Once upon a time, warranty work was a low-margin necessity for a dealership's service department. It hardly paid enough to cover the mechanic's, er, technician's time.
Some service managers refused to do warranty work on vehicles not purchased at that dealership -- or, if they couldn't get away with that, they at least made it so difficult for a noncustomer to get an appointment for warranty work that the poor hapless consumer went elsewhere.
Boy, have times changed.
Now some dealers are trolling for warranty work beyond their own customer bases. Well, let's be honest: They're trolling for parts and service upsale opportunities.
The other day I got a direct-mail flier from a dealership in a neighboring community. I was curious when I saw the envelope because I don't own that dealership's brand, though I do own a car from a sister brand.
The flier was set up like an urgent letter from the service manager.
There was a big box in the upper right-hand corner proclaiming the dealership as "RECALL HEADQUARTERS" for all that factory's brands.
In big, red doomsday type, the headline shouted "RECALL NOTICE." (That's a lie. I know what a recall notice looks like. I also know they come from the factory, not dealers. Legitimate recall notices always identify the vehicle by VIN and say why the vehicle is being recalled.)
Here's what it said (with some of my own observations thrown in):
"Dear Edward Lapham,
"According to our records, your vehicle may have major Recalls. (That's a lie. The dealership has no records about me or my vehicle and it turns out they don't even know what I own. I called the dealership's service department and checked. The dealership must have bought a list.)
"The completions (sic) of these Recalls' (sic) are very important, to you and the safety of your family. (If there were any outstanding recalls, which there aren't, this would be true -- but sappy. They're trying to scare me.)
"Give us the opportunity to look over your vehicle at NO CHARGE to you to determine if you fall into any of these Recalls.
"Please contact the service department for your appointment today "
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]