Undercover investigation exposes mechanics in California; protect yourself

Pictured is Jiffy Lube St. George. It was not one of the stores exposed by the NBC investigation which took place in California. Management of the St. George franchise declined comment on the exposé of the California stores. St. George, Utah, May 21, 2013 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News

ST. GEORGE A follow-up, hidden camera investigation by NBC exposed employees of Jiffy Lube locations in California selling unnecessary services, charging unknowing customers and, in some cases, not even performing the services purchased.

Seven years ago NBC ran a similar investigation which spurred an apology and a promise from Jiffy Lube management that they would make changes to curb the cheating of clients. However, the recent investigation demonstrated that the cheating is still rampant.

Local Jiffy Lube managers declined commenting on the situation reported by NBC, and the response NBC reporters received from management at the Jiffy Lube corporate office stated that these issues are taken seriously, but did not reference any intent to take action regarding this particular investigation.

Protect yourself

The repair and maintenance industry can be dicey for people not familiar with cars, but there are ways to avoid falling victim to mechanics willing to scam trusting patrons.

One way is to know your mechanic or get references from people you know to be trustworthy who can vouch for their own experience with the mechanic.

“It’s all about trust,” Guy Simkins, owner of Guy’s Automaster in St. George, said. “Second opinions are worth their weight in gold. If you don’t trust someone, get a second opinion.”

Simkins runs a local mechanic shop, he said part of running an honest shop is not offering commission to his mechanics for selling extra products, as well as educating customers to help them understand what services are being performed on their vehicles.

“There’s going to be plenty of chances to spend money on your car without shops finding stuff that may or may not be wrong.” Simkins said.

When having work done on your vehicle don’t be afraid of looking for second opinions. If a mechanic is overly pushy it can be a red flag that they are trying to pull something over on you. There are some mechanics who will tell you that you came by just in time, and weave a horror story of all the things that could have gone wrong. If you drove your car to the shop, and everything was seemed to be working normal, chances are you won’t have to be spending thousands of dollars just to get back on the road.

Ask if the shop and its mechanics have credentials. Certifications by the Automotive Service Excellence organization or AAA indicate a certain level of knowledge and expertise.

Utah consumer protection law 

Utah law provides consumer protection in transactions involving repairs, inspections or other similar services for a supplier. Among other things, express estimates are required to be given in advance, express estimates are required to be given again if further repairs or parts are required in excess of 10 percent over the original estimate, reassembly is required at no cost unless a charge for reassembly was specified in advance. Considered deceptive and unfair by the consumer protection law are false representations that repairs are needed or have been made. And more. For further detail see and print the attached PDF: Utah Consumer Sales Practices – Repairs and Services.

Consumer complaints may be addressed to various agencies, depending upon the issue.  The Consumer Protection Utah website can assist in determining which agency is appropriate for a given complaint.


Related posts

UPDATE 11:08 a.m. Utah’s consumer protection website added.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Pictured is Jiffy Lube St. George. It was not one of the stores exposed by the NBC investigation which took place in California. Management of the St. George franchise declined comment on the exposé of the California stores. St. George, Utah, May 21, 2013 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News
Pictured is Jiffy Lube St. George. It was not one of the stores exposed by the NBC investigation which took place in California. Management of the St. George franchise declined comment on the exposé of the California stores. St. George, Utah, May 21, 2013 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News

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  • Kirby May 22, 2013 at 8:44 am

    I was so ecstatic to see that you interviewed Guy Simkins for this article. I always went to Guy’s Automaster for repairs and to have my vehicle looked at before long trips, because I trust Guy. I trust him to not sell me something I don’t need. I trust him to spend time talking to me about my car and things I can do to take care of it. I trust him to do quality repairs. I recently moved to northern Utah, and I just don’t know how I’m going to find another mechanic like him.

  • Hatałii May 22, 2013 at 10:30 am

    While this is a great article and attachment, it fails to give any information as to where someone who feels they have been a victim of a scan can go for relief. You can have all the laws in the world, but if you don’t have anyone who is enforcing them, then they are worthless. I doubt the local police department is going to have the resources to investigate this type of complaint.
    It would be a great service to the community, if SG News would actually tell us what agency to contact in a suspected case of fraudulent auto repair.

  • Wade May 22, 2013 at 10:59 am

    I highly recommend Guy’s Automaster to anyone who reads this. I have been going there for a few years now and I am always satisfied with the results.

