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.


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.


Edit Your Comment

  1. homehome says:

    Why redact, gives the locations, if this is actually true and can be proven, why redact?

    • Sneeje says:

      I don’t blame them. You say, can be proven–but it isn’t proven until a court rules it is.

    • az123 says:

      From the consumerist point of view this is a second hand story from the OP, while they naturally assume it to be true they cannot be 100% sure that it is and are not doing an investigate report and going to the shop allowing them to tell their side of the story. Thus publishing the specific location opens them up to potential legal action if the OP is either making the whole thing up or is leaving out details the make the situation radically different than the OP is making it out to be

    • Overheal says:

      Defamation Law being what it is, and the only evidence being hear-say from an email, it can not be empirically proven the event ever happened at all. Redaction provides for a plausibility loophole.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        Is there really much of a difference in defamation against a brand vs. a specific franchise?

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Yes, in fact.

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            Please explain.

            • fortymegafonzies says:

              You have to be able to prove a monetary loss that is the direct result of the defamation. While difficult in both cases, it would likely be much easier for single location than a brand in general.

    • ajaxd says:

      That’s the difference between journalism and blogging. Bloggers post rumors and let message boards take it for what it’s worth. As other pointed there is a risk of defamation with this approach.

      • maxamus2 says:

        So, you are saying it is “journalism” if you print a story that is not 100% verified but you don’t print the name of the accused? That’s journalism?

    • milrtime83 says:

      The Consumerist has explained this before. The intention in posting these stories is to get the company to deal with the actual problem at a corporate level and not just fire the 1 or 2 people responsible for this specific incident and claim it is dealt with.

      • Jawaka says:

        But it seems like this is a problem with an individual franchisee and not a widespread corporate problem.

    • JennQPublic says:

      They don’t want to be responsible for loosing the Internet Hate Machine on an individual store. You never know when Anonymous will be bored enough to strike.

    • Charmander says:

      The coupon does say “valid at participating locations.” If this wasn’t a participating location, then it’s possible that’s the reason the guy said he wouldn’t take the coupon.

      And if he wouldn’t take the coupon, there was no reason at all for the customer to have the oil change done there. I’m not really sure why he did.

  2. SkokieGuy says:

    My guess is that the OP’s car does not take a “standard” filter. The coupon does indicate that special filters are more and that an oil disposal fee may apply.

    But, when a repair is deviating from the quoted price, the shop has an obligation to advise before installing the part.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I agree. Unless you’re taking your car to an independent shop that you have a prior relationship with (and trust him enough to do everything verbally), it should be the norm to get a written estimate, itemizing what is being done, and the total cost.

      I wouldn’t put it past a chain shop like Meineke or Pep Boys to believe they have some right to implied consent for additional charges. Their entire business model is based on upsells and questionable charges.

      • Sian says:

        I’ll never got to a chain shop again after the speedy-lube ‘changed’ the oil in my BroncoII, and by changed I mean 1: busted the air filter box open instead of unbolting it 2: draining the oil and not actually putting new oil in before I drove off.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          Did you manage to get a new engine out of it?

        • taaurrus says:

          Brake Team did that to me. I wanted new front brakes & an oil change. They had brakes advertised for $88. But they ended up charging me $267 brakes – claiming I needed new this and new that cuz my car was “unsafe to drive” w/o them. I only found out later when my car stalled in the middle of the road – that they drained my oil but never put any new oil in. They also drained my radiator. I got to use those new brakes for only a few days before this happened. My car has been sitting, un-drivable & probably with a broken engine, for about 7 months now. Turns out – Brake Team has been doing this to quite a few people & the Attorney General has opened up an investigation so I gave them all my information. I wrote Consumerist with this story TWICE but they, apparently, don’t think this is a Consumerist issue & would rather write about some OP who wasn’t allowed to return something 6 months after she bought when the stores “60 DAY return” policy or about people finding rings in toilets.

          • forkandbowl says:

            I would say you must have a mistake somewhere. A car engine does not run for a couple of days with no oil in it. It might run for a couple of minutes if you are lucky.

          • human_shield says:

            They left the plug loose probably.

        • longdvsn says:

          At least you know that at a large chain place, when your engine seized from no oil – they have ample insurance to replace your engine.

