WEST SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS -- My car, Toyota Avalon 1999, required the 60,000 miles service. I called a number of Toyota dealerships in my area to find the best price. The average price quote I was given for the service was $450. However, 'Balise Toyota' (1399 Riverdale Street, West Springfield) representative **, quoted the 60,000 miles service at $380. Though the dealership is located about 55 miles from my home, I decided it was worth the $70 price difference to service my car there. I made an appointment and came to the service station on Saturday, 04/17/04, at 10:30 am.
A service representative (a male in his 30's) told me the service price is $655. After I expressed astonishment at the number, he told me the quote I was given didn't include platinum spark plugs replacement, which adds about $160 to the service. I asked whether the platinum spark replacement is in the Toyota maintenance schedule for the 60000 service and did not receive any response. I repeated the same question two more times and still didn't receive a straight answer. When I asked why they lie on the phone about the service price, he told me the 'quote was given by a cashier who is not quite competent in the repair issues.'
Needless to say, I left the dealership immediately. I wouldn't leave my car at a place where the cheating starts before a customer enters the door. When I came home, I found: Platinum spark replacement not only is recommended by Toyota manual for 60000 Avalon service, it is actually required in terms of Emission Control Warranty. Three Toyota service stations I called asking whether their 60000 service quote includes platinum spark replacement answered positively. All three of them assured me they follow exactly Toyota's service recommendation list, and their price quotes reflect this.
I was outraged by this incident. I spent two hours of my time driving to the dealership and back, $12 for gas and tolls to find out I was plainly cheated. I have 3 cars in my family. Two Toyotas and one Acura. After each Acura
Service we receive a phone call asking us to rate the service. As one can expect, the Acura service is always excellent. I knew Toyota generally offers much lower lever of service, though I didn't expect a Toyota licensed service station to lie and overcharge so blatantly.
When I choose a garage to service my car, I always followed the car manufacturer recommendations. My impression was that a service station with the 'Toyota' name should follow some service standards. The conclusions I made after this experience: In fact, they do not follow any standards. Why not serve your car at an independent garage? At the very least it's cheaper. Why buy Toyota? If you pay a little more, you'll have real service.