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. (♪♪)

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Ok. If an everyday person goes into a store and steals, the forces of law and order come down hard on them. So a business is caught RED HANDED stealing money from people, why aren't these SOBs in jail and their stores closed?! Because they are a business they have a license to steal? It should NOT be let the buyer beware, it should be let the seller beware. Punish those criminals!!

  2. I’ve seen where the crooked Lube Garage puts tiny bits of metal in the oil sample then shows you. “You’ve got a problem here.”

  3. 11:08 "You know what? They were really nice". What. A. Moron. How could she say that knowing they're robbing her blind.

  4. "Right our wrongs and bring awareness to what's going on" Oh ok so did these mavericks return the money they've been scamming people? Oh they did not you say? I'm sorry but it doesn't take courage to whistleblow on a job you're working on anymore.

  5. Any mechanics that is trying to sale isnt a mechanic if you go in for a oil change you should only be given the price of an oil change

  6. My girlfriend just went thru one of these horrible experiences. She went in to a local "purrfect auto" to get one of these "economy" oil changes and came out with a blown head and needing a transmission flush. Mother fuckers changed her oil with old reused recycled watered down oil. I was pissed.

  7. I would like to see some fraud check under cover work going on at some wireless phone companies. Especially Verizon Wireless!

  8. Here's a little tip, You can legally say no to their advice. Chances are there's nothing else wrong. Shocking, I know

  9. …..uhhh …..maybe next time …. I gotta go ….. write that down I'll call …. all better answers than ok , if I need it ?

  10. The dude says he did the brake flush three days before, then he says there is a bunch of rust build up around the bleeders. So did he even do the flush ??

  11. It seems that your Windshield Wiper fluid and your rearview mirror fluid have both been depleted. Would you like a refill? That’ll be $134.99.
    Oh, and the rims on your tires have also run out of fuel. That would be another $27.99.
    And the bumpers also need refueling.
    Thats $62.99.

  12. good thing my dad does all this himself instead of being ripped off… i feel like he has saved thousands by watching this video…


  14. 1 year ago I realized Canada was not Canada as I trust before. I changed bumper and found they replaced (stolen) my new hybrid battery as well from Carstar in Hamilton. what a terrible feeling and nobody cared! shame on your Canada. not sure what was going on for next 5 years. SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!

  15. those jiffy lubes are rip offs, but the elderly go there cause they can't crawl under cars anymore !!!! the cheap oil change is garbage, then they up sell you and it's still a rip off!!!!

  16. free air fresheners !!!! put that kid in juvenile detention !!!! he said honestly !!!! his brain needs a flush !!!!

  17. Recomending a better product is a completely normal practice in every single kind of business in the world. "..does it get any worse than that ?".

    Have these "journalists" ever actually worked ? "..does (journalism) get any worse than that ?". Yes, yes it does.

  18. Jeffry lub changed my oil and didnt titan the drain screw property and not even a mile down the road blew the motor because no oil they said there not responsible !

  19. Change your own oil….. It’s not hard. I do it and I’m putting these small oil change shops out of business.

  20. Thank you to my brother for teaching me how to change the oil, the oil filter, the starter, and thanks to YouTube for teaching me how to change the lights and air filters. Still learning and going to work on my coolant leak soon. This girl’s not getting scammed anytime soon. ✌️

  21. I know this video is old, but as a former mechanic, and brake flushes take at least a couple hours with bleeding and filling and more bleeding and a final brake test to make sure there are no air bubbles and that the brakes set and work properly.

  22. Even if you take your car to a place you trust, always ask for more information. Ask if you can watch them perform the tasks. Know what your fluids are supposed to look like.
    Don't be afraid to go to another mechanic to ask them to look at your car.
    I had a trusted oil change & brake place tell me I needed a new power steering pump because mine was leaking and it wouldn't pass inspection. I paid over $200 for it. 8 months later I start hearing a loud humming when I turn. Look in my power steering reservoir and it's almost empty. It appeared to be leaking. When I took it in shortly after for an oil change and inspection, I asked about it. They were supposed to check it out. I saw on the paperwork where they did something, though it wasn't clear what.
    A few months later, I checked the level and it again needed filling. It's now past the warranty period, and another mechanic told me it's not a new pump. In fact, it's the original pump that came with the car. So I paid for nothing.
    The last oil change they did they also either put the wrong oil in or didn't change it at all bc at 50% the oil was darkish.
    So, they either have guys who claim to do the work, but don't. Or the owner is having them do it.

