The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

9 December 2006

Tales of retail

Given my underly-generous budget and known tendencies toward parsimony, some may have wondered why I'd actually spend the long dollar to have my car serviced at the dealership, generally the most expensive option when you have a choice.

But I can't always be sure I have a choice, since I've done no survey of local independent mechanics to see which of them won't frown (or jump for joy, which is probably worse) when a seven-year-old Infiniti comes through the door. And there are distinct advantages to letting the dealer do the dirty work, not least of which is the fact that he either has the parts on hand or can get them quickly.

What's more, the timing works for me: I can drop off Gwendolyn at seven-thirty and still manage to stroll into 42nd and Treadmill before anyone notices. And the dealership has a major incentive to get the work done in a hurry, inasmuch as they've lent me a G35 in the interim and they'd like to have it back at some point. I might see things differently were the number of persons in this household greater than 1, but since I have to do all this stuff myself, I figure my time makes up for the higher number on the sales slip.

But staff expertise is worth paying for even if you don't have to pay for it. I pulled up at the New Balance store in Spring Creek Village today and requested, deadpan, a replacement for my old 587s. She didn't even bat an eye; she suggested three models which had the features of the 587, and recommended the 1122 as being the closest approximation to my out-of-date shoes. On the off-chance that this was being suggested mostly for its marginally-higher price, I pointed to one of the others, and I tried it on. Good enough, but not great. For comparison, I requested the 1122, and it was indeed closer to what I was used to. Sale made. (It is theoretically possible to order discontinued styles, but inasmuch as I take an outlier size — 14 EE — I am not hopeful about the prospects.) And while $120 is a fair chunk of change for what is, after all, a pair of running shoes fercryingoutloud, some stores charge even more than that, and I have qualms about ordering shoes online, even though NB's 14 EE is usually spot on. ( has them for just under $100.)

Not everything went quite so well today; my favorite car wash (it's in the Village) wasn't overly busy, and I had traces of last week's snowstorm to remove, but neither of their change machines would cough up any quarters for any of the $8 worth of bills I tried. I hate when that happens.

Update, 8:30 pm: If you think Infiniti service is pricey — which, by the way, it is — try tending to a Ferrari.

Posted at 3:28 PM to Common Cents

You make an investment of $15-60K on a car, and you depend on its proper function. Playing Russian roulette with its maintenance is not a good idea.

Services are unlike the commodities one buys at Sam's Club and Costco. That Barbie or lawn mower might be the same one available at Macy's, but services vary along quite a broad spectrum. Pay whatever is needed for quality mechanics, contractors, and brain surgery. Save on that bucket of popcorn at the movies.

Posted by: Mister Snitch! at 4:56 PM on 9 December 2006

Actually, at the movies I confine myself to one packet of Raisinets ($3ish).

Posted by: CGHill at 6:14 PM on 9 December 2006