Whether you are using ERO (Electronic Repair Orders) or paper repair orders – one of the biggest and easiest chargebacks for an auditor is a missing signature. It is a slam dunk; give me the money.

Customer signatures are required to maintain compliance with manufacturers' policies and procedures. Most manufacturers require them on the final copy as well as on the hard copy write-up. All OEMs require that the customer sign the hard copy PRIOR to the repair. It is important that the signature is on the statement where the customer is approving that you can do work on their vehicle. Not just signing a statement approving an estimate for the customer pay work. In some dealerships, there are two statements, one for approving estimates, and one for approving that you can work on their vehicle.

After you have listed all the customer complaints, they must sign giving you the authorization to work on their vehicle. This is just like going to the doctor’s office: you're always asked to sign that you agree to the procedure.

Next, let’s say that you finished doing a proper write-up with the customer concerns listed. You have printed the hard copy, and your customer says, “Oh wait! I forgot to add that my widget is falling off.” In these cases, you need to hand write the new concern about the widget falling off by using the verbiage, “customer added widget is falling off,” and then have the customer initial next to the added line and sign the bottom of the hard copy.

I have had some advisors say, “I am just going to reprint it and have the customer sign the corrected copy." The problem with this is that it still shows as a duplicate print and an asterisk as an added repair. So make sure you cover all bases and have the customer sign next to the added repair even if you reprint.

Here are some other important facts for obtaining authorization via the customer signature before ANY work is started on their vehicle:


  • It must identify the vehicle by VIN and miles. (yes the entire VIN).
  • It must have all customer complaints listed and a copy must be given to the customer.
  • Any complaint on the printed hard copy beyond what is on the pre-write sheet is considered an added repair and must be treated as such.

It is terrible to sit with the auditor who points out to you that “oops” all your pre-writes are signed but they are blank. So that means your customer signed approving NOTHING.


  • When a vehicle is dropped off, all complaints beyond what is on the drop off sheet are considered added repairs and must meet add-on requirements.
  • Also, the drop off letter or envelope must be signed by the customer. If the customer does not sign the drop off with the listed complaints, then you must document (which means you type in comments) the customer contact along with the time, date, and who you spoke with. Then what complaints they are adding by stating “added by phone”. Now walk that hard copy to the service manager to sign for the customer.
  • If you received an email from the customer, be sure to put that in your story and attach the email. It is also suggested that you type in comments that there is an email from the customer approving repairs.


  • This includes PDI’s, CPO’s, and new and used vehicle repairs.


  • You must obtain customer signatures on the hard and the final copy at pickup. Remember, anything beyond the reason it was towed in is an add-on. We see so many claims get charged back for this.
  • Document every conversation with the customer.
  • In many stores, we recommend that the cashier, service advisor, or whoever is the last person to see that customer and will give them the keys, will be the last stop in making sure all customer signatures are present. As well as all add-ons are properly signed by the customer. Missing signatures after the vehicle is gone means that the money is gone as well!

Put someone in charge so you don’t get charged!

Need help implementing some of these policies? Let us know and we can send our trainers to your dealership. Or we can get you started in our online training in the AWN Academy

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