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Oil change scams: Hidden camera investigation on what really happens to your car (CBC Marketplace)

Oil change scams: Hidden camera investigation on what really happens to your car (CBC Marketplace)

(♪♪) >>Tom: This week on “Marketplace.” >>Oh, boy, came in for a $20 oil change. >>You’re about to see a fast lube franchise pull a fast one. >>If you can, try and get your transmission fluid changed. >>Is it necessary? >>No, I just did a transmission service. >>Tom: That’s what I thought. We go up on the hoist to show you what’s really going down at these oil change shops. >>Let me tell you a little bit about fraud. >>Tom: Insiders share the secrets of shaking you down. >>I’ve never worked for a more shady, crooked, deceitful company. >>Tom: And we track down the man behind all this greasy business. >>That’s him right by the door. Do you want to just go get him, Tom? >>Yeah. >>Just go, just go. (♪♪) (♪♪) >>Tom: We’re heading to this Economy Lube in Guelph, Ontario. (♪♪) >>Tom: It’s part of a chain of oil change garages that promises fast and affordable service. (♪♪) >>Tom: Ten minutes, 20 bucks, and you’re done, according to their ad. (♪♪) ♪ Just $19.99, at Economy Lube♪ (♪♪) >>Tom: Catchy but maybe not that simple. >>Hi there. >>Need an oil change? >>Yes, please. >>Tom: Who hasn’t worried about turning over their car to some gearhead and getting back a big bill. And a lot of gobbledygook. >>Tom: We’ve been hearing there’s reason to worry at Economy Lube. That’s why we’re putting it to the test. (♪♪) >>Tom: Right off the bat, they’re upselling that $20 oil change. >>Tom: Recommending a more expensive package than advertised but does it get any worse than that? These guys say you can bet on it. >>I have never worked for a company like Economy Lube, for a more shady, crooked, deceitful company. >>Tom: They’re insiders, former employees of Economy Lube, who still have ties to the industry, and don’t want to be identified. >>I totally rip people off and I did that for a number of years for the dollar and the money. >>Tom: Their years of ripping people off at Economy Lube ended in a bitter fight over wages. You had issues, you went to the labour department and argued over money, that sort of thing. >>Everything we’re saying is a hundred percent true. There would be many more people besides us that would be, you know, willing to say so as well. >>Tom: They have no axe to grind, they say, just a conscience to clear. >>This is our chance to right our wrongs and bring awareness to what’s going on. >>Tom: So they’re blowing the whistle on a company that they say tops you up and rips you off, all because the boss wants it that way. >>I couldn’t remember questioning him about the practises as far as sales go, and his exact words were go save the whales somewhere else, and he told me it was an upsell world. >>Tom: But we’re not just talking their word for it. We’ve assembled a team of testers to help us see for ourselves. All of them work for CBC. Anu, Steve, and Ryan. Each driving a car with one thing in common: They all need an oil change, and nothing else. They will be heading to that same Economy Lube in Guelph. And what’s about to happen has lessons for us all. Our home base for the day is Conestoga college. They train a lot of future mechanics here, and they have agreed to let us use their massive garage. >>Tom: Morning everybody. Nice to see you. So the plan as you know is we’re going to head down to Economy Lube and you’re going to just be customers. >>Tom: Helping us with our test is expert Mark Sach-Anderson. >>They shouldn’t be offering you anymore than just the oil change you’re going in for. Everything else is fine on the car so it should be a nice simple, easy, in, oil change, and out. (♪♪) >>Tom: Mark has been in the industry for more than 20 years. He began as an oil change technician himself. Became a mechanic and worked his way up the ranks. He now runs this garage in Toronto’s west end. >>There are a lot of good oil change facilities. Unfortunately, there’s a few bad ones, and it spoils it for everybody. >>Tom: The oil change industry knows it has a bad reputation. >>It seems like mechanics are always out to get you. >>Tom: Jiffy Lube, for instance, plays off customer worries in this ad. >>But at Jiffy Lube, we don’t fix vehicles, we help keep them running right to help you leave repair shop worries behind. >>Tom: So if the industry knows we’re suspicious, can