How A $20 Oil Change Coupon Turned Into A $54 Oil Change

It seems that whenever a tipster writes in complaining of a “bait-and-switch,” the issue they’re writing about is a genuine problem, but it’s not actually a bait-and-switch scheme. True bait-and-switch is when a company advertises something really great but nonexistent to get you in the door, and then will only sell you something else. That’s what Adam encountered when he printed out a coupon for a $19.99 oil change and tire rotation at a local Meineke shop somewhere in New York State. They refused to take his coupon, and charged him a total of $54 because the posted price conveniently didn’t include the cost of the oil filter.

On 3/8/12 I went into Meineke [redacted] in [redacted] to get an oil change. I downloaded a coupon that I found on the website for that specific location. The coupon said I could get an oil change for $19.99 which included a tire rotation.

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However, when I arrived, the guy denied the coupon, and told me that the only thing I can be offered is a 29.95 oil change which included the filter, and tire rotation. When I received my bill, my total bill is $53.94. They made me purchase an oil filter, even though it should have been included in the price of the oil change for an additional $16.99. They didn’t even tell me about the oil filter fee until after it was installed. They also charged me a $3.00 oil disposal fee, even though NYS mandates that auto shops accept used oil for recycling at NO CHARGE. I would like to further point out that another customer had a coupon in his hand, which the store clerk gladly accepted from him.

I am hoping that you can help me with this. I feel that I was screwed over by the clerk, and taken advantage of.

It’s really easy, when you don’t know a lot about cars, to feel intimidated and not speak up and ask questions like you would if you were more in your element. (I know this from extensive experience.) Questions like, “why doesn’t the price of an oil change include a filter?” Or, “Why are you taking that guy’s coupon but not mine?” For the truly emboldened, even “How big of a sucker do I look like to you?” Standing up for yourself in the moment can be really hard, but it’s easier to walk away from a place that won’t accept your coupon than to fight to get your money back after the fact.

For Adam, we recommended contacting Meineke corporate, even though they’re a franchised business. The state attorney general’s office might also be interested in this bait and switch action.