Saturday, April 8, 2017

Oil Change Fiasco and Resolution

A few weeks ago, I found a coupon in my snail mail mailbox offering discounts for car services. One of them was an oil change for $14.95 plus a free tire rotation, which was a very good deal. Other coupons I’ve seen were offering it for $29.99. A few days later, I went to the shop and requested the oil change while I presented the coupon. The service advisor proceeded to tell me that I needed to fill out an application form for a new credit card and membership to Goodyear. I told him, I didn’t need any more credit cards so I walked out of the deal.

I went for a run and when I returned home, I decided to call the phone number listed on the coupon. The person who answered said she was new so she didn’t know the answer, and that someone who knew will call me back. A few minutes later, a gentleman who identified himself as the regional manager informed me that the service advisor was mistaken and that I wasn’t required to fill out an application. He said he would be happy to set up an appointment for me because they wanted to retain me as a customer. I told him I was no longer available that day and that I might return in a few days.

A few days later, I went back at 7:30 a.m. because the store’s website said that they were open at that time. It took another 30 minutes before somebody showed up to open the shop even though another guy who was apparently one of their mechanics was also waiting for the guy who had the keys. That was another strike against them.

After a few minutes of getting set up, they were finally ready to help me. The service advisor whom I talked with a few days earlier was the same person I talked with that day and I told him about my communication with the regional manager. He said he remembered me and that he was aware of it and he apologized for his mistake. I thought I heard him say that the oil change and tire rotation were going to be done for free, but being hard of hearing at times, I thought I just misheard him.

So I went for a run while the service was being done and near the end of the run, my cell phone rang and the call was from the shop. Unfortunately, I was not in a good signal area so call couldn’t connect. When I finished my run and went back to the shop, the advisor met me and talked about a list of repair recommendations. I pointed out to me what needed to be done, because apparently, they also did a complete inspection of the car.
Certified Tire Mechanic Recommendations:
Leaking cooling system hoses. Parts 69 + 8 + labor 70 = 147
Fuel filter = 94
Fuel system tune up = 150
Rear brakes = 60 + 110 = 170
Trailing arm bush broken. Parts 94 x2 = 188 + 420 (for what?) = 608
Grand Total = $1169

I declined their offer to have the repairs done then and there. They finished the paperwork, had me sign it, and I was soon out of there. But not before I learned that there really was no charge! It was their way of making up for the mistake they made a few days before. In customer service parlance, this is called a “service recovery”. So for that, good job Certified Tire Center! Incidentally, I had an oil change done there 2 years ago and I gave them 5 stars on their website for not giving any recommendations and just did the oil change I requested. This time though there was a little bit of gentle pressure to have the repairs done, which I of course declined. Because of their service recovery, I again gave them 5 stars on their website with a more detailed explanation on why. In the meantime, I shall be taking their recommendations to my own mechanic for him to check out to see if they were really warranted. If so, my mechanic charges lesser than the chain stores. But thanks for the free oil change, tire rotation, and overall inspection.

Two weeks hence, I opened up my car hood (I had to open the manual to find out, LOL!), inspected the fluid levels, which seemed ok, checked the hoses and belts, also ok, but of course with an untrained eye. I also looked up on the internet what a trailing arm bush is and how to repair it. The parts were much lesser than what the mechanic quoted and I’m sure my mechanic doesn’t charge $420 for the labor. I may wait until after I return from my vacation in June to have that done, and in the meantime, I hope my car doesn’t fall apart. Considering it is 19 years old, it hasn’t given me any major problems and I’ve been lucky so far.

I just finished pricing the car on the Kelly Blue Book website and it said that if I sell to a private party, I may be able to get $1633 for it because it’s in good condition. If I trade it in for a new car, I may get from $769 to $1164 for it. Oh my, those amounts are pretty close to what my repair costs would have been! However I cannot afford to buy a new car so repairs it is, and hopefully my mechanic doesn’t charge an arm and a leg.

 Follow up: I looked up the symptoms of a failing trailing arm bushing at this website and I have not detected any of them in my car, so it may be another upsell from the service advisor: