You Can’t Filter Out Dishonesty And Gullibility

, , , | Right | March 30, 2018

(I manage an auto shop, which is basically a quick lube. A customer I’ve never had before comes in for an oil change. All goes well until I give him the bill.)

Customer: “Why did you change the oil filter?”

Me: “We always change the oil filter when we do oil changes.”

Customer: “Mine doesn’t need it.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Customer: “My [Car Brand] has a special filter which never needs changing; you shouldn’t have changed it. It just cost me extra money.”

Me: *pause* “I’ve never heard of an oil filter which doesn’t need changing. The oil filter takes impurities out of the oil so they don’t harm the engine. If you don’t change the filter, it’s eventually going to get clogged, and you won’t have good oil flow. Plus, it can’t do its job removing impurities from the oil. If you don’t change the filter, it’s almost as bad as not changing the oil.”

Customer: “Well, when I had my oil changed at [less than reputable Competitor], they told me that I didn’t need a filter because [Car Brand] uses a special lifetime oil filter which never needs changing.”

Me: “Honestly, this is the first I’ve ever heard of a special lifetime oil filter. The filter I replaced was a standard [Filter Brand] filter, and I replaced it with filters designed for your vehicle. See? Look.” *I show him the filter application book* “Right here, it has your vehicle listed and the number of the filter I put in, which this book says is the proper replacement filter. If it had a special lifetime filter, it wouldn’t have a number, and would likely have, ‘NS,’ listed there for, ‘Not Serviceable.’ If your car didn’t require a new filter every time, they wouldn’t make filters for it.”

Customer: “I still think it was a waste, and you’re just trying to get money out of me. I’m going to go ahead and pay for it, but I’m not satisfied.”

(Note: The customer’s cost of the filter is around $5.)

Me: “I can assure you that I’m not trying to rip you off, and you should always replace your oil filter. But just in case [Car Brand] came out with something new that I’m not aware of, I’m going to do some research and find out if they do, indeed, have a special new oil filter. The one I took out looked the same as the one I installed.”

(The customer paid and left, and I searched the Internet for a special [Car Brand] lifetime oil filter. Finding nothing, I called the nearest [Car Brand] dealer’s service department and explained the situation to the manager. He assured me that [Car Brand] oil filters need to be replaced just like any other vehicle, and they don’t have a special lifetime oil filter. Turns out the other auto shop which changed his oil previously didn’t have that particular filter in stock, so they lied to him about it needing to be changed, and he believed them instead of me. What my dad always says is true: a dishonest auto shop will make trouble for all the honest ones around it.)

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