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From the Magazine

The Top Drawer: Take Responsibility, Not Chances

I recently read an article about a lawsuit involving an auto repair shop. An overview of the facts seemed to indicate that the shop was at fault, but an overview is never enough to make a judgement, so I certainly won’t. There weren’t enough facts, but the article reminded me of the responsibilities we hold as auto technicians.

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A number of years ago when I was a small shop owner who was also the service writer, a regular customer came in and asked that a vehicle be inspected and certified to be used for “school transportation.” I learned that in some situations, depending on the grade level and school, it was legal for people to use their own personal vehicles to transport multiple children to and from the school or on field trips.

The catch is that the vehicle had to be inspected and passed by a technician that held the proper certifications required by the state, and the resulting paperwork properly submitted.

Did I have an experienced technician that was qualified to inspect a vehicle? Yes. Did I trust their work? Yes. But did they hold the proper certifications for this particular inspection? No.

I answered those questions in my mind the second I looked at the requirements, and then proceeded to another set of questions just as quickly. Did I hold the proper certifications? Yes. On top of my already 12-hour days, did I have the time to do the inspection myself? No. But was I going to do it myself? Absolutely.

Now, would anyone have known if I didn’t do it myself and just filled out the paperwork? Probably not. But the state regulations were in place for good reason, and by holding the certifications I did, and by accepting the job, I was giving my word to them and to the customer that the inspection would be properly done.

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Sure it would have been much easier just to assign the job and take a chance, but the moral of this story is that taking responsibility takes work. Whether you’re a technician or a shop owner, it’s your job to take responsibility for your actions, no matter how much work it takes. Work isn’t easy. It never was and it never will be. That’s why they call it work.

We are always putting someone’s well-being in our hands when we work on their car, and just like us, they have family, friends and loved ones who are counting on us to keep them safe.

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