Friday, September 11, 2009

Jiffy-suck, a three-part tragedy

Let me tell you about my ongoing saga with Jiffy-Lube. It began 2 years ago when we purchased our new car. Eager to keep it in tip-top shape, I was excited to take it in for the first oil change at 3,000 miles. I was especially excited because the tires were getting low and I hate hate hate to take the car to the gas station to pump up the tires. Most of the gas stations around here require you to pay for air, or have a token to turn on the air machine. Then there's the frantic scrambling around to get to all four tires before the machine shuts off. There's the heavy, heavy hose which wants to retract without warning and drag itself across my shiny new paintjob. There's the squatting down and gravel and dirty fingers and all the other un-pleasantries which come with putting air in the tires. Needless to say, I am more than happy to let Jiffy-Lube take care of it.

Part 1

The service at the Jiffy-Lube on this day was particularly speedy. I was in and out before I could really delve into which spices Martha Stewart felt would make my cooking unforgettable. As I pulled back onto the road, I checked the dashboard display, fully expecting my tire pressure to read at 32 psi in all four tires. Wrong. Three tires were at 32, but the rear passenger tire was still at 27.

I sighed a heavy sigh. Was it worth it to turn around and take the car back? I'd have to make a u-turn, and then wait at 2 left-turn lights. But given my previously discussed hatred of filling my own tires, I decided it was definitely worth it.

I pulled back in and someone came running out to meet me.

"I'm sorry," I began. "I was just here and it looks like one of my tires didn't get filled up. Can you check it for me again?"

"How do you know that?" the guy asked, a little defensively.

"I have a display on my dash that tells me what the tire pressure is. It looks like all the other tires got filled, just not the rear passenger-side. Will you check it for me?"

"Well, we pump up all four tires when we do the service. That's our policy. I'm sure we did all of yours."

"It doesn't look like it, but whatever. Can you put some more air in it for me anyway? I'd like to have it at 32 like all my other tires. I see there's no one in the service bay. I'd be happy to pull it right in. Your guys can just fill it up really quick and I'll be on my way."

He pondered this for a moment. "You know what it is? It's your display. Those sensors take a little bit to reset. I'm sure yours just hasn't reset itself yet. You just need to drive it around."

"I think it has reset. I mean, all the other tires are showing that they are full and they weren't when I came in here. I just don't think that 3 out of 4 sensors would reset. I think someone just forgot to fill that tire."

"No. That's not it. You just need to drive it around."

"I did. I drove it out of here, down the street and back again when I realized that my tire was still low."

"You need to drive it some more. If it's still showing low when you get home, then bring it back and we'll be happy to fill it for you."

I knew he was full of it. So I did drive home and promptly logged a complaint on Jiffy-Lube's website. It wasn't that big of a deal, but I thought if I made enough noise I might get a free oil change out of it. I laid it on thick, too. "I KNOW that he was patronizing me because I'm a WOMAN and he didn't think I would understand about tire pressure because I'm just a GIRL... blah blah blah..." It was over the top, but not too far from the truth.

That evening, I got a call from Jiffy-Lube. At first I though they were responding to my e-mail. You know, because I had checked the box indicating I would like someone to contact me about my concern. No, it turned out that they were just having a major customer service push or evaluating the dealer's franchise or something and they were calling everyone that had work done at that location.

The nice lady seemed very concerned and I told her exactly what I had e-mailed earlier. She apologized again and again and asked if I would like to have someone contact me. "Well, if you aren't the person who can give me a free oil change, then yes. Have someone contact me." (I may or may not have actually said this to her.)

I waited for the opportunity to share my tale of discrimination and woe with a corporate executive. Surprisingly, no one ever called.

Part 2

Jiffy-Lube keeps sending us coupons which is why I keep patronizing them. I decided I would NEVER EVER go back to the shop in Elk Grove (serious injury inflicted) but that I'd try the shop just down the street from my office. I had a satisfactory experience there and for some reason that convinced me that I would have a satisfactory experience if I would just give the Elk Grove shop another try. I'm so stupid.

This time when I went in, I requested that all four tires be inflated to 35 psi, instead of the manufacturer recommended 32 psi. No problem, he assured me. It'll be done in a jiffy.

I honestly don't know WHAT the problem is with those people and inflating tires, but when I drove away, the tires on the left side at 32 psi and the tires on the right side at 45 psi.

Bless their poor, dense, dumber-than-dirt hearts.

Part 3

After deciding that I would NEVER EVER EVER AND I MEAN IT THIS TIME go to the Elk Grove shop again, my next oil change was at the Jiffy-Lube near my office. They got the tires right the last time, they can do it again. High score for the Florin Jiffy-Lube!

But when I pulled out of the driveway the next morning, there was a fair amount of oil underneath where my car had been parked. I inspected it closely. It was fresh and there was enough of it that I was concerned. So, back to the Jiffy-Lube I went.

