As most of us do from time to time, I took my aging vehicle to the garage for service. Although it was running fine, I knew it was due for an oil change, lube, and inspection. I was even armed with a dealer coupon for those services!
To the service manager’s credit, he called after my vehicle’s inspection to advise that the radiator and coolant system needed to be flushed, and that my battery was weak and should be replaced. He also suggested that the reliable life span of my front brake pads was nearing an end, and that it might be convenient to take care of that for me while they had the car. Recognizing that the safety and dependability of my car was of paramount importance to me, I agreed to the additional services after receiving an estimate.
My elation that my car would once again be in tip-top shape as I picked it up after work that afternoon quickly turned to frustration and puzzlement as I tried to make heads or tails of my invoice. Curiously, the coupon for the lube and oil change didn’t cover those services for the advertised price, as I had requested synthetic oil. Guess I missed the fine print. Listed next to the cost for the new battery was a $35 charge for “terminal protection,” which turned out to be a piece of red felt and a Vaseline coating designed to reduce anode corrosion.
Finally, following the line item cost for the replacement of my front brake pads, was a notation for “shop charges” and an additional fee. When I asked what “shop charges” were, I was told that this covered non-itemized materials the shop needed to service my vehicle including grease, rags, and WD-40.
Garage math…. That’s my polite term to describe the amazing creativity used to calculate my final invoice for automotive services (which – by the way – ended my relationship with that dealer). Can you imagine charging a patient a “shop charge” because you used a polishing wheel after adjusting a crown? Surprising our patients post treatment with undisclosed charges is inappropriate and unprofessional. Disclosing fees for service with honesty and integrity in advance of providing those services is not only proper, it’s also just plain good business!
“Try not to become a man of success, but a man of values.”