Monday, October 24, 2005

Sears Auto Center worse than we thought!

Last week I mentioned how Alana took the car to Sears Auto Center on Sunday to get the oil changed only to find that the car was leaking oil. This is the third time one of our cars leaked oil after a Sears oil change, as I mentioned last week. Well, Sears Auto Center in Monroe really managed to show off its incompetence last week.

Alana took the car back to Sears last Monday to get the leak checked out. They hadn't sealed something properly, either the cap for filling the oil or the plug in the oil pan. I can't remember if Alana said which. She was not happy taking time off Monday morning to get this done, but she had a trip to Alexandria planned for Thursday for work and didn't want to be driving with a leaking car. They did not offer to pay for her time or anything, even though it was their fault.

Monday night Alana discovered that there was still a little bit of oil leaking, but it was not an awful lot. Furious, she went up to Sears Tuesday after work. The guy hoisted the car up and showed her the problem. Oily fluid was all over the engine. He pointed out that it wasn't near the plug in the oil pan. Instead, he said it was over by the transmission. He pointed to a "seam" in the transmission and stated that they didn't come from the factory that way. Someone had done work on the transmission of our car, which freaked us out since we bought it with only 197 miles on it (and it was driven to Monroe from a dealership in Little Rock). The grease monkey told us to take it to the dealer to get sorted out. I was on the phone with Alana at the time, and we were seriously upset about the possibility of being the victims of fraud. Alana was additionally angry because she would have to get this all sorted out before her trip. The dealership is in Ruston, about 30 miles away. She would have to take off work the next day in order to get this problem seen to. We weren't looking forward to a fight with the dealership, either.

The next morning Alana had the car checked at the dealership. They discovered that the fluid the grease monkey at Sears said was transmission fluid was actually engine oil. The oil had not come from a leak, but had splashed around the engine compartment. It could only have been splashed if the car had been started with the oil cap not in place. Further, there was nothing wrong with the transmission. Whatever "seam" the grease monkey saw was a normal part of the transmission. Hmm... trust Toyota or trust Sears? No difficulty in choosing there! Since there was nothing wrong with the car, they charged us $40 for the inspection.

Alana drove back to Sears. She asked to see the manager. He wasn't in, yet. She waited. After a while he still hadn't come in, so she cornered the assistant manager again. She said that they had better get the manager in right away. She explained that at the moment she was looking to have the oil change and the $40 service charge from Toyota reimbursed by Sears. If she did not receive immediate satisfaction she would also be looking for the cost of the gas out to Ruston, time missed from work, and court costs, because she was most certainly going to take it to court. They got the regional manager on the phone and he authorized the reimbursement of the oil change and the $40 service fee.

It's ridiculous that a national chain, who presumably pays their mechanics more than minimum wage, is less able to change the oil on a car than the local "speedy lube" places with their part time high school and college employees. I mean, it's an oil change! It's not rocket science. Needless to say we will not be going back to Sears.

Oh, and Alana figured out how to turn off the maintenance light after the oil change. You have to press the odometer reset button a number of times in order to reset the light. She found the sequence on the internet.

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