“It’s not essential to fix Mrs. Smith’s Honda Civic when she’s quarantined for the next month," DeMieri said. "Shops claim that they are staying open for the community, but the community is locked down, so why do they need their car right this second? The decision to stay open is based on money---as soon as they run out of work, they’ll lay people off and claim it’s time to err on the side of caution because they’re worried about their techs’ health.
"Doing that means you’re still focused on what’s best for you, not your people. They are being selfish, and people will die for it; we’re feeding techs to this virus. There’s no good reason to tell your employees that cars are more important than their health and well-being.”
In a private message DeMieri shared, a technician in another state wrote, “I wish they’d handle things differently here, but who am I? Just a worker. What am I to do if I tell them to lay me off and they don’t? I work for the biggest dealer in my state, and I’m sure they’re close with the government.”
“This is how techs really feel. They are afraid of their employers," DeMieri said. "Is this doing right by our workers? It’s sad and embarrassing. Shop owners should be ashamed to act like repairing a daily driver’s car is so much more important than their techs’ health.”
Many shops have stayed open around the country in order to provide essential repair services to first responders and other essential personnel. In New York, towns employ their own automotive departments to maintain and repair vehicles for police and ambulances, according to DeMieri.
He also noted several car rental companies are offering free loaners to first responders for a month.
“There’s no weight to that argument for continuing to operate,” he said.
The decision to close Frog Hollow Collision was not an easy one. DeMieri purchased the shop three years ago, and in addition to being in debt, he continues to pay monthly rent on the closed space.