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Monday, June 26, 2006

Jiffy Lube Caught With Its Pan Down

It is every customer's nightmare.

You take your car in for an oil change.

And the guy goes down the checklist of things they have done -- and charges you $60.

But did they actually do what they said they did?

They said they changed the fuel filter.

But did they?

They said they flushed the transmission.

But did they?

Trust, but verify. Tipped off by a Jiffy Lube insider, KNBC -- the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles -- wired two test cars with hidden cameras to watch Jiffy Lube mechanics at work.

Those cars were then driven to Los Angeles-area Jiffy Lube outlets to get an oil change.

At one, the mechanic recommends that the fuel filter be changed.

"We pay up, but they didn't change the fuel filter," KNBC reporter Joel Grover told his viewers earlier this month. "We know that, because before taking our car in, we lowered the gas tank so I could mark the fuel filter. After leaving that Jiffy Lube, we checked the fuel filter and the original one that I had marked was still on the car."

At another Jiffy Lube outlet, the manager recommends a top-of-the-line transmission flush.

"It's a machine called T-Tech, which they're supposed to hook up to the transmission lines under the car to suck out all the dirty fluid," Grover said. "But the entire time our car was being serviced, we noticed no one ever touched that machine. And our hidden camera shows no one ever touched the transmission lines underneath. But they charged us for the T-Tech service anyway. And it happened to us again at another Jiffy Lube."

In fact, Grover says, he got stiffed at five out of nine Los Angeles area Jiffy Lubes he tested.

Jiffy Lube insiders told Grover that Jiffy Lube employees are on a quota system.

"They are pushed to sell a certain amount of repairs per car," Grover said. "And they say with the big volume of cars that come into these stores, there's really no way to do all the repairs they sell."

The 31 Los Angeles area Jiffy Lube centers are owned by Heartland Automotive.

Jiffy Lube issued a statement saying "it does not tolerate the problems discovered in the KNBC report."

The company said that six employees, including a district manager shown in the video, "are no longer working for Heartland Automotive."

Five of the service centers found to have been ripping off consumers were closed for two days in May for "re-training."

Jiffy Lube also said that it would institute its own "mystery shop program" to ensure that "all procedures and policies are properly followed."

"Over the next several months, video cameras and monitors will be installed in the 31 Heartland Automotive-owned service centers so customers can watch their services being performed," the company said.

"Further violations of company policies could result in the revocation of franchise agreements for the affected service centers."

Why not institute that policy for all 2,200 Jiffy Lube centers across the United States?

Are Jiffy Lube customers to assume that they too are being ripped off?

A Jiffy lube spokesperson answered this way -- Jiffy Lube has a number of quality-control processes in place to ensure customers receive a high-quality experience. Some of these include a nationwide mystery-shopping program and required computer-based and on-the-job training for all service center employees. Jiffy Lube customers also have several options available to them if they believe for any reason they have not received top-quality service. Toll-free customer service phone numbers are printed on the back of every Jiffy Lube invoice. Customers can also request the return of their old parts -- excluding used motor oil and other fluids -- after they have services performed.

As for us, from now on, we're either going to change it ourselves, or go to our local garage.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor. Mokhiber and Weissman are co-authors of On the Rampage: Corporate Predators and the Destruction of Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press).

© 2006 Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
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source here...
Jiffy Lube Caught With Its Pan Down

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