Thursday, January 15, 2009

Oil Change & Polish Your Tires

I went to Oil Can Henry here in Newport yesterday (I designed the facility eight years ago in Portland, so I've been curious what it looks like in the flesh). I've never had anyone change my oil, but it's cold and this car I bought has some very tight spaces. The woman I bought it from didn't do much maintenance, I think.
I park my car and walk in. There's no office. I ask the guys in the shop if I need an
appointment and how much will an oil change cost. "Sir, get in your car and drive around back."
So I drive around back and get out and ask how much. "Sir, stay off the red floor". So, I get back in my car and the kid brings a newspaper and a brochure. I say I don't want a paper, just how much is an oil change. "Well, here's the price list" and he takes the paper (we're not communicating). I look at it - there is no simple oil change and the cheapest service is $38! So I say it doesn't make sense to me, I just want a god damn oil change. "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to leave". Well, I can't leave, I'm in lanes that exit through the shop - there is no turn out. The car in front leaves. I ask if they are refusing me service and they tell me I'm rude and I tell them they are the rude ones and they start washing my windshield. Check my tires, shine my shoes, comb my hair, check my teeth, tell me I need a shave. I have them change the oil (they have to show me it's black, as if I didn't know!) And I'm in my car (can you believe you have to sit in your car?!!) with the hood up (can't see a thing), so they could show me oil from that old barrel over there maybe, I don't know..... The automatic transmission is shifting sluggishly, so I ask them to change that. I'm Lucky There's a Special That Includes An Oil Change And Transmission Flush! (for $148, saves me $20) And they show me my dirty transmission fluid. And make me sign a waiver that exempts them from any damages that may incur while changing said fluid. Soon they show me the clean oil (where did that come from?). All the while I'm watching a video outside my window that loops a couple dozen times through a bit about how I can TRUST them with all my maintenance needs. There are services in the brochure on my lap that cost over $400! They want to change my wiper blades for $40 (I just did that two weeks prior for $14) They check my tires (I just did that, too). I refrain from asking them if they want to check my drawers. I was going to ask the garage down the street for their price too, but I never made it there (there's only two places here in Newport that advertise oil changes).
I think I'll just go back to changing my own oil. I can wash my own windows, too.

The cost added service plan is obviously designed to replace the service you once had at your corner gas station. But I remember that station well. The family that owned it were my neighbors and I doubt they ever heard of a profit margin. In fact, it was those people who taught me to maintenance my own car with good advice that didn't cost a dime extra (I called the man, who was the father of one of my friends, every night for two weeks while I rebuilt my first engine). I doubt that the quick oil change place will miss me, but I will not pay someone to wash my window (it's usually clean anyway!)
As I said, I designed that facility while working as an architect in a pricey office, so I know the reputation of the owner. He's a big hearted man who no doubt means well. He's also a business man who has a sharp eye for the dollar, which as it turns out means I can't trust him as he might wish. To be fair I didn't much trust the architects he hired to design his facility (what a quandary you say "weren't you one of them?") but that's a story for another day. Give me a community where people help each other and the bottom line falls off the page.


sailmaker said...

Hi Michael, Could there be some link between oil changes and "Mistral's" new sail? Well, I think not, but I did find you.
I followed up after our meeting and have been sitting on some information for you for some time now. Give me a call. The phone number I have for you is obsolete.
It is cold valley fog here in Eugene today. I hope the sun is shining on you. I spoke to a halibut fisherman in Coos Bay today and it sounded lovely there.
Best to you
-Lynne Fabricant from Sailmakers Art

Unknown said...

Hi Michael, almost exactly ten years ago I worked at Steen's Master Lube in Newport, over by Road and Driveway (at least that's what they were called ten years ago). I worked there shortly after they opened; it is still one of the best jobs I've ever had. Fair people, fair prices, good service.

doryman said...

I hope you were amused by that post. I had to make a joke of it, because those folks made me so pissed, I could have torched the place. They were Sooo "just get in line sir" I will never have anyone change my oil again. That was my first time. Call me a Luddite, I don't care. The 21st century isn't shaping up too well for this old Oregon born and bred. Simple and straight as an arrow is best for me!

No more Bull!

doryman said...

Hi Lynne!
I've been meaning to call you, but I'm under the influence of Saturn.
There's a link between all things, praise be.
I would love to know what you've in your file. But I must confess the
economic crisis has me in irons. I think I can't afford my sail, but
on the other hand, it will never be more affordable. The sun is indeed
shining. I am often reminded of 1969 when I was 16. (Is that