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$150+ oil change!? I need an independent shop!

Discussion in 'Warranty questions' started by Deutsch Marques, Nov 15, 2010.

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    Deutsch Marques

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    My M3 is a low mile car. I get an oil change done each fall before putting it away for the winter. Last week my local BMW service center charged me $144.43 to do this. And that was with a 10% discount applied! My total bill was $195.30 (with tax), because I asked that they take a quick look at the right-rear wheel while they had it in the air. I've been hearing an intermittent clicking noise that is wheel speed related. They charged me $42.84 in labor to tell me they didn't see anything wrong. All I really wanted them to do was spin the wheel and see if the clicking occurred, not waste time chasing a problem that wasn't happening at the time.

    I've always tried to support my dealerships. I know that they make their money not on the sales of cars, but on the sales of parts and service. But why the heck to they overcharge for everything by so much? And it's not just BMW service centers. My VW is no different. And it's getting worse... my BMW dealership has changed ownership and the prices seem to be going up, with new added charges to service bills, like a $20 shop charge added to every repair order regardless of what it was for!

    What really boggles me is the dealerships keep sending postcards begging you not to go to independent shops by claiming things like "Think genuine BMW service is expensive? Think again." :confused:

    Sure, I could do my own oil changes. But I'm a computer guy, not much of a mechanic. I want someone who knows cars to be able to catch a problem before it becomes major. That said, anyone know any independent shops in the Springfield MA/Hartford CT area? I think it may be time to move on from bringing my car to the dealership.
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    Did you speak to them about it, suggesting that maybe, since the car was already in the air, it didn't actually take them twenty minutes to check the rear wheel?
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    I just want to point out that Castrol Edge 10W-60 oil costs $10-$12 per quart, pretty much anywhere you buy it (dealer/internet/etc.) That comes to $70-$84 for the oil alone, add another $10-$15 for the filter and a half-hour of labor ($50-$60) and you're about there. Independent rates are around $20 or so lower per hour so you might only save $10.

    Never-the-less, www.bimrs.org shows a shop in Springfield - JE Robison.
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    You do know they're a BUSINESS right?

    You asked them to do extra labor, and now you're complaining about being charged extra for it? Put yourself in their shoes. What if your employer "asked" you to do extra labor, but said he wasn't going to pay you for it? While you could argue that it shouldn't cost extra to "eyeball" it, in most cases, simply eyeballing a part for wear (or spinning a wheel? come on! You did want him to do extra work for free, didn't you? ;)) reveals zero information, especially if the wear is either in an inaccessible exterior location or inside the part. Eyeballing also completely worthless checking for possible loose parts or sources of vibration or noise. Personally, I think you're very fortunate they only charged you an extra $42.84 for it.

    I hate to break this to you, but there's no law prohibiting a private business from making money, or how much of a profit they're allowed to make. Fortunately, that works the other way too. There's no law forcing you to do business with any one dealership, or even any dealership at all! Your sense of "charity" is somewhat misplaced. Last time I checked, very few dealership service centers were in any danger of giving away the store, or going out of business as a result. It's been years since I have heard of ANY dealership service department charging significantly less than $100 an hour.

    Costwise, it sounds like these people are giving you a huge break over what you could be paying elsewhere. If you're complaining about the prices, it begs the question why you're there in the first place.

    As for those postcards, it's pure marketing. And if you keep coming in, you're sending a message with your wallet that the postcards totally work.

    I should point out that changing the oil isn't rocket science. Most people are done in 30 minutes, an hour at the most. I'm a computer specialist with 19 years experience, and generally I'm done before I have finished my iced tea. It takes me more time pulling and putting away my tools than for the actual oil change! Best of all, all it cost me was what I paid for oil and the filter.

    I never take my car to anyone for oil changes for two reasons:

    Money - better things to spend my money on than unnecessarily lining someone else's pocket doing something I know how to do myself.

    Control over the whole process - I've read way too many horror stories on the internet about some of the most clueless people I have ever seen changing the oil. Everything from using an AIR WRENCH on the oil pan plug, to putting a floor jack under the OIL PAN!

    To sum things up, if you're going to mistake a dealership for a "name your own donation" charity in desperate need of support, then you really have no excuse complaining about the prices if you keep going there.
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    Deutsch Marques

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    I don't doubt that they spent 30-45 minutes looking for the problem, including test driving and more. But what I was implying to the service writer was for them to see if it clicked while driving it into the bay, or up in the air by spinning the wheel. Or, alternatively, seeing if there was an obviously broken part viewable from under the car.

