Saturday, June 12, 2010

Making the least of a second chance

  I had previously written about my bad experience getting my oil changed for the first time at the dealer where I had bought my 2009 Kia Rio in January. The car has been great. It gets over 30 miles per gallon and handles good on the 55 mile commute every day. I was not planning on going back to get my car serviced for ‘a long, long time’, but after receiving a card good for $8 off my next oil change and an email advertising Des Moines Imports’ new price of $19.99 oil change, I made an appointment to get my oil changed at noon this past Friday. The dealer is a mile away from my workplace. That and the low price combined to convince me to give them another chance rather than spend an hour of my Saturday morning having the oil changed in Marshalltown.

  I pulled into the service department promptly at noon and as fate would have it, the same customer service rep I had the last time greeted me and took my key. He had the same smile as last time. Maybe it is painted on. As we went to his computer workstation to get the order punched in, the rep smilingly told me about the new $19.99 price for an oil change. I mentioned that it was extra good fortune for me since I had a card for $8 off an oil change. I was informed by the rep that my card was only good for the old $30 oil change not the new $19.99 change. I told him that the card merely said $8 off an oil change, NOT $8 off a $30 oil change. The rep then said, “We’re not giving oil changes away for $12.” There were other reps around but no one was interrupting to tell him he was wrong. The way the rep was talking, maybe the $8 was going to come out straight out of his pocket and that he was the owner of the dealership or maybe he was Mr. Kia himself. I told the rep that the card did not say I could get $8 off an oil change UNLESS the total cost was $12 and was told again that the card was not good.

  At this point I did something unexpected. I said, “OK. Forget about it.” and left. As soon as I took my second step back to my car, the rep said, “I can call my manager.” I said, “That’s alright, don’t bother.”, and kept walking without looking to see if the rep was still smiling. Because of the way the service department is situated, I had to drive around the entire dealership to get my car to the exit. When I got to the exit driveway, there was the rep. He was still smiling and waved me over to him. I waved back and kept on going. I wasn’t that upset over the whole deal, since I already had a low opinion of the service department anyway.

When I got home from work that night, there was a message from the rep on my answering machine, letting me know that they would honor the $8 card and he was sorry for the inconvenience. I think that ticked me off more than anything. It sounds to me like the policy is to not give the $8 off unless the customer starts to leave, then it is OK to cave. I think I spent more time trying to get the $8 off my oil change than I did buying the car in the first place. All in all, I’m glad I found out what clowns these guys are before I needed them for something bigger than an oil change.

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