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Dealer Pushback?

I’ve been following this site for a number of years now. Many times posters and responders criticize dealer?s shoddy work, overcharging, and alleged scamming. I recall very few times when a dealer identified himself as such when responding to these allegations. Is this guilt by silence? Indifference? Shame? Or are responding dealers simply not identifying themselves as dealers? Of course, I don?t personally know the active responders here, and I suspect several are very capable technicians working at dealerships. I wonder if dealer management ever reads this site?

Now, I?m not a dealer, never been one. I have run a service garage in PA a number of years back, so I appreciate the quality of answers provided by most of the responders. It simply seems odd that there has not been pushback to these allegations by dealers. They have been ominously silent. Any thoughts about this?

My issues with dealers is some (not all) push maintenance “packages” with extra services not required by the mfg’rs service guides. Toyota dealers seem to be the fanciest facilities and the most aggressive at selling packages in my experience. Still I will use a Toyota dealer if I want Toyota fluids (say for trans and differential) or feel a dealer techs might have more experience troubleshooting an odd kind of problem, often electrical.

I’ve had brake jobs at Honda and Ford dealers and independant shops and found the prices and work quality essentially the same. I had a misfire problem on a Ford product and used the dealer and was happy with the results.

In general I’d say dealer service is just fine when you have specific problems. When you are just talking routine maintenance some dealers charges are excessive, and others go by the book. There maybe a “dealer adverse” bias on this site, but dealers fare better than chain shops, quickie lubes, and Sears.

I think you have an overactive imagination. Most of the responders on this site say to avoid chain stores like Jiffy Lube, Pep Boys, etc. for repairs. There are good dealers and bad ones–it is too easy to overgeneralize about your own competition and imagine malice when it is not there.

I have never worked for a car dealer or in the auto industry at all, but I have had plenty of great experiences and plenty of not-so-great experiences at dealers. Been treated well? Go back. Been treated poorly? Go shop somewhere else.

NEVER have I hidden my history, depending on the line of coversation.
I am a parts man at a Ford dealer and have been here since 1979.
I even use my own name to post.

What am I hiding ?

I have stated in the past that I read these anti-dealer comments and try to learn and apply better practices here. This is a busy dealer with a great number of customers choosing to come here for even the littlest oil change or flat repair. We have three l.o.f. dedicaded bays that are busy all day and a 14 tech / 26 bay shop. in this town the dealers ( Ford, GM, Chevy, Toyota at least ) seem to be the first choice place to go.

With the exception of Mr Green and a few others, you have to realize that the aggregate of dealership employees are for one reason or another not going to end up here. I’ve talked with a lot of dealership employees who know nothing about cars (“It has a turbo, so you won’t get stuck in the snow,” being one of my favorite quotes from this type), and so they’re not going to be interested in hanging out on the Car Talk site. And I’ve talked with a lot of dealership employees, especially parts guys and mechanics, who do know a lot about cars, but still wouldn’t show up here. Would you go home from your full time job and then offer your job-related expertise for free on the internet? I wouldn’t - not from the money perspective, but when I get home from work, it’s time to do things that are not related to my job.

Ken, I’ve always thought of the parts guys as the normal and good people attached to the service dept. Of course, they don’t want to charge me $120/hr for their time and try to sell me headlamp bulb fluid either.

Thanks for your thoughts, Mieich. My comments were more focused to the apparent absence of dealer responses to negative slams, rather than the industry as a whole. I realize that the technicians and counter folks don?t set pricing policy at dealerships, but I?m awed by the apparent fact that dealer management is not keeping their ears to the ground to learn how their business is running. Not listening to your customers is a quick route to Chapter 7.

Ken, I’m glad to hear you point. I just hope you are not an anomaly in the industry.

We’re very fortunate on this forum to have a number of true professionals share their time and expertise with us. Special thanks go to Ken, OK4450, Transman, and all the others who clearly are experts in this field and in related fields. When we mortals do get out of line and post unfair comments about dealers, it has been my experience that these guys don’t hesitate to speak up, as they should. And all of them have been honest about their backgrounds.

The premise of the forum is to help those in need with their car problems. That definition includes the absolute novice and even OK4450, one of the most knowledgable engine guys I know, who had a SAAB fuel injection problem that defies the laws of physics…and nobody could help him with. Everyone needs help from time to time. Even the best. It also includes prople having car difficulties with dealers…as well as people having difficulties with independent garages, brother-in-laws, and even spouses.

