Ramming It

The good news is I’ve calmed down a bit.  The bad news is I’m still torqued (or maybe the word is shocked) over a recent service experience with my Ram 1500.  Let’s step back a tad shall we?  A couple of weeks ago, my garage was in disarray due to the all the projects that were in flight at the time.  This resulted in the need to keep the truck outside and for some reason it was not driven for a couple of days.  When it came time to move it into the garage, I noticed there was a grease spot left under the right (passenger side) of the engine.  An audible groan quickly made its way out.  A closer inspection identified it was a greasy substance.  Based on a quick inspection under the truck, it looked like it was coming from the passenger side shock.  It was time for an oil change anyway, so scheduled an appointment at a local Dodge dealer.  For those loyal followers out there, this particular Dodge is owned by the same person who owns the BMW dealership – Dun Dun Duuuuun.  The only other option was to take it to a dealership 50-60 minutes away.

I had to drop it off the day before due to other commitments.  While checking in, the service rep starts by writing some numbers down (year, VIN, etc.) and then proceeds to walk all around the car.  Back in the office, he takes his piece of paper and starts entering the data into the computer.  The guy still hasn’t said anything to me so I decide to break the silence and request that someone call me with an estimate before addressing the leak.  He acknowledges that and continues typing.  My patience level was starting to strain.  Giving my best Bender (BClub) effort, I tried to hold back, but eventually blurted out “Do you have my cell number?”  I received the following response “I’ll get it, I’m not there yet”  I almost lost it and told the dude to hurry the f* up I have better things to do than stand hear and listen to you finger peck, but the inner voice won out (and probably for the best).  Eventually he found all those tricky letters on the keyboard, entered my contact numbers and printed out some papers for me to sign.  But first, he circles the license plate on a vehicle diagram in a section of the papers and then gives me a pen to sign.  Concerned, I interrogated him as to the reason behind that marking.  “Oh, there were holes there and we don’t want you thinking we were shooting at your truck”  WHAT?  there are no holes in my truck – there are two cut outs in the plate holder area, but those were factor installed.  Bored of the whole experience I waved it off, signed the sheet and left.

Okay, so now it is the next day around 12:30pm.  The cell phone rings and sure enough, it is the finger pecker.  The diagnosis was my right front strut was leaking.  I asked him how much to fix and I hear the price of $120.  He followed up with the mechanic recommends replacing both at the same time to keep the balance right.   I was also in luck because they had the parts in stock.  I then asked him if the price he quoted me was for each or both.  Again I think I heard both but figured he meant both parts and labor for one was $120 (and not both strut replacements were a total of $120).  Lastly I verified that it was actually struts they were changing because it sure looked like shocks to me.  Struts it was and I gave the agreement to proceed.  A decision I’ve been kicking myself for ever since.

Around 4:30 we showed up at the dealership to retrieve the truck.  It was not ready so I took a seat in the waiting room for a very bearable 10 or so minutes.  The same service rep comes up and tells me it is all done, the oil, tire rotation and the two struts replaces.  Cha-ching went the inner voice.  He handed it to the clerk, thanked me and walked away (oddly somewhat faster than expected).  Out came the Discover card and started to hand it to the lady when all of a sudden the TOTAL line enters my view.  Any guesses what that little box had in it?  anyone?  Obviously I do not know what you said, but with confidence I’ll say you are WAAAAAY to low.  Try this on for size over $977.  That’s right folks, nearly a grand to get my truck back – oh, key piece of information – get my truck back that had only 46K miles on it.  Ever have a rage moment?  I politely asked the clerk if I could take the papers back to the service rep and hurried off.  I asked him if the price is right because I heard him say it was going to be $120 on the phone.  He denies he says that and claims he told me was $200 each for labor and over $200 each for the parts.   I’ve tried and tried to put those numbers together and see if any of it sounds like $120 with absolutely no luck.  With no evidence to back my position, the only option was to pay it and shop around to see if they pulled one over on me or not.  To their credit, the truck did ride better… not a “grand” better, but better.

I did end up calling the other Dodge dealer.  They did confirm there were struts on the front of that particular vehicle but his final quote came to $600 range.  Guessing their labor was cheaper so next issue that comes along I’ll take it to them or Midas.  I should probably clarify that a tad – if I keep this truck long enough to have another issue I’ll make the extra effort to drive it out to them.  I think my days with Dodge have come to their end.  Speaking of end, I did feel obligated to change their logo a tad.

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