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Old 7th October 2020, 08:11   #1
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Default Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons

Anyone who visits Team-BHP is well aware of the upselling tactics of service advisors. But now, we can actually see how they receive commissions for the same. That radiator flush on your 1-year old car you don't need? Your service advisor won't hesitate to cheat you of 422 bucks to earn Rs 50 for himself. "Glass polish treatment" that you don't need for 1300 rupees? That's another 50 bucks in his pocket.

Thanks to a Team-BHP Fan (who prefers to stay anonymous) for sending this information in. Heartfelt gratitude for sharing it with other enthusiasts via this Team-BHP page!

Quote:
I wanted to share the below image I found on the Google Maps review of a Hyundai dealer.

I saw the image and my attention immediately went to the Advisor Incentive column. I guess everyone is aware that service guys try to add unnecessary items to the bills and inflate the total cost. However, this image shows how well established their system is. They have even standardized the rate to fleece customers . Such a pamphlet must not be limited to this sole showroom and all dealers must have their own version of this.

It would be very helpful for the unaware readers; at least, this may become a ready reference when he/she hands over the car to the service advisor next time.
My recommendation to newbie car owners: Open up your owner's manual, go to the maintenance charts at the back, show it to your service advisor and tell him you ONLY want to do what is listed there.

Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons-20180524.jpg
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Old 7th October 2020, 08:36   #2
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Default Re: Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Open up your owner's manual, go to the maintenance charts at the back, show it to your service advisor and tell him you ONLY want to do what is listed there.
That's exactly what I did for the Alto first service. Brought down the estimate of almost 3K to a little under 1K. Took me almost half an hour in arguments with the service advisor to get it done though.
I always do this. On a couple of occasions I have advise other people whom I meet at the service reception to do the same. Once the staff came and threatened me not to advise people what to do.
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Old 7th October 2020, 08:46   #3
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Default Re: Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons

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Originally Posted by pedrolourenco View Post
T
Once the staff came and threatened me not to advise people what to do.
Write a strong worded email to Maruti, keeping the TSM in loop on the threatening part. Maruti is known to "discipline" their dealers. Have experienced this first hand.
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Old 7th October 2020, 08:58   #4
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Default Re: Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons

Yesterday I read a post by BHPian wherein they did Engine flush on his i10 grand on 10K service. Now I understand why they did that. Just for the sake of their commission , they are okay to ruin the engine of a customer prematurely by doing an engine oil flush to a brand new car

I also faced similar situation with M.A.S.S where they tried to sell different unnecessary services like AC disinfectant, coolant flush, etc. I'm not sure if they really used it on my car or not but they charged me and I did not find any noticeable difference, even worst, they stole my brand new cabin AC filter. I could only recognise it due to missing button clip on the AC filter cap as soon as I opened my glove box. I complained to my SA (who stays near our house and is a known acquaintance) , he immediately scolded the boys who were cleaning the car and got me a brand new AC filter for free of cost. I lost my trust in M.A.S.S after that incident but had good faith in my S.A. , unfortunately he got transferred from Begumpet workshop to Balanagar workshop which is too far from my place. There's no way to trust A.S.S' these days. I never had any bad experience or trust issues with my Toyota service center though. (Harsha Toyota). But I'm on two minds about Toyota also now due to the bad incident which recently happened to a BHPIan from Bangalore where Nandi Toyota promised to change Engine and Gearbox under warranty but replaced only a part of engine. No customer will trust service centers and SA's due to these incidents.

All these doubts will be gone if we buy our own parts , take it to an FNG and get it done infront of our own eyes. It provides a different level of satisfaction too. If we have some spare time and tools, there's nothing better than DIY maintenance, like BHPians a4anurag and paragsachania and few others do occasionally.
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Old 7th October 2020, 09:10   #5
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Default Re: Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons

End of Day, we're going to deal with Sales Executives & Service Advisors who're out to mislead us for pennies that their company gives them as incentive. Its ONLY our sharpness & consumer laws(ha!) that protect us.

Most SA's have base salary of just 14-16k per month. Apart from this incentive, just to ensure that they don't take commission from customers during service, their total billing is tracked and the Service Advisors totalling the top 3 billing, after yearly performance reviews, are given salary increment of approx Rs.3,000/-, 2,000/- & 1,000/-. They genuinely DO spy on each other so as to ensure the other SA's doesn't genuinely benefit any customer and ensuring loyalty ONLY to the dealers coffers. The GMs micro-manage all this orchestration.

I've too often seen that as a practice, SA deliberately doesn't make himself duly available to customers & keeps acting busy, just so that customer is made to run around searching for them & eventually tires out and thus gives in to their "advice" & rubbish justifications.

Ever notice how the staff comes together to ridicule you when you catch them blatantly cheating and you raise an alarm ? Thats them protecting their own despite knowing they are on the wrong.

