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News from the industry

October 26, 2011
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Carwash sued for over $3M in back wages

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has set up a lawsuit against the Tower Car Wash for more than $3 million in back wages it owes to hundreds of workers.

The lawsuit will also cover penalties and interest. The lawsuit, which has also been filed by La Raza Centro Legal, an immigrant legal services group, was filed in San Francisco Superior Court on August 17.

Tower Car Wash is being sued for allegedly violating state and local wage laws by making employees work for hours before clocking in. One employee said he would have to wait in a windowless room until it was determined that the carwash was busy enough for him to go out and work.

Herrera said in a statement, "Tower Car Wash demonstrates a clever but no less illegal way of robbing their employees of wages."

Carwash employee struck by vehicle

A carwash employee in Blackwood, NJ, is in critical but stable condition after being hit by a vehicle.

Ivan Rivera, 49, was hit around 4:15 p.m. on August 17 at Autosheen Car Wash.

Police said co-worker Esteban Chavez, 38, was moving a vehicle from inside the carwash to a parking area when the car struck Rivera.

The incident remains under investigation, and Rivera was admitted to the trauma unit at Cooper University Hospital.

Report: Carwash industry to hit $27 billion by 2017

A new report by Global Industry Analysts Inc. states that the global carwash market will reach $27.4 billion by 2017.

The report, which was made public on August 25, stated that the prediction has to do with the ongoing environmental push for customers to use commercial carwashes instead of washing their cars at home.

Also attributing to the billion-dollar figure is the growing popularity of the multi-profit center carwash paradigm.

The report stated that Europe and the United States represent the largest carwash markets. The "Car Washing Services: A Global Strategic Business Report" reports findings were based on trends and issues, service/product overviews, environmental issues, labor laws and recent industry activity.

Charity washes banned in TX city

According to the City of Austin Water Utility department, stage 2 water restrictions went into effect September 6 due to an ongoing drought, and charity carwashes were banned as a result. Hand watering was also be banned entirely. Vehicle washing is only be allowed on a designated day before 10 a.m.

A memo from City Manager Marc Ott stated, "Austin Water has worked closely with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) since the beginning of the year to monitor lake levels. The lack of rain and extreme heat this summer has accelerated the need for further restrictions."

The city said it has been working for weeks to educate business owners and residents about the restrictions. Those who violate the new restrictions will be fined, and fines will start at $475.

Lucky customer lands carwash lotto win

A visit to a carwash in Peoria, IL, paid off for one lucky lotto winner. A winning Little Lottery ticket worth $112,500 was sold by the Red Carpet Car Wash. The winner matched all five numbers: 3, 4, 7, 13 and 15.

This isn't the first time a carwash has sold a winning ticket. In 2009, Balfus Car Wash sold a winning lottery ticket — to the tune of $1 million. Local resident Rafael Ruiz, Jr. matched all five regular winning numbers, but not the powerball in the game. He did purchase a Power Play option, which multiplied his $200,000 prize by five, for a total of $1 million.

Chain marks 54th anniversary with free washes

The Brown Bear Car Wash chain, which is based in the state of Washington, marked its 54th anniversary by giving away free carwashes.

Customers were given free "Bear Essential" washes at the chain's tunnel locations in the greater Seattle area. The offer ran from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, August 25, and 26,523 cars were washed throughout their 20 conveyor locations.

Over the last five years, Brown Bear has washed 105,640 vehicles during this annual event.

According to Brown Bear founder and owner Vic Odermat, 111 cars were washed per hour at each location over a 12-hour period.

"The pace was fast and furious, and it's a tribute to our team that we were able to serve so many customers," Odermat was quoted as saying. "It's our way of saying thank you to the communities we serve, and hopefully we introduced new customers to the kind of service and value we deliver year round."

Darth Vader commandeers Canadian carwash

Sith Lord Darth Vader supervised as four storm troopers removed rebel scum from vehicles at a carwash in Toronto.

Vader and his cloned minions were in Toronto for Canada's Fan Expo, a massive convention for comic book, science fiction and horror enthusiasts.

There were no pesky Jedi in sight, so Vader used his downtime to direct the troopers as they washed cars at the One A Minit Car Wash.

The Fan Expo ran from August 25-28 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The four-day convention drew 60,000 people in 2010.

California groups question carwash practices

Carwash employees and multiple labor groups in California are fighting serious abuses in the industry.

The labor group Cuentame said carwash operators routinely violate basic employment laws that permit workers to take breaks and provide access to shade and clean drinking water.

Also, carwash employees frequently work more than 10 hours a day more than six days a week with no overtime, and these workers are often paid much less than legal minimum wage. And, apparently, employees who complain about exploitive workplace conditions are often intimidated and threatened by carwash operators.

