The detailing industry can be a tricky business and sadly not all detailers are scrupulous and working with the best intentions. Just like in any sort of business, there are some detailers that are more than willing to lie and deceive their audiences into purchasing whatever products they are marketing. Unfortunately, it’s those sorts of people who give detailing professionals like myself a bad name and who give our entire industry a negative reputation. Listed below are some of the most common misleading and deceitful marketing tactics used to pressure customers into purchasing detailing products or services (specifically but not limited to paint protection). It should be known that just because there are some bad apples in the bunch doesn’t mean that they’re all bad. While some detailers might use shady techniques like the ones listed below, the team at Scotty’s Shine Shop are hardworking and honest individuals who truly have our client’s best interests at heart.
- The old “light the car on fire trick”. This demonstration has been around since the dawn of the informercial and “Nathan’s Liquid Lustre” paint sealant used this very effectively to promote their product. In this demonstration, lighter fluid or a similar liquid is poured on the paint of a vehicle and ignited…..producing a wonderful display of flames on a surface the is protected by the product being pitched. High school science taught us that heat rises, not sinks so the majority of the heat produced is above the paint. Add to that the short working time of the demonstration and the temperature of the paint is likely less than if you left the vehicle out in the sun for an hour. This is an utterly worthless demonstration that has lot’s of sizzle but no steak and proves absolutely nothing regarding the protection the product provides.
- The “lighter” or “penny” demonstration. In this demonstration a plastic lighter or penny is struck on the paint of the vehicle leaving behind marks which are easily wiped away and thus proving how effective and “tough” the paint protection is. What is actually happening in when the object used is struck against the paint a small amount of plastic or residue off the penny which is then perceived to be easily wiped away because of the applied paint protection. While the act looks impressive due to the violent action of the object striking the surface is nothing more than light transfer of some plastic or residue off the object to the paint and is easily removed regardless of the paint protection.
- The spray paint demonstration. In this demonstration the vehicle’s paint is sprayed with spray paint which is them wiped away with some of the product proving the “slickness” and protection on the surface. The paint protectant used usually contains some form of petroleum distillate and/or mild abrasive polish that easily dissolves the fresh paint. It’s not magic happening here, just chemistry.
- The acid demonstration. In this demonstration metal filings are placed on the paint and covered with several drops of acid. A reaction occurs and after the acid is wiped away the paint is unharmed. What is really happening here is basic chemistry. Hydrofluoric acid is highly reactive with anything that is even slightly basic. Painted surfaces can be slightly basic due to the presence of silicates, so the acid will slowly react with the surface and etch it – potentially over lengthy time periods reducing its thickness. Coating the surface with wax or synthetic polymers (which is not basic at all) reduces this. The reaction between the metal filings and the acid looks impressive but due to the short amount of time it dwells on the paint and protective wax there is next to no chance of any damage occurring.
- The bait and switch. This is the absolute most annoying and deceitful practice happening today. Unscrupulous detailers will portray themselves as installing professional grade paint coatings and then install a consumer grade product instead. The easiest way to prevent this from happening is check the detailer’s credentials with the coating manufacturer to ensure you are not only dealing with a professional, certified installer but are actually getting the product that you are being sold. If the price you are quoted by an installer is cheaper than the average industry price then you should be wary. A good example of this practice is installers claiming to install “Opticoat” or “CQuartz”. Theses are NOT legitimate product names. “Opticoat Pro” and “Quartz Finest” are two of the industry leading paint coatings and only available from certified, pro installers. However, there are (or were) consumer grade coatings available in the past such as Opticoat 2.0 (now discontinued) and CQuartz UK which are both great products in their own right but now geared towards the professional market. Since the names sound similar to to PRO products shady detailers have been known to mislead customers into thinking they are getting the PRO versions and installing the consumer grade instead.
These are a few of the best known, but not all the gimmicks used to try and sell customers on paint protection. In reality, a quality paint protectant applied by a true professional doesn’t need selling because it sells itself. The best tool you a s a customer has with respect to making a decision is arming yourself with the knowledge to make an informed decision. Google the company that makes the product. Check into the caliber of the installers that the company allies itself with…are only the absolute best installer allowed to become a certified installer? Are there reviews of the product online? Most of the PRO grade coatings have scores of testimonial videos on youtube and loyal followings from the people that have purchased and are enjoying the product. A little knowledge goes a long way and any certified paint coating installer will be able to educate you on the products and your options.