109:4-4-04 of the Administrative Code for the record year preceding the application.
(8) Copies of the semiannual statistical compilations required by paragraphs (D)(5) and (D)(6) of rule 109:4-4-04 of the Administrative Code for the preceding year.
(9) Copies of all annual audits previously compiled pursuant to paragraph (E) of rule 109:4-4-04 of the Administrative Code.
(10) Copies of ten per cent, but not in any event less than twenty-five per cent, of the written decision documents issued by the board to Ohio consumers during the preceding year, representing a randomly selected cross-section of such decisions. The attorney general may, upon notice, have these opinions selected by personnel from his office or under his direction.
(11) Statistics for the previous record year showing, for each warrantor served by the board, the number of oral presentations in person and the number of oral presentations by telephone conference call conducted under paragraph (C)(7) of rule 109:4-4-04 of the Administrative Code conducted for each warrantor served by the board, and the number of times such a presentation presentations was were requested.
(12) Such other or additional information as the attorney general might request after initial review of the application.
(A) Upon receipt of a completed application, the attorney general shall direct his staff to prepare a report reviewing the operation of the board in view of the requirements of the act and Chapter 109:4-4 of the Administrative Code, and to recommend an appropriate ruling on the application.
(B) After receipt of the staff report and independent review of the application, the attorney general shall issue a written decision to the applicant within sixty days of receipt of the application, setting forth the basis therefor, whether the applicant will be a qualified board, a provisionally qualified board for such time and upon such conditions as may be specified, or whether the application will be denied. Such decision will be a matter of public record.
(A) Provisional qualification shall be available only for those boards which have not conducted sufficient operations in Ohio under the terms of the act and Chapter 109:4-4 of the Administrative Code, prior to submitting an application, so as to permit the submission of a complete application.
(B) Applicants for provisional qualification shall complete as much of the application as possible, supplementing Ohio information and records with comparable documents and statistics from one or more other states, if available.
(C) All applicants for provisional qualification shall clearly so state on the face of the application.
(D) In the event provisional qualification is granted, it shall continue for a period of one year. Following nine months of operation as a provisionally qualified board, such board shall update its original application with the statistics and materials required in an application under this chapter, reflecting the nine-month operating period, to reapply for approval as a qualified board.
(E) After review of the application as provided in paragraph (A) of rule 109:4-5-03 of the Administrative Code, the attorney general shall announce a decision in the same manner as provided for in rule 109:4-5-03 of the Administrative Code.
(A) A qualified board shall promptly inform the attorney general of any changes in the information submitted in its application pursuant to paragraph (B) of rule 109:4-5-02 or paragraph (D) of rule 109:4-5-04 of the Administrative Code and supply copies of such changes or requisite information.
(B) A qualified board shall submit annually, to the attorney general, copies of the annual audit required by paragraph (E) of rule 109:4-4-04 of the Administrative Code, and, semiannually, the statistics required to be compiled under paragraphs (D)(5) and (D)(6) of rule 109:4-4-04 of the Administrative Code.
(C) A qualified board shall supply for review, upon request of the attorney general, any additional statistics, records or documents which must be compiled or prepared pursuant to rule 109:4-4-04 of the Administrative Code.
(A) In the event that the attorney general has probable cause to believe that a qualified or a provisionally qualified board is operating in contravention of the requirements of the act, Chapter 109:4-4 of the Administrative Code or this chapter, or that such board or sponsoring manufacturer has knowingly engaged in conduct which is designed, intended, or has the effect of depriving consumers of access to fair and expeditious resolution of disputes, written notification shall be sent to the board, outlining the perceived deficiencies, fixing a time within which to respond and identifying any additional information which may be required.
(B) Upon receipt of the qualified or provisionally qualified board's reply, or expiration of the time fixed for reply, the attorney general shall determine whether the approval granted should be revoked, continued as before, or continued for a period contingent upon compliance with such conditions as may be set forth in the decision. This decision will be issued in the same manner as provided for in rule 109:4-5-03 of the Administrative Code. Failure of the board to comply with conditions so stated shall result in the automatic revocation of approval, as of the date provided in such decision.
(C) Any consumer injured by the operation of any procedure of a board which does not conform with the requirements stated in the act, Chapter 109:4-4 of the Administrative Code or this chapter, may request the attorney general to investigate the manufacturer's or board's procedure(s) to determine whether its qualification or provisional qualification shall be suspended or revoked. Such request shall not constitute an appeal of the board's decision.
(D) Either upon application for qualification or provisional qualification or upon a consumer's request for investigation, or upon reasonable cause to believe that a qualified or provisionally qualified board is operating in contravention of the requirements of the act, Chapter 109:4-4 of the Administrative Code or this chapter, the attorney general may conduct any inquiry or investigation or evaluation of a manufacturer's informal dispute settlement procedure and may hold hearings, issue subpoenas requiring the attendance of witnesses and the production of records, documents or other evidence in connection therewith, administer oaths, examine witnesses and receive oral and documentary evidence.
(E) The attorney general may suspend or revoke the qualification or provisional qualification of a manufacturer's informal dispute settlement board, upon finding that the board is being used to cause injury or create hardship to consumers, in accordance with the procedure provided for in paragraphs (A) and (B) of this rule.
(F) After revocation of approval, a board may reapply pursuant to the application procedures in this chapter.