No, I'm not talking about the people who made the “Holiday Greetings from Budweiser” commercial from 1983 that gets replayed every year – you know, the one with Clydesdales pulling a sleigh full of cheerful people through lots of blowing snow in some place that's probably supposed to look like Vermont.
I've spent limited time in the Green Mountain State, but I'm pretty sure their blizzards don't come with blue sky in the background any more than ours do.
But I digress. The evil humanoids I actually want to discuss are the folks in the service department at the dealership where my wife and I bought our car.
(I don't want to name this dealership, because I'm not sure if it advertises in this newspaper. So for now I can neither confirm nor deny that the dealership I'm talking about is Darling's Honda-Nissan off the Hogan Road in Bangor.)
I've weathered many attempted rip-offs by this anonymous establishment, which I'll refer to as “DHN” for no particular reason. So I was not surprised to have the following conversation with the nice lady at the service counter after one of their “technicians” had looked over our car:
Lady: “Well, you definitely need new brakes. And you should also replace the timing belt, since that was due at 105,000 miles.”
Me: “When we bought the car from you, we were told the timing belt had already been replaced. That was at 100,000 miles.”
Lady: “Well, we have no record of doing that here. We strongly recommend that you replace it, or else it will snap and cause your engine to explode.”
Lady: “And your check-engine light is on because you need a valve adjustment. If you don't do this, giant spikes will shoot out of the seats and stab your family to death.”
Me: “I see. How much does that come to?”
I declined, but still had to pay them $130 just for checking the brakes and hooking the car up to their diagnostic computer, which apparently takes five hours.
This included a surprise “shop supplies” charge, which the lady explained was for partially-used containers of fluid.
Me: “None of the work on my car required any fluids.”
Lady: “They charge it to everybody, no matter what. They even charge it to their employees.”
While I waited for the valet (of course they have a valet) to get my car, I moped over to the waiting room, where a stack of outdated magazines was watching soap operas.
Somehow they couldn't afford decent TV reception; “The Young and the Restless” had more snow than that Budweiser commercial.
I spent another $13.75 in quarters on handfuls of peanuts while reminiscing about the time DHN told me my exhaust pipe was definitely going to rust off any minute now, and they needed a $300 part to fix it. I declined, and drove the car another three years before anything happened.
Anyway, when the valet finally brought my car back, I drove it to my local service station, which did the same work for about half the price.
Let's hope I don't die.