(Following is an email sent to Northside after the experience, to which there has been no response.)
I would like to recap and share some feedback on my recent experience at Northside Toyota for an oil change on 11/10. In the weeks prior to that date, I received several calls from various Northside employees (none of whom left a name) soliciting my business for an oil change, having been a past customer with my phone number and car information saved in your files. Everyone who called seemed entirely unaware that I had received other calls already. I told each one that I was planning on an oil change soon but had not decided where to go. One employee offered to email coupons for an oil change service but never did. Another time after hanging up I received a confirmation email for an appointment that I had never scheduled on a date that I had never discussed. I replied to the email to cancel it, but was called again days later by yet another employee to confirm the appointment, which, again, I had never scheduled in the first place.
Eventually, after yet another call, I did decide to come in for an oil change. The last employee with whom I spoke offered a coupon for a full oil change at $39.95 and scheduled me promptly for that Saturday at 1 pm.
Upon arrival, I was checked in relatively quickly and courteously under the time and confirmation that I had received via email. It was then discovered that my car had a recall that would require up to 1.5 hours in addition to the hour planned for the oil change. I had not expected this additional wait time, but still decided to stay in the lobby while this work was completed (anticipated up to 2.5 hours, completion time of 3:30).
At close to 4:30, a full hour thereafter, I was still waiting and no one had updated me about its status. I approached the service window and saw my car parked near the receiving doors, apparently complete. The original service representative who checked me in noticed that I was looking around and approached me to discuss. From what I could gather in the ensuing exchange with other employees, someone else who evidently should have updated me was too swamped and had not had the time to tell me that my car had been ready for up to 30 minutes. It also emerged that the 1.5 hour recall work had not even been performed (no current available fix, I believe, was the reason given), so a 1 hour oil change ended up taking more than 3.
My primary service representative was apologetic, offering a $10 discount in acknowledgment of my patience and emphasizing how busy a day they were having. I understand how this can go and appreciated the gesture. However, upon checking out I was given a bill for upwards of $50, so asked for the figures to be reviewed. I had been charged the full amount before the $10 discount was applied, instead of the $39.95 initial quote I’d been pitched over the phone. The service technician (and a manager?) reviewed the documents and said they were not aware of the $39.95 coupon I’d been given, despite it having been included clearly in my confirmation email. I was told that that rate usually was not available for synthetic oil changes, which I can understand, but my car’s make and existing service history with Northside were known to everyone who called me to solicit business, so I don’t know why that information would have been missed. At this point the additional $10 discount offer was withdrawn, since at that point the work would have been ‘done more or less for free.’ Unless, as one employee told another, he’d like to give me $10 from his own pocket to cover it, but then quickly clarified that as a joke. I was not especially in the mood for jokes at that time, so just paid and left.
I would here like to emphasize that my interactions with employees were all courteous, if not always actively aware of the situation. I have no complaints about the disposition of the employees and completely understand that some days can be hectic and certain thing fall through the cracks. Once the problems became apparent everyone was apologetic and candid.
Still, enough things went wrong during this visit that I feel compelled to share the detailed feedback, as I am now doubtful that I will recommend Northside to others or return for service myself. As several friends have told me since, I could have gone to Jiffy Lube for a comparable expenditure, a third of the time, and left with a cleaner car to boot.
I hope my dissatisfaction does not come across as unreasonable. I know that Northside has expanded massively in recent months, having been a customer at the prior facility, and hope that the growing pains can be worked out. Unfortunately some of that pain was mine recently, and as matters stand now I will likely not return until these issues have been resolved.