Consumer Beware: An Oil Change At Jiffy Lube Shouldn’t Break The Bank…Or Your Car!

You need to read this post if…

  • You own a car.
  • You plan to get an oil change at Jiffy Lube.
  • You are "clueless" about regular maintenance your car needs.
  • You agree deceitful business practices should be reported.

check engine light

Photo Credit: © Christian Delbert #9774363

Consumer Beware: An Oil Change At Jiffy Lube Shouldn't Break The Bank…Or Your Car!

 

I have a love/hate relationship with my car. I love to drive it, but hate anything related to the upkeep. This feeling is not because I don't care to ensure it continues to run well. It is honestly because I never took the time to learn the mechanics of it. It is also because my husband always dealt with "that stuff". Then, we separated and I was on my own.

Clueless.

After my experience at Jiffy Lube last week and thanks to some great advice from friends, I have made it a priority to educate myself on what my car needs. I knew it was due for an oil change. The sticker from the last place my ex took it to said I should get another one in December 2012. OOPS! In my defense, the sticker also shows "or X number of miles". According to my odometer, I still had 900 miles to go. 

I am so confused!

My Visit to Jiffy Lube

 

On Friday, May 10, 2013, I pulled around to the back of the service station. The weather was gloomy and my mood matched it perfectly. Getting my oil changed was the last thing I wanted to be doing at that moment…or ever.

I was sitting in my car while I waited for my turn. I watched the service technicians work on two other cars. If any of the customers there had the "deer in headlights" look, it was definitely me. They knew it too. I was also convinced this is what they saw when they looked at me:

money target I am a woman, afterall. Taking advantage of clueless women is what places like Jiffy Lube do, right?

Wrong. Sort of.

As it turns out, they do not discriminate against the sexes. Male or female, you must be aware of what they are doing (or NOT doing) to your car. If not, you will walk out having paid WAY more than you should have or worse!

Side Note: I recommend checking out this investigative report done by NBC4 in Los Angeles just three days ago. You may or may not be shocked. I was livid! Some of the things that happened to the (male) reporter in California, happened to me here in Illinois!

The plan was to get their "Signature Service® Oil Change". Three HUGE signs on the front of their building advertised the price as $24.99. Simple, right?

Wrong.

One of the technicians let me know it was my turn and asked if I wanted to drive my car in or have him do it. I jumped out and practically ran to the office. Silly me assumed I was going to pay right away and I'd be out "in a jiffy". Not quite.

I was told to have a seat and the technician would be right with me. Then, the one in the office started chatting with me. He pointed out how nervous I looked and told me not to worry, they would take good care of me. I now refer to this as "tag teaming" He distracted me long enough to take my eyes off my car. I have no clue what, if anything, was done.

The technician working on my car was finally ready to let me know what "needed" to be replaced (enter sales pitch here). A $25 oil change very quickly turned into $100+ of things I didn't need OR could have gottten a lot cheaper elsewhere.

My gut was screaming "NOOOOOOOO!!!" However, when I opened my mouth, the words "fine, whatever" came out. At that point, I just wanted to hide. I was thinking about rent for next month. I was wondering how I was going to buy gas for my car (ugh!), pay my electric bill, etc. Basically, I was freaking out.

Breaking Down My Invoice

 

Oil Change $39.99. When I saw the technician add this price to the invoice, I looked at the sign. He noticed and said "Oh, don't worry. I'll give it to you for the $24.99."

High Mileage Oil Upgrade (not necessary) $19.99. The technician said it was "highly recommended" I get it because my car has (you guessed it) high mileage. BUT, he also showed me the oil cap and said that sludge I was looking at meant my engine was dirty. He informed me I could kill two birds with one stone, skip the engine flush, and get the oil upgrade instead.

Air Filter $27.99

Cabin Air Filter $44.99

Package Credit ($29.94)

Total (with tax) came to $107.14

OUCH!!!

Regarding the filters listed above: he showed me two dirty ones while spewing reasons why I needed to replace them. But, all I could think of was "how do I know these really came out of MY car?". Again, I didn't listen to my gut and kept my mouth shut.

They also tested my battery. Of course, it "failed" and they recommended I replace it. I refused and am now planning to have it tested elsewhere.

What Happened Next

 

When I posted what happened on my Facebook timeline, a few of my friends said "your first mistake was going to Jiffy Lube".

NOW you tell me?!?!

I also posted on Jiffy Lube's Facebook page, tweeted them, private chat with friends and family, blogger groups I am in, etc.

The Admin for JL's Facebook page commented on my post and asked me to private message them my contact information. I did and was told someone would follow up before the end of the day. They did. Then, I was told someone from the store would be in touch.

I received a phone call a couple of days later from the store manager. He apologized and said he didn't want me to get the impression they are in business to deceive people. He agreed I could have purchased the filters a lot cheaper elsewhere and said, "but when people come to Jiffy Lube, they are paying for the convenience". Seriously?!

He offered to refund my money if I came back to the store on Thursday. I showed up and he tried to make small talk with me. I asked him, as politely as possible, to please hurry because I had my three children with me. I let him know he did not need to give me a full refund because I went there for an oil change and expected to pay $24.99 for it. He processed a credit to my account for the difference.

I will never go back to Jiffy Lube again.

How You Can Prevent This From Happening To You

 

1. Ask for referrals before you go anywhere! Find out if your friends and family use a mechanic they really like. Chances are, not only will the price be fair, but the service will be better.

2. Go to the dealer! In some cases, taking your car back where you bought it or where they sell the same make/model, you can get a better price or even free if you stay on schedule.

