Monday, July 5, 2010

Screw Job from the Car Dealer

I have a Volkswagen Passat. I love the way it drives but it isn’t too reliable and always needs something done, great or small. Electical stuff, 2 batteries in 2 years, transmission, FOUR headlights, etc. When it was under warranty then it was just annoying. But once you have to start paying, that’s a whole ‘nother grifting animal.

There’s been like four or five recalls on it too. At first I thought OK, recalls are for safety. Now, I’m not so sure. I think recalls are a way to get you into the dealer so you’ll pay their crazy prices for other work while you’re there.

I was one recall behind and I needed some scheduled maintenance along with some weird stuff like a new antennae and floor mat clips (whatever). So what the hell, I scheduled an appointment knowing I’d pay a little bit more.

I got my maintenance work done to an expensive price but I was willing to take the hit because I needed all that other stuff done. OK, fair enough, I knew the game. Then, they tried to screw me. Hard. They told me I needed all this other work done from engine mounts to some undercarriage “cleanout”.


“Yes. But we don’t have the parts for any of this work”

“Wait, you don’t have any parts?! Don’t you sell these cars? If I did need parts, wouldn’t this be the place that would actually have them?!”

“We can get them next week. And it will be $2500 for everything. In addition to the $600 we just charged you, of course.”


“Do you think I’m stupid?”

“Well, we weren’t sure. I mean you DID take your care to the dealer.”

“That was because of the recall and I thought I could save some time-- Never mind. I’m starting to think you may be right.”

In my head, I toId them to suck it and went to my mechanic that we had been going to for years. I gave my mechanic (Community Auto in Hollywood off Melrose) the list from the dealer. They called me back a few hours later. Only two of the repairs needed to be done and the total would be under $500. Less than 25% of the dealer estimate. O Frabjous Day! Callooh, Callay! My credit card company wasn’t happy but I breathed a sigh of relief. So yes, they tried to really screw me.

It’s hard to find a good mechanic. One whom you trust. When you do, and chances are they will be independently owned and operated, support them whenever you can. It will be good for the both of you. And your wallet.

The weird thing is if the VW dealer wasn’t so incompetent I may have been fooled into at least getting one or two of those expensive repairs done if they had the parts in stock.

I’m not buying another VW ever again. Call me crazy, but I like a car that I can rely on and not have to outsmart con artists every time there is a recall.


Aunt Becky said...

Dude, that makes my cheap heart happy that you didn't go for the repairs. I'm very pleased now.

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