Wal-Mart seems to be one of those companies you either love or hate. They are the capitalism success story, competing in various markets and rising to the top of quite a few of them. In the process, many smaller businesses have folded, and even large corporations that have been around for a long time have found it difficult to compete.
Naturally when you go to Wal-Mart, you tend to look for everyday items, things that practically anyone would carry. And if you’re at a Wal-Mart Supercenter, why not drop by for some basic maintenance on your car as well?
This morning (May 21), I arrived at my local Wal-Mart Supercenter at about 8:30am to have the oil changed on my car — a 2007 Kia Spectra EX. Now I will admit that when it comes to routine maintenance on my car, I’m horrible about keeping up with it. So horrible in fact that I hadn’t realized that my oil levels were a half-quart low, but given the car was about… oh… 5,000 overdue for an oil change, that’s to be expected.
So when I took the car in this morning, I wanted an oil in the car that would be guaranteed for a long time, not the typical 3 month/3,000 mile routine. So I was intrigued to discover earlier this week the Mobil 1 Extended Performance oil, which is guaranteed for 12 months/15,000 miles. Plus it’s a full synthetic oil, which I hear is better for your engine anyway.
Seems like the perfect oil for my tastes. It’s a little more expensive on the shelf, and the oil change at Wal-Mart would be at their highest price as well of $55 (compared to $30 for a standard oil change), but for oil that is guaranteed for 5x longer than is typical, why not? So I requested that oil: Mobil 1 Extended Performance.
When the car was done, I paid for the oil change along with a couple other things, got my key and went out to the parking lot. Now after you have your oil changed, they put a sticker in the windshield saying before what odometer reading or date you should have your next oil change. What they wrote down was 3,000 miles ahead of the current odometer.
That couldn’t be right, I thought. I pulled out the receipt and saw the listing for the oil: "Mobil 1 5W20 QT". That didn’t seem right, so I walked back into Wal-Mart (the car never left the parking lot) to their automotive department and scanned the Mobil 1 oils on the shelf. The "QT" is the standard Mobil 1 oil — i.e. the 3 month/3,000 mile oil, not the 12 month/15,000 mile oil I requested.
Noticing the mistake, I walked back up to the service counter and informed them of the error, that the oil they put in my car was not the oil I had requested. At $55 (plus tax) for the oil change, I was not leaving that store without the oil I requested in my car. To remedy the situation, they brought my car back into the automotive bay and drained the oil again, this time replacing it with the correct oil.
Thankfully they didn’t charge me for the second oil change as the blame was mostly on them for not entering the right oil into the system, and partly mine for not confirming the selected oil. But even though it was an hour out of my morning wasted, at least it wasn’t an hour that cost me another $55 (plus tax).
Thankfully my boss was understanding when I got to work this morning a lot later than anticipated.
I also found a nifty little iPhone app to help keep up with the maintenance of the car, along with tracking fuel economy and odometer readings, called Vehicle Logbook. It seems to be a decent application, despite the poor reviews it’s received thus far on the app store.