          Some small shops may not carry enough insurance for those type of events – leaving it on you to get your insurance to cover it.

    • Rachacha says:

      still no reason not to alert the customer of the increased fee. I recently had new tires installed at Costco and they called to inform me that the tire pressure sensor in one wheel looked bad and they recommended replacement and wanted my approval. Total cost for the replacement sensor was $2.00.

    • Charmander says:

      Or maybe he was charged for an air filter….not an oil filter?

  3. DJ Charlie says:

    I’d suggest Adam learn to change his own oil, too. Hell, I’m in a wheelchair and can change my own oil! Takes 10 minutes, and costs about $12.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Then you have to put the filters and used oil in your trunk and haul it for disposal, always messy. And my oil is $15-$19 a quart (factory specified Castrol TWS 10W60) and I need 6… The dealership has been running sales and changing my oil for $107… And they do a really good vacuum and car wash. Seems like a no brainer.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        $15/quart, even for the Castrol synthetic still seems high. If you watch the sales, you can get Redline 10W60 for less than $10 quart. There’s lots of good info at BITOG if you’re interesting in saving money.

        • RipCanO'Flarp. says:

          It sounds like Austin is NOT interested in saving money….in fact I do believe Austin drives a BMW…. and $107 is a lovely waste of money. Let’s break it down…. I put full Castrol Synthetic in my e39 and change it myself for $50. Than I drive down the road and pay a guy $15 for a great wash and vacuum- that my friend is a no brainer.

      • atthec44 says:

        Isn’t this what the storm drain is for?

      • DJ Charlie says:

        Or do what we do. Pour the used oil in the holding tank in the basement and use it for heat in the winter. Yes, we live on a farm.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        This. I did the math and it costs me $7 more to pay someone to change my oil than it would cost me in materials to do it myself.

        I’ll gladly pay the extra $7 to not have to change my own oil.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          Is the $7 difference using the same oil and filters?

          I’d probably pay someone to do it if the difference was so nominal.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:
    • nocturnaljames says:

      It’s really not worth saving that $8 when you can get someone else to do it for $20. I can’t reach my oil filter without jacking up the car, so for that reason alone it’s not worth the trouble or risk. And not everyone has a garage. And proper disposal takes time and money. Getting an oil change for $20 including the oil and filter is SUPER cheap.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        What kind of oil and filter is a shop using if they can sell a change for $20?

        “And proper disposal takes time and money. “

        It may take time but I’ve never had to pay for oil disposal for a change I did myself. Auto part stores generally take it back for free and there are many industrial facilities that are always in demand of used oil to run their heaters.

        • kcvaliant says:

          Mine is 15, I think they charge 20 to nonregulars. That is including the filter.

          People just assume it should costmore because of the big chains.

          Family has been going there for 20+ years.

        • kcvaliant says:

          Mine is 15, I think they charge 20 to nonregulars. That is including the filter.

          People just assume it should costmore because of the big chains.

          Family has been going there for 20+ years.

      • BlueHighlighterNextToACoozie says:

        Unless you know mechanic really well, you never really know that for 8 dollars more they are going to do it correct. Things like making sure filter and drain plug are threaded correctly, proper oil level, draining all old oil. I’ve seen plenty questionable characters doing oil changes. Furthermore if you use synthetic or high mileage oil a lot of places charge 40-50 dollars for that oil change. Usually one of the main auto stores has an oil change special 20 bucks for 5 qts and a filter. Savings and quality my friend.

      • shepd says:

        The secret is using ramps!

        Unless you gotta pull off a wheel to get at the filter. Then I feel for you.

    • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

      If you don’t own your property, sometimes it’s against the rules to do that kind of work in your parking lot.

    • dolemite says:

      I used to change my own oil. It would be around $12-$15 usually. It did take about 20-30 min (depending on how much you want to drain out). Then…we had the oil disposal. Ugh. Drive to the auto parts store with a messy oil container and ask to go into the back to dump it. About 20 minute drive, 5 min to dump, 20 min back home, about $3-$4 in gas. One time, the bottom fell out of my oil container (it wasn’t even that old). Now THAT was fun to clean up.

      It’s like $27 to get it changed at the dealer. I’ll gladly pay an extra $8 to save myself the 30 min of crawling in the dirt, getting oil all over my hands and time/ $3 gas driving to the auto parts store.

