Undercover Cars: How to Prepare for the Bureau of Automotive Repair’s “Secret Shoppers”

Have you seen the show “Undercover Boss?” Corporate leaders disguised as new employees go “undercover” to check how their company is running when they aren’t around. They want to know if employees are properly trained and if managers are following the corporate mission statement. On the show, if a frontline employee goes out of their way to support a customer, they are usually rewarded at the end.

Bureau of Automotive Repair Undercover Cars

Photo credit: Mic V. via Foter.com / CC BY

Yet, if an employee is somehow mistreating the customer, or not following company procedures as expected, they get in a lot of trouble. This happens on a regular basis in real life too, except companies send out undercover customers. These are “secret shoppers” who test businesses and rate them on the level of service and support they received.

Undercover Cars from the Bureau of Automotive Repair

Did you know that the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) goes undercover too? CBAR deploys undercover cars to evaluate SMOG Check stations and auto repair shops. (You can browse all sorts of lawsuits involving the Bureau of Automotive Repair and the undercover car issue, here.) Of course, when the CBAR goes undercover, the evaluation process isn’t so simple. Sometimes, what their secret shoppers find can seem downright confusing to an auto repair owner or technician! That’s why it’s important to make sure your auto techs treat all SMOG check customers with the same top service, and follow the standards to the best of their abilities.

Yes, we know SMOG checking a car can differ depending on the type of car and year it’s made. Staying on top of training is a key step to passing compliance with an undercover car. Make sure your SMOG check techs are up to date on all BAR-IOS training. Also older cars that fall under the BAR-97 Emissions Inspection System (EIS). You never know what kind of car the secret shopper will bring in.

California’s Bureau of Automotive Repair undercover car shoppers may be focused on procedure, but your employees should treat all customer in a respectful and friendly manner too. Great customer service is important for any business, and your auto technicians should treat every customer like a secret shopper.

Fighting the Bureau of Automotive Repair

That said, we get many inquiries from frustrated station owners or tech’s who feel that they were “entrapped” by these undercover cars, or at least that they DID fulfill the legal requirements to correctly SMOG a car… hence the dispute. They need someone “on their side” to go before the Bureau of Automotive Repair.

As automotive defense attorneys, we know that if you have received a BAR citation, it’s no fun. You may not know if it came from an undercover car or a STAR score problem. Either way, if you keep your employees current on all training and customer service skills, it can narrow the chance of getting a citation in the first place. No matter how it happens, if you get a SMOG check citation, contact our Automotive Defense Attorneys. We will do some investigating of our own and help settle the score from a Bureau of Automotive Repair undercover car!


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