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Joe Marconi

Wallet Flushing, Please Read!

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First I want to start by saying, “When was the last time someone wrote a news article about a shop owner who stayed late into the night to make sure his customer had his car ready for vacation? When was the last time someone featured a shop owner, on the 6:00 news, who gave away a used car to the wife whose husband died on 9-11? When was the last time you read about a shop owner who held a fundraiser to help the local youth sports associations.” I could go on and on about all the good we do for our community and customers, but you get the point. The fact is the overwhelming majority of shop owners and mechanics are hard working people who go the extra mile for the motoring public day after day. We don’t ask for recognition, we do it because of who we are.

 

Ok, now on with Wallet Flushing. In 2006 Douglas Flint, the owner of Tune-Up Technology in Alexandria VA detailed his feeling about fluid services and started a firestorm of controversy over the legitimacy of fluid services and the practice of many shops. You can read his entire comments by going to the link below, but in short he stated that mechanics and shop owner’s, because it’s economically more profitable, push fluid services on their customers. He questions that validity of fluid services and says that when shops push fluid services on their customers, the only they are flushing is their wallet.

 

Because of Flint’s comments, the California Bureau of Automotive Repair began an investigation into the “questionable tactics” of selling fluid services. The results may affect many shops, not only in California but around the country. There is now an initiative in California and a brochure to “educate” consumers about fluid services. California states it will prosecute for Wallet Flush under the Automotive Repair Act of 1971 and the California Unfair Competition Law of Section 7200, which prohibits the unlawful, and unfair, deception, untrue or misleading advertising. PLEASE READ THE LAST SENTENCE AGAIN.

 

We sell fluid services all my shop. We are not deceptive, we are not unfair, we do not mislead and what we promote is not untrue. Our service programs and recommendations "flush" more money back to the customer through preventive maintenance, which lowers to total cost of owning a car over time.

 

The investigation makes comparisons to cars of yesterday and cars of today, basing the findings by comparing a 1940 Cadillac Series 60 to a 2007 Cadillac. Is this a true comparison? We all know that cars are better made today and last longer. In 1940, you were lucky to go 40,000 miles without major engine, transmission or other repairs. In the 1970s, when I started as a mechanic, we did a ton of transmission work and engine work on cars that had less than 50,000 mile! It’s not the same anymore. Today’s cars last longer and servicing fluids will help customers lower the odds of failures.

 

We do educate our consumers, we do explain the reasons why we are recommending a particular fluid service and we do explain that these recommendations may not be found in the owner’s manual. We also promote the BG Lifetime Protection Plan. Many of my customers keep their cars for 200,000 miles or more and I want to make sure they are protected. We don’t recommend fluid service based only on condition of the fluid, we base it on what WE feel is in the best interest of our customers. By the way, I can still do that in this country? Make recommendations based on my professional judgment, right? If the car maker states that you do not need to change a particular fluid, then why don’t they warranty that component for life???

 

I urge everyone to read the links below and please give me your thoughts and comments. I am not one to sit on the sidelines and prepared to go to bat for each and every one of you. So, please give me your honest thoughts and opinions.

 

Article on Wallet Flushing, National Oil & Lube News, June issue 2013

http://www.noln.net/article/june-2013/wallet-flushing

 

 

Article when story broke, AOL Auto, posted December 2006

http://autos.aol.com/article/fluid-flush-fallacy/

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      In case you haven’t heard about it, the term Wallet Flushing started a few years back when a movement started in California to investigate the “questionable practices” of some repair shops selling allegedly unneeded and unnecessary fluid services.
       
      That initiative is dead, after an investigation by California’s Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR). BAR made a statement that it will not pursue any public awareness campaign with regard to fluid services. This is a big win for the our industry.
       
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      The movement was also largely defeated by the persistence of various industry organizations.
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