By on May 10, 2019

When you give your car over to the dealership for repairs, you’re trusting them to fix it. You’re also trusting them not to take your pride and joy out for a Sunday drive so they can teach a co-worker how to drive stick. We figured this went without saying but last week showcasing exactly that.

A customer affected by Ford’s head gasket recall on the Focus RS had the good sense to install a dash cam before taking it into Hawk Ford of Oak Lawn, Illinois, resulting in eleven minutes of two men discussing all the odd noises the car makes as they clumsily pilot it around a residential area.

Despite the poor sound quality of the clip, some of those noises are audible and likely to cause minor physical comfort among highly sympathetic types.

According to , which broke the story, Karol Zwolinski installed the camera inside his Focus RS after reading accounts of other vehicles being joyridden at dealerships. It payed off.

The clip features a few hard launches and some lackluster advice from “the teacher.” Meanwhile, the learner repeatedly comments on unsavory sounds the car makes as he runs through gears and the seatbelt warning chimes.

 

Karol said he picked the car up on April 12th, following 4 days of servicing, and was assured the process went off without a hitch. Documents indicated that the car’s mileage had not changed but, upon inspecting the vehicle himself, he noticed the Focus actually had 10 extra miles on the odometer. After reviewing the footage, he showed it to a dealership staff member later in the month.

“He said he will review the video with his boss and update me the following Monday,” Karol recalled. “I left voicemails and emails and nobody ever called me back so I decided to post it on YouTube after a week of waiting … This is very unprofessional and untrustworthy, they assure you everything will be great and than do whatever they feel like with a $50,000 car that doesn’t even belong to them. If I didn’t have a dash cam I would have never known what really happened.”

By our estimation, this is at least as bad as simply taking the vehicle out for a joyride. In addition to betraying a customer’s trust, there’s no way those two employees (presumably mechanics) managed to return that car without some added wear and tear to the clutch. Apparently, Hawk Ford has offered Karol some free maintenance but have been otherwise silent.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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50 Comments on “Caught On Camera: Dealer Employee Learns How to Drive Stick Using Customer’s Focus RS...”


  • avatar
    Cactuar

    This calls for a complimentary Tru-Coat if anything.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Yer darn tootin’!

      I always reset one of the tripmeters, then set the display to the odometer, just to be sure, and take pictures of all the different displays, before I pull into the service reception area.

      As bad as the doofuses who recorded their beating a Civic Type-R within an inch of its life (including a couple full-throttle clutch-drops, IIRC)! At least that car wasn’t sold yet! (Perhaps Honda took it back but still charged the dealer!)

  • avatar
    Dartdude

    this calls for a life time maintenance policy also

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Oh, God. Hope these two guys have their resumes shined up.

    Thankfully, it takes a LOT more this to fully roast a clutch (ask the guy who taught his daughter to drive his manual Jetta), but the dealer should replace it anyway.

    We need Bark to tell us what all those warning tones are for.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      It’s mostly the seatbelt chime.

      I also heard the classic Ford tri-tone (door open, key inside or car running)

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I thought the Belt Minder was a fast-paced “bong.”

        Is the normal tone a “bong-bong” at a slower cadence?

        I miss the elegant tones from ‘80s and ‘90s Fords!

        Honda’s classic beepers are gone! (Morse-code “H” for keys, and a seven slow-beep for the belts.) The seat belt warning in the new Accord sounds like the opening piano chords from “The Rose,” by Bette Midler. The power-on chime isn’t much better!

  • avatar
    gasser

    Fire both employees.
    Give owner either lifetime clutch guarantee or replace it now.
    Apologize to owner, profusely.
    Decency and responsibility isn’t just for judges, doctors and government employees; its either for ALL of us or for NONE of us.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

    These guys made the news only because the mechanics joyriding a PowerShift Focus are still broken down somewhere.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    It’s amazing to me how often this sort of thing seems to happen. How are there not better controls on the keys to expensive/performance/exclusive cars inside the dealership? Anyone willing to risk their career over this sort of thing is presumably not a high ranking employee, so how are they allowed access in the first place? When I bring my Viper to the Dodge dealer, there is one employee in the entire service department (not even the service manager)authorized to drive it. Don’t know why this type of practice isn’t more common.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      It’s not just customer cars. A lot of dealers have remote lots to hold extra inventory, so when a customer wants to see one of those cars someone usually has to drive it over to the sales office. I’ve seen dealer employees absolutely thrashing brand new cars as they drive out of these lots.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Last year, I was looking at Audis on a Sunday when the dealership was closed, and apparently the lot attendants who were rearranging the inventory took the opportunity to hold some impromptu drag races.

