A TV reporter.
This is a letter I wrote to this TV station reporter. Here is a copy of here story in this link.
My,my.... Where do I start?
As you may have guessed your "story" has made it to a professional automotive technicians website. That's how I found out about it. I do appreciate you trying to return my call, but you'll have to call a little earlier. I just happened to come back to the shop to do some online studying, and saw that the answering machine had a message.
I don't have any "waiters" tomorrow, so call anytime between 8am and 2pm. After 2pm, if everything is done, I'm planning on taking off early for the Holiday,,, Bosses prerogative :)
Let me tell you a little about myself. I am an ASE certified master technician with over 30 years experience. I own my own shop in western Pa. I have no employee's. It's just me and the wife helps with the paper work. I teach auto technicians all across the eastern half of the country through the Carquest Technical Institute. I also am part of "Car Radio", a Pittsburgh talk show that has been on CBS affiliates KDKA AM1020, and 93.7fm the Zone, for the last three years. Sadly, The Zone changed it's format, and currently we are not on the air, but expect to move back to KDKA sometime in the next six months.
Rule #1 when trying to do an automotive sting story. We don't fix rigged cars for a living we fix broken cars.
If the roles were changed, and I rigged a car and you took it around to do your "story". What you would actually be able to prove isn't the competence or honesty of the shops you visit, it would be my ability to trick them.
For any study to work, there HAS TO BE a correct result. Case in point, if we played the game as you did on a reporter, and made up a situation on which he/she was to do a story how would you feel about it if we played around and edited the results to simply suit the story we wanted to tell? Which to be "news" would have to be that the person is a bad reporter.
The first problem with your "story" that I see is the editing of the dealer technician as he was talking about the wheel bearing issue. It appears he is saying there is no play in the bearings, and then it get's cut off as if to assert that play is the only measure of their serviceability. Were they or were they not noisy? Bearing noise on these style hubs is a sign that dirt has gotten past the seals. This can happen quite easily just by driving through a deep puddle. That is a bearing failure and they should be replaced when that happens. So lets set rule #2. In the automotive repair world, sometimes we can be perfect in our performance, and the uneducated consumer can still find fault. Worse yet, any failure to completely explain all of the details, or a miss-statement of any degree and we get to be called thieves, ect.
Rule #2, when doing a story about our world, you need to live up to the same standards that the consumers place on us. If any editing or reporting was done that colored any details in any fashion, then it's not the whole truth, and anything but the whole truth is a falsehood. I already have an opinion on how your story rates in regards to this rule, let me hear how you grade yourself, and your team. Had I of been "tested" by your team, I would have easily have found the disconnected connector. My next step would have been to ask how it got that way, anything other than the exact truth of the situation at that moment would be a direct lie. Now you may think it's cute to try and report like this, but as far as I am concerned it shows exactly how much you should be trusted to be fair.
You would probably argue that divulging the story at that point would ruin it. That in fact would only be possible if it was a real story to begin with. Here's why, a little role playing is in order.
You are the technician, and I am the customer with my misfiring Explorer. You find the disconnected injector, and don't see anything else wrong. Charged or not (Not is wrong too but let's leave that for another paragraph) I leave with my Explorer. Two weeks later I come back to you and your shop. The check engine light is back on, the engine is again misfiring. I was just here in the last two weeks and now "it's doing the same thing". You look under the hood and all of the injectors are plugged in, yet the engine is misfiring. As far as I am concerned YOU messed up, and I want if fixed for free. This time it does need plugs and wires. "If you knew what you were doing you would have found it the first time!" Don't fix it for free, and I'll be reporting this to the BBB.
What I did here is let the other shoe drop. The technician simply cannot be wrong both ways, yet stories like yours don't allow for the real world. In your story no matter what the tech or shop did they were wrong. If you truly knew how an automotive shop runs and how a technician must perform, combined with how many possible things can go wrong with any simple service then you would have realized that your "sting" does not have any one correct answer. That's why it's so easy to make all of the answers that you got look wrong!
Oh, but not the dealer tech, right?
Dealerships FYI lead the charge on up-selling preventive maintenance services. When it get's overdone we call it "wallet flushing". I've written a number of articles about using only time or mileage to suggest service intervals. I have stated it's just a matter of time before someone ends up staring at a camera because they were simply doing what some business management training person told them to do. The service intervals are in fact listed by the manufacturer, and strange as it seems you will see two distinct camps. One camp is following the guides and will recommend change all the fluids when specified. Dealerships are largely in that group. The other group try and only recommend services when the condition of the fluid dictates. Logic dictates that while neither is 100% correct, neither is 100% wrong either. But how does that stack up to what you attempted to report?
I can't help but compare your "story" to one that was in the Wall Street Journal a couple years ago. The author was trying to advise the readers about how to find a good mechanic. The author did not even own a car. I plan on posting a copy of this letter on a website that I monitor and answer automotive questions. I'll include a link to your video so that the other people that frequent the site can actually see what I am referring too. Feel free to sign into the website and debate it there as well if you like. It's an open forum. Keep in mind that I'm not defending any individual shop your spy visited. I also cannot defend you and your assumed right to produce video garbage. The old we are holding the camera, so we are the only ones that know what we are talking about routine almost makes me sick to think I'm associated with CBS. Then again, I suppose that's part of why they need me. To speak out about things like this.
You'll find the forum here.
But unlike what you did to the shops, I won't edit any response of yours or anyone elses to suit my needs.
Here is a link that might be useful: News, well almost