I used to be the Customer Service Representative (CSR) at VIOC. I worked there for two years, from 2002 to 2004.
At first, I didn't mind my job. It wasn't commission, came with health benefits, and I got to talk to people and help educate them about their vehicle.
About a year and 3 or 4 months into my job, demands began increasing A LOT. Percentage of required vehicle services had to be tracked every week. Sales per vehicle increased by first $6, then $8, then $11, until every vehicle that came through our doors had to be sold at least $14.01 in products or services in addition to the oil change. Corporate determined that we were giving too many discounts to customers, so took away all the codes in the computer that allowed us to give discounts. Meetings were held with the Area Manager once a month (at the minimum) to determine who was doing the best. Once the requirements went up, our percentages went down, yet of the 8 stores in our area, we had one of the best sales records.
About six weeks before my two year anniversary, all CSRs had to attend a sales meeting--how to sell things to customers who don't want to buy them. I don't know about the rest of the country, but in 2003 Michigan's economy was slowing. No one wanted to spend more than necessary, and why should they spend $20 on an air filter they can get from the parts store for half the price, especially when it's only going to improve gas mileage enough to save a dollar a month? They're getting to return on their investment. So I and two other employees tried selling the expensive services to those who needed them (transmission and coolant flushes, belt replacement, etc.) and giving the oil change for free. It helped their vehicle stay on the road and it helped us keep our jobs.
Until the Area Manager found out at the sales meeting. Three weeks before my two years were in, she came to the store and fired me, the Assistant Manger (6 1/2 years experience) and the Senior Tech (3 years experience) for theft from the company. Giving product away without documenting a sale is theft, she said. I argued the other two employees' cases because I didn't want to be the one responsible for them being fired. I openly admitted that it was too difficult for me to meet the ridiculous expectations Corporate kept giving us. Other quick lubes were going out of business, or advertising for competitors coupons for a big discount. She said too bad, don't come in tomorrow. Go home. You're done.
I went home and filed for unemployment. VIOC fought it on grounds that I was stealing from them, so was not entitled. I spent hours on the phone, wrote numerous letters, and supported the other two employees' positions to help them get their unemployment benefits. Eventually the Michigan UIA ruled in our favor... two months later. I didn't receive my first check until three months after I was fired.
I am posting my story so others will know a few things:
-Michigan VIOC employees are not commission; they are hourly
-Area Managers everywhere suck (the one that fired me is still AM for my region)
-We had feelings; we had integrity. If we couldn't do it, if we felt it could cause damage rather than fix, if we didn't know something, we didn't do it. We were there to fix, not rake in cash. Higher ups were, but not us.
-If we broke it, we fixed it. If we cracked a radiator, broke a wire on an air filter housing, didn't put just the right amount of oil in the vehicle, and there was a problem, we had it taken care of as soon as we could. Sometimes the Store Manager even went out to a customer's house if a plug fell out to fix the problem so the engine wouldn't be damaged.
However, we're not there anymore. We were fired for trying to keep our jobs. Any VIOC, not Valvoline Express Care, is probably corporate-owned by Ashland-Marathon, the same company that owns Speedway. That's why you can get Speedy Rewards Points for going to VIOC. They also own Marathon and about six or eight other companies. And Ashland-Marathon is after $$$$$. Not just $$, but as much $$$$$ as they can get.
I know it's hard to find time to do it, but I'd honestly recommend you either do it yourself or find a trustworthy mechanic who will be upfront and honest with you. And know your vehicle. How many quarts does it take? Which fluids does your vehicle call for? Then when the tech comes and tells you something you know is complete bull, you know to go somewhere else or ask for a different tech.
Bay City, Michigan
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