  23. Should of had a guy walk in there that looks like a guy who would work on his own car and see what would happen. I ALWAYS talk about how lazy I was to do it myself that week.

  24. Youtube stop with the wiki. CBC is a Canadian public blah blah blah. It doesnt hide this and who the hell made you the fact police!

  25. So…. do you really think blurring these guy’s faces and not even changing their voices is protecting their identities? You people are reckless AF. You could have even left out the fact that they are still in the industry.

  26. It's good that you guys show people how other people might Try to steal their money (or scam them) for consumer services, like an oil change.

  27. $100 oil change on my Silverado 1500 at Valvoline and that was a discount. Never went back there again. Midas was better at 70 until they stiffed me a quart of oil. I'll stick with my mechanic at 65.

  28. Dont ever go to jiffy lube if you like your car I use to work for them if you need synthetic and they dont have it and if your oil filter is to difficult to get to forget about it you just paid 100 dollars to leave with the same oil and filter you came in

  29. The $20 oil change is where false advertising meets unrealistic customer expectations. You know they can't do it for $20 and stay in business, but you are a cheapskate, and you want to believe you found a deal. 2 cons looking for a sucker. Both are unfair. Just pay $50 bucks and get it done right.

  30. After watching this video I'm going to open my own shop to start ripping people off. Hired couple of people to do the dirt and get rich

  31. Those "tips" at the end of the video are hilariously weak. Anyone who doesn't already understand those basics ("read your manual") will remain at the mercy of fraudsters. It's the same old, same-old. Ignorance is expensive, so if you're too "busy", or it's too "complicated" to understand, then be ready to pay up!

  32. Really screwed up. But universal is fine to work with dexcool. I've seen more waterpumps fail with Chevrolets and dexcool than any other.

  33. mini cooper dealership mechanics rip you off by replacing parts that don't need to be replaced. i replaced a radiator hose and i started to get a bubbling noise so i took it in. they said it was the water pump so they charged me 800 dollars. come to find out a retired mini cooper mechanic told me all i had to do was purge the air from the radiator hose every time i change fluids and thats why i was getting a bubbling sound. smh the water pump is just a fan that turns when fluid is pushed through it and they hardly ever fail unless they are rusted which mine wasn't.

  34. If you want peace of mind and also save money just change your own oil. It's easy and only takes 30 minutes. I do the car maintenance on all 3 of my vehicles. I use a great car maintenance program www.automotivewolf.com on my computer to keep track of the maintenance schedules for each vehicle and send me reminders when anything needs to be checked or serviced. It also tracks parts, expenses and fuel economy performance. I even showed my wife how to change the oil in her car, but she makes me do it anyway 🙁

  35. why ending the video without how it ended? this is dumb video.
    i want to hear that the owener got arrested and all his biz got confiscated and went to jail for maximum years that a judge can allow.

  36. This is no different than going to a medical doctor to run tests for health issues. They WILL find some, that's why they're there. I've warned people forever about these 'oil-change' scams, but most don't want to listen, These people are just scumbags preying on those who are naive and/or ignorant.

  37. Isn't life already hard enough for people without the fact that these trash shops are lying and stealing from us!? I mean people are barely able to make it! The last fucken thing we need is dishonesty like this! That's alright these people that pull these lies and cons will pay in the end! EVERYONE PAYS! I am glad that I know how to work on my own cars! Honestly I stress to everyone to learn how to do your own oil changes tunes up brakes etc. Basic maintenance really. You can find any video about you car and how to do these things yourself on YouTube.

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