Reporter's Blog: Ups and Downs at a Recent Service Visit

Aug. 13, 2020

A recent service visit by editorial director Anna Zeck served as a clear reminder of something NOLN writes about all the time: Every interaction counts. Every appointment counts. Every customer counts. 

Aug. 13, 2020—One of my favorite things to do when I need any sort of work done on my car is to pretend I’m a secret shopper. I pretend I’m just a normal consumer, looking for an oil change, and not the nosey editorial director of NOLN thinking critically about every move, interaction and process the shop takes. To be clear, I’m not a secret shopper and I am just a normal consumer, but still, it’s fun to see what we write about every day out in the wild.

That’s exactly what I got to do this past weekend, when my car reminded me that I desperately needed an oil change (thanks, warning lights!). 

Let’s get the good out of the way first: I was able to get in right away, everyone was masked up, and the courtesy tech was lovely. Very nice and professional. I appreciated that he filled up all of my tires (yes, I can be a lazy car owner) and he took the time to walk me through all of the recommended services.

But those recommended services are where we ran into some trouble. First, he recommended a tire rotation and, based on my mileage, I went into the oil change with the intention of asking for one. I agreed to the service, but not a minute later did a tech call out, “Can’t do tire rotations! We don’t have a torque wrench today.” OK, no problem.

Next, he recommended a new engine air filter. The hood tech showed me my filter and it was disgusting. I couldn’t say yes fast enough, but, again, another tech yelled out, “We’re out of those!”

That's 0 for 2 now.

Finally, the service tech recommended a transmission flush, specifically noting that it was likely necessary because the last place I took my car for an oil change forgot to put the cap back on, allowing dirt and dust to get in there.

Here’s the problem: The last place I took my car for an oil change was that same quick lube.

So, in essence, he was recommending a $200 service due to the carelessness of a fellow colleague.

Not great. 

I was also surprised that he didn’t see my service history when he pulled my VIN and information up, which could’ve potentially avoided the awkward issue.

Unfortunately, the interaction made me question the credibility of the quick lube, in general. If they left the cap off and potentially caused damage to my transmission, should I take my car elsewhere next time? Can I trust the service here?

It pains me to admit that, but I couldn’t help but jump to that conclusion. Luckily, I had such a positive experience with the courtesy tech that I wasn’t necessarily upset and was too shy to say anything. Ultimately, I got my oil change and that’s what I came for.  

However, I can’t say that the quick lube was as lucky. It left money on the table with me, and potentially lost a customer forever. It served as a clear reminder to me of something we write about all the time: Every interaction counts. Every appointment counts. Every customer counts.