    • maxamus2 says:

      $12??? Even no name oil is $4 to $5 a quart now and most cars take 4 to 5 quarts (V8s can take 7 to 8 quarts). And a cheapo filter is $3.

      Show me how you can buy 5 quarts of oil and a filter for $12.

      • shepd says:

        Shop around for deals. Around here, you can get a jug that size with a free oil filter when they go on sale for ~$14. I’m sure someone more serious about it than me might be able to find a one time $12 deal.

  4. akronharry says:

    What type of car does he have? Special filter?

    • Netstar says:

      Mercedes Benz requires Mobile 1 synthetic oil which is a lot more expensive but you change the oil once every 10,000 – 13,000 miles. These type of oil changes require a stronger oil filter element that can handle the additional mileage without the paper element deteriorating due to the extra mileage. The DIY cost (synthetic oil & filter) for an oil change on a Mercedes can cost you around $60-$75 vs $19.95 for the average car to be done at a local oil change facility. That is why they have all of the exceptions on the coupons. They would lose a lot of money changing oil on certain model cars.

  5. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    “I’d like an oil change please. Since it is a sperate charge, hold the filter. Thanks!”

  6. az123 says:

    The coupon states up to 5 qts, my 6 cylinder truck takes 5.5 so would not meet that. It also states special oil filters may cost extra and that it applies to “most cars and light trucks” Which would mean for a truck it would be limited to around a 1/2 ton model.

    Key point is the OP did not indicate what type of car they had, perhaps they are bringing in a huge truck or something and the shops pricing is in the right. If the shop did not explain this to the OP that was wrong, though perhaps they did and it was omitted from the submission. The main thing I see is that they should have informed the OP up front to the cost of the oil filter.

  7. bosozoku says:

    Yup – you always have to check and see if your car takes a different oil (such as Synthetic), a fancier Oil Filter, and/or if you have TPMS – the fancy thingy that tells you if you have low tire pressure. Then there’s annoyance of dealing with the upsell of the Air Filter, PCV valve, etc…

    I am fully competent to change my own oil, but I still take it to my local shop just so I don’t have to deal with the oil disposal and the usual spill in my garage.

  8. az123 says:

    So I would also like to point out that the consumerist calling this a true bait and switch is pretty WRONG. So evidently the shop accepted the coupon from someone else and there are conditions on the coupon. So it does not seem the shop is just advertising a price on an oil change and then not honoring it, something else was going on here.

    The fact they honored the coupon from the other guy is an indication the shop is NOT using it as bait and switch and that the OP here is leaving out some facts.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Yeah, I was leaning toward thinking the shop was in the wrong right up to the point where he said they accepted the coupon from someone else, which leads me to believe he is leaving out some important facts in his letter.

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

        The could have just told a coworker to come around front, and pretend to be a customer, so they can accept the coupon and have it not apperar as a bait-n-switch.

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      “No! Not ‘Bait-and-Switch’; Bait-and-bait! BAIT-AND-BAIT!”

  9. u1itn0w2day says:

    Did the op’s vehicle require a special filter or oil?

    Alot of these shops are franchises and want nothing to do with corporate promotions. I think there was trouble with Burger King franchises not honoring dollar menus and specials. I wasn’t problems with Jiffy Lube and pricing/upselling?

  10. Chmeeee says:

    If it all possible, use a small local shop. Usually you’re working with the owner who has more of an interest in making you a permanent customer and less of an interest of screwing you out of every dollar he can today. The chain shops aren’t as worried about repeat business, because the name recognition will always get them more customers (plus the repeat business from people who don’t know they’ve been screwed).

    Yeah, you can do it yourself, but it’s a lot of mess for the amount you actually save. A synthetic oil change costs me about $40, I get charged $50-60 by my mechanic. It’s worth that extra $20 not to have to deal with the mess.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      A plus of using a local, independent, corner garage is that you’ll have an actual mechanic do the fluid change and you can specify the type of oil and filter to use.

      For a Meineke $19.99 special, you’ll get a lube tech who then uses the lowest grade bulk oil possible and a white-can Chinese filter. You get what you pay for.

    • shepd says:

      Doing my own lets me know it’s done right. Having the dumbest person at the garage do the work (and that’s who will be doing the oil changes!) doesn’t make me happy considering what happens if it’s done wrong.

