MrConsumer admittedly does not know a lot about cars or car repairs, but doesn’t like to pay a lot when his 1996 Honda Accord needs fixing.
About 10 years ago, he had Meineke install a muffler with a lifetime warranty. Maybe five years later, it rusted through and needed replacement again. The “gotcha” with guarantees like this is that you have to pay for labor and other parts, and it comes out costing almost as much as replacing a conventional muffler. So when that muffler went again, MrConsumer decided to go to his trusted gas station mechanic instead.
After dropping off the car, the verdict came from the repairman by telephone: it would cost $400 to replace that muffler with another “lifetime warranty” one. MrConsumer gave the go-ahead, and the car was fixed a few hours later.
Scrutinizing the receipt, MrConsumer noted that the muffler itself was $260, but wondered what an auto parts store would have charged for it. Advance Auto Parts was $172.99 — nearly $90 less. Ugg. Autozone was $149.99 — $110 less, but there was a $50 additional rebate. Double ugg. And PepBoys.com was $103.99 less 25% or $77.99 AND the $50 rebate also applied there. Shoot me now.
Then a brainstorm hit MrConsumer. The purchase was made with a Fidelity MasterCard that has a “price protection” benefit that would provide up to a $250 refund if a purchased item could be found for less elsewhere. As MrConsumer was relishing getting his $260 muffler for a mere $27.99, he checked the fine print of the bank’s price protection benefit.
What items are not covered?
The Price Protection program applies only to items purchased in the United States of America, including Alaska and Hawaii. This program does not cover any of the following:
Motorized vehicles of any kind and their parts and equipment, including, but not limited to, boats or watercraft, air vehicles, automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles.
Foiled again. Drats.
One last hope: what if the charge had been put on his Chase Freedom card instead? Nope. Their price protection policy excludes automobile “equipment.”
So MrConsumer learned an expensive lesson about car repair shops marking up the cost of parts, and will have to be content with at least getting back $50 under the manufacturer’s rebate.