Another group, the Community-Labor-Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), is quoted in the story as saying they're committed to supporting carwash workers in organizing a union, improving carwash working conditions and demanding environmental cleanup of carwash wastewater.

Bloody zombie carwash benefits a ghoulish cause

They're coming to get you, Toronto. A horde of hungry undead characters was spotted haunting a carwash in the Canadian city.

The second annual "Bloods 'n' Suds" Zombie Walk fundraiser carwash took place at The Classic Coin Wash.

Sporting their best Dawn-of-the-Dead duds, a group of zombies charged $10 for a basic carwash. But, for an extra $5, the brood of ravenous ghouls would attack a car and coat it in blood before the wash. All proceeds from the event helped pay for the permits necessary for the Zombie Walk, which took place on Saturday, October 22.

The zombies were also selling official Zombie Walk merchandise, and they offered to gore-up passersby on the spot.

Family suing carwash and employees after homicide

A carwash and its employees in Atlanta are the target of a civil lawsuit after an attempted robbery ended with a man's death.

Keary Jackson, 41, maced the accountant of the Cactus Car Wash who was leaving the location with a bank deposit. A struggle occurred as Jackson unsuccessfully tried to steal the money.

As Jackson fled the wash, several employees pursued. The workers pinned him to the ground and used plastic ties to bind his hands. By the time police arrived at the scene, Jackson was unresponsive, and he was then pronounced dead at a hospital. Jackson's death was later ruled a homicide by the medical examiner.

Now attorneys for Jackson's family are saying that what the employees did amounted to murder. "That vigilante mob of Cactus Car Wash acted as the police, the judge, the jury and the executioner," said Attorney Terance Madden.

Teenager sentenced for slashing carwash boss

A teenager who repeatedly slashed his carwash boss with a knife in Hemel Hempstead, England, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail.

Shekar Ahmed, 18, worked for Ilil Sidku at the Magic Around the World carwash. In April, Ahmed approached Sidku to ask for his pay but was told: "Pay day is Monday. Come back then."

Prosecutor Robert Dalling said Ahmed then lunged at Sidku while pulling out a craft knife. Sidku was slashed repeatedly leaving two gashes on his face, and he also suffered wounds to his chest and ribs.

Other carwash workers went to Sidku's aid, and Ahmed himself was then attacked.

Ahmed was arrested and found to have two craft knives. He admitted to the crime and told police he had armed himself with the knives only to frighten Sidku.

Owner earns prison time for not paying employees

An operator in Reading, PA, will spend one to two years behind bars for failing to pay his carwash employees.

Don Snowell did not pay his employees the money they were owed from June 2002 to November 2003 when he ran the Hand Car Wash on Penn Avenue.

Snowell pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to prison time plus seven years probation.

Customer claims BP carwash caused massive damage

A customer in Freckenham, England, claims that a carwash caused massive damage to his car's paint.

Richard Thibert said a trip through the carwash at the BP Bury Road garage caused more than 1,800 pounds ($1,612) damage to Richard Thibert's car.

"My car was covered in marks. At first I thought it was just soap marks but you can actually see the brush marks on the car," Thibert said. He contacted BP, and he was asked to provide two quotes for the cost of the repairs. Before he could contact BP with the prices, he received an email from customer care stating that BP would not take responsibility for the damage.

"They have said they won't take responsibility because they have disclaimer signs around the carwash. But the evidence is there, the carwash has damaged my car," Thibert said.

A spokesman for BP said the damage is currently being investigated. The company has asked their independent brokers to look into the incident.

Criminal investigation coming for closed carwashes

A TV station in San Antonio received several complaints from customers of the five closed Texas Shine carwashes. Customers who bought memberships at the Texas Shine locations that closed in September will now have to drive some distance to use their memberships.

For customers in the cities of Seguin and New Braunfels, that could mean a drive of more than 45 miles.

Texas Shine allegedly continued selling memberships at these five facilities even though the new carwash owners would not be responsible for Texas Shine obligations.

Memberships were even sold to the Seguin Police Department. The department said in the story that they have approximately 30 memberships, and they are launching a criminal investigation into the sale of the memberships.

Damage to carwash caused by trailer

The Sam's Mart carwash in Cumming, GA, was damaged after a truck towing a trailer got caught up in one of the brushes.

The carwash had signs posted stating trailers were not allowed in the carwash.

The driver apparently drove into the bay anyway and got caught in one of the brushes and started driving back and forth to try and break free. Eventually, the trailer broke free and the customer drove off leaving behind $10,000 in damages.

The entire incident was caught on tape, and police have a description of the vehicle and suspect.