we really finally leave worries behind? If only. (♪♪) >>Tom: To do our test properly, it’s important to establish a base line. So Mark spends days going over test vehicles. He knows the kind of additional services routinely offered by places like Economy Lube, such as fluid and filter changes, and he wants to beat them to the punch. He makes sure none of our cars need anything more than an oil change. (♪♪) >>Tom: Our hidden camera specialist. Rob, is hard at work making sure we’ve got all the angles covered when it comes to capturing our test. >>Tom: Cool. And where is that going to go? >>Under the hood of the Uplander. >>So the guy working under the hood, we’ll be able to see his hands working. >>We’ll be able to see his hands reaching to all the different — stick and engine coolant. >>Cool. >>Tom: So wondering what to expect? Back at Conestoga college, our first tester, Anu, is wired up and ready to go to see if what we’re hearing about Economy Lube holds true. >>I’ll open the door for you. >>Okay, thank you. >>All right, good luck. >>Thanks, Tom. (♪♪) >>Tom: The Economy Lube shop is less than five minutes down the road from our home base. As Anu approaches, our surveillance camera across the street picks her up and follows her in. Our insiders say at Economy Lube, the technicians count on your ignorance, even though they might not know much more about your car than you do. >>When I started, I’d never worked on vehicles, never popped a drain plug, never did an oil change, no experience. >>Tom: How about you? >>I had experience from a previous oil change places but I worked with people who didn’t know anything about cars at all. >>Tom: They soon learn the way things work at Economy Lube. Who trained you? >>Actually, the owner of the company Steve Moxey. >>Tom: And what did he teach you? >>How to sell all the different services, upselling. >>Tom: What did that mean at Economy Lube? >>To sell as many services and get as big of a bill as you possibly could on every single vehicle. >>Because he didn’t care if you did the work, he cared if you got the money. >>Tom: And were these services that were needed? >>Uh, majority of the time, no. (♪♪) >>Tom: You can find a photo of owner Steve Moxey right on the door as you enter Economy Lube. Moxey has built a chain of 12 shops throughout southwestern Ontario. And according to our insiders, he’s done it through dishonesty. >>Just need an oil change? >>Yeah. >>Tom: Inside the shop, our first tester is hearing she needs a lot more than a simple oil change. >>Couldn’t have smelled burnt and it certainly wasn’t brown because I changed it. >>Tom: And later, a former fraud cop weighs in on our findings. >>I have told people all my life that fraud is theft with a smile. (♪♪) (♪♪) >>Tom: We’re inside a quick oil change shop called Economy Lube. Like all these types of shops, they say they specialize in fast work at affordable prices. (♪♪) >>Tom: Insiders tell us they do a lot more than that. Like sell you services you don’t need. >>Engine flush. >>Tom: Charge whatever they can get and often not even do the work. >>Gimme some examples of where you might do something that wasn’t really the real thing? >>One of the easiest things to sell is power steering fluid. Take a sample and you can tell a person that it should be clear, you could tell a person that it should be red, or you could just go by the smell of the fluid, smell this, the fluid is very burnt. There’s a very easy sale. >>Tom: With each lie they tell, technicians earn money. >>They were on a commission system as far as what you sold, so if I sold, say, a coolant flush for $59, I would get $2, if I sold it for 69 bucks, I get three bucks. >>Tom: The bigger the lie, the more money. That’s why they do so much lying. How often would those things happen where you do a trick every day. >>Every day. >>Multiple times a day. (♪♪) >>Tom: So will it happen to our first tester? Anu’s car has been up on the hoist for a few short minutes. When she gets the prognosis. >>Most of your stuff is in good shape. >>Okay. >>Tom: The car needs more than an oil change, he says, it needs a brake flush and power steering flush, two procedures that involve time and the complete replacement of fluids. But why? >>Tom: Burning fluid. Just like our insiders talked about. >>Tom: Remember, our expert mechanic has checked out this car and assures us it needs no such work. But in keeping with our test, we give the go-ahead. >>Tom: In reality it takes them half