Ever wondered how the various quick-lube places in your city turned a profit?
The price of motor oil goes up and down – usually rising – but the price stays at $19.95 or $24.95 or whatever your local market will bear. As fate would have it, most of my vehicles aren’t compatible with the quick-spreading business model of a sweaty dude waving your air filter in your face and telling you he’s got the Zika virus while a real rhesus monkey rambles through your drain plug using a blow gun. For example, my 993 has: two oil filters, while my Boxster requires a 32 step process to get to the air filters. Nor would I trust my mighty Accord V6 to anyone whose life path has not qualified him to work above ground.
However, not all of us have the luxury of doing our own oil changes at home. You may not have the space, tools, ability or time to do it correctly yourself. That last factor is perhaps the biggest. If you’re working with two McJobs to make ends meet, the Valvoline Oil Change down the street may be the only practical choice. The good news: it’s cheap. The bad news: Some of that cost savings comes from another way the store makes money off you, without you even knowing it.
Yesterday, a Twitter user posted a letter he received from State Farm informing him that his “low mileage discount” would be removed. The reason? State Farm, otherwise known as “the bastards who made their ‘approved repair shop’ joyride 340 miles on my first wife’s SRT-4 in 2005 during an extremely inept attempt to fix the dashboard after a break-in and then sent an axe- female representative who literally laughed at the bodyshop manager”, had received information from a third party about the user’s mileage.
After some back-and-forth discussion between this person and several other individuals on Twitter, one user noted that: the quick-change oil place probably sold the information to CarFax, who then sold it to State Farm. CarFax makes no secret about this; it’s a selling point from their perspective. But it’s worth noting that CarFax is just as happy to sell data in bulk to an insurance company as it is to help you track down odometer fraud on that nice ’97 Mitsubishi Eclipse you’re considering. Probably even more.
So what’s the problem here? It is certainly wrong to lie to your insurance company about your mileage. However, it is equally wrong for car service providers to use their customers’ information as a source of income. My advice: learn to do your own maintenance, or learn to live with double skin from the man at the Valvoline Oil Change. Perhaps this justifies a mild update of the most truthful adage of the internet age: if you don’t pay (much), you are the product.