      Besides, I buy the oil on sale and stock up. I paid $14 for a 5L a bottle for synthetic, and $6 for a filter (I could pay less for the filters, so I just bought one at regular price). Keep it inside, as oil goes bad over the course of years if exposed to heat/cold cycles. Yes, I have 2 years worth of oil stocked up. :)

  11. sgtyukon says:

    The coupon has conditions noted in footnotes. Special oil filters are extra and the tire rotation isn’t included in the $19.95 price. However, $16.99 is a lot for an oil filter, especially if you get a credit for the lesser oil filter included in the low-cost oil change. The most expensive filter I could find for my truck was about $12 and good brands like Fram or Purolator cost considerably less. Those are retail prices. All that being said, no shop should incur additional costs for repair without your okay and if a shop won’t honor your coupon and won’t explain why, shop somewhere else. It isn’t as if Meineke is the only place you can get your oil changed. You can even do it yourself.

    I do agree with you advise about contacting the attorney general. In New York State, alleged consumer fraud is something the AG’s office has historically been very interested in pursuing.

    • ElDiablo says:

      “Good brands like Fram”

      Thanks for the chuckle.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        Yeah, it’s odd seeing Fram lumped together with Purolator.

    • Marlin says:

      Fram = Junk

      • Firethorn says:

        Fram ‘extraguards’ are junk. Toughguards are decent, doubleguards/high mileage with the additives are a bad idea. Teflon isn’t an effective oil additive. I get around the lower surface areas by using a larger filter(3600 instead of 3614).

        Elsewhere I saw moaning about dealing with dirty oil bottles – I have an oil pan that I simply seal up, and pour into the disposal, or back into the 5qt bottle. No real mess.

    • ronbo97 says:

      Dude, the OP said that the shop wouldn’t accept the coupon. So discussing the coupon is a non-starter.

      Yes, Fram is junk. Purolator is good. Wix is excellent.

      I’ve had a good working relationship with our local Meineke. Maybe it’s because I know cars and they realize that almost immediately. I use them pretty much for exhaust systems and the like. Stuff that I can’t do.

  12. sirwired says:

    Shops are required to accept used oil for disposal for free from consumers that walk in the door bearing a jug of used oil and a spent filter. When they have to take the used oil out of your car first, they can charge a disposal fee.

    • Hoss says:

      That makes no sense at all but I know they do it. Stupid policy that invites regulation.

      • Chmeeee says:

        It makes sense to be honest. They’re required to take it for free off the street to discourage illegal dumping. Obviously if you’re having the oil changed there, they don’t have to worry about illegal dumping, so they can charge you.

        • Rachacha says:

          I wonder what would happen if you dropped your car off at a shop for an oil change, handed them 2 gallon jugs and told them you wanted your old oil back and then came in a week later do discard you old oil for free?

          • chelan78 says:

            If anyone EVER tries to charge you a “disposal fee”, simply ask them to give you back your stuff and you will dispose of it yourself. It would almost certainly be illegal for them to refuse, either as a violation of consumer/service law or an illegal “tying” arrangement between the primary and secondary services. “Oh, we can only give you back your oil if you buy a certified waste receptacle from our store out front.” Violation of anti-trust law.

  13. Hoss says:

    I’d file this under lesson learned and move on. Sounds like the crime here is not attempting to explain costs to the customer but who know what other games were played under the hood. The most likely scenario with corporate is for them to give a discount on the next service, if anything. But do you really want to risk returning to any meineke shop? Go to or another local site and find a well recommended shop instead. I’d also provide a yelp review (on the meineke shop) to help out others

  14. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I’ve been screwed by a Meineke, and then shortly that location went out of business. I don’t shop at Meineke’s anymore.

    • tchann says:

      I’ve also been screwed by Meineke. I’m basically at the point now where I don’t trust -any- brand name car mechanic. =

  15. dakeypoo says:

    Why did you pay?

    • crispyduck13 says:

      What do you think he was going to drive home if he refused to pay? Hopes and dreams?

      • dakeypoo says:

        His car.

        • crispyduck13 says:

          I don’t think you understand how things like this work. If you don’t pay your bill they don’t release the vehicle. It’s pretty cut and dry.

