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Recently the radio station I work for had the air bag light come on in one of it’s vans. They took it to a nearby Franchised New Car Dealer for that make for repairs. Little did they know the can of worms they would open up by asking the wrong questions.

Being very careful they ask that they get an estimate on the air bag light that was good, but then they added, “Oh and check out everything else on the van to see if there is anything it needs, and Oh by the way check the brakes too.”

The resulting $2,200 estimate nearly floored them and when they declined the repairs they were left with nearly a $200 bill for a 13 point inspection…PLUS another charge for checking the brakes…YIKES!!!

Where did they go wrong and perhaps more importantly where did the dealer go wrong as they lost a customer for life?

If you take your vehicle in for any repair or service, the number one thing the service advisory needs to identify is the primary complaint and address it first and foremost,(in this case the air bag light). Normally there is no need to ask them to check if you need anything else because any mechanic trying to make a living is going to look over your vehicle for “free” to suggest needs service or repairs. That’s mechanics 101, especially brakes.

Next when it comes to these long laundry lists like the dealer suggested the Station do. It’s only reasonable to get the order of priority a good service adviser will say something like, “Here’s your biggest problem and I would do that for sure and here are some other concerns you will face shortly and long term you are going to need to do these perhaps.. Overwhelming lists just send customers away looking for someone who you think wants to help, especially when those overwhelming lists include things like, “Total Fuel System Cleaning” and “Transmission Service and Flush”.

Creating and maintaining a good relationship with a service center is a lifeline when it comes to keeping your vehicle for it’s intended life, and sometimes you have to take the lead by asking..“What’s most important here and what can I put off?”

Or in the case where you have a noise or vibration you don’t understand ask the service ad visor to ride with you so they can experience it and also test drive later to know it’s fixed.

For more information on Labor Charges and what’s behind all that I wrote this article last summer. False Labor


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