Can a service provider ever alienate customers by offering coupons?

At Libertyville Toyota, they provide a service where you can go online and print out coupons for car related services. I generally like the idea, if you’re resourceful and don’t mind a little effort; you can save a little money. Having said that, I certainly like Toyota sending us coupons in the mail although they sometimes get lost in the shuffle or the timing is not quite right. Therefore, I’ll resort to the Internet in the hopes of saving some money.

Last week, our car needed an oil change and tire rotation so I was fortunate to find a coupon online for these combined services for $45. I didn’t know what these services individually cost but I thought this was an OK deal so made the appointment online.

I arrived at the service department and they promptly got me checked in and began working on my car. I mentioned the fact that I had a coupon as some service related businesses have that stipulation – the technician was fine with that. Out of curiosity, I asked the price of an oil change and tire rotation. The oil change was $30 and tire rotation cost $20 so having that coupon for these two services ($45 price) was going to save me $5.

From Libertyville-toyota.com

He then asked me the year of my car and when I said it was a 2010 Camry, he said “you’ll need the synthetic oil change.” He’s the expert so I was agreeable although I was surprised it was going to be another $30. So with the synthetic oil change, the total would be $80 although  you’ll remember I could still use my $5 coupon.

At this point, I was curious about what kind of savings I was getting if I used that coupon. By doing the tire rotation and regular oil change, the savings was $5 or 8.3% off your total bill. If you apply that same coupon to the synthetic oil change and tire rotation, you still save $5 although the percentage drops to 6.25%. Figuring out the percentages kind of depressed me, thinking whether it was worthwhile to even go through this to save a few bucks.

So, the more you spend (on your oil change), the less savings as a total percentage. Interesting.

I remember a handful of years ago; I could get oil change coupons for $20. Yes, oil changes have increased a few dollars over the last few years although sometimes you could use coupons to save 30% or more on an oil change. Maybe Libertyville Toyota lost money on the deal?

When you go through the work of finding a coupon after you make the appointment, printing it, taking it with you for your oil change and then the savings are between 6.25 and 8.3%, I’m not wowed. What’s the point of doing it again to save $5? Would this be considered customer centric?

One more note, I printed out a coupon for a free brake inspection, and the service technician said they do it anyway regardless of the coupon. Again, what’s the point?

Will I pursue the coupon channel the next time my car needs an oil change? If you save such a small amount by going through the rigmarole, what’s the point? I’ll probably try coupons again, at least one more time to see the result. If I’m not wowed the next time, it may further alienate me from saying positive things about Libertyville Toyota regardless of the free popcorn, donuts and coffee.  

Would such an insignificant coupon annoy you too?

Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.

221 Responses

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