"I got a buddy that can do it cheaper"
"Why are your prices so high"
"I saw it cheaper on Amazon"
"I'll just YouTube it, it can't be that hard"
All of those can frustrate us, make us lose faith in humanity and generally second guess why we're in this industry to begin with....I mean, we're honestly in this to help people out and make them happy about spending their discretionary income....and to make a little money ourselves.
But when someone reduces what we do down to a simple service that anyone can do, simply because they do not fully understand all that goes into our trade; it's down right infuriating!
This story, it the on the opposite side of the Irritation Spectrum.
This one concern when "Industry Professionals" do the bad-mouthing, in order to obtain customers over our company. When individuals employed at businesses around the valley, state or even country have to lie and trick customers who just want an enjoyable experience in vehicle modification....and unbeknownst to them, they just buckled into the worlds most uncomfortable roller coaster ride that will inevitably lead them to "I'll never mod my vehicle again".
This is one of 3 local shops that we've been fixing issues with for quite some time....although these guys are newer to the valley, they tend to trick you into thinking they've been established here with their fancy posters and graphics; with help from their nationally supported franchised marketing team.
I'm all for local competition...it's what makes an economy work....but when shops claim they can do a service, one that we've specialized in for over a decade, AND they will talk bad about what services WE offer just to get the customer to spend money with them.....well then you now get the honor of being thrown under the bus in my little bloggity post!
Hi.....I'm the bus driver!
First off.......let's just start with how the car came into the shop...after leaving the 'other professional' shop.....one in which you might think they are the Greatest Tint shop in the World!
This car has definitely got the run-around on headlights....and this is actually the 2nd set of lights....as the tint/stereo shop broke the factory set of lights and then the dealership also did some damage to them attempting to fix them.
The HIDs all actually worked when the car came in....but it was more physical damage and functionality that the client was worried about.
It looked like a small rodent of some kind attempt to remove the headlights, as there were scratches throughout the entire headlight assemblies, from top to bottom.....I guess they didn't know if you pull the bumper and take off 2 bolts, the headlights pop out very easily.
Next if you actually look at the alignment of the LED bulbs in the high beam reflector buckets, you can immediately tell something is afoot. 1 bulb was inserted in at a 25.3 degree alignment off-axis from center (I totes measured this, with science) and the other bulb was so far out of rotation that you'd be better off duct taping your cell phone to your headlight to get any actual usable light at night.
Then if you look closely, you can see both projectors are so far out of alignment that it looked as if they were going for the lizard look...or maybe some kind of drift/wide-cornering sideways performance perspective.
A 'professional' actually looked at this and thought "Yup, this'll do pig, this'll do".
I'm not even sure I understood what was happening when I turned these on...then after starting at it for a few minutes I knew exactly what to expect when I opened up these poor Genesis headlights.
There is light thrown FAR to the left of the driver, leaving little to no light in front of the car and then some kind of representation of light output in front of the passenger, but also more to the FAR right....again.....if they were drifting or on a nice twisty road course, they'd have plenty of usable light.....but they'd have to use a flashlight to get to the starting line first.
The customer was informed he'd be getting the very best in performance lighting and upgraded to the highest end possible.......now I'm not sure he was actually TOLD he'd be getting Hylux ballasts...but I'm sure they were selling him that brand...
I'm holding up what i'm actually installing for his new lights (because I'm ripping out what they installed and installing something worth while.
Here you can see they sold/installed some bootleg Hylux rip-offs. The external casing of the ballasts match the same outer shape, but lack serial numbered stickers (which would be easy to replicate) and even the 'hylux' on the exposed circuit board looked drawn on by a 5 year old with crayons. Hylux stamps their ballasts with their 3 year warranty....this company couldn't even afford the stamps to do that....
Next we move onto the headlight ballasts....here is where you see the shop probably didn't have exactly what they sold the customer on, so they had to have one of their employees rip out his $15 set of eBay specials and install them into this car....as they don't even match the fog light HID setup. These types of ballasts have been around the market for a decade....which means old-school technology.....which has no business in the year 2018!
Luckily, these are the ones I'll be replacing.
