Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Tale of the $101 Gas Cap

I've spent the better part of my 44 year old life building brands. Two of those years, 1994-1996, the brand I was building was Lexus.

I can tell you from experience, they spent yen up the ying yang to convince America, and the world, that Japanese engineering was equal to or better than the engineering coming out of Germany. And they have succeeded.

In 2003 I purchased the boaty LS 400, a fancy man's car. A luxury vehicle that took the edge off my 106 mile daily commute from Culver City to Irvine. I was so in love with that model (and the brand) that years later I traded it in for the LS 460, a more performance oriented vehicle.

I still love the car.
The brand, not so much.
And this is why huge multi-billion dollar corporations find themselves on the short end of the customer loyalty stick.

I went to Jim Falk Lexus in Beverly Hills, where I had been (note the past tense) servicing my LS for years. The call from the service technician was par for the course. Some ungodly amount for the most minor of services that had I spent more time in Shop Class I could've been doing myself. But they give you a loaner car and it makes the whole ordeal more convenient.

Then Part II of the conversation. In addition to the normal service they found some other items that needed repair. Of course they did, I know from years of experience, that's to be expected.

But Part III of the conversation was not.

SERVICE TECH: "Also, there's no gas cap."

ME: "How much for the gas cap?"

SERVICE TECH: "A hundred dollars and sixty five cents. Without tax."

You might think I'm exaggerating because I've been known to do that, but if the judge will allow, I'd like to present Exhibit A.

Exhibit A

By the way, there is no exhibit B or C or even D. Because as Jaime the Service technician was itemizing the $4000 plus in repairs, I was already scanning through the catalogue at Pep Boys where I found a gas cap replacement for $5.62. 

That's a 2000% mark up!

So concludes my patronage at Jim Falk Lexus. Or any other Lexus "stealership" for that matter. Because we're done. 

And this is where the short sightedness of greedy corporations comes in. Because the loaner car given to my wife was a sporty NX Crossover, which she thoroughly enjoyed driving while the technicians at Jim Falk Lexus were figuring out how to drain the Siegel Stay-Out-Of-A-Dirty-Nursing-Home-Savings-Account.

With a little cajoling on her part and a promise to trim my ear and shoulder hair, I might have considered trading in the LS 460 for a brand new NX. But any inclination I might have had to make such a big purchase is gone. 

Much like my original gas cap.

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