  • Richard May 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    I fail to see the correlation between an NBC news story about Jiffy Lube’s in California vs Jiffy Lube service centers in UT-especially St George UT as they are different owners. If you know anything about any sort of franchise, which is what Jiffy Lube is, you would know that each franchise is independently owned and operated. So just because one franchisee decides to allow dishonest practices in their particular group of stores, in this case a California based franchise, this is not a blanket statement or practice for any other franchisee. This is like saying that because you went to a McDonalds in California and only received 19 chicken nuggets in your 20 piece chicken nugget box, that all McDonalds across the entire USA are trying to rip their customers off. There are just as many dishonest “mom and pop” independent repair shops across America as there are any other dishonest large repair franchise chains. You sure can tell this story was written by a low paid, just graduated from college kid who is trying to ride the coat-tails of a larger more reputable news agency and reporter. Every single person on the planet can give you a story about having a bad experience or a “friend” who had a bad experience at some place, whether that be a large nationally recognized franchise or a local home town business. It’s all perspective, and clearly shows a bias on NBC’s part as well as the local writer of this story. You’ll find bad wherever you look, it all depends on where you look and how hard you look. I know for a fact that Jiffy Lube technicians are ASE certified, just go to the ASE website and you can find their training program is ASE accredited as well as nationally awarded by more than 100 different organizations. So don’t jump to any conclusions based off of a story from another state or a poorly written and investigated story local reporter.

    • Big Don May 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      I can see where you would take exception to the article, Richard. Particularly if you are in some way affiliated with any Jiffy Lube.
      What I got out of the article though, wasn’t so much a pointing of the finger at Jiffy Lube, as it was a “heads up” to folks to be careful about car repair shops, no matter who they are. And even if you now your repair shop owner very well, sometimes an unscrupulous mechanic can take you “for a ride.”

  • Tom May 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    I recently went to an establishment on Telegraph in Washington City for a quick oil change and was told there was wear on my tires indicating I needed to rotate and balance them. The tires were brand new. By the way, the oil change and oil and air filters cost me over $90.00. Needless to say, I won’t be going back and I am giving lots of word of mouth.

    • Ken May 22, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      Does this business sit right on Telegraph or does it set back off of Telegraph? Think the same business did the same to me!

    • kyle June 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      I had my oil changed there it was a dodge disel they only put 5 qourt oil in it and it was regular gas motor oil it burned up my engine the truck only had around 48000 miles on it they side they where not at fault pretty much there stance was prove it

  • Sgnative May 22, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    It truly does “pay” to get a second opinion. There is a certain dealership with quite the monopoly in town I won’t name that has tried to talk me into unnecessary repairs to the tune if about $800 over the years and I finally quit going there after the last second opinion found not a thing wrong with my vehicle. It has run smoothly and not had any problems. Also, women do your own research and know your vehicle so you don’t get overcharged or talked down to at these car places. Just because you may be a female doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know what maintenance your car needs.

  • Steve Funkhouser May 22, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Thank you Joyce for using your entire name – this is a country that was built on respect, honor and integrity and using your full name is expected and appreciated. This country – for the most part – also thrived on the ability to discuss things (even if the discussions were wrought with emotion and framed by the irrational) come to a conclusion and move on. We need to fight to get back to the days when people don’t despise anyone who has a difference of opinion. We also need to fight against the fact that negative news sells better than positive – and we just can’t accept untruthful or misleading news stories any more than we can accept cheaters at Jiffy Lube or any other place. I don’t know this reporter, Chris Caldwell, so it would not be kind or warranted to attack his character or experience. I do believe that he – or his editors – made a couple of very wrong and damaging decisions that they should try never to make again! To run a recap of a horrible Jiffy Lube story in Los Angeles and then put in a picture of the local Jiffy Lube is inexcusable. Remember the reporter in New York who fabricated stories and then sold them as truths? If your paper ran that story and then put up a picture of your reporter -Chris Caldwell- would that be fair? No it would not and neither was the way you treated your local Jiffy Lube. In the midst of the story is the cut to the local mechanic (who sounds like an awesome man by the way – way to go GUY). The problem with that is the inference that a local mechanic is somehow more honest than a local Jiffy Lube and even Guy would tell you that there are good shops and there are crooked shops in both businesses. My wife and I own three Jiffy Lubes and one full service repair shop. We believe and all the owners of repair shops AND Jiffy Lubes that we know believe that the people in Los Angeles who were ripping of customers should be put in jail if its true – as should anybody in any business that cheats. I would imagine your St George Jiffy Lube owner feels the same way…..you probably owe him an apology.

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