No one likes taking their car in for service, and there is a very clear reason why. Far too many businesses involved in the service of vehicles use dishonest practices to generate profits. No one would expect to be taken advantage of by their local grocery store, hair stylist or dry cleaner, Yet, I think most of us assume that auto repair shops will do this most of the time if they can get away with it.
Too many operate with the mind set that they need to squeeze the most money out of customers for services regardless if they’re needed or not. And, most customers are clueless when it comes to repairs. The outcome – the industry has a completely warranted horrible reputation that hurts the service providers who are on the up and up.
Case in point – Yesterday, we took our car into Fletcher’s Tire and Auto Services in Scottsdale for an oil change. That’s all we thought we needed. One hour after dropping it off, I received a call from the customer service rep. and he stated that they found that we also needed a new battery and had a leak in a hose to the power steering. It sounded a little suspicious, but Randy asked them to call back when they had an estimate for the “needed repair” work. Another half an hour later, they called back. Guess what? Now, the shocks and struts also needed to be replaced. They were apparently leaking according to them…. The total estimate for the work that they claimed needed to be done immediately – $3400.00.
We went from a $20.00 oil change to a $3400.00 repair estimate in a matter of two hours. What the heck did Fletcher’s think we were going to do? They must have been banking on us giving the go-ahead on the repairs. How ridiculous of them to think that we weren’t going to get a second opinion.
Well, we pulled our car out of there so fast their heads nearly spun. I contacted several other service centers and decided to get an estimate from Greulich’s Automotive Services because they were AAA approved. Mike at Greulich’s was patient, asked a bunch of questions, and said right away that he would look it over with no obligation.
Once at Greulich’s, Mike lifted our Chrysler Pacifica up and had a look. Instantly, he said, “Your shocks and struts are fine. Let’s look at the other things.”
One by one he carefully looked each “problem” over and determined that the battery was fine, the power steering issue was non-existent, and the only things we really needed were a flush of fluids and new tires.
If Fletcher’s had been honest with us, they would have had our business for these services. Instead, they made up a bunch of unnecessary repairs hoping to jack up the repair bill. They lost a customer who will now share this story with many.
Greulich’s, on the other hand, has now earned a loyal customer who appreciates their straightforwardness.
This little story isn’t just about car repairs. It’s about business and life in general. Being dishonest might win you a small gain in the near term with a hand full of customers. But, it will always come back to bite you in the butt in the long run.
There simply is no excuse for trying to take advantage of customers or charge them for work that isn’t needed. I say let’s salute the honest car repair people out there and give them our business and spread the word about all of the con artist providers who I hope will get their just desserts over time.
A song by John Lennon dedicated to Fletcher’s on 90th Street in Scottsdale. I hope they’ll take a listen!