An associate producer from a national television station contacted me recently by email. She said she was doing some research on the auto repair industry. In particular she was interested in oil change shops and “is this an area of expertise for you?” She had come across my column and wanted to chat.
I had to think about this. I also had to do a little research myself. As I expected her name is attached to a particular program that presents itself as a consumer watchdog. I know what is coming. Another show that will likely not help the auto repair and maintenance industry as a whole by presenting less than half the picture, a blurry picture or biased picture of what we do.
My thinking was done and I decided maybe I could, help her to do a better job with focus and less bias. I set up a time to chat. She got straight to business. “What kind of services should you expect with an oil change? Ahhh.... I have to think. My answer is complicated. I immediately felt this was not something I could do on the phone. I asked her to write out the questions she had for me and I would answer them in writing or at least prepare answers for them. I needed more than “chat”. I wanted to do a good job. If you check back through my columns you would understand I have had a lot to say about the proverbial ‘oil change’.
She said she could do that for me but something made me think her research timeline might be looming and I was not going to help her meet it. Haven’t heard from her since. I don’t expect to either. I am now waiting for the advertisement for that consumer watchdog show with it’s tabloid type headlines drawing the public to tune their tvs on a particular date and time.
I imagine by now if you read this far you recognize I am not impressed by these consumer watchdog type shows. My industry is seemingly constantly getting stung. I do understand why it happens. The auto repair industry is very big. There are a lot of small business people trying to make a living in auto repair.
The auto repair business has gotten more complex along with the technology of the vehicle. Next to your house, a vehicle is the most expensive thing you own and insuring, fueling, repairing and maintaining one, two, or even more of these consumes a considerable portion of your disposable income.
When it comes to choosing a maintenance and repair facility the old adage usually rings true. “You don’t get something for nothing.” and “Faster is not necessarily better”.
British Columbia has no requirements as to auto repair and maintenance facility personnel’s qualifications, licenses etc.
Your automobile requires more than 4 litres of oil and an oil filter once a year or when the reminder tells you.
One vehicle’s air filter replacement can take five minutes while another’s will take an hour.
No, I do not think a consumer market watchdog will give the Oil Change industry a passing grade.