Wallet Flush


filter

by Jacques Gordon

The state of California has officially adopted the term “Wallet Flush.” In a 30-page draft, John Wallauch, Chief of California’s Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), has presented “An Automotive Industry Review” that declares “A Wallet Flush is an automotive service or product that provides little to no benefit to the consumer and is sold without disclosing that fact.”

The BAR is part of California’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), and it has the authority to mediate consumer complaints about auto repair shops and/or refer cases to law enforcement authorities. The BAR Website indicates that these activities annually result in “approximately $6.3 million being returned to consumers in the form of direct refunds, rework of the vehicle at no charge, or adjustments to the final bill.”

Indeed the BAR is a powerful and (often begrudgingly) respected arm of the state government, and it definitely influences the way repair shops conduct their business in California. But to officially recognize and use the term “Wallet Flush” has implications for the whole industry.

In the draft, Wallauch points out that “the starting point for industry repair standards” should be the manufacturers’ recommended maintenance schedules. After describing a number of commonly-sold services that rarely if ever appear on the OEM maintenance schedule, Wallauch specifically states that the Bureau is “not worried about what you sell as much as how it is sold!”

While many aftermarket products and services are not OEM-recommended and may even void the manufacturer’s warranty, the draft admits that some products and services are “an industry-recognized solution” to specific problems or maintenance issues. In these cases a service dealer “has the duty to justify the need,” and the justification “must be based on objective criteria.” So the BAR has no objection to selling non-OEM recommended products and services, but a shop must be able to clearly explain to the customer why it’s needed.

By codifying the term “Wallet Flush” the BAR reminds service dealers that they can be cited for misleading a customer into purchasing something they don’t really need. The BAR is also proposing a consumer brochure called “Is Someone Trying to Flush your Wallet?” that says a Wallet Flush “is money that you don’t need to spend to maintain your vehicle.” It describes a number of unnecessary services, among them an air conditioning flush and cabin air filter replacement.

It’s not hard to justify replacing a cabin air filter when it’s really needed, but do you know how and when to justify flushing an A/C refrigerant system when that job is not on any OEM maintenance schedule? Even if your shop is not in California, Mr. Wallauch’s use of the term “Wallet Flush” may prompt your customer to question your recommendation, and rightly so. Read the draft carefully, especially the customer brochure. Learn how to answer the questions for yourself before recommending a job that isn’t on the OEM maintenance schedule. And in the interest of spreading the word about “an industry-recognized solution,” consider sharing your thoughts here.

http://www.bar.ca.gov/80_BARResources/04_Miscellaneous/Industry/BAR_Advisory_Group/Handouts/Wallet%20Flushes%202%2013%202013%20BAG.pdf

The Mobile Air Conditioning Society’s blog has been honored as the best business to business blog in the Automotive Aftermarket by the Automotive Communications Awards and the Car Care Council Women’s Board!

When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.

If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be, click here for more information.

You can E-mail us at macsworldwide@macsw.org or visit to find a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Click here  to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.

The 34th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Be the Best of the Best will take place January 16-18 2014 at the Sheraton New Orleans.

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About macsworldwide

Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Founded in 1981, MACS is the leading non-profit trade association for the mobile air conditioning, heating and engine cooling system segment of the automotive aftermarket. Since 1991, MACS has assisted more than 600,000 technicians to comply with the 1990 U.S. EPA Clean Air Act requirements for certification in refrigerant recovery and recycling to protect the environment. The Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide’s mission is clear and focused--as the recognized global authority on mobile air conditioning and heat transfer industry issues. www.macsw.org
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