The next time someone comes in here and asks a question that's clearly
and plainly answered in the owner's manual, I'm going to laugh my ass
off knowing they're getting the royal treatment when they take the car
in for service:
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Dear Tom and Ray: I have a mechanics? ethics question for you.
I drive a 2009 Nissan Rogue. I love this car. I was getting ready for
a road trip, and I realized that there were three minor recalls on the
car and that it was time for the 30,000-mile service.
So I take the car to the dealership, the guy tells me the service
package they offer and then charges me $500. I tell my wife, who gets
upset that I need $500 worth of service on a relatively new car.
I call the guy back, and he tells me that this is the ?premium?
service package, and that they already started so I can?t change it.
I ask him why he only offered me the premium service package, and he
says that I didn?t ask for any other service packages.
Did my dealership?s mechanic take me for a ride, or does he not need
to tell me the options? I now know that I can download all my suggested
maintenance requirements, broken down by mileage, from the Nissan
website, and I plan to do this from now on. I guess I feel this is
partially my fault for not being an informed consumer, but I also think
the mechanic should have explained the ?premium? service to me in more
detail. What do you think?
Tom: I think you?re exactly right, Dave. Your mechanic was not
entirely honest with you and you should have been a more informed
Ray: Your wife also is right. A car with 30,000 miles on it should
need almost nothing ? certainly not $500 worth of regular maintenance.
Tom: A lot of dealerships make a lot of money by adding extra
services to the scheduled maintenance routines. You have the right to
decline these extra flushes, inspections and fuzzy-dice rotations. But
in order to do that, you need to know what is required.
Ray: That information is available not only online, but also in the
back of your owner?s manual (that?s the rectangular thing wrapped in
cellophane in the bottom of your glove box, Dave).
Tom: You also have the right to take your car to someplace other than
the dealer for its scheduled maintenance, even if it?s still under
warranty. Simply present any mechanic you like with the list of required
maintenance from the back of your owner?s manual and ask for an
estimate. You can compare that price with what your dealer is charging
for the same services and decide from there.
Ray: We also recommend that customers ask whoever does the service to
stamp or sign the spot in the back of the manual that indicates that the
scheduled maintenance has been performed. You?ll probably never need
proof, but if you do have an engine warranty claim someday, it?s good to
Tom: And as far as your dealership?s mechanic is concerned, he was
sleazy on two counts. First, he absolutely should have explained to you
that there are several levels of service. Once he does that, he can
take his best shot at persuading you to opt for the more expensive one.
But the choice should be yours. The fact that he didn?t do that lands
him squarely on our fecal roster.
Ray: And second, when you called him and asked him to stop the work,
he should have said, ?I?ll have them switch you to the basic service,
and even if they?ve already done some of the work, we?ll only charge you
the lower price.? That could have earned your loyalty as a customer for
years. But instead, he was more interested in taking in a few extra
Tom: But you also bear some responsibility, in this case, for being
an uninformed consumer, Dave. Now you know better. So next time, you?ll
not only go somewhere else for your service, but you?ll bring with you
your Nissan-approved list. And maybe a couple of large friends with