By now, the whole industry has seen the W5 "secret shopper" undercover story about auto repair scams. For those of you who haven't, it went like this: the W5 crew took a car in good repair, loosened a battery cable, then took it to an...
By now, the whole industry has seen the W5 “secret shopper” undercover story about auto repair scams. For those of you who haven’t, it went like this: the W5 crew took a car in good repair, loosened a battery cable, then took it to an assortment of garages in Toronto and Calgary reporting an intermittent no-start condition. Most failed to find the problem and many sold unnecessary repairs. The one that didn’t? The Active Green and Ross franchise at 1964 Victoria Park Avenue in Toronto, who incidentally also correctly and honestly reported on the overall good condition of the vehicle. So here’s how it plays out: George Stalker, the service writer shown on the segment and owner Errol Hussein are now the go-to people for motorists for miles around their suburban Toronto location. They now have marketing and merchandising credibility that you can’t buy for any amount of money, and it didn’t cost them a dime. They deserve the bump their business is going to get.
Unfortunately, they’re getting kudos for doing what we’re all supposed to be doing: diagnosing problems systematically, starting with the obvious, easy things first. Load testing the battery should have revealed the loose cable, as would a basic underhood inspection. Missing the diagnosis is bad enough, but several shops sold unnecessary parts and service, and some outright lied about the problem. If you can’t earn enough in this industry without scamming your customer base, get the Hell out of the business and let the real shops make a decent living! There is no excuse. None. No way, no how. Scammer shops should be charged and fined, at the very minimum. This is not a judgment call or a poorly set up ambush, like the dislodged MAP sensor connector used last year…it’s a loose battery cable! Mind boggling.
This is not to say that the W5 segment was perfect. They unfairly slammed a Toronto shop for recommending ride control replacement at 80,000 km according to Monroe training literature. He even showed the brochure to the customer to prove his point. Even then, he didn’t claim a safety issue.
W5’s and the APA’s assumption that the factory service intervals are the final word is strictly true only for warranty purposes. Aftermarket upgrade struts are a legitimate, high customer satisfaction job on any high-mileage vehicle, whether the struts are leaking or not. So where do we go from here? We recognize the problem and root out the as*%#$es before they ruin hard-earned reputations in the legitimate aftermarket. The W5 piece, imperfect as it was, should be a wake up call.
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