Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It Shouldn't Be This Hard

The Schnozz needed a check-up.  The little plastic square in the top corner of the front windshield reminded me.  The digital exclamation point on the dashboard reminded me. The new dealership, ten miles closer to my house, had sent me a slew of coupons. So, I called to make an appointment.

Close to home might not be the only criterion for choosing a dealership.

The girl who answered the phone was lovely.  Incompetent, poorly trained, unable to help me, but lovely all the same.  I couldn't be angry with her inability to schedule an appointment for me, or to find out what service had been done the last time I was in, or to tell me what service was recommended. She had only begun working last for the dealership last week.  Poor baby, she'd been put on the phones without training or education.  It was hardly her fault that she couldn't help me.

I give her credit for recognizing the dilemma and seeking assistance.  Andrew, one of the Assistant Service Managers, came on the line and explained all the coupons and the options and told me what needed to be done.  According to him, the coupons weren't useful "unless you have an old truck, or something that needs just regular oil." The Schnozz, being a GTI, requires synthetic (read: expensive) oil.  The coupon wasn't going to help me there, he said.

Did I know what had been done last time I brought the car in for service, he wondered. I wondered right back why he didn't check the company's computers for that information. Surely, they kept records of the work done on my car.  While he was explaining their computer system, I was looking for the paper copy of the receipt from my last visit.   I found it before Andrew was finished explaining himself.

An oil change was all that was needed. I could bring it in anytime.  When did I want to come in.

The real answer was NEVER. Since ignoring the inner workings of a vehicle is never a good idea, I made an appointment for this afternoon.  I finished class, had lunch with TBG, and drove into the service bay right on time.

No one was there to greet me. The lovely young lady was on the phone, and she smiled at me and mouthed an apology when I entered the office.  We walked around the car, marking dots and blots on the paperwork to note the dings accumulated driving around town.  I wondered why she wasn't using a digital camera, which would be more accurate and faster.  She didn't know.

Checking the odometer and the VIN, entering them on her paperwork, she smiled and handed me the sheet to sign.  There was no treatment plan. She wanted me to sign a blank page.  Being Daddooooo's daughter, that wasn't going to happen.

"What are you planning to do?" I asked.

"The 50,000 mile check up," was her reply.

Steam began to bubble up and out of my ears.  I shook my head.  I said no. I felt my stomach knot up.

"I was told that I needed only the oil change."

She was flummoxed.  We went inside, and she found a service advisor, who wondered where my coupons were.  Was I using the oil change deal? I was there for the 50K tune up, right?

I reiterated Andrew's advice, with a frown on my face.  Did I need to do the major service today? If I didn't, would they change the oil (and charge me) when I brought The Schnozz back? Why would the coupons be helpful, when his colleague had assured me that they were not? Did anyone have a definitive answer for me?

The coupons would give me a discount.  He had no idea why I'd been given conflicting information. It might be more convenient for me to leave the car for the major service since I was here already. I could bring it back in 3,000 miles and they would neither change the oil again, nor charge me for doing so.  If I wanted them to wash the car this afternoon, I should add twenty minutes to the one hour for the oil change.  The delightful young lady sat there, absorbing it all.

I bought the oil change package. I gave them the keys and they drove the car to the service bay. I sit here, using the free wi-fi, watching Marky Mark and his dysfunctional family in The Fighter on the flat screen in the lobby with one eye, typing to you with the other, wondering why I didn't just drive away when things got confusing.

Sometimes, convenience is not the only issue.


  1. I am in awe of your patience and persistence. I try never to take my car to a dealership because it is not good for my blood pressure.

    1. I thought that getting shot would help to put other things in perspective. I found out yesterday that that's not necessarily so!

  2. I thought MY experience with the mechanics was annoying. Your's put mine in perspective. I think the dealership is always trying to find ways to get more money from me since I am driving a 9-year old car that they would just like me to trade in and buy a new one. Since I refuse, they are nickel and dimeing me with service. My Subaru requires major overhauls every 30K miles. Just did the 90K, plus a few other odds and ends, and I've spent $3,000 on the car this year. I need some of those coupons of which you write.

    1. I had an Audi A6 wagon in Marin. When it needed a new fan belt they dealership sent me to the new car salesforce -- obviously, it was wiser to buy a whole new car than replace the belt. I kept that vehicle for 103,00+ miles, much to the dealer's dismay!

  3. There's no excuse for this sort of incompetence. We go to Watson Chevrolet, we always talk to Peter, and he's always on top of things. Chevy has an excellent networked computer system, so work done in Seattle is reflected on our truck's records no matter where we go. Peter, and the good IT they have are reasons why we'll stay with Chevy trucks. You should complain loudly to whoever manufactured your car. This is just stupid!

    1. It's bad training in the dealership. This one has been owned by 2 different groups in the year it's been open. Again, if it weren't 40 minutes closer to my house I'd never set foot in it again.


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