Before I bought my Chevrolet Cruze last year, I hadn't visited a new-car dealership's service department for an oil change in about a decade. It might be another decade before I go back.
You'd think that finding a Chevy dealership here in Detroit to change the oil in my Cruze would be simple and hassle-free. You'd be wrong.
For my first attempt, I went online to schedule an appointment at a Chevrolet store close to work. Easy and quick.
But when I showed up a few minutes before my 1:30 appointment on a Tuesday afternoon — figuring the service adviser would need the extra time to enter my personal information and the car's vehicle identification number in the department's system — I got an unpleasant surprise.
The adviser looked at his computer screen, said the dealership had no record of my appointment or information, and told me the oil change couldn't be done that day. He said the store was switching to a new data management system, and that could have caused the glitch.
As I headed home from work four hours later, a customer service representative from the dealership called and asked whether I was satisfied with the oil change.
I tried to book online appointments at two other Chevy stores close to home. On my home computer, an Apple MacBook, I visited the website of one of the dealerships. Its service calendar showed no available times for at least a month.
The next day at work, I tried again on a personal computer. I found plenty of appointment times.
The other dealership also showed no available times online. When I called, I was told I could bring my car in that day at 3:15 p.m. — if I was prepared to wait at least an hour and 15 minutes for the oil change.
I called another Chevrolet store near work and asked whether I could drop off my car before closing time. No problem, I was told.
But when I pulled into the service drive, no one met me. I walked inside and found one person working the service desk, juggling about five jobs. Phones were ringing, techs were waiting with repair orders, and the service adviser was nowhere to be found.
About 10 minutes later, I got a form to fill out. I handed over my keys and caught a ride back to work with a colleague.
When I picked up my car that afternoon, I noticed that the Cruze's information screen was set to show the amount of air in the tires — part of the safety inspection.
Yet the right rear tire was low and no one had bothered to top it off. Feeling annoyed, I did that myself later.