It’s a Trap. The coupon is a Trap.

This morning I did something so completely stupid you’d think I don’t pay attention to my own advice.

Based on a direct mail coupon, I made an appointment to get a “winter service special” for my car at the dealership. (01 Camry with 70K miles, so you have the details.) Today I took the car in.

You know what coupon means in car service? It means, “We must make up for the $4.99 you’re going to save by finding at least $100 worth of other services to recommend.”

DOH! This after reading on Consumerist that auto mechanics get paid on commission. Some in the 40% range. Sure, the article is referring to one particular business. We don’t know if all auto mechanics work on commission. But it makes you think, eh?

I didn’t have class today because of Veterans Day and this is the first Friday morning I’ve had since September so I had a ton of errands planned, including this car service which consists of an oil change, tire rotate, battery check, windshield wiper change (the selling point for me!) and something with fluids or hoses or whatever.

I made a 7:30am appointment thinking the drag ass out of bed early would be paid off when I was finished early and could have a fine morning of errand running. They said 1½ hours and I said no problem. Because I had tons of reading material with me.

Just like Murphy’s Law on a plane, I had a guy sit down next to me who wanted to chat. But he was mildly entertaining and I listened to his stories. He was doing the same service as me.

2½ hours later we were both a little antsy. Why was this taking so long? We joked it was probably the coupon. The guy came out to talk to him about his truck first and as soon as he opened his mouth I realized that I totally was forked by the coupon. He had a laundry list of things that should probably be taken care of.

They called my name and I followed my guy into the screw-a-torium. $527 worth of recommended services, plus replacing the spark plugs, no price given and some sort of air filter thing which I said fine: whatever. May your stupid coupon at least pay for itself.

Two of the items were 60K mile services items. “But I had the 60K mile service,” I protested. “Here?” the guy says.

No I did not. There is another dealership more convenient to my office so depending on what type of service I need and what my schedule is like, I switch back and forth. Apparently only the service I have at that dealership counts.

“No,” I say, “Can’t you tell by looking at it?”

“It doesn’t look like it was done 10K ago.” Is he covering his ass or did I not get this done? I don’t know and now like Fox Mulder, I trust no one.

One item was a front brake replacement which I expected except he wanted to wheel and deal and I did not want to spend one more minute of my morning sitting there.

One item was a battery, which I expected because I have a 60-month battery that turned 60 several months ago. I’ve been keeping an eye on it. $120. Obviously I’m stupid but that sounded awfully steep for a battery. When I balked, he started wheeling and dealing again.

One item had to do with the fuel injection. Remember my bent-over-the-hood of my Toyota story from a couple of years ago? (scroll down to June 1 and work your way up) I have to doublecheck my records but I thought they replaced my whole fuel injector apparatus during that fiasco. Does it really need to be serviced again? Are the two issues even related? This guy didn’t know jackcrap unless it was in his system.

Crap. I thought I was supposed to be able to trust the dealer.

Bob’s going to take the car to Les Schwab for the battery (I’ll report my savings here) and talk to them about the brakes. I’m going to look at my 60K service and see what they did. Crap. I hate car stuff.

But I LOVE my new windshield wipers.

Update: Bob got me a battery at Les Schwab for $72.

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