The manager happened to be working at the counter when I arrived, so I was saved the trouble of asking for him. I asked if they would take a look and verify that everything had been properly tightened. Without even looking at my car, he said, "Yeah, that's just condensation from the air conditioner. It's just water. You see, the way the a/c works is that..."

I interrupted him. "I know how an a/c works. And this wasn't water. It was oil. I know what oil looks like when it's on my driveway. I put my finger in it. It wasn't leaking yesterday morning. Now it's leaking. You guys worked on it. Something didn't get tightened properly. You need to fix it."

He was a little taken aback. "Well, I can assure you that everyone involved in servicing your car yesterday is a trained professional. There's no way they would have made a mistake like that."

I was going to say, "Yeah, just like there's no way they'd inflate two of my tires to 45 psi." But then I remembered that I was at the wrong Jiffy-Lube, so instead I said, "It's leaking. You need to check it out."

"Well, of course we're going to check it out," he said in a tone that implied that he was offended that I had implied they weren't going to look at it, even though he'd been arguing with me since I walked in the door. "We want all our customers to be satisfied.*"

*even the delusional weirdos who can't tell the difference between water and oil on the driveway his tone implied

I watched them check it out of the corner of my eye. I can't be sure, but it certainly looked like the manager went under the car, inspected it, came up out of the pit, grabbed a technician who was dressed for getting dirty and who had a wrench in hand, made him climb under the car, tighten something, all the while guiltily looking around to see if anyone was watching.

The manager returned and triumphantly exclaimed to the whole shop, "Well, we checked it out and everything looks fine! There's no problem here! Nope! Everything is all tightened! No leaks! Yup! Everyone did what they were supposed to yesterday! It's all perfect!"

I wondered who he was trying to convince, since I was the only one present.

I'm running out of conveniently located Jiffy-Lubes to whom I can take my car to have them screw it up in a new and completely original way.


Jesse Harris said...

This is among the many reasons why I insist on dealership service. They deal with my brand of car all day long, they got trained at the factory, and there's none of that "we can't control our franchisees" garbage from corporate HQ.

Shauna said...

Yeah... Jiffy Lube has messed up on my car a number of times. But the worst is that I have always found their customer service to be snotty like that. I remember one time they didn't vacuum out my car so I brought it to their attention "We don't vacuum out cars anymore" he said. Next time I went? They vacuumed my car. When I questioned the guy about it, he was like, "That's ALWAYS been part of the service." And when I told him what the dude before had said, he insisted that *I* must have misunderstood him. What a bunch of jerks.

Lorene said...

I get my car done at jiffy lube every 5000 miles (1.5 months) and I have yet to have my first problem. Of course I normally have stuff all over the floor so I don't require a vacuum and I don't have any neat little gauges that tell me my tires are too high or low Dad Fox

Kari said...

Interesting. My cousin once took her new car for an oil change to Jiffy-Lube and we left so angry we called corporate HQ. I don't remember what exactly they had done, but when we brought the car back for them to fix it, the technician gave us major attitude and we think he may have urinated in her air conditioning system.

There's a couple of other experiences where they have screwed up and what stands out in my memory was how poorly we were treated by the mechanics/staff.

So as a result I usually stay away from Jiffy-Lube. I have a visceral sort of reaction to them; it's a sense of their incompetence mixed with a prickly lack of humility.

Lorene said...

My worst mechanics story is from Big O Tires. We wanted the struts replaced and after waiting 2 days longer than promised, my wife picked up the car , drove the car on the Freeway to our neighborhood where the front tire fell off damaging the whole left front of the car. We noticed when we got into the trunk that there were multiple empty bottles of beer with a couple of unopened. I raised living "H" with the Big O headquarters and they did fix the car body work and all, but they would not do anything to compensate for putting my wife's life in danger or the inconvenience of being without a car for weeks while it was repaired. I do still frequent Big O but never in Cameron Park. Dad Fox

Anonymous said...

Looks like the situation was handled poorly, all the way around.

1st, if the TPMS light was still on after leaving and you returned, someone should have just rechecked the tire. It's one tire, how long will it really take? Certainly less time than the going back and forth about it.

2ndly, and even it's admitted "It wasn't that big of a deal but I thought if I made enough noise I might get a free oil change out of it. I laid it on thick, too. "I KNOW that he was patronizing me because I'm a WOMAN and he didn't think I would understand about tire pressure because I'm just a GIRL... blah blah blah..." It was over the top, but not too far from the truth."

YOU LIED. You turned a simple little spat, INTO SEXISM. You even admitted that you "layed it on thick."

And why? To try and get some free service, for something that you even said "wasn't really a big deal but I decided to turn into one"

I get that JL should have just rechecked the tire righ there but I just really have a problem with the admitted lying and trying to then get things for free.

Lorene said...

Anonymous, If we need a critic we will be sure and call you. I believe a blog is supposed to be, above all else, entertaining. This blog was doing a good job of that until you showed up to rain on the parade Dad Fox