          • dakeypoo says:

            I wouldn’t need them to release MY vehicle. I would just get in it and drive away. It’s mine. This would be after I paid $19.95 plus tax.

            • Bionic Data Drop says:

              That is exactly what I would’ve done. If they wouldn’t have released my car, I would’ve called the police. They would’ve gotten $19.95 + tax and not a penny more. If that wouldn’t have worked I’d call a cab and saw them in court.

  16. crispyduck13 says:

    …told me that the only thing I can be offered is a 29.95 oil change which included the filter, and tire rotation…

    I can’t believe people are siding with the shop here, and this is coming from someone who’s husband owns one. If they wouldn’t take his coupon and told him his only option was the $29.95 service you can safely assume that he was quoted that elevated price based on his “special” oil filter. This would mean the clerk knew what kind of car Adam brought in and that it would require a “special” and charged accordingly.

    In any case, he was told that at that price he would be getting an oil filter, probably up to 5 quarts of oil, and a tire rotation. If he was told that and then charged an additional fee for the filter then there is no possible reason you can defend that. There are no surprises under there, if they knew the make/model then they knew the price to charge. And $16.99 additional for a filter?? Bitch please, they made that up plain and simple.

    Looks to me the clerk thought he spotted a sucker, and gouged accordingly. You guys are calling him out for not arguing the bill on the spot? What exactly was he supposed to do?? They inflated his bill beyond the initial quote AFTER THE WORK WAS DONE. If they hold their ground and he doesn’t pay guess who is out a car? Shops like these give other shops a bad name. I hope he does get the attention of someone with the power to fix this for future customers.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Well hold on now. No one is defending the shop per se. Many have pointed out that a possible reason for them not taking the coupon and quoting him more is because of his vehicle. It’s also possible the guy who quoted him knew enough that the coupon didn’t apply to his vehicle but was unaware there were special filter requirements as well.

      Without knowing what kind of vehicle Adam drives, and without knowing the shop’s response to questions Adam should have asked but didn’t, like “why won’t you take the coupon”, and “why was I charged for an oil filter when I was previously told it was included”, we have no way to know exactly what happened.

      I know many Consumerist readers like to instantly jump on the “bash the big bad retailer” bandwagon, but sometimes there could actually be a good reason for them to do what they did. Without Adam having asked why, we (and he) will never know.

      • crispyduck13 says:

        That is true, hopefully Consumerist will follow up with him about his vehicle type and whether he confronted them at all while he was still there.

        It’s a sore topic among independent shops, because this exact type of story is why many customers come in for work with the attitude that you are screwing them over before the estimate is even printed and every problem you bring to their attention is fabricated.

      • StarKillerX says:

        It’s also possible that the clerk said $29.95 plus filter and the OP either upset over the coupon and heard him wrong, Miscommunication is a common occurance and when I read a post any information the OP leaves out I tend to put against them since it’s up to them to prove their case.

        Also the “plus filter” would explain why he wasn’t asked about the $16.99 for the filter if they had already told him it would be extra.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I don’t think anyone is siding with Meineke, we’re just trying to understand what exactly happened.

      I think Meineke should have eaten the cost because they deviated from the original quote without verbal or written consent. It’s possible there was a genuine miscommunication or the guy was being scammed — either way, it should be on Meineke to make it right.

      The chain shops, by and large, are sleazy operations — they rely on upselling, using incorrect fluids, lying about work being completed, and in general perform very low quality work, using sub-standard supplies. It’s something everyone needs to know before going into one of them, especially for a deal that is too good to be true.

      It’s like those guys who go door to door selling overstock meat because of someone with a large contract backing out, or a roofer or asphalt guy doing the same. It may be a good deal but it probably isn’t and definitely do some homework before agreeing to anything.

      • Auron says:

        Well if those shops are using sub-par parts, then the auto parts stores/dealers they get those items form are also sub-par. Having worked in auto parts store, I know first-hand that most shops don’t keep a huge inventory of parts in their backrooms. They usually will order them from an auto parts store on an as-needed basis. Heck, even the local Pep Boys would get parts from us once in awhile if it was something they were out of and we had that they needed.

    • penuspenuspenus says:

      Next time I feel ripped off and feel like consulting an expert, I will look for someone whose husband/wife runs a similar shop.