that time. In less than eight minutes, we get the bill. >>Tom: More than 200 bucks? How did that happen? >>Tom: We push for a better explanation and get a better deal in the process. >>Tom: Our tester pays up. And heads back to home base. (♪♪) >>Tom: So how did it go? >>You know what? They were really nice. >>Tom: Can we see the bill? >>Yeah, sure. >>Tom: Nice is nice but our expert mechanic Mark Sach- Anderson says there’s nothing nice about that final bill. In your view, the power steering flush and brake fluid flush were not needed? >>No. The fluids were up. All of this was checked when I had it at my shop. Not three days ago. >>Tom: Not only was the work not needed, Mark suspects it wasn’t done. Given how little time it took. Mark shows us the four points behind the wheels where it would be clear if a brake flush had been carried out. >>There’s so much rust on the back of this bleeder or on the bleeder here, and around the seal, it hasn’t been opened. That tells me that the system’s not flushed. >>Tom: All right, Mark, let’s go to the videotape, shall we, and see what they did. Our videotape confirms Mark’s suspicions. >>Tightening the filter, wiping off any oil. >>Tom: That $90 brake flush never happened. >>Tom: Still nothing on the brakes. >>Nothing on the brakes. >>Tom: Same for the power steering flush. Our hidden hood cam shows no evidence it was performed. >>But reality is you were charged for it. And it wasn’t done. (♪♪) >>Tom: Time for test number two. Our man Ryan is pulling up for his oil change. And who knows what else. >>I’m here for the engine oil change. >>Yeah, no problem. >>Tom: Just like last time, that $20 oil change they advertise becomes 29. >>Tom: And just like last time, it doesn’t end there. After a quick inspection, they tell Ryan he needs more than his oil change. >>Tom: The brakes, again, and the transmission? Our expert, Mark, just did that a few days ago. A messy and lengthy procedure we captured on camera. Our insiders tell us this kind of deception can really add up. >>As much as you didn’t want to do it but at the end of the week when you get a thousand dollar paycheque take home. >>The money was just too good. With a high school education, where are you going to make between 65 and $100,000 a year? >>Tom: Now Ryan is handing over his money at Economy Lube. After just ten minutes of work on his car. >>Tom: On his way with some air fresheners and a bill that stinks. >>Thank you, bye. >>Tom: Back at home base, we have a look. How was it? >>It was, yeah, pricey. >>Tom: We’ll see what you came up with. 218. >>Yeah. >>Tom: You asked for a $20 oil change? >>Right, yeah, I did. >>Tom: $218, Ryan’s bill is ten times when he went in for, including 80 bucks for the transmission. Was that needed? >>No. I just, just did a transmission service on this. >>Tom: That’s what I thought. We check our hidden camera tape to see how they sell that one. >>Tom: There’s that burning fluid line again. Our expert is appalled. >>It did not smelled burned because it was all fresh fluid. But I mean there’s absolutely no way that this service was needed. Good sales pitch. But it’s completely false. It’s almost like a script, it’s almost identical to the service that we had on car number one, the same it’s dirty, it smells. >>Tom: So how about that expensive brake flush? They didn’t actually do it the first time they charged for it, how about this time? Mark checks and says no. They didn’t do a flush? >>They couldn’t have done a flush. >>Tom: Two for two. Two flushes paid for that didn’t happen. (♪♪) >>Tom: Our third and final tester Steve pulls in towards the end of the day to get his oil changed. But will the upsell happen again? The answer comes minutes later. >>Tom: The technician promises to flush out the entire engine block and the radiator, and of course, the braking system. Back at home base… >>Tom: How was it? >>That was the most expensive $19.99 I ever spent. >>Tom: Really? >>Oh, yeah. >>Tom: Let’s see. 251 bucks? Good Lord, that’s the highest of the day. What was the sales pressure like on you? >>They start off sounding like you can choose, but they sort of — they gradually move it into you really should get it, we can do it for you right now. >>Tom: But did they do it? Mark is interested in the full system coolant flush they charged for. He says this car uses a special coolant called dex-cool which is orange. He shows us what’s in the resevoir. >>Look at that, bright green. >>Tom: Bright green. That’s