About a year ago, just before spring break, I took my car to the local dealership to have the oil changed and a fuse replaced for the outlet where my gps hooks in for power. As we were going on a long trip, I wasn’t sure the battery power would hold out long enough.
Long story short, they put the wrong oil filter in, one that was the same width around so it fit, but too long, so that it rubbed against other stuff, and in the course of the 1000+ mile trip, it developed a hole from the rubbing and caused major car issues in the middle of nowhere on the way home.
This isn’t just some seedy used car dealership, this is one of the major dealers in town, and one of the largest ones in the state. My brother called up and made a complaint and yelled at a few people over the incident, but they claimed because it had been fixed by a random guy in the middle of nowhere instead of another dealership, they couldn’t take our word for it.
Apparently they later realized that they lost the business not just of my old car, but of the other cars under my brother’s name, which were much more lucrative for them. Because close to a year later, we got a letter, not admitting guilt, but offering a free oil change for the car to make up for our not being happy about their prior service.
Against my better judgement, I took it in.
And I found that they have changed things a lot in the past year.
They still have the “quick lane” for no appointment oil changes. But now they take 2 hours instead of 30 minutes. Glad I had a book along.
But instead of one guy meeting you at your car to check it in, they now arrive with a team of three. One takes care of the paperwork while the other two pop the hood, put samples of all of your fluids onto this little tray with dents in it, and start coming up with this list of everything thats wrong with your car to pressure you to agree to fix it today “while you are here”.
My car ran fine coming in. Suddenly it needed a new belt, new brake fluid even though the brakes were done just last year, a system flush, new tires (yes, 2 of them are less than a year old), spark plugs and wires changed, transmission fluid flushed or changed or something… and there were probably another few things I’m forgetting.
So it goes… lecture on how bad this is… my “no”… more lecture on the implications of if this goes wrong, still my “no“… this went on for probably 15 minutes.
But I made one mistake.
My engine light comes on quite a bit. My brother has a little handheld device he hooks up to it to turn the light back off and give him the code of what is wrong… which always pulls up to be the gas cap. Trivial thing. Thus why we ignore it, and it comes back on.
Well, it was on when I took the car in. Before they had hit me with that little upsell tray, he had asked me about it, and said they could ”check“ it for me. I told him it usually just pulled up as the gas cap. He said something about making sure there weren’t any other codes, and stupidly I said ok to letting him ”check the engine light“.
I expected this to be checking it like my brother checks it. Pull the code, see what it says is wrong.. then expect them to add that to their list of upsells.
Well, not quite. To them, this meant ”check the problem that is causing the code“ aka consent to an hours worth of diagnostic fees for $90.
So they got one good whack into me on their gauntlet.
Turns out its not the gas cap, its something called the vapor management value, whatever that is. And its stuck shut, which google pulls up its supposed to be shut anyway apparently. And it costs $300 to replace.
So I guess at least it saved us the cost of replacing the gas cap, and of the oil change elsewhere… so about a $40 more fee than had I followed my better judgement and gone elsewhere.
So they got a fresh round of calls from my brother. Which again, got nowhere, this time due to the play of words that got me to agree to something different than I thought I was agreeing to.
But I always hate having to get him involved with this stuff. Even as I sat in the waiting area and texted him all of their random recommendations and he replied back reaffirming that they didn’t need done, and laughing that their total cost for all of their stuff would have been more than we even paid for the car 5 years ago with 75,000 or so less miles on it.
I hate it because with a lot of the car stuff, I feel like I’m being taken advantage of mainly because I’m a girl. All he has to do is call them and be male and somehow the tires change in price. I tell the shop it needs a particular thing done and they start giving me grief on other things it could be… I have him make the appointment, and they take his word for it.
And it frustrates me. But more than that, I’ve come to realize this round that I take it too personally.
Yes, the car dealership is seedy and tried their best to take advantage to get me to spend more with them. But sometimes I fail to realize that it’s not just because they’ve decided that I’m stupid and they are going to target me. It’s because they are unethical and apparently desperate for money now even if it comes on the cost of their future sales that might have been made to that customer.
It’s not a personal evaluation that is something to beat myself up over, or accept as a view of myself that I choose to adopt as my own. It’s just a bad business taking advantage of whoever they can, any other lady would have gotten the same response from them in that same position.
But I think even beyond that, I tend to over generalize the jerks.
Yes, the car dealership repair guy was a jerk who apparently got moved over from the used car sales lot somewhere.
Yes, the deli that advertised the chicken for 3.99 a pound for the week, then didn’t have it cooked but had a different but very similar type prepared and unmarked as 5.99 a pound until after you had her package it up… was also a jerk looking to take advantage.
But I have to remember, not all the world is this way.
The vast majority of people mean me no harm… frequently including those who may cause me harm anyway.
But its so easy to get on the defensive, not just on a level of taking care of yourself, but to let it slide to a level of being almost paranoid and feeling like the world is filled with jerks looking for fresh victims.
Even if sometimes it gets to where it feels that way.