3. Get a second opinion! If the technician says you need hundreds of dollars in repairs, do not agree to them. Stand your ground and say "just the oil change". You can even opt to have them do nothing and go somewhere else for the oil change too.

4. Do it yourself or ask someone you know! If you have access to the internet and know more about cars than just how to put gas in it, you can find video tutorials on how to change your oil. Don't forget to print coupons for the oil.

5. Know your car! Your owner's manual exists for a reason. Read it. You can also research the information online. Be an educated consumer. My friend, Shawna, learned her lessson the hard way. "The last time I visited a Jiffy Lube was about 14 years ago. They didn't replace the transmission fluid they drained. My transmission started slipping about an hour and a half into a 230-mile road trip for my great-grandfather's funeral.That was the last time I trusted anyone with my vehicle. Education is your best weapon. Read up on your vehicle and have someone teach you how to check everything. That way you're better prepared the next time you have to take your car in for work."

6. Pay attention! Try not to take your eyes off your car. Make sure you can see what they remove, replace, and peform the job you are paying them to do. Nothing more, nothing less.

7. When in doubt, leave it out. If it sounds too good to be true, you're probably right. Also, if you get easily overwhelmed over your car's maintenance needs, don't let them pressure you into saying "yes". Just say "No".

8. Look for a deal! A simple oil change shouldn't cost more than $30. I have even heard they can be as low as $20. 

9. Play "the husband card" (even if you don't have one)! My neighbor told me the same thing happened to his wife. His advice "next time simply say something like 'I need to talk to my husband about this first.' They probably won't push after that".

10. Bring a man with you. If you really don't want to go alone, I definitely agree with my friend, Becky, on this one. I will also add you should choose that man wisely. Ideally, he should know more about cars than you do.

I would love to hear from you! Were any of these tips helpful? Did I miss any you would like to add?

Comments

  1. I am so sorry to hear that! My fiance knows more about cars than me, but he's a sucker for upselling anyway. I get oil changes for $16 and it's drive through so I can sit and do my nails in my car while I wait. I am glad they gave you your money back. It pays to throw a fit, am I right?

    • MatterofCents says:

      Thanks for your comment, Shary. $16 is awesome for an oil change! I am going to see if I can find a place that does them for that cheap. Sometimes throwing a fit helps, but it didn’t with Target when I tried to redeem some freebie coupons I got through House Party. Maybe I should write a post about that too and see what happens. 😉  Have a great weekend.

  2. Have you gotten your battery checked? Also if you are worried see about getting the filters checked. They should be easy to tell if they were replaced. 

    • MatterofCents says:

      Hi, Laura! Thanks for asking. I haven’t gotten my battery checked yet. I will definitely have them look at the filters and something tells me I should probably make sure they actually put oil in too.

  3. Ok, first, go to Advanced Auto or something like that. They check your battery for free right in front of you. I went there and the guy was awesome. He showed me the numbers on the little machine thingy. He said my battery's charge was slightly low, but nothing even close to significant enough to require replacing it.

    I've had issues with several major car mechanic chains. Midas once told me I had to pay $560 to fix a broken exhaust pipe. They said $100 of that was in case they broke the 02 sensor, which I would have to pay to replace. Um, I have to pay to fix your mistake? I left crying and took my car to a smaller mechanic. I went to him and told him that I was basically broke, and how much Midas wanted. He gave me two options. One cost $90. The other $125, and that was for the same exact thing Midas wanted to do. I left paying $125 total including my inspection. Lesson I learned: go to smaller mechanics.

    It is so freaking sad that we have to take a man with us! Now I take my boyfriend, but I shouldn't have to worry about being taken advantage of because I don't know cars! I would never, ever take advantage of someone because they don't understand something that I know very well. Why is it acceptable in the car fixing world?

    • MatterofCents says:

      Thank you for all of your suggestions and sharing your story! I always appreciate your input, Nicole. I agree needing to take a man “just” so we don’t get taken advantage of is wrong. In addition to this blog, I am also in direct sales and would never ever lie to my customers just to get a sale. I would rather gain their trust and subsequently their loyalty by being honest, than a few dollars and never hear from them again. Someday, maybe companies like Jiffy Lube and Midas will understand what their priorities should be.

  4. I have to disagree with your point #8- many newer cars require synthetic oil, and therefore, an oil change can easily cost more than $30. Some cars also require more oil than others, another reason for a more expensive oil change. However, this all goes back to KNOW YOUR CAR. 

     

    If a dealer/repair shop wants you to replace parts, ask to see your old parts and/or keep them (most places require a signature on a work order that WILL have a box for you to check off what you want done with your old parts – READ before you sign!)

     

    Another tip- before you have your oil changed, mark your oil filter. Put a big ol' smiley face on it, or your initials, or an 'x'. Ask to see YOUR filter when they are done OR see if YOUR filter is still on your car by looking at it yourself. You can also do this with other filters (air, fuel, cabin). These are easy selling points for shops-and you are likely to give in, cuz you're already there. 

     

    *BTW-I am a female that works in the parts dept. of a car dealer. 

    • MatterofCents says:

      Thank you so much for your feedback and the clarification on oil change pricing for newer vehicles. My car is a 2003 with over 125K miles. Another friend of mine told me one reason I would need the oil upgrade is if I drive a sports car. I don’t. This has definitely been a learning experience for me. Have a great weekend. 🙂

  5. That is why we NEVER go to Jiffy Lube! They usually higher high schoolers, or kids right out of high school that don't have a lot of experience. 

    Not sure where all they are located, but our favorite "quick" oil change shop is Oil Can Henry's!

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