Jiffy Lube a great place to practice the ‘just say no’ approach

Saying “no” is every consumers’ most important skill. Don’t worry, you’ll have a chance to practice nearly everywhere you go.

One great place to practice: at Jiffy Lube, the ubiquitous oil change franchise.  In fact, I’d recommend standing in front of a mirror and drilling yourself in saying a quiet but firm “no” for at least 10 minutes before heading out to get your oil changed. During my last trip, in addition to the standard litany of no’s, I had to decline an offer to fix a windshield chip…that had already been fixed by Safelite months ago.

Let me interrupt this message by saying I really like Jiffy Lube. Really. I’ve had many positive experiences at their outlets, which I’ve used from coast to coast on my various trips across country.  Sure, I could change my oil myself, and I have.  But it makes sense for me to pay someone else $40 to do it rather than spend an hour or so doing it myself for half that. Throw in the complication of oil disposal and you have yourself a deal.

That is, so long as I keep saying no.

I don’t mind the litany of questions I get when it’s my turn to stand in front of the Jiffy computers. Many of them are perfectly appropriate and sourced to manufacturers’ recommendations. (Time to change air filter? The transmission fluid? ) Many serve as helpful reminders, and as with the oil itself, I can either do it cheaper myself or pay for the Jiffy convenience. I’ve also on many occasions been pleasantly surprised to find that employees are trained not to do a hard sell.

So long as no means no, it’s a perfectly appropriate transaction.

I was disappointed during my last trip through Missouri, however, when I was charged to fill up my Toyota Rav4 with 6.4 quarts of oil, above the 5-quart limit that Jiffy Lube has set. I don’t recall being charged that before, and I didn’t like the speed with which the operator breezed past the screen showing the added fee.  I missed it entirely, in fact, noticing something was wrong only at the end when the price was unexpectedly high.  Perhaps I was too busy warding off other offers I found unnecessary, particularly the offer to repair my already-repaired windshield chip, or distracted by Rusty having a good time licking the face of the man in the hole under my car twisting off the oil filter.  But it had the feel of a sneaky fee I was intended to miss. In response, I groaned and downgraded to Jiffy Lube’s cheaper oil.

Better yet, I was miffed enough that when I went back to the waiting room, I did a little Googling with my smartphone and found a $10 coupon I could use. I don’t think I would have bothered with the extra oil fee.

Jiffy Lube and I fought to a draw that day.

It’s a shame that there’s this level of distrust even with a company I like (and clearly, I’m not alone). It would be great if I could just trust Jiffy Lube to only recommend things that are really necessary.  Sure would make car maintenance a little easier. That landscape is already hard enough, with Cadillac-priced services on the dealer side and complaints about mistakes on the private repair side. (Faulty auto repairs, along with auto sales, generated the most consumer complaints in a recent survey)

As consumers, we all make constant decisions about what to fight and what to let go.  Even though I think of fee-fighting as my job, I question myself often, wondering if this $5 is worth that 10 minutes of my time, and so on.  I judge no one, particularly busy parents, for skipping these daily fights from time to time. But I often say that complaining is like voting — even if you pay up, it’s still worth complaining. I don’t know if you or I pushing back once in a while makes a difference immediately, but I know what kind of a world we will have if no ever one pushes back.

Just say no, as often as you can.

About Bob Sullivan 1340 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

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