  17. PhiTauBill says:

    Need to know the year, make and model of the car in order to truly evaluate, although the dude certainly should have been consulted prior to the filter upcharge regardless. There seem to be other terms to this program that are not reflected on the coupon itself. In the case of franchises, sometimes not all will participate.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      That’s true about franchises not participating but his observation that the same clerk took the same coupon from another customer would negate that argument. Not sure how he was so sure it was the same coupon though…

      • longfeltwant says:

        Well, he says the clerk accepted “a” coupon from another customer, not necessarily the same coupon.

        This story sounds bad for the shop, but the missing details could turn it in favor of the shop: what kind of car was this? what coupon did the other customer have? how clear were the charges?

  18. DJ Charlie says:

    Semi-related: My father is too “brand loyal” to his local tire and oil place. $50 for an oil change, $35 for tire rotation. He goes to them for EVERYTHING.

    Last week he decided he needed new windshield wipers. Bought them at Wal-Mart for $10. Then took them to the shop and paid $20 EACH to have them put on. And no, his car doesn’t use special equipment to change the wiper blades.

    And EVERY time he goes there, he mysteriously needs a new air filter, at $20 a pop. Even if they changed it the week before!

    When I point out the obvious scam, he says “well, they’re always so friendly to me…”

    • Sian says:

      I’d be super-friendly to a mark like your dad too if I ran that shop.

      • DJ Charlie says:

        That’s what I keep telling him. But he won’t listen.

        • crispyduck13 says:

          I see some father/son bonding time in your future…involving wiper blade installation.

          That’s just sad that they take advantage of loyalty like that. I wish we had more customers like your dad, who at least understand that service costs money (but not that damn much, jeez). All we get are young kids who bitch and moan about having to actually pay for things. After the quote it’s always the same line “well I can get it cheaper on Ebay.” *Facepalm*

    • thomwithanh says:

      $60 for windshield wipers is just stupid.

  19. u1itn0w2day says:

    I would’ve gotten the final price before they started. They don’t need to get the car on the lift to see what they needed for an oil change. I would’ve asked for or demanded the final cost before they started. I wouldn’t even have let them take the car into a bay.

    I would take them to small claims court. They should have somekind of logged time as to when they got the car which would differ from when you picked up and/or paid for the car. I would also report them to the local BBB. I’d write corporate as well. Maybe they want to know if local franchises aren’t honoring national coupons. I don’t know how involved or public the op wants to make things but maybe this story should go to a local news outlet.

  20. inputhike says:

    I’m reasonably certain this is standard operating procedure for Meineke. I had a similar experience – while they did take the coupon, the end price was no where near $19.95. I decided to chalk it up to experience – I will never take my car to Meineke for anything.

  21. penuspenuspenus says:

    I think the definitive word “actual” should be omitted. There is far too much information missing.

  22. HogwartsProfessor says:

    That sucks. I’ve used Meineke here before and they were great. I never had this happen to me there. I would still be using them but they moved across town, and I found a local place close by that is awesome and will tow if my car dies.

  23. ronbo97 says:

    A couple of thoughts here:

    OP said that “another customer had a coupon in his hand, which the store clerk gladly accepted from him”. Note he said ‘a coupon’, not the same coupon. Could have been from the local newspaper, pennysaver, etc., mentioning the shop by name and address. Not the national coupon from the website, which isn’t accepted at our local Meineke either.

    OP was quoted 29.99 for oil change and filter. So the shop is on the hook to honor that price. They knew what kind of car it was since they wrote it on the work order. If there was a chance it required a special filter, then they should have verified that before starting the work, or called the customer informing him of the additional charge. Yes, a chat with the shop manager, followed by a call to corporate headquarters if the manager doesn’t resolve the issue, is needed here.

    • chelan78 says:

      Exactly. Sure, they “might” have a good reason to jack up the price (“special filter”), but once the quote is in writing, it is a criminal fraud to submit an invoice for anything more than that, without first obtaining the customer’s consent.

      “Why are you asking for $53.94 when you told me 30 minutes ago it was $29.95? Can I borrow your phone to call the police, please? I want to report a fraud.”

  24. sparc says:

    just about everyone plays this “special oil filter” game and tells you after the fact. Even if you got some place like Walmart and your car needs a special filter.