        The good news was that a RS7 sounds absolutely glorious when it’s wound out. The bad news is the guy who lays out a a hundred grand for it is buying something that got hooned around by a bunch of dumba** kids.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        That’s why I place a factory order for a car if possible; did last time, and my 2019 Accord is currently on order.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    As far as these type of videos go this isn’t that bad. Yes it was someone still learning how to use a clutch and that isn’t great for the life of the clutch, but they weren’t doing burn outs it truly seemed like a guy trying to teach his buddy how to drive a manual transmission with what was one of the few cars to come through the service dept that wasn’t an automatic. It does not seem like it was a case of hey this is a hot car lets take it out and see what it will do.

    Yes they should both still be fired and the dealer should do something to make the owner happy.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      There’s gotta be a stickshift sled someplace in their used inventory, if they really wanted to do this, though they’d still be passing off a thrashed car as good.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      If that was my car, I would be irate. But I wouldn’t want the employees fired. They weren’t *trying* to abuse the car. But it was poor judgment to use a customer’s car for training purposes! They honestly both seem like nice people, although perhaps they need to think a little harder about their actions.

      I would settle for an extended drivetrain warranty IN WRITING and an apology from the employees involved.

  • avatar
    James Charles

    Simple problem to solve.

    In Australia your drivers licence has “Automatic or Manual” annotated on it.

    If its annotated “Automatic” thats all you can drive.

    If the business requires an operator with the skillsets to drive a manual, he’s off to driving school at the expense of the employer.

    Or, the employer employs adequately trained personnel.

    Not hard to solve.

  • avatar
    dwford

    My local Chevy dealer sent a driver in a customer’s car to pick me up to bring me back to the dealership.

  • avatar
    scott25

    I learned to drive manual on a Fiesta ST at the Ford dealer I worked at, but it was an inventory vehicle at least.

    Agree that dealer employees (sales and service both) drive the cars hard when they’re in stock, but I’ve never seen anyone abuse a customer vehicle (deliberately anyway)

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    Alas, the dealership’s sharp lawyer will simply use this video to have the owner prosecuted on wiretap charges.

    That’s not something to take lightly. If only he’d not used the audio, all would be well.

    The dealership just got a get out of jail free card with that.

    • 0 avatar
      markf

      “Alas, the dealership’s sharp lawyer will simply use this video to have the owner prosecuted on wiretap charges.

      That’s not something to take lightly. If only he’d not used the audio, all would be well.

      The dealership just got a get out of jail free card with that.”

      I doubt that very much. Wiretapping only applies where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. You don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in someone else’s private property.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        Oh, you naive waif.

        Look up wiretap laws. To wit:

        https://donaghuelabrum.com/2015/12/30/personal-dash-cams-and-the-law/

        and I quote:

        “Be careful with these in light of the regulations mentioned regarding the audio recording of other people without their consent.”

        There IS an expectation of privacy–by the two who drove the car. They gave NO consent, implied or otherwise, for the recording of their conversation.

        No, the car owner is screwed here.

        • 0 avatar
          la834

          The owner would be screwed – if the dealership was in Pennsylvania where the legal verbiage you quoted applies. There are no such laws in some states though (i’m not sure about Illinois where this dealership is located). In some other states, wiretap laws that prohibit recording third-party conversations without their consent only apply to telephone conversations.

        • 0 avatar
          markf

          “Oh, you naive waif.”

          Wow, how much time did you spend on that witty response?

          And your “proof” is some lawyer offering advice. No case law.

          There is no expectation of privacy in or on someone’s private property.

          • 0 avatar
            jalop1991

            About a second and a half. Reading Is Fundamental.

            My “proof” is no such thing. We’re not in a court of law. But clearly, all y’all here have NO exposure to such concepts. My goal was to expose you to the concepts.

            And right on cue, you deny things that are inconvenient to you.

            https://www.mwl-law.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/RECORDING-CONVERSATIONS-CHART

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Lawyer/law blogs are fun theoretical arguments but are there any actual *examples of a conviction* for improper dashcam use you can find? I assume if there were they would be cited in your links.

            No state or federal prosecutor is going to take this case. It doesn’t matter how “sharp” the dealer’s lawyers are. The owner will be fine.

