Welcome, Bureau of Automotive Repair

Welcome Bureau of Automotive Repair,

I received this comment today from a concerned citizen in response to this blog…

“Probably a bad example, the article blog had a lot of angry people getting ripped off by the shop. Not a lot of sympathy. As for illegal smogs, pretty hard to defend that if the facts are there and presented properly to the court. I have never had a bad experience with BAR, but then I’m not doing things illegal!”

My first inclination was that perhaps a customer scorned? A consumer who had a bad experience with the shop in question? The IP address attached to the comment suggested something else…

IP: XXX.XXX.7.90 , webuser.dca.ca.gov

So, for anyone who is unfamiliar with a blog, anytime you leave a comment, it automatically leaves your IP address. I don’t have any spy equipment on the site, it just automatically tells you where the comment is from.

For instance, if you left the comment from your house, it would say IP: Comcast Communications, Time Warner, etc…

So, for those who don’t know, the Bureau of Automotive Repair is run through the Department of Consumer affairs whose website happens to be www.dca.ca.gov…

The Bureau of Automotive Repair is leaving comments.

This comment was left by the Department of Consumer Affairs. I can’t tell what Department of Consumer Affairs it was left by – what board or what bureau, but it’s safe to say that it was the Bureau of Automotive Repair.

So, without further adieu, welcome! I suggest you start here at this post.

Last week, we welcomed the Attorney General’s office, showing them around, letting them know the party of railroading shops was over. I happily extend the same message to the Bureau of Automotive Repair.

But, in all due fairness (fairness being something the Bureau of Automotive Repair knows nothing about), I will happily respond to the comment with pleasure.

Let’s take a look again…

“Probably a bad example, the article blog had a lot of angry people getting ripped off by the shop. Not a lot of sympathy. As for illegal smogs, pretty hard to defend that if the facts are there and presented properly to the court. I have never had a bad experience with BAR, but then I’m not doing things illegal!”

I’m trying to discover what the bad example was.

In the blog, I recommended that if the bureau or a police officer showed up to your door with a subpoena warrant, or other legal instrument authorizing a search, let them through. Why? You don’t fight the police – ever. Why? Because you will lose – every time.

Where do you fight the Bureau of Automotive Repair?

Where do you fight? In the courtroom. The police, like the Bureau of Automotive Repair, break the law constantly. Why? Because they play the odds. What odds? That you will not consult an attorney. It’s the same trick they’ve been pulling for quite some time, harass, cajole, oppress, make em’ take us to court – our lawyers, the attorney generals office, we get for free, we know you have to pay – so take us to court.

I guess I should have clarified. There’s street law, and there’s courtroom law. Street law is what happens on the street, where peace officers and agencies break the law frequently. Then there’s courtroom law, where agencies are forced to atone for their sins.

It’s simple, fight the courtroom law battle, not the street law battle, and I quote “You have rights – enforce them through the legal process… not with a baseball bat.”

I’m pretty sure giving this as an example of what not to do – go after a peace officer with a baseball bat – was good advice, but please correct me if I’m wrong.

I have no idea what the shop was doing. The article alleges continuing to repair vehicles despite a license revocation or suspension. The key word is ‘allege’, why? Because until a judge or jury convicts them as such, there’s a little thing in the law we like to call innocent until proven guilty. Until they are proven to be guilty, they are innocent. The burden of proof (the job of proving they were engaging in such behavior) is on the government.

How Shops and Techs are Getting Ripped Off

Were people getting ripped off? I don’t know, I haven’t seen the evidence. I make no claims as to their culpability. If I’ve learned anything about dealing with the Bureau of Automotive Repair, I’d say look in the mirror before you start suggesting people are getting ripped off.

You reprogram ECUs and coolant temp sensors so it doesn’t trip the check engine light, then lie to the service writer about whether the car takes a long time to warm up when you know damn well you removed the spring on the thermostat, causing the car to take 10 minutes of driving to warm up. You restrict hoses, rip off timing indicator marks, put methanol in the gas tank to lower NOx’s so it looks like timing is ok. You send in Astro Vans that take 20 minutes after wading through spilled soda, coffee, fries, and god knows what to remove the dog house all so a tech can make sure the PCV valve is there.

Really guys? Now who is getting ripped off?

