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2008-10-18 - 3:17 p.m.

I have returned home (about an hour ago) after spending far too long at the local service station that lured me in via a door to door salesman selling a "VIP Membership Card"

The VIP card was initially selling for $50 and included a half dozen oil changes, a couple of tire repairs, tire rotation, and alignment check all for the cost of the card. The deal is two service options can be used off the card in any one appointment. THe card also had a square for $10 off an alignment.

Now I had told the salesdude affirmatively "NO I am just not interested, even though its a great deal ,I just got my car back from being serviced."

He quickly then lowered the offering price to $30 for the discount card.

Now the real reason I said NO, with full knowledge that the service dudes who just returned my car indicated I NEED AND ALIGNMENT and tire rotation is recommended, is that I only had about $35 left at my disposal.

SO I thought it funny the offer was granted as he said "Well, you seem like someone who has taken good care of your car and won't use this all that much as you won't need much, so I will sell it to you for thirty dollars. We just want to get you in so you see what good service we preform and then perhaps get your business next year."

I was delighted at that $30 deal, expecially considering that I had been adding oil to my old Volvo which was losing some and requires it regularly - so at a cost of about $10 in oil every 6 weeks this indeed would be a great deal for me. The dude misread my immediate "NO!"

This morn I had the tires rotated and an alignment done for $89.00. Now what I think is interesting is that after dropping off the car, at some point I realized I didn't have that VIP coupoun on my person anymore. So I went back in an asked the counter service person if I left it there and he said "OH YES I HAVE IT WITH THE CAR. THey HAVE TO PUNCH IT FOR WHAT THEY DO TODAY."

When it was done, the card was not there. So I did think it not out of the realm of possibility I absentmindely left it in the bank when I stopped there after dropping off the car. (Althought I was CONSIOUS of the card when dropping it off and thinking of how it held value like cash so I think I RECALL it having been taken from me and me thinking 'I hope that doesn't get lost." I was WORRIED about that, so found it strange.. But nonetheless I decided not to INSIST I dropped it off with the car. IT IS A POSSIBILITY I lost it.. SO I told the dude I would check the one place it could be other than his shop and would be back. I then went to the bank, which was closed.

What was amusing to me, in my infinate patience and ability to laugh - is that I SWEAR they WANTED to give poor service to me- the discount shopper (at first!) I was reading a novel waiting, and the technicians bring the tickets to the counter when a car is done. That is- except in my case. IT was "Forgotten" (just like the coupoun thing was!) When my car was ready no one told me. I even ASKED the guy at the counter "IS my car ready? I don't see it in the shop"

HE said " Well I didn't get the tickey yet."

And he didn't follow up!

So after waiting 20 minutes or more.. I walked out to find it parked all the way in the back. I then walked over to the mechanics and chatted with them, saying "I think my car has been ready for some time, but there has been no paperwork sent to the office." They said they would take care of it.

I walked in and commented to another waiting Customer, "Well my car has been ready but they forgot to send the paperwork here." (THey had dropped of the files of a half dozen other ones a good half hour earlier than that.)

I now have a MON morn appt for the oil change, at no charge as it was covered on the card, and the dude working set that up confirming he SAW MY unused VIP CARD.

I will check with the bank first thing. If it is LOST, then I at least got the wheels rotated and one oil change for the $30 I spent on it, and the $10 discount on the alignment and I will call it even.

Hope it turns up at the bank. As then I can get additional oil changes. If it is not there the ONLY OTHER POSSIBILITY is that indeed it WAS left with the car and put in the envolope with my service order and not returned to me by the car service dudes.

That would be a reiteration of the lesson "If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is."

The interesting thing is that the technician wrote up some notes- which I read as the guy at the counter was ringing up my bill and going over the mechanic's feedback after their assessment of my vehical. First I asked the dude "How did everything look"
And he responded "Fine. YOur car looks good."

