I recently took my car to Economy Lube, drawn in by their cheap oil change, and ended up spending $350 and having one of the worst experiences I have ever had with a car service shop. I believe the employees are extremely greedy and dishonest, and that the business practices of Economy Lube are extremely questionable. During my visit I was blatantly lied to at least twice. Here is what happened:
I took my car to Economy Lube for an oil change, and not 5 minutes after pulling my car in one of the employees came out with a piece of paper with two black oil stains on it and began berating me about how dirty the transmission fluid was and how my car was going to fail very soon. He then wrote down 6 different fluids on a piece of paper that he said I had to have changed, and wrote exuberant prices beside them (e.g. $150 for a transmission fluid change and flush). I said that it was a lot of money (the total was over $500 at this point), and that I would have to call someone who knew more about cars before getting anything done, at which point he offered to lower the prices of several of the items, throw in a free oil change, and proceeded to tell me that my car was not safe to drive and that I had to get these things done. I should have been smarter, but my car had not been serviced in a long time, and I just took his word at face value, which was a huge mistake.
As a note, the only reason he was able to lower the prices was because he's paid on commission - the original prices he offered were just the base prices economy lube offers with a very inflated commission for himself on top - also why he tried to convince me that I needed ALL of these things or my car would imminently break down.
I agreed to have everything done, and he told me that they could do it all in 15 minutes. The list included Transmission fluid flush and replacement, power steering flush and replacement, break fluid flush and replacement, coolant flush and replacement, and an oil change. 15 minutes seemed very short to me but I don't really know about these things so I assumed it could all get done. 15 minutes later I paid for the work ($350 all together) and pulled my car out. As a note, Economy Lube did not even bother to show me the new levels/colour of any of the fluids before letting me leave, which is what any reputable service shop should do.
However, that's only the beginning. I was feeling very unsettled about the whole experience, and it just didn't sit well with me that they could have done all this in 15 minutes. Once I got home, I called a friend who knows a lot more about cars and told him what I'd gotten done, and he said there was no way they could have done it all in 15 minutes (and that I had been grossly overcharged). I took my car to his place, and he checks the fluids for me. Now at this point, I'd just like to say that overcharging me and selling me things I don't need are bad enough, but Economy Lube charged me over $100 for a transmission fluid flush/replacement and DID NOT DO IT! My transmission fluid was still black, and the levels were still very low. This isn't just upselling or charging high prices, this is fraud. I'm not inclined to believe it was an honest mistake because 1) this was the most expensive item on my work order and 2) they told me ahead of time that everything would only take 15 minutes. I believe they just didn't do it and hoped that I was too incompetent to ever check. I went right back to Economy Lube and the guy who sold me all the fluid changes tried to feed me some bull about how "the fluid might be black, but it smelled new." I told him to change it for real this time or give me my money back, and they agreed to change it while I watched - not surprisingly it took a full half-hour this time.
However, even with the transmission fluid flushed/changed, I still did not feel comfortable with what Economy Lube did to my car. I took it to Canadian Tire the next day and asked them to check the other things that Economy Lube did. The licensed mechanic there agreed that Economy Lube could not have done everything in 15 minutes. In fact, he told me that they could not have even done a full brake fluid flush because they're not allowed to touch that part of the car without a licensed mechanic. He told me that for all the other fluids, coolant, powersteering, and brake, it looked like they had been sucked out and replaced, and that this did not constitute a full flush, which is what Economy Lube charged me for. Also, my coolant was leaking, and he showed me a bunch of pink residue inside my engine. He told me that Economy Lube had not put the clamp back on properly after replacing the fluid, and that this could have become a serious problem down the road. Finally, the Canadian Tire mechanic showed me my air filters, which were really dirty and needed to be changed. Interestingly enough, the technician at Economy Lube had told me that my filters were looking good, without bothering to check I guess.
I am extremely angry with how Economy Lube runs their business, and am amazed that they are allowed to stay open. I'm going to write an editorial for my university newspaper in September about my experience there, because I would like to prevent this from happening to anyone else, especially students who may not know a lot about cars and may not have a ton of money. Additionally, I would encourage anyone else who has been wronged by Economy Lube to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, as well as the Office of Consumer Affairs. To be frank, I think Economy Lube needs to be shut down, and that criminal charges need to be laid on some of the employees there for knowingly committing fraud against people who aren't knowledgeable about cars.
Bottom line, the Employees at Economy lube will overcharge you, sell you things you don't need by pressuring you into thinking your car will break down if you don't get them done, lie to you, and my personal favorites, charge you for work that was not even done and not clamp your coolant clamp on properly so that it leaks. I will never let them near my car again. Avoid this place at all costs. I made the mistake of going there for their $20 oil change, and it cost me $350 and ruined my entire long weekend.