NEVER blindly trust a service advisor. It may be the Authorised Service Center, but their primary objective is to extract maximum profit while "misleading the customer" is outsourced to the Service Advisor. The procedure is by design & the rot is systemic ie. built into the work-process.

This is why we need to call out paid reviews & PR spins of "Ethics" & "Quality" in News Media, "Company Code of Conduct", or vast majority of the "Brand Ambassadors" are all just garnish.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vikrantj View Post
I really do not understand why people are saying that the SA is "cheating" people for earning a commission on it. That is his business model. He is offering add-ons which as an informed customer should take a decision on. I am not supporting any unfair or unethical practice but surely SA cannot be taken to cleaners for vigorously selling a product...
We expect the SA to advise us in good faith, not spike our path and tell its our look-out! That is part of the implied promise a brand makes when they promote themselves.

Last edited by WorkingGuru : 7th October 2020 at 09:34.
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Old 7th October 2020, 09:18   #6
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Default Re: Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons

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Originally Posted by WhiteSierra View Post
...even worst, they stole my brand new cabin AC filter.
This is a known con across brands/ dealers - get the AC Coil clogged, charge you for cleaning it. Usually happens after your warranty expires.

Specifying exactly what needs to be done (from the service manual) and not doing anything extra without authorisation usually takes care of most part. But car owners mostly will not check if the AC filter is intact or not!
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Old 7th October 2020, 09:20   #7
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Default Re: Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons

I really do not understand why people are saying that the SA is "cheating" people for earning a commission on it. That is his business model. He is offering add-ons which as an informed customer should take a decision on. I am not supporting any unfair or unethical practice but surely SA cannot be taken to cleaners for vigorously selling a product.

Again I am against any unethical practice here.
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Old 7th October 2020, 09:20   #8
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Default Re: Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Thanks to a Team-BHP Fan (who prefers to stay anonymous) for sending this information in. Heartfelt gratitude for sharing it with other enthusiasts via this Team-BHP page!
Very enlightening post, thanks for this.

Everyone here knows that service personnel receive substantial incentives for pushing unnecessary services onto customers, but this really gives the notion the objectivity that it requires, by stating the specific numbers. Pretty sure all dealers across manufacturers have similar policies, with slight variations in numbers. Really important for all of us to ensure that the service schedule in the manufacturer manual is adhered to, and if you do that, you are good to go.
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Old 7th October 2020, 09:24   #9
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Default Re: Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
My recommendation to newbie car owners: Open up your owner's manual, go to the maintenance charts at the back, show it to your service advisor and tell him you ONLY want to do what is listed there.
Absolutely. Some service centres try to rope in interior detailing costing 2000 odd rupees. The biggest gimmick I feel is AC cleaning / sanitizing, which can cost anyway between 700 to 2000 rupees. What they are doing is just spraying a 3M or equivalent spray in the AC vents. When the customer enters he gets a good fragrance and is satisfied. On most occasions they don't even use the full can, which is anyway not sufficient for a big car. Better buy your own spray can and DIY.
Another gimmick is the wheel alignment. This should be done at a good tyre shop.
In other words, interior detailing should be done at 3M or equivalent stores and wheel alignment at a good tyre shop.
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Old 7th October 2020, 09:28   #10
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Default Re: Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons

I honestly wont blame the workshops for being greedy. After all, OEMs ask the dealerships to be profitable through service revenue itself (even if they make losses in sales). The auto industry is a very low margin business. The only place where there is scope for earning is in servicing.

The whole dealership operating model is highly unfeasible for small players. Its like McDonalds asking you "Sir, single cheese or double cheese", My response is "No Cheese please". Or a fancy restaurant trying to sell you "Sides" with the dishes you ordered. You need to politely say no. This is the same operating model for service stations. The customer needs to be aware of what is essential and what is not.

The issue is, service stations do not politely ask for permission on additional jobs. Thats unethical. If during service an advisor says to me, "Sir get a polish done, the car will look new for days" I will consider it, even if I know that the treatment is not required.

The issue is, service centers give sales targets without teaching advisors the art of upselling.
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Old 7th October 2020, 09:33   #11
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Originally Posted by ruzbehxyz View Post
Absolutely. Some service centres try to rope in interior detailing costing 2000 odd rupees. The biggest gimmick I feel is AC cleaning / sanitizing, which can cost anyway between 700 to 2000 rupees..
They take advantage of our busy schedules and inability to visit three points of service for three different jobs. And to think all these 'miscellaneous' jobs like tyre allignment would be wrapped into the time allotted for service maintenance itself is tempting to pass. So I'm guilty of getting the allignment done from TASS itself. Would've loved to go outside though.
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Old 7th October 2020, 10:37   #12
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Default Re: Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons

It is much better to go to a good independent garage today than a service center. How history repeats itself.