        • 0 avatar
          la834

          Once again, you have linked to a guide regarding laws governing TELEPHONE conversations (as noted in the very first line on the site you linked to). Because of the nature of PHONE conversations, most states have laws regarding who is allowed, and under what conditions, to record them. A dashcam is NOT a telephone. A customer’s car is NOT the cables running along telephone poles, or the airwaves used to transmit mobile conversations. A dashcam is more akin to an old tape recorder than it is any kind of phone. Laws governing PHONE conversations to not apply to making audio recordings of ANY conversation.

          • 0 avatar
            jalop1991

            Let a lawyer speak to it specifically:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM4JuH9EV8k

            I know you want to deny all of this so badly, but a recording of the audio of two people, without the consent of either one, is a get out of jail free card for the dealership.

    • 0 avatar
      newenthusiast

      A brief Google inquiry reveals that the Illinois wiretap law was originally found unconstitutional, since it tried to cover all forms of recordings (video and audio, including in public) and required the consent of all parties recorded, even those on camera in the distance. Police were routinely using it to arrest and charge people with a felony people who recorded their actions.

      The revised law, Public Act 098-1142 (effective as of 12/30/2014) specifically references audio recordings and designates that “a person must be recording in a surreptitious manner” in order to be charged.

      Video recording in a public domain (this footage shows the street) is not covered specifically in the legislation (i.e not specifically mentioned). Also, I do not know about the set up in this specific vehicle, but most dash cams are easily visible to people sitting in the front seats at least, so I think that specific phrase of “recording in a surreptitious manner” comes into play here.

      Here is a link to the actual legislation if you are interested:

      http://ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=098-1142

  • avatar

    When I lived in Russia driving schools were only teaching us how to drive cars with manual transmission. So when I came to US without AT driving skills it took me about week to learn how to safely drive car with AT. The problem was that I constantly was pressing brake pedal with left foot and trying to switch gears with right hand. The good news was that cars were still driving on the right side of the road.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    In my dealer days this wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow .

    It’s terrible how kids do kid things….

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      I suspect that most dealers have one or two cars on the lot that need to be “road tested” most of the time, so driving customer cars around probably happens more than we think. But learning stick on them shouldn’t happen!

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Yep. Back in the day I agree. And the customer would have probably thanked the dealer for the opportunity to a participating in that teaching! Back when men were men, and the sheep were nervous.

  • avatar
    cruster

    “Payed”? Really?

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    You could always use the Dead Hookers trick from Dirty Work to get them back.

  • avatar
    nwfmike

    Hope they at least left Christmas Tree Air Freshener as a thank you for his business.

  • avatar

    LOL. I once came back to my BMW 330i, in a vale of blue smoke. The parking lot attendant clearly couldn’t drive a manual. I used to park there a lot, was friendly with the usual guy who was OK….probably the only time I yelled at an employee anywhere for anything, AND the manager. Car survived, clutch lasted to 334k miles….but….

    Teaching my kid how to drive stick. Happy this is on a car with no real power.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Shortly after I graduated from college, I worked for a place that sold car stereos. We were probably the biggest car stereo catalog business in the days before the internet. We had relationships with many car dealers which allowed us to research new models for installation kits and guides. I had my own relationship with the local Porsche-Audi-BMW dealer. New BMWs were all being delivered with sound systems by then, but I used to get my hands on many a ‘stereo-prep’ Porsche that the customer wanted to have delivered with the latest Pioneer, Kenwood or Sony head unit. And when I say Porsche, I don’t mean some lower-quality Highlander alternative. Good times.

    I’ve noticed that when I’ve bought performance variants of new cars in the past dozen years, be they $20K or $70K, the salesman invariably tells me to floor it through the gears to feel the power. I’ve refused on cars I was going to buy or assumed someone else might buy. Lease cars? Meh.

    I’ve run a shop in the past few years. Our test drives were not for the weak of heart, but our finished products were repaired. Our brake jobs were bedded in, and our come-backs were rare. People who had problems with our methods needed to go back to the dealers.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    in 1989 i decided to treat myself to a kawasaki EX500 for my birthday. the previous 3 years id been riding a honda elite 80 scooter. someone from the dealership had to drop it off at home for me.

  • avatar
    boxy

    Video has been taken down. Missed it!

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    And the video is pulled!

    So much for Internet content living forever!


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