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accidents and injuries, car wash marketing

British Car Wash Malfunction: How Not To Handle A Crisis

(Photo: Screenshot/SWNS.com)

(Photo: Screenshot/SWNS.com)

A car wash in the UK says it is still investigating the damage its automatic system caused to a customer’s brand new BMW, the Daily Mail reports.

But the customer says he’s been told by the supermarket chain Morrisons, which operates the Worcestershire car wash, that they’re not liable for the damage, estimated at about $6,670. The rear windshield was bashed in by the trunk lid after a piece of the car wash equipment lifted it open, hyper-extending it. Both the trunk lid and the window must be replaced.

“I called Morrisons customer services immediately telling them what had happened and within a week they had basically denied liability,” the customer, David Elliott, told the Daily Mail. “They didn’t even send somebody to look at my car. The car wash was broken by the incident. But they got an engineer in who presumably just pushed the reset button and said the car wash was fine.

“Morrisons said to me they didn’t deny that the incident took place but because the car wash was fine beforehand and now the engineer said it’s working, it’s not their liability. They are completely washing their hands of it.

“When wanton destruction is wreaked upon your car, they should surely just pay up.”

If Morrisons believes it may have a legitimate argument that its car wash was not responsible for the damage, it should say so. If the car wash did the damage — as appears is the case — then the supermarket should immediately and apologetically offer to pay for it.

It’s easy to see where always offering to pay for damage is a slippery slope, a practice liable to be exploited. But let’s face it, car wash-inflicted damage is exceedingly rare. And in this case, the damage is pretty obvious.

If you’re Morrisons, it’s hard to imagine a worse public relations experience than having the big broken windshield of a beautiful car splashed across a major newspaper and an article saying your car wash did this. Pay up, apologize and keep the customers coming back.

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