Be Aware of these Sneaky Auto Service Scams

Nobody likes getting duped. We depend on service experts to keep our cars in tiptop shape so that we can be safe on the roads. We take them in for minor and major matters and expect to have them returned in good condition.

But what happens when something like a simple oil change turns into catastrophic damage, or at the very least, a winding scroll of extra charges? How about paying for work that was never performed? When enough people complain, something might actually get done. In this case, NBC4’s I-Team investigated popular chain Jiffy Lube, and they found out that something was rotten in the cotton.

First launched back in 2006, a 3-month long investigation into Jiffy’s Lube’s practices showed services were not being delivered. Hidden cameras were set up in vehicles as well as on the customer decoys. It was revealed that upsells were common, and those too yielded excessive charges and payments for work not done.

When confronted, they all denied or deflected any wrongdoing. Upper management apologized and wrote that they would address the issues internally by getting rid of guilty employees and retraining staff. None of them would appear on camera though.

Fast forward to 2013, when the same reporter who dug into Jiffy Lube in 2006 revisited the issue. Locals in southern California contacted the I-Team’s Joel Grover to report shady dealings at Jiffy Lube branches. The news team carried out a 4-month undercover operation at 11 locations in the area.

Again, they planted hidden cameras on the inside and outside of a truck in great condition. Invisible ink was used to mark car parts to see if they would actually be swapped out during requested services. At one particular site, the service adviser kept coming up with bogus issues.

Image of hidden camera recording service manager.Alex Tran
During their first visit, the I-Team’s “customer” rolled up and asked for a routine oil change. She was swept up into charges of $650 for various services, and promised a free air filter. A transmission flush and belt change were among what she was coerced into, with both being unnecessary. Fluids weren’t even checked! The air filter was only removed and popped right back into the car, and the customer was still charged for it.

Continued investigations at the 10 other Jiffy Lubes in the area showed some stores were cheating customers into and out of services. One of the most egregious scams involved car batteries. Watch the video below to find out how customers were ripped off with a very calculated scheme.

It should be acknowledged that not all stores were guilty of deceptive practices, but when ex-employees are willing to go on camera you know something is fishy. Keep watching to find out about the chain’s answers to some of their lawbreaking locations.

Most of us have been hoodwinked at least once in our lives, but it doesn’t always catch up with the perpetrator. Have you ever had an experience like this at an auto servicer? What action did you take to rectify the situation? Tell us in the comments!