Wal-Mart Takes A Page From Jiffy Lube’s Book

Looking to Jiffy Lube for inspiration, Wal-Mart has seen the light: turn-around and profit both are a hell of a lot higher when you don’t actually bother doing the work.

Jessica S. wrote us about a recent experience she had with Wal-Mart’s Automotive department. They just don’t know how to do an oil-change, a day later, her engine blew up in a plume of smoke and gouting crude. Seems the crackerjack Wal-Mart technicians had forgotten to replace her oil cap.

Jessica naturally brought it in to get her oil cap replaced and her oil topped off. Despite the fact that they’d lost hers, Jessica had to buy a new cap at Auto Zone. They topped her off and she went on her way.

Except they didn’t, and she didn’t go along her way for long before her car grinded to a halt again. Jessica’s email, after the jump.

I know you guys don’t need any more reasons to bash Wal-mart, really, and I know my personal experience with them is not nearly as bad as others, but I thought I’d just send you a note telling you about how I found out that, while it’s pretty cheap, an oil change at Wal-mart’s just not worth it.

At the beginning of the summer, I was getting ready to make a road trip from Las Vegas, Nevada over to Los Angeles and back through Vegas up to Nebraska. I was due for an oil change, so on a Sunday I took my car in and had the service where they change the oil and cap off your other fluids, too. Monday (next day) evening, I noticed that smoke was coming out from under the hood of my car. I popped the hood and found out that they’d forgotten to replace the oil cap, and oil was ALL OVER under the hood. So, since the automotive department was closing in about 10 minutes, I called them up and told them what happened. They told me to come over, that they’d top off my oil and replace the cap. When I got there, they told me they didn’t have my cap, and that they don’t sell them. So they sent me to Auto Zone, where I bought a new one. I went back to Wal-mart, and while one worker was supposedly cleaning the oil out from under my hood (he didn’t do too much) and topping of my ! oil, another guy took me through an hour-long process of giving me my requested refund for the oil change, along with a refund for an oil cap that they don’t sell (which was very tricky for them). At this point, I was actually pretty impressed with the service and their willingness to stay open late and give me refunds.

Fast-forward about a week, when I’m driving through the mountains of Colorado and my car just wants to DIE. Any time I come to a stop, it nearly or completely dies. It jerks and jolts climbing hills, and requires pushing the gas pedal to the floor just to get to 55-60 mph some times. By the time we reach our destination, Boulder, it’s died at about every intersection. The next morning we check the oil, and there is HARDLY A DROP. So we dump a bottle in there, and head to the nearest Wal-mart, so I can demand a free fluid check and top-off (for real this time). We found a very helpful young man who took the time to top it off and check the transmission fluid, which also HAD NOT BEEN TOPPED OFF.

Not that bad of a story, I know. It could have been much worse! And it shows that some Wal-mart automotive employees are genuinely helpful, whereas others pretend to be and then just…sit on their ass and don’t do the work, I guess. But I guess I just figured out that next time I’m better off printing off instructions and doing it myself. And I should obviously check to see if a job I paid to get done actually got done. Duh.