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Service department giveth; service department taketh away

My colleague Donna Harris wrote last week about how a dealership had won her sister's loyalty by going above and beyond in the service department. It's great that her sister found a gem of a dealership.

But what the service department gives -- in this case, the promise of future business -- it can also take away.

I was reminded of this after checking my Facebook account a couple of weeks ago. A friend posted that he had taken his wife's Mazda in that morning to be serviced for a warranty brake issue.

While he was there, the adviser tried to upsell him a $600 30,000-mile “dealer-recommended” procedure that involved lots of flushing, refilling and adding of so-called protectants. My friend checked the owner's manual and found all it recommended is an oil change.

His take: “You should be able to have service writers flogged when they try to steal from you.”

What happened next should be instructive to all dealers and service managers. Several other people quickly chimed in, many with their own stories of being taken advantage of at dealership service shops. At least one gave the dealership's name and said he would never go back to any of that retailer's stores for service or to buy a vehicle. Most of these people work in the auto industry. They're not na´ve about vehicle maintenance, and they're not out to bad-mouth dealers.

My friend, the original poster, has 435 Facebook friends -- a lot more people than would have heard about the dealership's bad behavior in the old days before social media networks. Now that's something to think about.

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