There’s something afoot in the oil at Walmart. Or least that’s what one could believe as we hear yet another story of your average customer bringing in a vehicle for an oil change at the store and leaving with a headache-inducing damaged car situation. [More]
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.
Where do you draw the line between a business offering an incentive for you to fill out a survey and an attempt to buy your opinion outright? And just what would a business need to offer you for you to part with whatever principles you might have?
Troy is a rational person, which is why he took Pep Boys’ advertisement of a guaranteed 29-minute oil change literally. A sign at his local outlet claims that if your oil change takes more than 29 minutes, you’ll receive a $10 voucher for your next oil change. Except that’s not actually how the program works, and Troy found that there’s apparently always a way to weasel out of giving customers the $10.
I’ve never changed my own oil on a car and have no interest in learning how to do so. I’m terrified that I’d screw something up and ruin my engine. Yet it comforts me to know that some enterprising people — regular guys who don’t know everything about cars — can take it upon themselves to learn the fine art of oil changing and save themselves hundreds of dollars a year.
According to the consumer advice editor at Edmunds, if you bought a car in the last seven or eight years, you don’t have to change its oil every 3,000 miles. On these newer models, it’s fine to wait until 7,500 miles or more, although a Pennzoil employee tells the New York Times that you should stick with what your manual advises (which is still probably less frequent than every 3,000 miles). You can also check out this California State list of guidelines for different cars.
We’re not entirely sure Consumerist is responsible for Walmart finally getting back to Jeff on his ruined transmission—and frankly, because of the length of time between the incident and his complaint, as well as Walmart’s reputation for silence on consumer complaints like this, we didn’t expect much to happen at all. We were wrong, and we tip our hats to Walmart for making good on a very expensive mistake. Read Jeff’s update below.
Seriously, Jiffy Lube? You haven’t received enough bad coverage about ripping off your customers? Fine, here’s another one: Daniel says they tried to add about $170 in extra “needed” repairs and replacements recently when his girlfriend dropped off her car to get the oil changed. Even after she turned them down, they still slapped an extra $6 “Peak Global Life Time 100%” charge on the bill. We don’t know what that means, but those are all good words, and anything that’s 100 percent has got to be quality. Apparently Jiffy Lube doesn’t know what it means either.
Heartland Automotive Services, Inc., which runs 31 Jiffy Lubes in the Austin area, has to pay a $300,000 fine after admitting to pumping used oil into the city’s sewer system instead of recycling it. Normally shops are paid by the gallon for used oil, but in this case a damaged wall let water seep into the oil collection area and create a toxic mess that couldn’t be sold—so instead of paying to remove it, they pumped it down the drain.
An EZ Lube store in California overcharged Timothy for a new cabin filter when he went to get his oil changed. The mechanic managed to do this by quizzing Timothy on his knowledge of air filters, then using that info to make vague assurances that sounded good but didn’t convey the actual, final price. Timothy admits that he let his guard down, but when he was hit with the final bill, he regained his consumerist footing and began to take steps to remedy the situation—and he succeeded.
Melissa writes in a a comedy of car errors, a spiral of compounding auto troubles and escalating costs. A simple oil change ends up as an engine getting replaced and several hundred dollars. Now she wants to know if she should take Red-i-Lube to small claims court. You be the judge, after the jump.