This is sort of an interesting article about the times we live in. Folks in Oakland, Calif seem to be getting their cars fixed – not at the local auto repair shop – but at the nearby retail auto parts store parking lot. Using self-employed entrepreneur mechanics.
I think these entrepreneurs are slightly overestimating their abilities
“George” said he’d been wrenching for 14 years and can do anything.
I’ve been wrenching for longer than that, and I know darn well I shouldn’t be making blanket statements like that. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are. I know what types of repair jobs I should avoid, if possible.
The other guy, Bolo, says he’s a graduate of Wyotech. Never heard of it. Why isn’t he working in an established repair shop. Working in the autozone parking lot doesn’t do much for a resume.
Perhaps he’s really good, but on paper it will appear as if he’s not been doing anything lately. Word of mouth only gets you so far.
I suspect the real answer is that none of these guys is able to find a “real” job at the moment.
I’ve been to plenty of PepBoys, Autozone, etc. stores, where there is some work being done in the parking lot. But this place appears to be out of control.
I guess I’m just a spoiler . . .
I know one thing for certain. No matter what their rates are, those guys won’t be working on my Corolla … lol …
I can see a ton of issues with allowing something like this go on. Injuries and lawsuits against the property owner, suits against the city for allowing it to go on, and DEQ/EPA issues are just some of them.
I think Wyotech advertises late night on the tv. Like at 3 am. They have some pretty good advertisements. The best ones are about training to be a big rig diesel mechanic with those 6 foot long wrenches.
Yeah, I see Wyotech ads all the time here in NH. They’re a private diploma mill. I have no idea if they produce knowledgeable graduates.
Re: the parking lot mechanics, a 35% unemployment rate is going to breed these types of shady operations. You won’t see my car at one.
“I can do anything,” says George…
You’ve blown your cover!
Mechanics(?) such as that have been operating in McParts parking lots for as long as the McParts have been in this area. If a motorist is traveling through town on Sunday and their belt begins to slip causing charging problems, etc someone capable of making that simple repair on the spot would be a great benefit but more often than not the wannabe mechanic gets in over his head and the result is more problems. Plus, the car owner is the employer in such a situation and the employer is responsible for the errors and negligence and incompetence and would be liable for any damages done by their employee.
I saw a Winnebago in a local Auto Zone parking lot with the cylinder heads and intake resting on the pavement next to the drivers door. So much for that vacation.
@db4690, Wyotech is one of those private operations, like Universal Technical Institute. I think both schools have shops in the Daytona area, and they can be seen from I-95 close to the huge Harley Davidson dealership.
desperate times call for desperate measures. the guys may be good and need to feed their family. or they may be drunks who can t hold a job. or they may be avoiding wage attachments. or they may be free spirits who only want to work when they choose. who knows?
but yeah, every man has his limitations. and not having a proper shop is a big limitation
Plus, the car owner is the employer in such a situation and the employer is responsible for the errors and negligence and incompetence and would be liable for any damages done by their employee.
Actually, the shadetree would most properly be termed an independent contractor in this instance. The gov’t has lots of rules to determine which is which, because the difference has tax and labor law implications.
I’m pretty sure you can be vicariously liable for the actions of an IC, but I don’t think it’s as “open and shut” as it would be for an employee. It all depends on the concept of “agency,” which I haven’t studied for a loooong time!
My thoughts on reading the article:
- I’ll just bet the store franchisee is getting paid for looking the other way. (I know I would be!)
- I wonder how Auto Zone, INC, feels about this setup? I mean, it brings $$$ in, but it looks awful ghetto.
This is a complicated issue, These guys are trying to make money and they are not dealing drugs (or are they?) and they are not robbing people but what they are doing is still illegal and possibly unsafe.
I know sonny bono is trying to make a living, but so are the mechanics that work at legitimate shops and its not fair to them to have these clowns out there doing illegal and possibly unsafe work, but its not much different than the day laborers standing outside home depot and that has been going on for years in many cities, not that it makes it right. That being said I would not let sonny bono touch my car with a 10 foot pole, if he pulled his pants up and put on a shirt I would think he would make a better case for himself. The whole thug persona makes it hard to sympathize with these guys.
I also wonder since these guys get paid in cash and show no income are they getting government benefits of some sort?.. Not quite fair to the poor chump working at mc donalds if that is the case.
The city is crying out about “Quality Control”? Seriously… More like they are upset about not getting their tax money and business license money, drug dealers don’t have a business license either and im sure theirs plenty of drug dealers in Oakland so why go after these guys? I would guess this Oakland neighborhood has alot bigger problems to worry about than these jokers, but then again two wrongs don’t make a right.
I would also imagine someone involved with that auto zone franchise is being paid off to allow them to use their parking lot like that, I would imagine autozone corporate would not be happy.
There are good shade tree mechanics, there are hack “professional” mechanics and vice verse. I just hope these guys are properly disposing of fluids, because they are going to keep doing what they are doing, even if they are forced to move to a new location, that I would bet money on.
