Win Some, Lose Some

Today’s win: successfully replacing the laser in a broken Wii console, without wiping the saved data or shorting anything out. Thank you, Console Zombie!

Today’s loss: finding out that Momentum MINI in Houston put much cheaper tires on my car two weeks ago than the ones that I came in with, even though they didn’t mention that fact either before or after, and it cost me as much as it would have for the good ones. I then found out that they also just happened to leave $1,700 off of the estimate for the additional work I needed, even though all of the parts and labor involved were listed. Of course, the guy I was dealing with insisted that we had discussed all of these things and that they only reason he didn’t include all of the prices previously was that I told him to hold off on giving me the full quote for some reason. I don’t really enjoy being lied to or paying unreasonable amounts for routine maintenance, so I made him give me back my key so that I could go get a quote that is on this side of the sanity spectrum.

2 Replies to “Win Some, Lose Some”

  1. Sadly this is common practice at both dealerships and most specialized mechanics. It’s also why I researched a abnormally sturdy car that is easy to self-maintain and freed myself from having to constantly worry if I was being had. When I was ignorant of how cars work I got taken more times than I would like to admit.

    Much like the three-tier system for alcohol is bad for both customers and start-ups, the car manufacturer/dealership separation is of questionable merit. I can’t really decide if we’re better of with it, but my instincts tell me we’d probably be better off if the people that built the cars also sold them to us.

    The higher profile mechanic shops seem to have enough built in traffic to make this kind of shady business still profitable with the implied loss of customers who figure out the con. Smaller shops appear to have better long-term customers by being honest, even if that means giving bad news before they start the work.

    1. Yeah, it’s really unfortunate. As a general rule, I accept that I will pay a higher price if I have my car serviced by the dealer than if I go elsewhere. I am willing to do that if it means better — even slightly better — maintenance, particularly because lots of mechanics are still not that familiar with the proper care and feeding of a MINI. I am not, however, willing to get ripped off. For example, the Pirelli tires I had on my car when I went in are awesome. It used to be that I had to go to the dealer for them, because places like Discount Tire neither stocked them nor had the ability to install them (because, believe it or not, the MINI’s clearance requirements were incompatible with most lifts as recently as a couple of years ago). Now, the dealer charges me almost $400/each for the Pirelli tires and over $320/each for much lower-quality Continentals, while Discount Tire can install and balance the Pirelli tires for $185. Not to mention the Continentals were installed without my permission or even my knowledge. At some point, you are not paying for quality, reliability, and know-how — you’re just having your pocket picked.

      On that note, if anyone knows of a great and trustworthy mechanic in the northwest Houston area, please let me know. Thanks.

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