Upselling – Pressure or Pleasure?

I enjoy seeing a sales professional, a true professional – one who helps make a good decision easy, at work. I’ve always hated the traditional stereotype of a ‘close at any cost’ sales person and they are, thankfully, a rare commodity these days. Well, except when they are not sales people at all……

Last week I took my car in for a 35,000 mile service. Although the service was a moderate item I was prepared for a large bill as new brake pads were needed, and a troubling misfire needed fixing. I asked about the special price on the pads and they confirmed it.

I book the car in at 7AM, I tell them that the pads need replacing and about the misfire. The service and the pads should be trivial, the misfire maybe, maybe not. I expect them to get on and do all they can. At 1:30PM they call me to tell me the pads need replacing. ‘I know, I mentioned that when I brought it in.’ Do you want them replaced?’. I bite my tongue – Barbara is training me to ride with the ‘foolish questions’. ‘Yes please’.

‘Do you want the rotors surfaced?’ ‘I wouldn’t expect that to be necessary, at 35,000 with the pads replaced early.’ “We REALLY recommend that you do it’. ”How much is that?“ ”About $600“.

I decline! ”We will have to note on your invoice that we recommended it.“ Now they are pissing me off. I insist that if it isn’t necessary it can wait till next pad replacement.

When I pick up my car, there is no note on the invoice, so was it an empty threat to upsell me, or are they simply inefficient? I note that that they can’t find a fault on the misfire, but they replaced the engine management software anyway, $120! I’m told their hourly rate is $120.

I pull away from the kerb and note the misfire. I decide I’ve had enough for one day and will live with it for now. My car is low mileage, as I travel a lot but not by car. However, with my new consultant hat on, I’m involved in a Silicon Valley startup – no money but LOTS of fun (really!) – which puts about 150 miles a day on my car. On the way back – up a long hill – the engine light comes on.

To say I’m hacked off would be an understatement! They can’t fix a consistent and repeatable problem, but they can take the easy route on aggressive upselling of a non-essential item. And we spend time wondering why the Detroit Three (they are not the big three anymore, I hear) are losing share and customer loyalty.

I drive a Ford, by the way……..

{Customer Service, WOM}

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