Don’t fear the up-sell. There is a purpose beyond getting you to spend more money. The primary objective of using an automotive repair shop is to have a car that runs efficiently and safely. The service writer (person who is working with you regarding your repair) is genuinely invested in your safety and satisfaction. Up-selling safety and performance related repairs is their responsibility, and you, the customer, are their number one concern.
Generally we understand the up-sell as an effort to persuade a customer to buy more than what the customer originally intended. In the automotive repair business, that would be the customer bringing a car in for a routine oil and filter service and leaving with a major repair bill for a new set of brakes (pads, calipers, rotors) and new struts. Ouch, that simple oil and filter just went from $45 bucks to several hundred. If this customer did in fact require all the brake components, replaced and new struts, he was very well served. However, if he did not really need to have the calipers replaced (rarely) or the struts were within specification, then we have the up-sale that we all fear: paying for things that are not entirely necessary.
Most recommendations for additional repair or maintenance are well justified. A good shop has great concern for their customers. This would be especially true for issues that I call “safety of flight.” That is, things that may lead to catastrophic failure while a car is being driven.
Using the brakes and struts example above, there is a safety concern. If the brakes are a failure issue or the struts degraded sufficiently, we have a dangerous driving situation. A good shop in this case, would specifically identify the wear condition of the pads, rotor and calipers so that the owner understands the relevant safety risk. Likewise, they should be able to demonstrate the condition of the struts. The customer should always ask the shop to fully explain the recommended repair and consequences of not having the repair addressed. Using the scenario that we started with, brake failure is an obvious “safety of flight” issue. However, a degraded strut condition may require a more nuanced explanation of how the driving characteristics of the car are affected and how this could lead to an unsafe driving condition. Going from an oil and filter service to replacing brakes and struts is an expensive up-sale to the customer, but in this case, an up-sale that benefits the customer.
Don’t fear the prospect of an upsell as much as being careful, informed and applying common sense. Always ask for a thorough explanation of the recommended repair and discuss its value relative to the car’s value. Use common sense, this goes a long way to affirm or reject a repair recommendation. If you are not comfortable with an up-sell recommendation, seek a second opinion. An automotive shop should be working for you and your best interest, which may include an up-sell.