Saturday, March 29, 2008

Déjà Déjà Rejection

Today I had to replace the low beam light in Ginger's car. Last week on Thursday I had taken Ginger's car to get it inspected since it was due at the end of the month (and Ginger couldn't do it since she was home with Catherine who was sick all last week). Ginger had made an appointment at our local Volkswagon dealer to do the inspection. On the way there I remembered that one of her front low beam lights was out. But then I figured I would just pay through the nose for the light from the dealer and be done with it.

So at the dealer when they asked if I needed shuttle service I said not if they could get the inspection done in under an hour. And here's where they started to tick me off. I'm right in front of him and the guy calls back to the garage and asks if they can get it done within the next hour to hour and a half. I hear a lot of "Yea"'s and "Uh huh"'s and then he hangs up. So once he was off the phone I made a point of asking, "I couldn't help notice you mentioned an hour and a half and I said my limit was an hour, it'll be done in under an hour, right?"

"Not a problem sir, he said he could get to it right away" was the answer. You can probably already guess where this is going at this point, but an hour later I go up to the guy and ask about the status of the car and I get "One moment, let me check on that." Twenty minutes later the guy from the garage comes out and says the light needs to be replaced.

I asked how much would it be to replace it. They bandy about numbers between a couple of the desk guys and say the part will run about $20. Fine, that's way more than the light should cost but I don't care. Then the other shoe drops and the garage guy (the guy who took twenty minutes to show up) says it'll be about $70 (half an hour) labor. And I believe my response was "Are you kidding me? Half an hour just to replace a headlight? You can't be serious."

The guy then goes on to assure me that it's a very difficult and complex task and I couldn't possibly understand all the intricacies involved as he starts trying to explain how you have to remove some parts in order to access the light. First off let me say it really irritated me that he was trying to take advantage of me, and then when I call him on it he has the nerve to try and justify it? He got about five words into describing what would need to be removed and I just interrupted him and said "Fail it. I'll replace the light myself." He continues to try and explain why it's better for him to do it and I explain I replaced the light myself in my other Passat in about five minutes. And here's what I don't get, instead of taking the easy money and trying to reduce the time / cost they just say that's fine and fail it.

So that was my job today. Replace the low beam light. And I will say that in Ginger's 2003 the light is slightly more inaccessible than in my 2001. But there's only one part that needs to be removed and it is the large plastic piece around the dipstick (and it's a snap on piece, so you don't even need tools to remove it). Overall replacing the light probably did take me almost half an hour, but it took that long (and I hate to even mention this part) because I accidentally dropped the old light into the oil. I know, I know, you're asking how's that even possible. Well the part that needed to be removed was that plastic around the dipstick. But unlike what I think of as a normal dipstick, this one is like the container to a jar of glue with a cap (I mean look how big the cap is) and the dipstick going down from the middle of the cap. Anyway, I had removed that dipstick at some point before I removed the plastic piece thinking at first that I couldn't remove the plastic because of the dipstick, and when I was removing the actual light I foolishly was trying not to touch it. Why was I trying not to touch it you ask? Because the light was a halogen bulb and you're not suppose to touch it, even though since it was already burned out that hardly matters. But I was stupid and was trying not to touch even though it was burned out (I did realize my folly later after I dropped it). So as I was disconnecting the light from the base it pops off and falls into the oil open oil container. Retrieving it out of the oil probably took 20 minutes as I was scrambling looking for long thin pliers and long screwdrivers.

Still, the fact that even with that fiasco it took under 30 minutes makes me think the dealership is ripping me off by over estimating the time for how long it will take to do work (which really makes me feel good about the $1500 I just spent on repairs to my car a month ago). I just can't believe how much they're over estimating stuff like that. Who do they think they are, a bunch of software engineers or something? Ninety dollars to replace a headlight? Give me a break (for the record, the replacement light I bought at Advance Auto was about $13).


Pete said...

Savings on parts:
Time required to get parts:
30 minutes
Time saved on the replacement itself:
0 minutes
Time "wasted" bitching about it on your blog:
30 minutes
Getting to bitch about it on your blog:

Note: I don't think dealerships (and I expect most other auto mechanics) bill in units of less than 1/2 an hour.

Convenience (nearly) always costs extra and is (nearly) always well worth it.

Not directly appropriate, but indirectly related, and I thought interesting:

Susan said...

KUDOS to you! !!
I'm very proud of you for doing it yourself. I'm here to tell you (from experience) they take advantage of you so much more than you know.