Service center managers frustrated with vehicle inspection issues after getting go-ahead

CANTON, Mass. — While it was a smooth start-up for some service centers, managers at others were left frustrated Saturday morning as they were unable to resume vehicle inspections after receiving the green-light to do so.

“Applus Technologies, a vendor that facilitates vehicle inspections in Massachusetts and several other states, experienced a malware attack in several states on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, preventing vehicle inspection stations from conducting vehicle inspections,” the RMV said in a statement. “Inspections will resume at most inspection stations at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Some inspection stations are experiencing more complex technological issues, and Applus will continue to work to resolve these issues so that inspection services can be restored as soon as possible.”

But some service centers that were told they could resume inspections were still unable to do so Saturday morning.

“They sent us a letter that said we’re already up and online, so I told the customers, ‘yeah, come down,’ now the machine’s not working,” said Canton Auto Service Manager Elias Dellaleh. “I called [Applus] and they don’t even pick up the phone. No one answers on the other line, so I don’t know what to do.”

The owner of Tom’s Auto Repair in Dartmouth experienced a similar situation Saturday.

“I have been calling all morning and my inspection machine is not online as of yet,” Tom’s Auto Repair Owner Tom Raad said. “Five hundred emails and promises and still no inspection machine working. Is this company for real – where is the advocacy for all the business loss from all of this? It’s very disappointing.”

Dellaleh said inspections make up about half of his business, and he’s been struggling the past few weeks without that revenue.

“I’m really frustrated as a business owner, Dellaleh said. “I’ve got bills to pay. When my bills come they don’t say, ‘oh sorry, your inspection’s not running, don’t pay the bills.’ We have to pay! There’s no mercy -- you don’t pay it, they shut you down.”

Raad said he has one staff member solely responsible for vehicle inspections, which haven’t been possible for nearly three weeks.

“In the meantime, you can’t take someone off the payroll,” Raad said. “We didn’t anticipate it taking this long.”

The RMV has said Applus will compensate inspection station owners for the prolonged outages, but has not said how much money they will receive or when those payments will be made.

“The Commonwealth fully expects Applus to compensate the inspection station owners for the prolonged outages, as well as additional compensations to those stations which are unable to begin conducting inspections on Saturday, April 17,” the RMV said. “Applus assumes full responsibility for restoring systems as rapidly as possible.”

Beyond the financial hit, Dellaleh said he’s worried about safety with so many uninspected cars on the road.

The RMV estimates there are approximately 30,000 March stickers and 160,000 April stickers that require an inspection. “Twenty-five to 30 percent of cars fail, and that’s why we do the inspection, the reason is to keep people safe on the road,” said Dellaleh. “It’s going to cause a lot of problems on the road. I know eventually it’s going to come back online and we’ll be able to do inspections, but that is going catch up with us and cause a lot of damage to other people’s vehicles.”