Luckily the customer had a dash camera.
There is no shortage of horror stories from owners who have taken their performance car into the dealership for service, only to have an employee take it on an unapproved joy ride. Some cars, like the Chevy Corvette, now have built-in data recorders with cameras to prove how fast the dealership went while "testing" the car for faults and catch them red-handed. Other times, the mechanics are caught because the owner has a dash camera installed.
In a recent case, a pair of employees at Hawk Ford in Oak Lawn, Illinois were caught by the customer's dash cam conducting a stick shift driving lesson in a Focus RS. Needless to say, these employees will probably be fired.
Practicing stick shift isn't likely to cause lasting damages to a car, but we certainly wouldn't want anyone conducting a lesson on our car without permission. The Focus RS in question was taken in for the head gasket recall when one employee decided to teach his colleague how to drive stick on the car. As you'd expect, the trainee made a few mistakes, like forgetting to press the clutch at a stop sign, revving the car up to 4,000 rpm before setting off, and stalling out. One employee can even be heard saying, "Don’t redline it! If you blow this car up, we both gonna have to pay for it.”
The owner, Karol Zwolinski, quickly notified the dealership, who told him they would call back. After not hearing back, Zwolinski decided to post his dashcam footage on YouTube to deter others from going to the dealership and shine a light on the situation. However, the video was subsequently taken down.
Zwolinski has yet to hear from the dealership but has reportedly been offered "free maintenance services.” We just hope the two employees are reprimanded for taking out a customer's car without permission.