So as I stand there and read the four points outlined on the technician's notes I SEE
- Didn't rotate left side, only right
_ Some Indication of tire wear

ANd the two other lines I either now forget the content of, or never had time to read thoroughly...before the guy tossed that paper in the trash. I ASSSUMED he was typing it up on the invoice, but when he handed me the invoice the technician's comments about my car were not included.

I asked first about line one I viewed,saying "I see it indicates they only rotated one side? CAn you explain WHY?"

SO I get some explaination about how there was a note that there is wear on the left rear tire that would make it make a noise if on the front... blah blah blah "
At which point the lady behind me was suspicious I was getting bullshit after being about to pay for tire rotation and being impatient waiting for her car that she interruped and said "I just want my car as I have to leave. I am not waiting any longer"
TO THEN Find out HER CAR WAS DONE TOO but this counter dude hadn't thought to mention that to her.

She continued to wait until my transaction was done.

I said then "Well let me just settle this"
and paid my $89

And I walked promptly outside to the mechanic I had noted who worked on my car. I asked HIM to explain the lack of full tire rotation. HE gave the same story, but I did get out of ANOTHER technician that YES rotating it WILL prolong the life of the tire. The thing is, the don't want to rotate one if it has this problem that might make some irritating noise when its on the front of the car.

So they said...

I asked "Will it cause any prefomance problems, or wear and tear on the car? or any other problem than perhaps a little noise"

THey said "NO" and I asked
"Will it prolong the life of the tire, as the treads wear differently and are less likely to wear out?"

I said "I'd rather have that rotated then"
And the dudes had me pull my car back up and then did it on the spot.

What struck me as so odd is that they could have saved a hell of alot of EVERYONE's time if they just ASKED the Customer what they want. I mean I was paying for tire rotation and I assumed that meant all four tires, not two.

So I got all four tires rotated, as as I drove off I didn't hear one irriating noise which I think may have been some bull shit. I think they were cutting corners.

You get what you pay for right?

But the thing is, I shot the shit with the mechanics for a bit. And the thing is, that even if they initially were going to cut corners and give bull shit as a business practice of luring folks in for things they don't need-- but occassionally get burned when someone REALLY DOES need the servies: I think when you make that personal connection people are more likely to cut the BS and then provide the real service. So even though it was like going through some ritual they set up- where I felt like you get the deal if you are willing to preform this SONG AND DANCE they set up... If you play the game, you do get the deal.

YOu just have to find the game fun. If not, its too damn frustrating and then you walk away and they just made money on your lack of patience. You won't be back, so that $50 you just spent on the VIP service card, wasn't a bad deal for them for the non tire rotation they didn't really do (A $20 job normally) or the one oil change (Which is usually a $30 job.)

In any case, I am getting my oil change on MON morn- with or without the card as it is already paid for and I the dufus at the counter came to an agreement. I told him, "I hope I just misplaced that card and its at the bank, but if its lost, I propose you let me come in for the oil change this week and then we call it even. I wil then have gotten services worth the full value I paid for that- even if it is lost and I can't use it further."

So he put it in writing for me on his business card that I am getting the VIP OIL CHANGE NO CHARGE on MON. HE happens to be the Assistant Manager.

See the deal is that the card IS TRANSFERRABLE and no one stamped it to indicate that any services were received on it as of yet. It can be used BY ANYONE and can be used WITH ANY CAR. So who knows where the hell it really went. Someone's wife or sister could very well walk in with that same card and have their car serviced if it is not a) a company ploy to unethically lure folks in and then play dumb when the card disappears OR b) And ADHD moment of mine where I absentmindedly left it in the bank.

Now if in fact the later IS what happened, somone COULD find the thing and walk in and take advantage of the services offered as well.

So I was happy with the resolution and thought THAT WAS in the end decent customer service to give me the oil change this week. Even though my car appointment was at 10 AM and it was around 2pm when I finally got out of there today.

Doing the bargain dance.

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