    I paid the bill without bitching about it, because, yes...I did ask them to look. I guess what I had in mind did not match what they had in mind. In the past, this very dealership has done similar "looking" and never charged me while I had the car in for other service. My VW dealership routinely "looks" at something I might point out or have a concern about and not charge me.

    Yeah, I know the oil is pricey. However, the dealership charged me $16 per quart not $10-12. Plus I was griping that they've added a new $20 line item to every service order. When I asked what it was, she told me it covers screws and grease and misc. stuff like that. Yet, they never used to charge extra for this.

    Actually, in the past they've taken a quick look at something and they haven't charged me labor. Now they do. I was surprised at their price increases and policy changes. To see if the car is making a noise while driving it into the bay or taking a quick look without removing anything while it's in the air is one thing. To spend billable time troubleshooting an intermittent problem without my knowledge is another. When I spoke with the service writer, I thought we understood I didn't want any serious effort applied to it, and that the oil change was the primary objective. Seems I assumed incorrectly.

    Also, yes... I do expect things for free. Sometimes it's called good customer service. I do real-estate part time, and I would make the same commission on a house regardless of whether I did the bare minimum amount of work, or really schmoozed the clients. But I can guarantee the clients I schmooze will provide more repeat and referral business than the client I did just enough to make the sale. Even my full-time hourly job is the same. I still check emails from home, answer my Blackberry when it rings, and do other things off the clock. It makes my "customers" (the employees of my company) happy, good feedback to my boss, and better reviews come raise-time.

    Of course any business is expected to make money. And businesses that charge exorbitant amounts get away with it because of captive audiences (or at least customers who think they don't have any other options.) Of course, in higher-end brands, you also get the wealthy customers who don't care how much things cost.

    However, I am choosing to look elsewhere. Hence my post asking for advice on where else to go because I have grown unhappy with a service center I once didn't have a problem with.

    Huge break? I'd hate to see the service centers you are referring to. In one year's time, this dealership's prices seem to have increased 10-20% plus the addition of service fees they never had before. I was there, in the first place, because I used to accept the prices they charged before for the level of services they provided.

    I am asking for advice on how to better "vote" with my wallet.

    You're right. Oil changes are pretty easy. I used to do my own on my 330i. But like I said, I like having someone who is a mechanic work on the car to find other problems. Case in point, the last time I had it in for service, they found that the drive shaft "guibo" was torn. That's something I would never have thought to check, or noticed had I been looking at it. Yet by replacing it soon, I avoided a potentially costly repair.

    What!? I don't understand why you think I'm such an idiot. I don't expect to name my own price or anything like that. What I do know is that I've been letting them service my BMWs for years and since the last time I've been in for service their prices have increased 10-20%, they've added additional charges to every work order, and they've changed their policy on what level of work they do at no charge.

    I don't intend to keep going back. That's why I posted and asked for advice and locations of indy shops. I provided the information of my last service as background info so you'd understand why I've grown unhappy with them. And yes, I took the surveys I got in my email for the service visit and made comments about how I've grown unhappy with them as well.
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    Relax and take a deep breath. Nobody is out to get you. At least not me, anyway.

    First, please take a deep breath. Nobody is out to get you. Not me, not the dealership.

    It's called an "entitlement mindset" and it collides with reality quite frequently. The rest of us call it either the economy, inflation, or what have you.

    You seem to have this idea that just because of who you are, you're somehow entitled to free service. If a dealership is going to do anything for "free," there's almost always a reason for it, and those reasons have very little to do charitable service giveaways or expectations. While I have very little sympathy for dealerships and how they've been gouging customers for decades, you seem to roll into these dealerships thinking they owe you something besides an oil change.

    Some dealerships will do you a small favor, gambling that this will make you sufficiently receptive mindset to BUY more services. It's called PSYCHOLOGY, and the idea is make you more receptive to SPENDING MONEY, not to give you an expectation that your prices (and free service expectations) are frozen for life.