First, all 4 rear caps were improperly excavated using the same rodent that assisted with the attempted removal of the headlight assemblies....so none of the weather seals fit properly....now the customer needs ALL new caps....especially the fog-light caps, because the 'custom shop' just threw those away.....no need to keep moisture out!
When I pulled the first low-beam cap off, the HID bulb just fell out....which makes sense as to why the focal point was so bad. Here is what cemented the fact that they pulled a kit out of another vehicle.....the bulb wasn't even the correct size....they just put whatever bulb they had in there, removed the factory securing devices and left it with a hope and a prayer that it'd be fine. They got lucky that they didn't burn the entire insides of the headlight up......HIDs get hot folks.....they need to be secured properly.
Moving onto the LED high beam.....this was funny.
So, Bi-Xenon HID Bulbs (low beam and high beam built into 1 bulb) and LED bulbs have removable or 'adjustable' collars...so that they can be adapted to fit different types of housings while using the same base bulb. Inherently, these bulbs/collars can make initial installation tricky......but an experienced, knowledgeable installer will know to simply remove said color, secure it in place, then re-insert the bulb and BOOM...you're done.
NOPE....not these guys. They couldn't get the bulb into the holder, so they, once again, used the same rodent to remove and hack up the securing holder structure so they could piece it back together using screws that were 3Xs the size of the ones they just removed.
(This is also why this is the 2nd set of headlights on this car...the first set was damaged when they tried putting their trusty 3" wood screws through the high beam reflector, which then split and crumbled inside the headlight assembly).
The bulb still didn't fit right, so they went down to Home Depot (well, let's be honest...probably WalMart because they couldn't afford Home Depot prices) and got landscaping gardening hose, cut to fit and made a sweet rubberized spacer.....for performance reasons.
After all that 'customizing' the LED bulb STILL didn't securely fit....so they gave up at that point and just said the same prayer they said for the low beam HID bulb and sealed it back up.
After removing all the hacked internals, there was nothing left to actually secure the LED AND HID bulbs properly..since they'd been beyond modified.....so I was left with chemically securing them into place......which was the only option.
So I aligned the bulbs as best I could and set their collars into place.
Then I moved onto attempted to patch up the rodent-assisted hack job that was the rear caps.
I did the best i could with what I had.....but the customer has been informed that he'll need new rear caps for at least the high beam areas....the low beams were savable.
These are the exact same headlights.....different HID kit....but that only slightly matters in this case.
It's unfortunate.....but most of the time it's novice customers or friends there of, attempting to perform the work themselves.
The reason for this post is this was work that a client paid a legit shop to perform.
The reason for the rant is because this isn't the first time we've had to fix issues on vehicles where work was performed at their shop...whether it's this shop or ones that specializes in wheels and tires or ones that Discount their stereos and their name.
The problem is all these shops have nothing to hold them accountable for their actions and words. Yes, you could go online and post a negative review....but that can be covered up and/or removed.
The shops can still talk trash on smaller up-n-coming shops like us and still get tons of clients walking in the doors because of their location and whatnot.....but what will actually make them stop doing shotty work?
I'm hoping call-outs like these will help a little.
I don't like doing rants like this; because it can be bad for business.....but what is this business we're in if there are shops ruining the INDUSTRY that I love with their horrid attempts at professionalism?
I'm very passionate about what I do....because I'm good at it and love doing it. So when other people use our pics for examples of work THEY can do, or drag our name through the dirt to get business.....I get very worked up.
This job in particular is a perfect example of someone just not caring....and not understanding the repercussions of what they've done. You literally just modified someone else's personal vehicle and made it UN-SAFE to drive. What if they were to get in an accident and it was because what you lacked knowledge in caused them to lack the ability to see an oncoming obstacle or animal?
What I do with headlights, most people think are for show only....but first and foremost, they are performance minded! When the customer turns their car on at night, I like to think they smile each time....
Here's my challenge to you, shop owners/installers (I knew you'd make it this far....but you're even more upset now).....DO BETTER!
There is plenty of work to go around.....so if you're gonna do it....do it correctly. Our clients work hard for their money....don't waste it AND their time.
Make customizing vehicles fun again...and not a chore.....
Also....don't leave a fake review on any stupid website about us.....we're just telling it how it is.
Lick your wounds, figure out what needs to change....and CHANGE IT!