Dishonest - that's how insiders described the practices beyond the bay doors of many Atlanta area Havoline Xpress Lube shops.
"(Mechanic were) not changing oil or only changing oil, not the filter. Services such as a radiator flush, they wouldn't do it. They would sell it, but not actually do the service," explained an insider.
In Douglasville, CBS46's hidden cameras caught the action as our car rolled in for an oil change costing $32.83. Underneath the car, our cameras show there was no mechanic, meaning no work was ever done to drain the oil or change the oil filter.
When the manager was confronted about how his mechanic could justify pretending to put oil in our car, he pointed us to his district manager.
In Smyrna, they drained oil but never added any, but charged us full price. The manager in Smyrna never would come out of the shop to talk with us. When the district manager arrived, we showed him our video of how two of his shops charged us, but didn't change our oil.
"What do you think about the practices you're seeing in some of your shops?" we questioned. "I think it's egregious. I think it's terrible and I'm not glad to see it, but I'm glad I can see it now so, I can fix the problem," said Luke Cutlip, of Havoline Xpress Lube.
His fix? The managers in Smyrna and Douglasville plus two other employees are fired. Havoline Xpress Lube has an integrity agreement employees must sign weekly.
They're supposed to notify supervisors or people above if they see any problems and so that we can fix these problems so we don't have this," said Cutlip.
Whistleblowers claimed they tried, but their honesty was ignored. In fact, insiders say deceptive practices were encouraged by supervisors.
"One of my bosses had said, 'Oh, charge him $50 for that' and I was like I'm not going to charge him $50 for a free service and I was sent home for the day," said one whistleblower.
Whistleblowers claim the fraud went as far as code words for the deceptive practices.
"Whoever was up on top, working the hood, would give you a code word, the code word could be anything," said a whistleblower.
"'Clear to point' would be one of them, and that would be they change the filter but didn't drain the oil," said another whistleblower.
When we question what would motivate employees to deceive customers, management's response was this, "It has to be sheer laziness. There is no benefit to not changing oil - zero. We budget to change oil. The fact that they're not is just absurd," said Cutlip.
Industry markup numbers CBS46 found dispute that. Not changing the oil or filter could double a company's profit.
"It's wrong to take somebody's money, for what? So they could put more back in their pocket," said a whistleblower.
So where does this leave Havoline Xpress Lube customers who likely don't have hidden cameras but get the same treatment?
"I would say, I apologize if they feel that way but, we will fix it and we will be better than ever," said Cutlip.
If you think you've been victimized or ripped off by this company we want to hear from you. Email Jennifer Emert to tell her about your experience was so we can investigate.
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