Micah took in our dear little car for her oil change today and the service people promptly suggested that he replace the front two tires. At first he was inclined to go with it, but he ended up deciding to comparison shop (thanks love!).
The thing is, they weren’t actually wrong about our car needing new front tires. After I got home from work, we did the penny MacGyver tire check* (yes, there’s something pennies are good for!!). Didn’t pass. Her indicators aren’t quite to the NOW point, but they soon will be.
He’d been told before that they’d be needing changing in the next 6 months, so we were a bit prepared (we just wanted to make sure).
But even though we’ll be changing them soon, I’m glad he didn’t just go ahead with it. Two big reasons.
The first is communication…when we’re outlaying that much money, I at least want to make sure we’ve talked and one of us made sure it was really needed (penny check). If it had been an emergency, like the tires were about to blow, then it would have been ok for him to go ahead (see bottom for more on this).
The second is upselling. You see, the oil change place quoted him a price of $50-70 more than the other places he called once he got home. I expect they wanted him to just go ahead with it. He asked them if that was their best rate and for ranges on tire prices, but they said that was the lowest.
Somehow, even with warranties, all the other places came out way ahead. And without warranties, they’re heartwarmingly good prices vs. the slightly heart-freezing quote he got.
I was so happy that husband went ahead and started getting quotes to give me when I got home (he got many kisses for being so awesome). I was already feeling suspicious of the oil change place–even though we might need the tires–after reading Patrick’s account of the attempted $1000 upsell he got last week. At least these people didn’t recommend a full set of tires.
As Patrick notes, it’s what you expect when you get an oil change. The key is figuring out what’s really wrong and what to do about it. We’re going to get new tires on Friday. *sigh* But we’re going to get them at a much better price.
If you’re concerned that a place is trying to sell you stuff you don’t need, what do you do about it? One solution I can come up with is asking if it’s still safe enough for you to bring it back in two days. If they say yes, then go home start comparison shopping (and figuring out if you actually need it!). If they say no, ask why and go from there.
Later this week, I’ll be talking about communication and finance, because we realized today that we’ve sort of got an arrangement that anything non-essential over, say, $20 needs to be discussed if it’s not in the budget and anything essential (getting towed, for instance) it’s ok to pay if we have the money. But what about semi-essential things?
*If you don’t feel like clicking through, a rough way to gauge when to replace a tire is to stick an upside-down penny into one of the little tread sections. If Lincoln’s head doesn’t go in a bit, then it’s time to start shopping around. If you live in a very snowy area, you want to turn it the other way and see that the top of the Lincoln memorial starts to disappear. At least that’s what I’ve read…I’m not a mechanic.