To Catch a Collision: The Social and Financial Cost of a Connected Consumer

When a regular customer posted a video of their in-tunnel collision, no one expected what would happen next.

A single pileup can go viral in hours

Nick was just a guy who wanted a clean truck.

Nick took his 2014 Silverado to an automatic car wash and wound up behind a vehicle with obvious mechanical trouble. The car stopped moving, and all Nick could do was honk his horn and watch as his truck slammed into it over and over. It’s the same pileup story you’ve heard a hundred times before, but with one little wrinkle: Nick had his dashcam running during the incident. After he posted his video on Reddit, the response was immediate. Nick’s pileup footage was viewed over 200,000 times and appeared on some of the biggest websites in the automotive world.

When Nick fell victim to an in-tunnel collision, he wasn’t looking to tear down a car wash. He just wanted to share his shocking and aggravating experience online. The effect, however, was huge. Commenters left and right were saying “no thanks” to visiting that car wash. Many people had horror stories of their own. Each one ended the same way: “I’ll never use an automatic car wash again.”

You Always Remember Your Worst

For customers, the experience of an in-tunnel collision lingers long after the initial shock. They will tell their pileup story to family and friends for years to come, and your brand will always set the scene. With modern social media, these experiences no longer live in a vacuum.


Nick’s pileup story is only one of countless others shared repeatedly online. In Miami, Amber Martinez fell victim to a car wash collision while running last-minute errands for a wedding. Miami news covered the accident after Amber was told she’d be paying for the majority of the damage. Amber’s story has since been shared across the Internet for thousands to see. Just like Nick’s, the response to Amber’s ordeal was to avoid car washes altogether.

Or, in the words of one writer, you should just “...stick to the bucket.”

When Customers Talk...

The idea of ‘one bad experience equals one lost customer’ might sound right, but it’s dead wrong. A single customer has more power than ever to influence your potential business. The reach of one Facebook user, who on average has direct access to over 200 other people, is impossible to ignore. Combine this with the fact customers are more likely to share a bad experience than a good one, and you have a lot of people taking their business elsewhere.

The influence of a single customer extends beyond reach. More than any ad, we trust the opinions of people we know. A lot. 83% of customers say they trust the advice of a personal acquaintance when buying a product or service. No other method of advertising or outreach comes close. Just as the good word of one happy customer can bring new people in, one dented bumper can drive them away. The cost of a collision might seem like a simple one-and-done write-off at the time, but the damage to your reputation can ultimately cost you more than the price of a repair.

Rebuild Confidence with NoPileups

‘I’ll just stick to the bucket’ isn’t the only response people have to a story like Nick’s. There’s one other comment that gets repeated over and over: “Isn’t there some way to prevent this?” For every person swearing off car washes for life, there’s someone who recognizes the best way to handle collisions is to keep them from happening in the first place.

NoPileups is the protection customers expect when they visit your wash.

When NoPileups monitors your tunnel, it doesn’t just safeguard your reputation. Customers can feel confident knowing the video they saw on Youtube won’t happen to them. When they ask about the stories they read online, your attendants can say, “that doesn’t happen here. We have a system that keeps you and your car safe.” That peace-of-mind stays with a customer, and you can bet they’ll share it with the people they know.

NoPileups Tells a Different Story

It’s easy to think you have collisions under control, but that won’t make your customers feel any better. A single tapped brake or turned wheel might be something you’re ready to write off, but the lingering impact doesn’t go away. Customers, even loyal ones, lose confidence when they see a pileup in front of them or plastered all over their favorite website. If someone they trust says, “stay away,” they listen.

NoPileups’ full-tunnel collision prevention is a first step in rebuilding faith in customers shaken by incidents like Nick’s and Amber’s. When a customer hears the whoosh of sprayers and the rumble of scrubbers, the last thing on their mind should be ‘what if.’

More than lower incident costs, NoPileups makes sure the stories your customers tell always have that shiny, clean car feeling.

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