Caveat Emptor

 Living in an apartment, car maintenace in the parking lot is frowned on upon by the management. Not having a garage also makes it difficult, so most of the time I usually end up getting oil changes at one of the many "quick change" stores in the area.

 For many of us our car is more than just an appliance. No one spends a sunday afternoon washing and waxing their dishwasher, but their car is another matter. When you have maintenance performed on your "baby", you hope whomever is performing the task has at least a shred of respect for your automobile. Such was not the case where I went recently. I was a little annoyed when the tech took the dipstick and was poking another tech with it. Maybe he thought since the hood was up that I couldn't see him, I don't know, but I belive he really didn't care. That was my property that he was playing around with, and I knew had no respect for my car. It may not seem like much, but that carefree attitude towards customer's automobiles makes it much more likely that mistakes will happen, expensive ones.

 One of the wiper blades I had installed last week had worked it's way loose, an error on my part. The tech slid it back into place, no big deal. At leadt I thought it wasn't. The service manager came up and explained what was being done. She showed me the air filter (recently replaced) and said it was good, "but the wiper blades, not so good. They need to be replaced." A quick look at the blades would have prevented her from making the error, and it was then that I realized what I actually represented in her view.

 I was not a customer, I was a rolling wallet that she was trying to get as much out of as possible. Since she couldn't get the extra dough with a new air filter, the wiper blades became the next target. If she had really cared about my car, and me as a customer, she would have noticed that the wiper blades were new and noticed that my two front tires were going bald (checking tire pressure is part of the basic service), instead of trying to sell me something I didn't need.

 I've worked at a lube express before, and I could only take it for three months. If an oil filter was in a location that was difficult to reach (1st Gen Pontiac Transport minivan, for example), it was nothing for many techs to just leave the old filter on, or to "change" the filter on an automatic tranny by cleaning the bottom of the transmission so it looked like it had been changed. It was the same thing when I worked for a dealer delivering parts to bodyshops. Parts would be ordered that were not really needed, then returned because the shop had repaired the damage instead of replacing the part, adding to the estimate and the amount the insurance company paid for.

 Caveat emptor (buyer beware) still applies to just about everything you do with your automobile, from the initial purchase to all the maintenance needs. Most businesses have moved away from predatory practices against their customers, as it is ultimately self defeating when your competitors stop the practice. Unfortunately it still hasn't happened in the automotive industry.


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