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Cut It Out: Car Inspections Showed that He Billed for Parts He Didn’t Replace

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All my Barbies were bald.

I was seven, armed with scissors and not afraid to use them. What little I knew about cutting hair, I’d learned from my mother – who also completely lacked any sort of God-given haircutting skills and who’d been torturing me for years with “Mom” haircuts. (I still have a hard time looking at my kindergarten through fifth grade school pictures. I had stubs where my bangs should have been.)

Call it a subconscious desire for vengeance, call it a simple childhood fascination with hair. Call it whatever you want. No matter how you analyze it, I stunk at cutting hair.

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“I’ll just give her a little trim,” I’d think to myself, which always resulted in Barbie looking like an Army recruit. An Army recruit wearing an evening gown.

It just wasn’t right.

Before long, the same fate had befallen all my Barbies.

Upset by this self-inflicted turn of events – and suffering from withdrawal because it’d been like 24 hours since I’d cut something – I decided to confess to my mom and take my chances.

She wasn’t really mad – maybe because she sympathized (it was obvious that she’d taught me everything I knew about cutting hair) or maybe because she simply felt sorry for my Barbies. Regardless, she made me promise to quit cutting my Barbies’ hair and then offered to buy me some wigs for them. (Yes, wigs.)

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Unfortunately, I was weak – and within a week, my Barbies’ wigs had suffered the same fate as my Barbies’ heads.

As I lamented my situation one afternoon, wondering if – at the age of seven – I was washed up as a hair dresser, I spotted my dog “Raisin,” a Cockapoo who had the misfortune of being a very furry breed. Funny how I’d never noticed before how wild and unmanageable her mane had become É

To pull this off without Mom becoming suspicious, I’d lift up some of Raisin’s hair and snip from underneath. Then I threw the hairclippings behind the couch, thinking I’d permanently disposed of the evidence. Who knew mothers sometimes moved furniture when they vacuumed?

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Imagine my mom’s surprise – and mine – when she found piles of fur stashed behind the couch? I was in trouble. I knew this. I also knew I couldn’t blame someone else. In part, because I was an only child so I didn’t have anyone else to blame. But this was a good thing. I learned early on that I had to take responsibility for my actions.

The older I get, however, the more I realize that blaming someone else is the more popular option. For example, when a Rhode Island shop owner was recently charged with fraud (several car inspections showed that he billed for parts he didn’t replace), he blamed insurance companies. He said insurers lowball estimates, forcing repairers to find ways to work around them so actual costs can be met (the old “the devil made me do it” defense). He went on to say that he did nothing unusual in his billing and that if he’s committing fraud, then every shop in America is committing fraud (the old “But Mom, everybody’s doing it!” defense).

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“His situational ethics are that of the majority of shop owners,” says a friend who’s a post-repair inspector. “I disagree with him thoroughly but feel he’s fallen into a baited trap. Insurance companies know what goes on, which is why the rate of re-inspection is so low. They don’t want to know. They’d rather underpay claims and let ignorant shop owners defraud their customers to make up for it. That keeps the cost of settling claims low.”

Are you one of these shop owners? If so, then it’s time you face facts: Barbie’s bald. And no matter who drove you to it or how many of your friends are doing it, you’re the one who’s going to be held responsible.

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Now drop the scissors and step away from the dog.

Georgina K. Carson
Editor

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