    I didn't use the i-word anywhere in my response, you did. The DIY community generally doesn't use such terms for people who are spending $150 to $200 on an a dealership oil change. At least, not out loud. Usually such prices accompany a jar of sand and a jar of petroleum jelly. :D

    Again, it's called business. Wages are going up. Employees do ask for raises, and often they move to more profitable employers when they dont' get them. Last time I checked, they still have to pay these people, as well as for electricity, parts, and everything else needed to keep the lights on and the store open. Not at all surprised they're raising prices. Not only does their need to stay open probably take precedence over your free service expectations, there's also this little thing called a "profit" they need to make. What the VW dealership does across the street or across town has very little to do with everybody else. Likely every service guy has a mouth (or more than one) to feed of their own. That might put a crimp into what, if any, free service expectations they can fulfill for you.

    Above all, I am trying very hard not to seem harsh, but trying to get you to understand that your experience is not some bizarre anomoly. It happens all over America, in thousands of dealerships, every day. Again, I have very little sympathy for the way dealerships have been screwing customers for decades. Yet in all fairness, I'm puzzled by a guy who pays 2 $100 C-notes for an oil change, won't touch his own oil filter, yet gripes about paying $40 to spin the rear wheel because he's no longer getting his "freebies." Especially when you could have pocketed that $195 (minus the cost of oil and the filter) by doing all of this yourself.

    For free.

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    Deutsch Marques

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    Bcweir, how is it that my request for indy shops in the area has turned into a debate over how I'm being unreasonable and in my having to defend myself? All I want is someone in the area to recommend a place that is nearby and fairly priced that does competent work.

    I welcome constructive criticism and alternate opinions. Even in this case, where I wasn't necessarily looking for feedback on what I should or should not expect from a dealership. Besides the few words typed on a screen, we don't know each other. Yet I've noticed that your posts tend to be very critical and condescending, whether you intend that or not. But to set the record on some of the issues you have taken with me… why do you assume I'm someone who thinks I'm above others and am somehow entitled to more than my share?

    To the point:
    - This dealership's prices have increased over the past year far greater than standard rates of "inflation". Additionally, they have added blanket fees to every order. For these reasons, I feel they are now too expensive and am seeking an alternate service center in my area.
    - I asked them to "take a look" at an intermittent problem. In the past, they have done things like this and not charged me. This time they did. I was wrong to assume they wouldn't, and only expected a "freebie" because they've done it in the past. I didn't expect a "freebie" because I felt I was better than everyone else. If that were the case, I'd have refused to pay or demanded my money back. I haven't done that, and I only seek an alternate service center in my area.
    - I gave up the right to do my own oil change for the reason of having someone more trained than I have their hands on the car in case they catch a problem that I would not have found.

    What's wrong with griping about paying more for something than the last time you paid for it? You say you're puzzled by me. I'm puzzled why you care so much to expend so much energy griping about me.
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    I've already answered your questions.

    Good luck.

    BIMMIR guest

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    Wow - no judgement about your choice to have someone else do the oil change, but the $ amount shocks me!

    I do it myself, BMW filter location and method really does make it easy to change oil.

    To each their own, I'm just happy to know how much I'm saving.

    pinmagic guest

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    I wanted to change the oil on my car at 1200 miles, just for extra protection. The service advisor told me he'd never seen anyone do it that soon, so I left without doing it. But at 2K miles, I decided I really wanted to do it. The dealer quoted me $129 over the phone, but when I got there, they said $110. The SA tried to talk me out of it again, saying it was a total waste to do it so soon. Nice guy, and I appreciated his candor, but I told him it would make me happy, so he did it. Final bill? $63. He took pity on me! I told you he was a nice guy.

    jagman212000 guest

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    Seems High

    As a service tech for over 12 years and now a shop owner I understand sometimes people want you to just take a glance and see if something is about to fall off the car. I have performed many such inspections for free and will continue to with my own shop. A $20 shop fee is plain crazy but when you consider the service manger, service writer, and dealership all get paid before the tech, you see why the prices are so outlandish. Granted oil is expensive and even more so for Motorsports, however $40 to pull a wheel and $20 for the pleasure of gracing their shop door is plain uncalled for. Im not mad though because it drives more business my way. It just irritates me because it gives the auto service industry a bad rep for no reason at all. BTW most of my time as a tech was spent at stealerships so I speak from experience and not what I have heard.
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    Steven Otto

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    The sad part here is an "Service Advisor" who doesn't see the value in a 1200 mile oil change. Who says the "dipstick" is gone?? Evidently he's sitting at a desk in the service area.

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