Friday, January 17, 2014

Why My Daughter Will Never Go to a Dealer Again

by Michael Sachs

My daughter is your typical college student – she doesn’t know much about cars and she has almost no money. Her car recently needed brakes, so she found an advertisement for OEM brakes installed at the dealer for $99.95. Great! She went to the dealer to have the work done and ended up having to pay $450 (and that was after the “student discount”). Talk about a bait-and-switch! Granted, she needed to replace the rotors (at least that’s what this dealer told her – who knows for sure?). The rotors cost $60 each, so that only explains a portion of the huge cost increase.

I called the dealer the next day. First, I asked to speak with a service advisor; any service advisor. The man I got on the phone told me, “Oh, I never sell those $99.95 brake pads. The first six I sold all came back with squealing issues.” So, I asked, what brake pads did she get then? “Oh, I’ll have to transfer you to parts.”

The parts person looked up the part number from the RO and said it wasn’t a valid part. Hmmm…. Then he asked for the RO number. “Oh, I see that these pads came from Foreign Auto Parts.” Really!?! No one ever told my daughter about this. Same for the rotors. I asked, “Don’t you have the $99.95 brake pads for this car?” “Well, not always… click…click…click…actually, they do make those pads for this car. We probably didn’t have them in stock.” Yeah, right.

So, my daughter went to the dealer thinking she was getting OEM parts and she ended up with the same parts that any Joe’s garage would use. I’m pretty sure Joe’s garage wouldn’t charge her $450.

So many things went wrong here:
  • Bait-and-switch on the parts and service
  • Non-OEM parts installed at a dealership
  • No communication or choice about parts substitution
  • Ridiculous price for non-genuine parts and service
I am usually an advocate of dealer service, but what can I possibly say to my daughter that would support the dealer’s case?

Bottom Line: My daughter got ripped off. As a result, for the next 60-odd years of car ownership ahead of her, she is unlikely to ever trust a dealer again. From the dealer’s or OEM’s perspective, was that a good tradeoff for the one-time profit on this RO?

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