not the proper coolant? >>That’s not the proper coolant for this vehicle. >>Tom: Is what’s in there in here? >>We don’t know that. >>Tom: Mark wants to take a sample from the radiator. He says if an actual flush was done, the fluid coming out will also be green. >>That looks orange to me. Oh, yeah. Look at that. Okay. So that’s coming out of the radiator. >>Tom: Right. >>That is what is throughout the system. What we’ve seen changed here is the stuff in the resevoir and it’s been changed with the wrong stuff. >>Tom: And what does that mean for the vehicle? >>It can cause damage to the sensors, it can cause damage and premature wear inside the engine. We should really be pulling that stuff out of the resevoir before it causes problems. >>Tom: So not only was the coolant publish not needed, it was not done right, causing cross contamination which means we have to fix it. And yet we paid $250. What do you think about what they’ve done? >>Certainly not right. Certainly gives us in the industry a bad name. >>And it’s certainly time to get some answers. >>Tom: Oh. >>What? >>Tom: He’s coming. So after the break, we show up at Economy Lube’s warehouse uninvited. Mr. Moxey, Tom Harrington from “Marketplace.” (♪♪) (♪♪)>>Tom: Our investigation into oil change shops run by Economy Lube takes us to a former investigator himself. >>Let me tell you a little bit about fraud. >>Tom: Mark Simchison used to lead the major fraud division of the Hamilton police. at Economy Lube. we were sold >>Tom: And what our expert mechanic discovered. >>It hasn’t been opened. That tells me that the system’s not flushed. >>Tom: So what’s his verdict? >>I have told people all my life that fraud is theft with a smile. >>Tom: Putting it right out there, you’re saying what they’re doing is fraud? >>If they are charging for, and accepting, money for and receiving money for services that they did not perform that you paid for in all honesty, that’s fraud. >>Tom: And that’s exactly what we found. Time to take our evidence to the top. (♪♪) >>Tom: We’re as close to the lot as we can possibly be so we can see the door. We’re outside Economy Lube warehouse in Cambridge, Ontario. >>He’s in the car sitting. >>Tom: Is he really? >>Yeah. >>Tom: Looking for some answers. Okay, he’s gone in. We’ve already made repeated requests for an on-camera interview with president and founder Steve Moxey. He’s now inside. He backed in with his Range Rover inside that closed door garage door. Given him weeks to think about it. >>So if he sees the camera, I don’t think he’ll come to the door. >>Tom: Right. More details when requested. >>I don’t know exactly how we should proceed because we’re across the parking lot right now. — But Moxey still won’t come on camera. >>Tom: Oh. >>What? >>Tom: He’s coming. >>Do you want to go get him, Tom? >>Tom: Yeah, why don’t we try now. So when we spot the man who greases the wheels at Economy Lube… >>Okay here he comes, he’s out. Just go. Just go. >>Tom: We decide to roll. Mr. Moxey. But Steve Moxey — Tom Harrington from “Marketplace.” — doesn’t want to talk about why his company is ripping people off. (♪♪) >>Tom: A few days later, we reach Moxey by phone and he denies any wrongdoing. >>I have a real hard time believing that you took three cars in and not one of those cars actually had the service done because I’m in stores every day. You know, I could be wrong, you know, it’s a hundred employees, anything’s possible. If it’s in fact the case, I agree with anybody that that is fraudulent. >>Tom: We contact those Economy Lube employees caught by our hidden cameras. This one denies working on any of our test cars. >>There you go, sir. >>Tom: But the other fesses up. >>I’m not proud of it, but that’s how we were taught to do stuff. In that company, you are forced to rip people off basically because all the owner’s looking for is money. If he’s not making money, then you’re no use to him. (♪♪) >>Tom: As for lessons learned in all this. Here’s a few tips from our “Marketplace” survival guide the next time you need an oil change. Familiarize yourself with the service schedule recommended by your car’s manufacturer. They built your car, and probably know best when it needs maintenance. Quick oil change shops are fine for a quick oil change. For anything bigger or unexpected, stick with a mechanic you know you can trust. And finally, be on your toes and know an upsell is coming. That way you won’t be caught offguard by any greasy business. (♪♪)

