Here’s another one for the scams category. Yesterday I got a hankering to go to the thrift store to see if I could find tv trays or some other kind of portable or folding table for my hosting of “Army Wives.” I don’t have a coffee table, you see. We’ve got our furniture set up in such a way that a coffee table would be in the way, and not only that, the glass in our table broke a few years ago. We’ve still got the table; we just need some new glass.
Off we went to Fall River, birthplace of Emeril Lagasse. I bet you didn’t know he was from Massachusetts, did you? He is always going on and on about New Orleans (not like that’s a bad thing, right, Elle?) on his shows, but once I did catch him mentioning his hometown. He was putting chorizo into one of his dishes during Emeril Live, and said, “Or ‘sho-REECE,’ as my friends in Fall River would say.” That’s because the Portuguese have a sausage similar to chorizo called “chouriço,” which is pronounced differently, as KarmaCat enlightened me during our meeting a few months ago.
How Emeril got to New Orleans and became an expert in Cajun cooking, I don’t know. His father is Québécois, while his mother is Portuguese. He went to culinary school at Johnson & Wales, whose main campus is in Providence. So I don’t know.
It explains his accent, though.
Anyhow. I didn’t manage to find a table of any kind at the thrift store, or at least not one I wanted. But I did find another outfit for the new baby, as well as a few books for Grace at just 69¢ each. I also scored a fleece jacket that fits over my expanding belly, still with tags, for $7. Awesome.
But that wasn’t even the best of deals. We came out of the parking lot a different way than we normally do, and I saw a sign for a Stop & Shop gas station. Massachusetts has cheaper gas than Rhode Island, due to far less state taxes, so we try to gas up when we cross the border. The Stop & Shop was advertising $3.87 a gallon for those holding a rewards card, which is a good 20¢ cheaper per gallon than we can get most places on the island.
Except when Kurt started pumping, the price didn’t come up as $3.87. It came up $3.67!! I am not sure how it possibly was coming up so cheaply because so far as I know, we don’t shop enough at Stop & Shop to qualify for any kind of discount off our gas. I’m thinking it might have been the weather screwing with the electronic pumps; yesterday was full of thunder and lightning and all kinds of nasty weather. The lady gassing up next to us was only being charged $3.17! Now wouldn’t that be quite a deal?!
It was quite nice to get our three-quarters’ tank-full for just $50, when I’m used to getting a full tank for closer to $70.
In other vehicular news, I took the van in to have an oil change last week. Kurt is fully capable of doing it himself, but he figured it was okay this time to have it taken in to the dealer. Besides, we had a coupon. Come to find out we only saved $2 with the coupon — grrrr.
Kurt had asked me to talk with the service guys about our door and the weird noise the air conditioner is making as it’s running. Our door “pops” as it’s opening, like the hinge is catching on something and then “popping” as it forces its way through the obstruction. It’s annoying.
I told Kurt there’s no way I am asking the service guys to look into doing more work on the van. I am smarter than that. Every time I have taken a vehicle in for service on my own, I have been victim to the service department’s upsells. And what pisses me off the most is they know my husband is out on deployment, and yet they scam me anyhow.
Kurt pooh-poohed my concerns, but he didn’t push the issue. He figures he’ll talk to him the next time we get an oil change since he plans on dropping it off with me.
Sure enough, as I’m sitting there in the waiting room, the woman who checked in the van comes up to me and leans down all confidentially-like. She says in a low voice that the mechanic had looked at my brakes and determined that my front brakes are running nearly metal-to-metal, and that my back brakes felt a little soft. He was recommending that I get the front brakes changed and the rotors resurfaced immediately ($300) and have the back brakes tightened up a bit ($70). The woman also informed me that the mechanic was recommending that I get the brakes changed as soon as possible because if I waited too long, the rotors wouldn’t be able to be resurfaced, which would add another $200 or so to my repair bill. She really made it sound as though I had to get the brakes done that day or else I would ruin my wheels.
I declined all additional service at the time. What’s funny is the older lady sitting across from me at the table leaned over to me and said, “They get us women every time, don’t they? It’s always something extra!” We then had this entire conversation how car dealerships and mechanics tend to prey on women, assuming they don’t know anything about cars and knowing that we are probably more vulnerable to agreeing to all the services offered, just to be on the safe side.
I called Kurt as soon as I left the dealership. He about hit the roof. Apparently there is no way the mechanic can see how worn my brakes are without taking the tire off, and since I had declined the tire rotation (an additional $20 fee, and a service Toyota recommends every 5,000 miles), there would be no reason for the mechanic to take off a tire to check my brakes. He also told me that even if I were running almost metal-to-metal, I have plenty of time before I start ruining my rotors.
I myself am pretty pissed off about the whole thing because I feel it’s a rip-off. The brakes on my little car were getting awfully thin a couple years ago, so Kurt decided he would change the brakes for me. Off we went to the auto parts store, where we splurged a bit and decided on the ceramic brake pads. They cost us all of $40, and Kurt spent the afternoon changing the brakes. Had he been able to do so with the car elevated, I’m sure he could have done the brakes in probably an hour. So $300 to replace my front brakes is totally asinine. In fact, I just looked up brakes from one site, and I am finding prices from $38 to $68 for brakes for my van. The other $250 is just for labor, I guess.
I’d rather pay my husband with delicious, home-cooked meals than give the Toyota dealership that much money.
Thank God I married a mechanic!