Back in the day, when Premiers and Fiat Unos were around, this is exactly what people did. There was the Western India Automobile Association (WIAA) which did great doorstep service for a very reasonable price. After the MNCs like Hyundai and Honda came in (2000s), they stopped this line of business and focused on documentation crap like licenses etc. They had some of the best mechanics who could sort out an Opel Astra as well as a Fiat 1100 D. Those days, even normal mechanics were sent to factories around India to learn stuff and they were really passionate- they helped to maintain our Uno till 2006. Then, WIAA shut that division because their new boss said the new cars were "maintenance free". The mechanics went to Dubai and did well.

Good to know that most mechanics worth their caliber left these workshops to start their own things. Even a roadside garage with a knowledgeable mechanic is 100 times better for sorting out your car's issues than the authorised center with inexperienced, underpaid and untrained people.

I genuinely wish that initiatives like the WIAA servicing plans return through online platforms like gomechanic etc. Authorized shops are not worth the price, except for jobs like painting which requires a very sophisticated paint booth. Most ex-company car mechanics these days have the network and access to all software and spare parts and can help sort out issues in the most complex cars. Hope this catches on and customers support them.
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Old 7th October 2020, 11:12   #13
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Default Re: Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons

While I see there's no problem in the business model here, most of the times things turn into insatiable desire is when one is personally challenged in terms of competitiveness in form of TARGET.

More than a decade ago, when I left my WagonR for service at 40000 Km, the SA told me, the car has to be master serviced instead of regular service.

I ask why?
SA says, sir, it's as per MSIL service guidelines

Ok, so I'm now bound to adhere to it now!

Now the addition comes - the steering column has to be changed.

Why? Because Maruti says so

Is the steering column good enough?

SA says, it's good now sir, but we don't know when what might happen

After instilling the fear, he knows what he needs to say exactly - no problem sir, you can change it later; anyway you're driving within the city & we can always tow the vehicle back to ASC & you've comprehensive insurance as well

Any neophyte hearing to such things are bound to be petrified & promptly yield to the lust of SA. Years later, Over the years I get to hear similar ordeals with many friends just that the SA, component, car, model & brands are different, while the ploys remain the same. And what goes when servicing such functional components? A minor inconvenience is caused in form of missing a ORing, washer, double washer, using a different bolt, misplacing a rubber bush & a million other things by the personnel who is frustrated just because his evening tea is not on time, his supervisor asked him to stay for a while when his girl friend is waiting outside & for other lunatic ludicrous rationale vindication.

And most of the times these little things that are paid heedless attention helps receiving a best customer award for having to visit this ASC maximum number of times & successfully enriching the lives of SA as well.

And when you ask the SA, why such things keep occurring repeatedly?
sir, these are electronics, has no life
sir, these days cars are mass produced unlike Ambassador which were reliable...
sir, life of a car is only 3 years, this is why manufacturer also changes the model every 3 years...
sir, you model is the best one among this brand but for this minor issue

and when everything fails...
sir, this time I'll stand besides the car when he's working & ensure to deliver to your perfection

Has any of these or more happened to any of you? Yes? If no, wait a while...

Last edited by aargee : 7th October 2020 at 11:20.
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Old 7th October 2020, 11:41   #14
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Default Re: Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons

That is a business secret which should have been within four walls, now out in the open!.

While that might be their modus operandi for that extra revenue, that is easily translated to greed and misguide of the customers. This thread should make people keep their eyes and ears wide open when it is time for the next service.

Some instances that come to my mind.

Advaith Hyundai- Advisor suggested engine decarbonization. This was many years ago and I had no idea what it was. But he stressed on how important it was and I fell for it.

Trident Hyundai-
SA: Wheel alignment and balancing?
me: Was done during last service!. It has been just 3,000 kms and there are no issues. Why again?
SA: Since you keep turning the steering this side and that side, WA and WB are required in every service. I was wiser this time and turned it down.

Going by his theory, WA and WB are needed after every drive .

Another biggest profitable thing for them is interior cleaning or a foam wash with engine dressing and wax polishing.
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Old 7th October 2020, 12:16   #15
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Default Re: Incentives that service advisors receive for upselling you unnecessary add-ons

The kinds of horrors I've seen as an insider in car workshops ensures that I stand alongside my car whenever its being serviced or take it to a place I absolutely trust.

The incentives on GTO's post are frankly too low. I know for a fact that an add-on of Rs. 4500 (engine coating, anti rust and "teflon polish") will net the service advisor a cool 1500 bucks. Now, the chap applying this will also need to pay the dealership their cut - catch another 1500, so net amount remaining is 1500, out of which he needs some for labour, material and his profit.

Do the maths and let me know if there is a possibility of doing any sort of quality work in the remaining amount.

You must do only the absolute essentials as mentioned in the manual of the car. Nothing more is needed. If it were, the manufacturer would mention it.
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