97 thoughts on “Oil change scams: Hidden camera investigation on what really happens to your car (CBC Marketplace)

  1. I worked at a 10 minutes oil change company. We never tried to sell any type of system flushes. We would ask if your wipers were working good for you and show you your air filter and let you decide if you wanted to get it replaced. Shady companies like these give the good ones a bad name

  2. True story. I took my merc into a Merc dealership. It hat some electronic malfunction codes coming up. They wanted to replace the whole electrical loom. R 15000.00 also front calipers and a few other things, I said no to everything. Took the car to a good auto electrician R 1600.00 later, he just unplugged and cleaned the joints in the electrical loom, all fixed. WOW !

  3. And this happens in Canada? If the video was taken in North Korea, I would not have been as surprised….

  4. They should of had the same car come in with a different person 😂 they would of said it needs a brake flush😂

  5. years ago I caught midas muffler drilling holes in my exhaust to force me to replace it all, they ended up giving it to us for free to avoid getting authorities involved. Have not used them since and never will

  6. "here's a couple of free airfreshers for ya" that's 20 cents(canadian, thats like 5 cents euro) and your 218 dollar bill for taking up space in our waiting room

  7. An oil change is a very simple thing you can do yourself. You will know it was done right, and nothing else was done to it. I suppose if you need it immediately, and don't mind spending the money you can have someone else do it. However, I'll stick to doing it myself.

  8. This investigation decided to just go to one shady employee over and over again. Which a random sampling of locations and employees needed to have been used to make this a compelling case of wide spread fraud.

  9. Their conscience only bothered them when it affected them. They should also be in trouble for going along with it for so long!

  10. Usually when I go get my oil changed, I check before I go and before I leave to make sure something was done . If they tell me I need other services I always ask if they can tell me in detail what it is I need, write it down, refuse the service there, then take it to my mechanic to see if it checks out. Majority of the time it does which is why I go back there for oil changes but some places are just so shady. Hopefully people will stop going there and run them out of business.

  11. Do it yourself. If a half wit can get a job doing it at Monkey Lube 🐵, then that shows you how easy it is to do.

  12. I'm suspicious of the car places where I live. Is there anyone who can offer advice. I bought a 350z in Colorado that came with so many issues. I also had a warranty and tried to fix some issues but I don't trust anybody when it comes to my car and money.


  14. If a big chain would try that in Alabama, in a systematic way…they would be a small business afterwards. 20 million dollar judgment would be the best they could hope for.

  15. Except that Jiffy Lube, stateside, is the WORST about ripping folks off as bad if not worse than Economy Lube in Canada!!!

  16. When I get an oil change I always say " I just want an oil change, cant get anything else until I get paid" And they usually dont get any lip after that.

  17. Fools. I always say no. I always say I’ll doing an appointment later for the rest of the services. And never come back.

  18. Jiffy Lube is actually the creator of this model. On average a Jiffy Lube oil change was 30.00 back in the day, but the average ticket was was 80.00 after all was said and done.

  19. I’ve been a mechanic for 50 years, changing my own oil, brake fluid and coolant changes if needed.
    As for the people that don’t know what they’re paying for, for god sake, educate yourselves. Start by going to a “Reputable Garage” for oil changes. A “cheap oil change”, is usually anything but. Find a mechanic that’s been around a while, ask for referrals, relatives of garages are a good start. A new or newer vehicle can set you back serious $$$, it’s the second most expensive purchase in your life (sometimes #1). It makes sense to read up on how it works. Actually READ the owners manual! Don’t just throw it in the glove box and drive away.
    This guys marketing plan is shady at best. He’s still in business because nobody is doing anything about it. He will continue to screw you out of your money, as long as he possibly can.

  20. I had a buddy that put the wrong coolant in his ford ranger an it went into the heads an turned into jelly..the coolant system was still moving coolant passed thermostat an temperature gauge looked normal..well since the coolant ports in the head were clogged they warped an blew the head gasket..

  21. They should do one on my local butcher's shop, I heard they mince donkeys when times are rough. It tastes great though.

  22. I have had a Midas shop do this. Considering the story of King Midas it should have been evident by the name they were greedy.

  23. Plot twist, the expert mechanic didnt inspect or actually check anything, while the local shop was actuly doing the right thing.

