Jan 5, 2024 - News

FOIA Friday: Auto repair shop complaints

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Before the holidays, we gave Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's new public records dashboard a test run by filing a Freedom of Information Act request for citizen complaints the department received involving Detroit auto repair shops.

Driving the news: Our public records request was promptly denied for being too broad, but Benson's office provided us more detailed instructions you can use to investigate specific auto repair shops near you.

  • "The requestor must submit a list of repair facilities to be reviewed for complaints," spokesperson Cheri Hardmon wrote in an email.

How it works: The department has a searchable database of the state's auto repair shops.

  • The database is tricky to find. Go here, then click "e-Services," then "Repair Facility Services" under the Business Services box in the first column. Finally, click "Search Repair Facility."
  • For results, you only need to fill out one of the search fields — county, city, ZIP code or street.

Pro tip: Repair shops within the database each have a corresponding ID number. Be sure to include that number in any FOIA request for complaints.

  • The database itself also displays whether a repair shop's license is active, expired or out of business. No FOIA request is required for that information.

The bottom line: Benson's database of the state's auto repair shops is quite useful once you learn how to use it.

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