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Service Coupon Chaos

4162 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  CBODY67
Based on conversations I've had with other customers, we are all inundated with coupons for service items like oil changes and tire rotation. I get them from Ram, from Chrysler and from the dealer. They are apparently sent at random, though some claim to know that I'm neglecting to service my Ram (I'm not).

I've gotten spoiled to the $17.95 oil change and now have a hard time paying more than $20 for one. But the pricing is all over the map - as low as $15.95 or high as $24.95 - and sometimes includes tire rotation or wiper blades. It's hard to understand where the margin lies; if they can do it for $16 one day, why not always?

But I have never paid more than the coupon says, even though the fine print says I might, since I have a Hemi. There's a list of exceptions, but in the nearly two years I've had the Ram (and the previous years I've had the same experience with my PT Turbo and Liberty) it's always been the coupon price.

Today, I asked about the fine print, as it appears to say that a tire rotation is included but the dealer argued that it isn't. I wasn't making a big deal about it, just pointing out that the language isn't clear whether it's included or specifically excluded and they really should clarify that in the future.

And suddenly, they are charging me $6 extra for the Hemi oil change. When I asked the service manager why, the response was "Because we can". And when I asked him it was worth losing my business, he claimed they had always done this but a review of my records proved him wrong. So he then said a new coupon system meant they could "track these charges better".

Can anyone with a dealer comment on whether there is some system wide change in coupons?
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As mentioned, the coupon program usually is something the particular dealership signs up for, at their desired pricing levels. Just another program to sign up for, so to speak. Some dealers send out coupon books . . . I talked to one customer who said that that's why she bought vehicles from a particular dealership. No coupon book, no business from her. Funny thing was that her coupon book had "run dry", so she wanted another one!

Many dealers also have their own coupons on their websites. Just check the "Service" icon and see if any pop up. Print them off and take them to the dealer.

Recommended service items can happen anywhere. Firestone has one that's mileage-based and prints out separate from your repair order. I usually thank them for their recommendations and either do it myself or not at all. If it's something like needing tie rod ends before an alignment, then I'll let them do it . . . at that time or later.

Many dealers are also tracking service customers who have declined particular recommended services. If the customer hasn't had the services done somewhere else, then they will see if they can schedule the vehicle back in for that work, at some time in the near future.

Without the local service station operators to look after their customers' vehicles any more, that task is now with the dealership service departments and chain store repair shops. Each can have their own advantages or disadvantages. Key thing is that somebody is looking under the hood and under the vehicle. If the lube tech knows what they're looking at, not trying to over-sell, it can be a win-win situation for the dealership and the customer. It's up to the service advisor to further prioritize the relative importance of the items recommended, when they go over the repair order and recommendations with the customer. Tracking these recommendations and their approval or disapproval can be important to give the service advisor something to see if it might still need to be done, with a higher priority at that next visit. Back to the "We'll take better care of you, with genuine OEM parts, than others might" orientation.

Many dealers just started doing the vehicle check list in more recent years. When they realized that with declining warranty claims, which many had tended to live off of for a good while, they needed other revenue streams. Hence, the start of dealership "Quick Lube" operations, possibly combined with "Quick Service" bays, or even a complete facility devoted to these things, apart from the normal service area. In the middle 1980s, a friend was running a Firestone store and he had his people doing these vehicle evaluation activities THEN, as they were printed on the back of the repair order. There were spiffs for doing it and also spiffs for upsales from the evaluation list.

Oil change pricing, as noted, is "all over the board". It's important to also know what type of oil the coupon will pay for, which can be reflected in the pricing. It it's normal type oil, syn-blend, or on the order of Mobil 1 can relate to the price, in addition to the number of quarts figured into that situation. I think that if I had a HEMI or other gas engine which takes "more than 5 quarts", they were charging me the normal price (without the premium for the more-quantity of oil), I'd just let them keep on doing that. But when they started charging for things they should have been all along, I'd just be glad the earlier bills were less expensive. Even the first-gen 3.5L Chrysler V-6s took about 6.5 quarts for an oil change. For many vehicles, the days of the "5 quart oil and filter changes" for newer vehicles are severely historic. One reason to have bought a Buick Park Avenue over a Cadillac DeVille was the fact the Buick 3800 V-6 took 4.5 quarts and the Cadillac Northstar V-8 took 7 quarts.

Just some thoughts,
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