I’d guess that if there were a forum whose premise was to help dealers improve their image you’d probably see the sort of pushback you allude to.

Most car dealerships, overall, are short-sighted. They want to make as much money from you as they can, and they don’t seem to care about repeat business.

Monitoring forums like this one would cost them money, and most aren’t willing to invest in the salary and benefits to have an employee blogging all day.

Personally, I have stood up for dealerships in this forum many times. I have had some great experiences with dealership service departments that charge reasonable prices. I recognize there is a big bias for independent mechanics here, based on the fact that many of the regulars here are either independent mechanics or they wish they were independent mechanics so they could escape the oppression of being someone else’s employee.

There was a TV series called [b]Men of a Certain Age[/b] that was canceled. I enjoyed it while it lasted. One of the main characters was a car salesman who worked at a dealership his father owned. He tried treating the customers like people and charging reasonable prices. He got lots of referrals and made a lot of people happy. Then he saw his paycheck and went back to screwing people. I know this is fiction, but it demonstrates the culture prevalent at car dealerships.

Your question boils down too “why don’t Dealers defend themselves against accusations of wrong doing from someone posting a story on the Internet”? My call is that Dealers spend their time defending themselves from allegations of wrong doing from the people who are standing in front of them.

Come on, this is the Internet, not a place to “save your honor”. People are going to say what they want on the Internet, get used to it and don’t waste your time wondering how to address it.

Dealers would have to hire a full time employee to keep up with what is posted; whether there’s any truth to it or not.
This would lead to yet one more expense in the service department and even more accusations of overcharging.

Note also that a lot of posters who gripe or make accusations either disappear completely when followup questions are asked or they continue to argue the point without providing those annoying little things called details.

Dealers do get bashed on here but I have seen plenty of times of dealers being defended. For anyone to suggest that a dealership scams more, performs shoddier work and overcharges more than an indie shop is not using sound logic. The quality of work performed has nothing to do the name above the door but in the integrity and wisdom of the people involved.

It would be a waste of time for a dealership to monitor sites such as this. Dealerships are very customer oriented and work very hard to maintain relationships but someone griping in Oregon is not a customer we would ever see at the dealer I work at in central IL.

Most car dealerships, overall, are short-sighted. They want to make as much money from you as they can, and they don’t seem to care about repeat business…Whitey, with all due respect how can you say this? While it is true dealers want to make as much money as they can (all business should want to make as much as they can, even where you work) they do care about repeat customers, how can they not care? No business can survive with out repeat customers. Remember, you can shear a sheep every year but you can only butcher it once. Sounds crass but you get the idea.

I have had my cars serviced by indies and dealers. I have worked for indies and dealers. Good and bad from both but it has been the dealers who treated me better as a customer and a valued employee.

I have actually very very rarely seen any dealer “bashing” - as in referring to “shoddy work, overcharging, and alleged scamming”.

I frequently see people tell others to avoid dealers b/c they can get the same work elsewhere for a lot less money and less upselling. The fact that dealers are on the expensive side and try to sell stuff that people probably don’t need is not bashing. Its more like just saying they can get good service for less money elsewhere.

Now, when it comes to corporate chain auto service operations - especially the quick lube places - I’d say there’s something more like bashing.

I have generally had good experiences with dealer service and repairs. Sometimes when doing a repair that is unique to one of their models they may be cheaper than anyone else because they have that repair “down pat”. I get most repairs that I don’t do myself, done at a local independent garage that I have found to be completely honest. He is cheaper than the dealer because his overhead is much lower.
I won’t patronize anyplace that tries to sell me “mouse milk”.

When I made that comment, I was referring to the sales process more than the service department, but in truth, it applies to both. Try reading this article and tell me if you still feel the same way.

In my experience, finding a good dealership service department can be done, but it may take some time, and in some parts of the USA, you may not find one at all.

Automobile dealers, like healthcare businesses and chain retailers and many others whose livelihood can be affected by negative comments on the internet seem to have found that sand bagging is the most effective method of defending themselves. So often, an internet search of a company results in hundreds of replies and the first few hundred are links to the businesses web site. Complaints get lost somewhere back on page 27, or was it page 31? No, maybe it was page 57… Most people give up and never see the complaints.