  24. Everyone's complaining but like just say… no? Lmao like don't trust an oil change place to do things only mechanics should do

  25. I worked for a small mom and pop shop when i got into wrenching. We were so good even the dmv recommended us. I worked and built a great honest career for just over ten years. Then. The owners sold out. Meineke franchises replaced the seven shops that were built from the ground up. This video is just the tip of the iceberg. Corporate franchises are a scam. I watched power steering flushes get sold on oil cars with electric power steering. We nicknamed the flushes monicka lewinsky. Suck them out. Top them off. “They’re getting the monica”. It never did anything but make the fluid look clean for about 2 minutes. Countless services were sold and never performed as the “industry standard” in auto service in las vegas nevada. I hated my job. I hated my life. The industry as i knew it was gone forever. I tried to accept my job. But i couldnt. I was getting paid 1200$ a week as head tech. It was great money. But these corporations dont follow the rules. They make their own. What they call a shop forman/lead tech is nothing more than your the smartest mechanic we got. You do what i tell you to do. And thats the extent of your authority. So I put in my two week notice. They called bluff. Flat bed shows up an hour later and starts loading up my arsenal. They said your quitting. I said yes in two weeks. They said. But your taking your toolbox home. I said correction. Im taking my toolbox elsewhere. Boy. You should have seen the look on their faces. They thought they were so slick. So above everyone else. I was told over and over. Im the highest paid tech they have. Asked me if i was getting paid enough. Offered me 1500/week. I turned it down. I said no amount of money will allow me to work here. I have a conscience. I cant even believe to this day i worked for those crooks for 11 months.

  26. Awwww these dirty dogs. I love my dad even though he wanted boys. Thank god for that cause both me and my sister know how to service our own cars. And drive anything with wheels. Love you daddy.

  27. I've been in the auto repair business for 30+ years a mom and pop operation OUR success is due to the LORD ABOVE and HONESTY down here!!! CRAP like this would NEVER be tolerated for a single nut or bolt on ANYONES CAR!!! DISPICABLE!!!!!

  28. Stop shopping for the cheapest shop. My oil change spot is not the cheapest, but not the most expensive with high ratings. They always just change my oil and so far have never up-sold me on anything.

  29. That I don.t want to continue work mechanic. Anymore I work
    For prestige import in Miami.
    Mercedes Ben of Miami. Jaguars
    To. O my God.stolen money to
    That people.that I don’t want to
    Continue work mechanic anymore,

  30. There's a valuable lesson in this. NEVER believe a 20 minute video that keeps teasing you clips of an upcoming surprise confrontation with a crooked boss unless it's a channel you already know and trust. Most likely it will turn out they already made the boss aware of their operation, the confrontation will never happen, and all you'll get is a rubbish phone call he's had time to prepare for. Stay alert people. Learn the red flags. Time is money. Don't let fraudsters steal yours.

  31. yoy can just buy 1 bottle of engine oil for £15 and 1 bottle of steering fluid for £8 and 1 bottle of brake fluid for £4🤣 do it yourself dumbass and they wont scam you than

  32. If they're selling 60 dollar fluid that they don't even put in the car why would they accept 3 dollars as their commission they're committing serious crimes for nickels and dimes

  33. So the story goes "Their years of ripping people off at economy lube ended in a bitter fight over wages" So these guys would not have "stopped ripping people off" had they been paid better?

  34. If you don't know much about cars, a mechanic up-selling is like a doctor doing the same thing! (Pretty much tho not a Pure Analogy, I suppose)
    " First, do no harm".

  35. Both the buttheads didn't tell their tale because they regretted their actions. They just wanted to get back at their employer.
    Anuses. Filthy anuses.

  36. They will NEVER get me because you can't UPSELL me. The downside of that is I actually might need some additional service but since I don't trust them, I will NEVER do it.

  37. I had an oil place try to scam me. My car was fine before I took it in and when I left it was leaking oil all over. So I took it back and asked them what they did so they looked under it and told me it would cost $300 to fix some broken valve or whatever and I told them my car was fine and they broke it they denied that so I took my car and left. I let it leak simply because I didn’t have the money so the next time I went somewhere else to get my oil done and when the guy was done he said “It looks like you had this piece loose so I tightened it” No more leaking 😑

  38. I got out of the military after 10 years as a mechanic and did it for three years in civilian I couldn’t take anymore of the commission work up selling things that they don’t need it has no honor. We did at least do the work that they didn’t need.

  39. The repair shop at Classic Toyota in Tyler Texas is crooked. They'll try to sell you parts and services that you don't need and when you come in for an oil change, they reset your light and don't change your oil. How do I know? If I change my own oil, I'll get 5k+miles before my light comes back on. If classic does it? 2500 miles TOPS.

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