Detailer took busload of coats to hurricane victims

RYE, NY — The owner of Birdie’s Auto Spa found himself with power but without business after Hurricane Sandy moved through New York in November. The day afterwatching a benefit concert for victims of the hurricane, Owner Eric Birdsall came into work and emailed his customers to start and promote a coat drive.

The customers began forwarding the email to friends and family, and the response from the community was “unbelievable.” After three days, the garage was filled with a couple of thousand items that the business had collected. A school bus was needed to carry all the items to Rockaway, NY.

After parking the bus next to a polling table, Birdsall found hundreds of people on the streets with no homes and food and only the clothes on their back. Wash employees began unloading the approximately 80 bags and distributed the winter clothes to the crowd.

‘Skimmer’ problem plagued carwash owner

PLAINVIEW, TX ― A carwash owner was trying to figure out if “skimming” occurred at his business and whether his customers’ credit card information had been compromised in December. “Skimming” is when an object is placed on a card-reading machine, such as an ATM or pay station, and it allows someone to steal debit and credit card information.

Express Care Car Wash Owner Newt Harrell said, “We are aware there’s been a situation potentially, but we don’t know what, we’re working on it.” Harrell said he had hired a forensic investigator to look into the matter and his financial system is now being scanned on a daily basis to check for anything unusual.

“We will get to the bottom of it and spending money we don’t have to do so,” Harrell said. “What’s hurtful, though, is I feel like people look at us as if we did something to them. It is something foreign, not us. We would never knowingly do anything to hurt anybody.”

Free carwashes for first responders

FORT WAYNE, IN — In honor of a fallen firefighter, Mike’s Carwash offered free carwashes to first responders here. A Washington Township firefighter, Mark Haudenschild II, died in November while en route to a fire.

Mike’s gave away washes for a day to honor Haudenschild and recognize others who protect the community. All area firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency responders could visit Mike’s Fort Wayne locations to receive a free carwash. A badge was required to receive the wash, and it could be used for patrol or personal vehicles. Mike’s has six locations in the area.

Workers sued owner for $500,000 in damages

LOS ANGELES — A group of workers filed a lawsuit against Melrose Strip Auto Detailing and Car Wash here alleging they were not paid for hours worked. Nine workers claim Owner Jae Choi did not pay overtime and did not give the employees breaks or time off when sick.

The nine workers began trying to form a union a year ago. When the group started organizing, their hours were cut to three a day. Wages for employees that did not organize were raised to $8 an hour for an eight-hour day.

In addition to the lawsuit, the group of disgruntled employees also filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the National Relations Board. The employees alleged retaliation.

This lawsuit is part of an effort in Los Angeles that started in 2008 and is led by local unions to push carwash owners. Workers advocates claimed there was widespread abusive labor treatment in the area’s carwashes.

Wash debuted light show for holiday season

NAPERVILLE, IL — Delta Sonic Car Wash went all out for the holidays with a wonderland of lights and displays that were set to music. Starting the first week in December, animated lighting specialists transformed the carwash property.

The Delta Sonic Car Wash Wonderland and Light Show was a collection of animated displays and millions of lights set to music. Customers could tune in on their car radios and listen to the music while enjoying the show and going through the wash. In addition to the light show, there were many activities including on-site adoptions and giveaways.

From 5 p.m. to close during December, Delta Sonic donated 100 percent of its carwash sales to its animal initiative, Cause for Paws, as well as eight other local nonprofit animal organizations.

“Annually Delta Sonic donates all monies collected in counter donation boxes, air machines and shoe shine machines to local and national animal rights and welfare organizations. The Car Wash Wonderland and Light Show has been a dream of ours for years. Donating the carwash sales was a natural fit with our ongoing fundraising initiative” Kim Canna, director of marketing for Delta Sonic Car Wash, said.

Bouncy ball litter no joke for carwash

KIRKLAND, WA — Colorful bouncy balls started appearing in undesirable places on the streets here. David Wood, a worker at Kingsgate Carwash, began collecting the rubber balls over a year ago. In November, he had gathered 263 of the toys.

The balls are actually from a Little Caesars restaurant location close to the wash. The carwash is down slope from the restaurant, so the balls end up rolling toward the business. “Kids bang the balls [onto the pavement] and they make it into the ivy,” Wood said.

The balls can cause problems because they tend to end up in storm drains. The city’s stormwater and sewer division manager said the city does not want the balls in the storm drains and placing them there is illegal.

The owner of the Little Caesars location stated that customers can win free “crazy bread” if they get a ball with a character’s picture on it. He also noted that employees patrol the parking lot and pick up the balls daily.

Veterans Day flag dedication held at carwash

FRONTENAC, KS — John F. Derby American Legion Post No. 43 presented a flag dedication ceremony at Old Glory Car Wash here on Veterans Day. The dedication was held regardless of the rain or colder temperatures. Since the flag will be flown outdoors at the carwash, the ceremony was planned for rain or shine.

The dedication ceremony was open to the public, and it included hot dogs and soft drinks. The flag is 60 feet by 30 feet, and it will be displayed on a 120-foot flag pole. The large flags cost about $1,500 each, and they last about a year. A box was placed on-site so the public could make donations for new flags.

Criminologist conducted theft experiment in carwashes

FORT WORTH, TX — A criminologist conducting an experiment here visited every full-service carwash in the area to see if employees would steal from a vehicle. Patrick Kinkade left a large amount of loose change inside the car every time he visited a wash. He would then count the money to see if any had been stolen.

It ended up that money was stolen about a third of the time. If the theft rate here was matched in the rest of the country, millions of dollars are being stolen from vehicles each year during carwashes.

Kinkade and other researchers used the experiment to write an academic paper titled “Getting Hosed.” In the paper, they explained that certain factors increased the risk of theft, including the contents of the car.

Since the research experiment was not meant to be a sting operation, Kinkade did not go back to the washes and confront the thieves.

Road widening project to affect carwash

JAMESTOWN, NC — The North Carolina Department of Transportation spent more than $25 million on 200 parcels of land in order to transform a two-lane road into a major four-lane highway complete with a median. These plans will affect local businesses along the road, including The Black Dog Car Wash owned by Keith Bardorf.

The highway will come within feet of the wash, and the location will lose all front parking spots. Bardorf is expecting a negative effect on his company. “We planned and are budgeting for two years of ‘not fun,’” he said.

The department stated that the extension of the small road into a major highway will relieve heavy congestion and improve safety. The project is expected to be completed by 2015.