Friday, August 20, 2010

Somebody's getting a letter about this

I hate getting my oil changed. Hate it. Partly because of the communication factor but mostly because I am a woman. Because when I walk in to get my oil changed, those mechanics start drooling. Not because of my bodacious curves, friends. No. They are drooling pennies and sweating dollar bills. They look at me and an explosion of "KA-CHING!" and "$$$$$" clouds their vision. I once paid something like $80 for an oil change because they talked me into changing the air filter. Never. again.

Well today, I had to get my oil changed. Had to. As in, got up at 6am so I could be the first customer, had to. So I make my way to Valvoline (oh yes I'm naming names). The sun is shining, it's a beautiful morning and I'm thinking I could totally start doing this early bird thing. The man who was helping me at Valvoline seemed nice AND he was speaking clearly, which is always a plus, especially among mechanics who tend to mumble (as has been my experience anyway). After making it clear I just wanted an oil change (with the basic oil, not the five million dollar oil) and nothing else, I was good to go and went to go sit in the waiting room while they worked on Amelia (I name my cars. Go with it).

Then after a few minutes, Mechanic Man comes in and does his spiel about how I really, REALLY need to buy this, that and the other or my car will explode into a flaming fireball of death. Whatevs. I'm cool this time and I pass on the air filter. I am wiser now. So wise. Then he whips out a new one - transmission fluid. He is shocked, he says, by how brown it is. It should be bright pink. He asks if I know when the last time was it was changed. I say no. He says they have service records on my car (apparently the previous owners always brought the car to Valvoline) and he has no record of the transmission ever being flushed. He punctuated all of this with an expression of horror. Flaming fireball of death, here we come. So I start doubting. And thinking things like, "ohmygawsh, brown bad, pink GOOD!!" So I asked him how much it cost. He said, "One twenty nine."

And friends, this is where it went downhill. I had a blonde moment and thought he meant one dollar and twenty-nine cents. So I agreed to the service and he left the room, probably cackling a maniacal laugh. But as soon as he left, I thought (see, that thinking thing comes in handy from time to time), "Waaaaaaaaaaaaait a minute. When was the last time I spent a mere dollar and twenty-nine cents on anything auto-related that wasn't an air freshener? And he looked waaaaaaay to happy to have made one dollar and change." So I checked the pricing poster that was in the waiting room. Transmission flush - one HUNDRED and twenty nine dollars. Oh no, this won't do. This won't do at all.

So I ran out to the floor and asked if they had started yet. They said no. I said, "Okay, well, I changed my mind, I don't want the transmission flush right now." Mechanic Man suddenly turned into Rude Dude. "FINE!" he scoffed, rolled his eyes, threw up his hands, turned on his heel and walked away. Then they finished up on my car and I went over to pay. He would barely make eye contact and was short with me.

I mean, really. How old are we here? Three? Whatever. I smiled and thanked him and left. And laughed a little bit when I got in the car. Not only did he miss out on $129, he's going to miss out on a lifetime of oil changes from me. So it was pretty much a lose-lose for Valvoline today.

And that is why I hate getting my oil changed. They think customer service means shaming their clients (at least the lady ones) into paying out the wazoo for questionable services. Just because I have boobs does not mean I don't have a brain. Last year, the heat went out in my car twice. When I went back the second time to get it fixed, the guy helping me tried to make it sound like it was my fault when really, he had just not fixed the problem as thoroughly as he said he did. Hmph. Typical. Now see, if I was a man, I sincerely doubt any of this would have happened. My inner closet feminist cringes, but it's true. There's just no place for a woman in the automotive industry... not as a consumer, anyway.

Let's just chalk this up to reason #73 why I should get married - he* can go get the oil changed. And men, this would be a really sweet courtesy to extend to your lady friends, lady sisters and lady mamas. Change their oil or go with them when they do. We'll be forever grateful. I, for one, would make you cookies.

*Fake husband. Let's call him Gerard Butler for now.


  1. Yesterday, I thought my car had a suspension problem or something because it was parked, but it looked all tilted funny... so I was walking around it, wondering what to do. A gigantic man came over to see what I was looking at,so I explained. "Sister," he said, "you're parked on a hill!"
    Now, I can't blame this on femininity. It is a unique disability. There is a name for it... something about visual perception, I'm sure.

  2. My car's name is Lolita. I just thought we could share a kindred spirit moment over naming our cars.

    Way to go pulling the plug on the transmission oil change - that was such a scam. My mom once took her car to the dealer for an oil change and the mechanic pulled a spark plug. He walks in waving it at her and telling her she needed new ones to the tune of $100 (in 1997). She called my dad and to this day no one will ever go to that dealer ever again.

    It's infuriating that they even try this stuff.