Baker expects inspections vendor to compensate stations

Boston Statehouse
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BOSTON (SHNS) – Drivers whose vehicle inspections expired last month are being given until the end of April to obtain a new sticker, but service stations have seen their businesses disrupted and Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday that he “fully expects” the state’s Wisconsin-based vendor to make up for some of the losses.

Wisconsin-based Applus Technologies suffered a malware attack on March 30 and the technology platform that it operates in eight states to provide vehicle inspection support has been shut down ever since.

“It’s our expectation that by the end of the week, this needs to be solved,” Baker said at a press conference on Monday in Worcester.

Baker said that “to the best of our knowledge” no consumer information has “ended up anywhere in the public domain” as a result of the cyber attack, but he acknowledged that businesses that employ staff to perform vehicle inspections have been hurt by the pause.

“We fully expect the vendor to find a way to compensate many of the folks at the dealer and the service station level who have been horribly inconvenienced by this,” Baker said.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles said Friday that it would allow a “grace period” until April 30 for any motor vehicle with an expired inspection sticker from March. New vehicles purchased or registered on or after March 23 will also have until April 30 to obtain an inspection instead of the traditional seven days.

Any driver whose vehicle failed inspection and was in the middle of 60-day retest window will also be afforded one extra day for each day the Applus inspection system has been down, which currently stands at 14 days.

Baker said the administration has spoken with state law enforcement and received assurances that motorists will not be ticketed for having an expired inspection sticker from March.

The RMV said licensed inspectors historically performed approximately 15,000 inspections a day and can inspect as many as 20,000 vehicles or more on the first and last two days of every month. The agency estimates there are 40,000 to 50,000 vehicles that still have a March sticker and require an inspection.

Applus CEO Darrin Greene said last week that the company would take financial compensation for station owners “under consideration,” according to the Boston Globe. Applus Technologies is represented in Massachusetts by Preti Strategies, according to public lobbying records, but could not be reached for comment Monday about the governor’s remarks.

Nick Elias, owner of Millis Gas, told Bloomberg Baystate Business last week that his business was losing out on thousands of dollars a day from lost inspections and the repair work that comes from those inspections.

“It’s a big part of our business …,” Elias said during a radio interview. “Right now we’re uncertain when we’re going to get the system back up online so we’re really frustrated right now.”

Elias said as much as 90 percent of his business comes from inspections and needed repairs that are discovered during inspections. He said his shop in Millis typically does about 15 to 20 inspections every day.

“Between the stickers and between the repairs, we’re losing close to a couple thousand dollars a day. That’s how bad it is,” Elias said.

Evangelos “Lucky” Papageorge, executive director of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, said consumers whose vehicles have been damaged in collisions are also being hurt by the disruption in inspection services.

The AASP represents mostly collision repair shops in Massachusetts and said in many cases when windshields are shattered or safety features damaged in a crash a car or truck can’t be put back on the road until it is reinspected.

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