    After i got burned once, i now ask for the whole cost including filter before i start service. I pretty much do that with any fluid related auto service.

    • webweazel says:

      One reason why I buy my own oil filter at a local auto parts store and give it to them- in hand- for my car. I also make sure they take a discount off the oil change for bringing my own filter. This way, I know I’m getting a good filter and not some corporate-bought $1.50 knockoff junk that they want to charge me $20 for.

  25. thomwithanh says:

    Is this an issue with shops in Upstate NY? I went to a Monro in Ithaca a few years ago – had a coupon for a $50 tuneup. They wouldn’t take the coupon and instead told me I’d need to pay $89 for special diamond tipped special spark plugs. Being a naive college student at the time I went for. The final bill ended up being $350ish, they ended up changing the transmission fluid, the coolant, and ran a fuel system cleaning, services I hadn’t requested or approved **without even asking me first**. Learned my lesson, never went back there (or Midas, Meineke, etc…)

    Now I know my mechanic by name, he tells me where I can get my own parts (usually cheaper than if he gets them himself) and then he does the work, and usually cuts me a break on the labor. Really stands behind his work.

  26. dush says:

    “Additional disposal and shop fees may apply”

    boom, they gotcha.

    • chelan78 says:

      Boom?, not they don’t “gotcha”; they have the burden of proving (to the FTC, if necessary) that their advertising is not deceptive, i.e., that MOST customers will not be billed for the extras and that MOST filters and oils are not “special”. For example, if there is no written policy for which filters are special then that is evidence of corrupt business practices (targeting the ignorant).

      • dush says:

        They gotcha in the door. Tell you they don’t accept the coupon and then you buy service from them anyway? Boom, they gotcha.

  27. aosmitty says:

    the first thing you do is walk out when they refuse to honor your coupon. Thanks. Bye.

    Also, I wonder if the clerk is/is not the same clerk as the one who accepted the coupon from the other guy? Perhaps there’s a really dumb employee trying to scam the company (overcharge customers, then correct the transaction later and pocket the money) or maybe that employee is new.

    Regardless, if a business isn’t going to honor their coupon then just leave.

  28. Outrun1986 says:

    This doesn’t sound like a true bait and switch, it sounds more like an upsell. From my understanding a bait and switch would be something like if you went to purchase an item in a retail store, and they deliberately did not stock the item that was on sale, but they had it out for display and everything with the posted sign. Instead when trying to get the item, the employee then offers you a higher priced item in place of the one that was actually on sale that they did not have in stock. Although this would probably have to occur specifically on Sunday morning a few min after the store opened and you would have to be looking for an ad item for this to be a true and completely obvious bait and switch.

    A big problem with retail stores here is they have lots of TV’s on display, but none actually in stock. When you try to buy a TV you have to wait 20 min while the employee finds out if your desired TV is in stock. How hard would it be to put a “not in stock” sign on each TV so customers know right away? Not wanting to put up with this, I ordered my TV on amazon, they have plenty in stock!

    • chelan78 says:

      The answer to “bait and switch” was the rule that requires any retailer to offer a “raincheck” for any advertised merchandise that is not “currently in stock”, except articles clearly advertised as “limited quantities” or “closeout” or the like. “Oh, you don’t have the one in the coupon? That’s fine, I’ll just take a raincheck at this price and you can call me when you have it in stock again.”

  29. Froggmann says:

    This is why I started changing my own oil again.

  30. dullard says:

    There are two types of defamation, slander and libel. Slander is spoken, libel is written. For slander monetary damages must be proven, whereas with libel damages are presumed.

  31. Stella says:

    I just got my car’s oil changed today. Had a coupon for a $18.95 oil change, the guy at the register said it was $17.95 because “he always gives better deals than the coupons.”


  32. impatientgirl says:

    They have to tell you upfront if there will be an additional charge.

  33. legalkill says:

    I did a local Groupon at a Norcross Goodyear for a 22.00 full oil change w/synthetic blend and full service/inspection which included wiper replacement and tire rotation. I have a SUV and was prepared to pay extra for more oil or special whatever, however i was pleasantly surprised when I got what was promised at the price offered. They only let me know some belts were worn, etc and gave me a quote if I wanted that work done. I was quite impressed.