I remember years ago a guy in Chicago got busted for doing dental work in his garage, he got popped when he botched a job, he was a dentist of some sort in mexico and decided that the neighborhood needed a black market dentist.
These guys are trying to make money and they are not dealing drugs (or are they?) and they are not robbing people
You kinda stand out like a dog’s…tongue…doing this sort of work. If you were the sort to engage in “pharmaceutical sales,” you’d probably keep it clean at your day job. Leave on-the-job dealing to bouncers and bartenders!
I did a similar thing: I had a job inside the Advance Auto building, and I used that position to “hustle” a fair amount of shadetree work. It was weird: my boss knew (at least he had to…I wasn’t the only guy doing this) but there was this “face saving” thing going on where I wasn’t blatant about doing it, so he could continue to act as if he didn’t know.
I read (and recently re-read) Barbara Ehrenrich’s Nickel and Dimed, where she broke down how you “make it” at a minimum-wage job. [SPOILER ALERT: you don’t]. As a former (and, honestly, likely present) member of the target demographic, one of the big things I think she “got wrong” was that she earned money exclusively from above-the-table work. MOST poor friends I know make their money from UTT work, or at least from using their day job to facilitate their side hustle (like me).
THAT’S the book I wanted to read–about the “hustle economy”–more realistic…and, given the nature of the work (shadetree one day, scrapman the next, goodness knows the following day) it’d be a more interesting read!
While I understand their plight, I can’t imagine allowing anyone to work on my car, or how the store can allow it. On my way to South Dakota for a funeral once, I needed an alternator prior to switching to Delco, so stopped at a NAPA. Big sign, no work allowed on the premises due to insurance. It only took me 10 minutes and they didn’t say anything when I turned the core back in but there is no way that would be allowed.
I would imagine that AutoZone does not own the strip mall or store where this is taking place. They’re more than likely leasing the building.
It could be that the property owners may be a faceless entity clear across the country and are unaware of what’s been going on. Due to that story they may become fully aware and drop the hammer on the parking lot repairs.
An individual topping off fluids, changing a battery, or what have you on their own car is one thing; people doing it for hire on other vehicles is quite another.
Like Rick said - this is complicated.
On the one hand, the parts shop is probably leasing the building, so technically they don’t own the parking lot. On the other hand, there are probably laws about leasing that include who is responsible for what happens in the immediate vicinity. I just can NOT imagine that the parts shop wouldn’t be liable for anything bad that would happen. I can even imagine a lawsuit against the shop for shoddy work. (Please note, I’m not saying the lawsuit would work, just that it would be easy to file and complicated enough to convince a judge not to dismiss it without consideration. This could get quite expensive for the parts shop.)
I read (and recently re-read) Barbara Ehrenrich's Nickel and Dimed, where she broke down how you "make it" at a minimum-wage job. [SPOILER ALERT: you don't]. As a former (and, honestly, likely present) member of the target demographic, one of the big things I think she "got wrong" was that she earned money exclusively from above-the-table work. MOST poor friends I know make their money from UTT work, or at least from using their day job to facilitate their side hustle (like me).
This is a VERY good book, one of my favorite. This book was written in 2001 and things have only gotten worse.
I just can NOT imagine that the parts shop wouldn't be liable for anything bad that would happen. I can even imagine a lawsuit against the shop for shoddy work. (Please note, I'm not saying the lawsuit would work, just that it would be easy to file and complicated enough to convince a judge not to dismiss it without consideration. This could get quite expensive for the parts shop.)
I couldn’t agree more, lets be honest, if sonny bono or george does a brake job and a caliper falls off and the brakes go out and the driver creams a school bus, who will the lawyers go after, Solo Bolo, who has 20 bucks to his name, or autozone which has deep pockets?
Im not saying autozones liable, but they would surely be involved in the suit, and the way things work it would probably be cheaper for autozone to settle out of court and make it go away.
@WheresRick … I made it working a minimum wage job years ago by getting 2 minimum wage jobs. After I got the needed experience…I got a better job and had no need for a minimum wage job any longer. There is a process that everyone must go through in order to earn an income. Most people want to skip that process it seems since it’s probably human nature. I don’t support the idea of paying inexperienced workers at Micky D’s $15 an hour so they can make it a career. I don’t see entry level jobs as being a career but a lot of people do.
I made it working a minimum wage job years ago by getting 2 minimum wage jobs. After I got the needed experience....I got a better job and had no need for a minimum wage job any longer. There is a process that everyone must go through in order to earn an income. Most people want to skip that process it seems since it's probably human nature. I don't support the idea of paying inexperienced workers at Micky D's $15 an hour so they can make it a career. I don't see entry level jobs as being a career but a lot of people do.
You make a great point, one I agree with, I am so torn on the minimum wage thing, all I know is 8 bucks an hour won’t get you very far these days, but im also not saying the minimum wage should be 15 an hour. I also have to say that fast food is hard work and if America couldn’t have their big macs for one day the country would shut down.