Wednesday, August 11, 2010

To discuss the $65 oil change, i.e. 65 Wendy's Frosties I won't get to eat

I got an oil change at one of those quick lube kind of places recently. Normally, I'd go to a regular mechanic, but I was in a rush and decided to just get it done rather than wait for someone who wouldn't treat my car like a Saigon whore.

These places are fast, but do you notice how they pile on the guilt?

Mechanic: So you want an oil change?
Me: Yep, that'll do it.
Mechanic: You want the... regular.... oil? Just regular? We've got this premium blend that makes your car spit out double rainbows ...
Me: .... Nope. Just the regular oil.
Mechanic: Well, we noticed your transmission fluid looks like sludge. That'll run you about $120 to change. You do want it changed, don't you?
Me: Sludge? Like in Ghostbusters? I'm cool with that.
Mechanic (panic sets in): But you know if you don't change it within 4,000 miles, you'll have too many miles on your car for us to do that service anymore. It's sludge!
Me: Your marketing strategy is astounding. Please tell me about a Shamwow next.
Mechanic: OK, well you really should get your tires rotated. The manufacturer recommends it.
Me: Thanks, but the manufacturer has a different safety recall every month so I don't think I'll be taking their advice.

So after the guilt trip, then you see all the sneaky fees. I expected the oil change to cost about $30-$35, already above what I'd usually pay.

Then there was $8 to have the license plate bulb replaced, a bulb whose sole purpose is to help cops run your plates. A bulb that if you don't replace, cops will pull you over ... and run your plates. It's the man trying to keep me down.

They also tacked on $5 for an "upcharge." Upcharge? What's the upcharge for? Did you charge me extra for asking to get my oil changed? Isn't that the purpose of me paying you to get my oil changed? Can I ask for a "downcharge" for you being Jerky Jerkstons?

All told, it was about $65 by the time I walked out. $65 in 10 minutes. If I'm going to pay that much, I'd at least like it to end with me pulling my pants up off the ground while wearing an aura of shame.

And that's not considering them making me feel like my car would burst into flames if I didn't get a $120 transmission fluid change.

I'm sure there's an upcharge for the flames.

Do you have any tales of shameless upselling and sneaky fees?


Anonymous said...

i'm actually taking my car in for an oil change today. it's the first time since thanksgiving so i'm a little worried about what kind of sludge they'll find.

Gregg said...

Yeah, I laughed about all those up-sells... in particular the $120 change your transmission fluid one. Then one day our transmission died. The REAL mechanic asked, "Didn't you ever change the fluid? It was SLUDGE." So, last week, when I changed my wife's oil and they said I was overdue for transmission fluid change (they didn't say sludge), I spent the $120! Your best bet is to know going in what your manual says is due, and what your normal mechanic will charge. Then see if the convenience is worth the extra to you.

Tiffany @ Lattes And Life said...

Hilarious. Showing this to my former auto mechanic husband, as I know he'll appreciate it. BTW, avoid those quicky lube places from now on. He worked in one while in school and was trained to show customers fake vials of colored liquid and tell them it was something that needed fixed. And he says half the time they don't even fix what they charge you for. So yea. Shaaaaaadyyyyy.

The Daring Domesticate said...

I think that we picked the wrong career.

Andy said...

Anonymous- Here's hoping for the best.
Gregg- Yeah, I'll be getting it done soon anyway, but not there, and not for that price.
Tiffany- I've heard those stories, too. Of course, I hear those about dealerships, too. Hard to trust anybody!
Domesticate- Amen.

Sam_I_am said...

That's why I married a mechanic. Although, hate to break it to you guys, it's a sucky field to be in. A lot of them get paid flat-rate which means that they get so many 10th of an hour for the work they do. For example, an oil change is .03. So if the guy makes $9/hr, he'd make $2.70 of that $65 that you just spent. They buy the oil in bulk, so the garage/owner made about $53 or so on your oil change. The really horrible thing about flat rate is no work, no pay. in the winter, C would be at work for 40 hours and bring home a paycheck for 23, because people weren't getting their cars worked on til after Christmas. I'm so glad he made his career change! You don't have to worry so much, there will always be plenty of news! :-D

Herding Cats said...

OMG. I'd be pissed. I think you may need to go to another spot. I never pay more than 40 bucks for mine and that's with a free car wash thrown in. They always try to get me to do stuff, but I'm pretty awesome at saying no.

Mindy said...

You actually paid that bill? You seriously didn't question every item on there and argue up a storm?

What kind of Yankee are you?

Andy said...

Sam- Yeah, that's the bad thing. Only the corporate guys really make any money.
Herding- I did actually need one or two extra things, but it's just the matter of them trying to add everything under the sun.
Mindy- I didn't notice the upcharge til later. I might write a letter to corporate, though

lbluca77 said...

I always bring my car in when it is way past due for an oil change and I always fear they are going to lecture me about it. They don’t but still worry.

I don’t really have any over charge stories but one of my credit cards tried to charge me a $7 fee to pay my $25 bill online. Seriously $7 is almost a third of the bill. Ridiculous. I mailed that bad boy in.

Jenners said...

It scares me that they try to pull this crap on you ... I was always convinced that every time I take the car for service, there is something wrong (and expensive) that needs to be fixed. I've always been convinced if Mr. Jenners took the car, everything would be fine.

But I have to tell you, the rainbows coming out of my tailpipe with that special oil are just sooooo pretty!

Mad Composition said...

This made me giggle! A few years ago I dropped my car off for an oil change at this place next door to where I worked, and throughout the day they kept calling me with "emergencies," going so far as to say it would be "bad business" on their part to even GIVE MY CAR BACK TO ME without having all this other stuff fixed. Mind you, my car had never had a problem EVER, so the endless "nothankyous" coming out of my mouth were getting angrier and snottier by the hour.

Then after work I picked up my car, argued with the mechanic in person, paid for my oil change, and drove off. Less than half a block later my car just TURNED OFF. While driving! The whole way home it kept doing that... which is totally uncool when you're driving 45 miles an hour down a busy street!

Anyway, long story short, the next day I had my car towed to another mechanic (on the opposite side of town, but who I knew I could trust), and they found lawnmower parts in my car! Like... the first place had literally gone through the trouble of removing vital parts from my vehicle and replacing them with LAWNMOWER PARTS! Omigosh.

Credit card chargebacks ensued. Bastards. ;-)

Andy said...

Lbluca- $7 seems... I don't know... a tad high, perhaps?
Jenners- Put it this way: Mechanics always find a major issue with my car, which runs just fine and is a Honda. You'd think I was murdering kittens every time I drove.
Mad- That is absolutely horrible. Lawn mower parts? Really? If you blog about that, let me know.

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