I know how you guys work. A consumer calls complaining about shop X. They brought the car into the shop because it had a check engine light on and the smog station wouldn’t smog it. So shop X diagnoses it, pulls a downstream O2 code, tells the customer, customer authorizes it, fixes it. $100 part, $100 labor, $200.

Customer goes back to the smog station, performs a check. Car fails the functional EGR test. Customer is pissed. Customer goes back to Shop X. Shop X feels bad, diagnoses it for free, tells the customer that because you drove your 2001 Soccer Mom Van around with the check engine light on for 8 months with a bad O2, it ran rich. Because it ran rich, extra unburnt fuel was in the combustion chamber overwhelming the EGR, so your EGR was breathing like it smoked 2 packs a day suffering from emphysema, and it ripped it’s “lungs”, i.e., the EGR diaphragm. Now you need a new EGR valve.

Well the EGR is about as easy to get to as Atlantis is to find, so its 2 hours labor at $100 an hour and a $100 part. So $300 for the job.

Now the customer is pissed. It went from a $40 Smog to a $580 job in no time.

So what does the customer do? She calls the Bureau of Automotive Repair. Files a complaint. “This shop charged me $300 for this little part and $200 for an O2, and I had to pay to Smog the car twice! They’re ripping me off!!! It’s all their fault!!”

Lets go back real quick – who drove around for 8 months with the check engine light on? Exactly.

But I digress, so what does the Bureau do? Instead of calling the shop, finding out what happened, talking to some in-house experts, and finding out that this customer is off her rocker, you feel you have the grounds to institute an undercover car program against shop X because after all – you got a consumer complaint!

So you send in reprogrammed ECU cars booby trapped to all hell, stuff the original engineer who designed the damn thing wouldn’t figure out, and file a complaint through the Attorney General’s Office to revoke their license. And just to be thorough, you send in cars with methanol in the gas tank, timing indicators ripped off, PCV valves buried under intake cars that would take 2 hours to smog if done by the book (which you know) and pull the smog stations license.

So you call the consumer back, say you were right! They were bums! They were perpetrating fraud; we’ll make it a condition of probation that shop X pays restitution to you for your troubles!

So I ask again, who’s really getting ripped off?

A Warning to the Bureau of Automotive Repair

You know whom I have no sympathy for? You. That’s right, you, the Bureau of Automotive Repair. You want to talk about all the illegal crap you’ve pulled? Let me know where and when, I’ll give you a run down of what I know from the cases I’ve seen. I’ll show you a video where a guy spends an hour with a timing gun in his hand trying to check functional timing after you removed the timing indicator. I’ll show you Alldata reports of a car you sent in undercover that has no schematics for the PCV. Not in Mitchell, Alldata, emissions labels, Haynes, anywhere (it’s under the intake by the way, way in the back, which would require removing the intake to check, along with replacing the gasket at about 1.4 labor hours, lets see if this meshes with §44013 (b) of the Health and Safety Code which requires “procedures [for Smog Inspections] shall be simple and cost effective”; would you call that simple?). After all, I bet the Bureau had NO IDEA the PCV was so hard to get to when choosing this car for an undercover run. Nope, no way they knew… right?

As for whoever left this comment, well, I doubt you’ve had a bad experience with the BAR, seeing as their parent organization appears on your paycheck. Rest assured, I look forward to meeting you, preferably on the stand in court, so I can rip your ignorant, law breaking, consumer driven, cheating, lying, mischievous, hypocritical ass for railroading shops in the name of defending consumers from the corrupt organization of Automotive Repair Dealers.

Do I want you to shut down fraudulent shops? Absolutely: the same way I want unethical lawyers who steal money from clients disbarred, the same way I want doctors who make money on the side writing Vicodin prescriptions for friends license taken away, the same way I want male chiropractors who get too friendly with female patients to not have a license.

The point is, find the unethical shops the right way. Someone cleaning piping for friends, I can understand the Bureau pulling his license. A shop that forgets the drain plug, blowing the motor of a customer’s car, who refuses to fix it, I can understand. The crap you guys pull? You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

So, like I told the Department of Justice, the party is over. Until you start doing things the right way, we’re going to have words. Preferable in a courtroom, in front of a judge, exposing you for who you really are – the true frauds in this mess.


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