Reciprocity at the Car Dealership

I can barely feel my fingers. The wind whips while I work in the wintry 6° weather. Fahrenheit.

My car’s alarm won’t stop sounding since I tried, and failed, to jumpstart the car. It’s a constant blast of the horn.

Cars have been trouble since the day they were invented. Photo "Changing a Tire" by Don O'Brien, Flick, CC-By-2.0
Cars have been trouble since the day they were invented. Photo “Changing a Tire” by Don O’Brien, Flick, CC-By-2.0

Now I’m trying to silence the alarm with some key trickery that the dealership is suggesting over the phone. I can barely hear anything over the car’s alarm.

“Turn it left for ten seconds,” he says. “No, wait, try turning the key to the right.”

The alarm won’t stop, no matter which way I turn the key. I pull the fuse and request a tow.

The next day on the phone, I hear the list. The issue is a dead battery, Chris says, but this is an excellent time to replace the tires, and let’s add in some general maintenance.

They say luck comes in threes.

Trying to make my own luck, I ask Chris if they have any coupons available. “No, but you can check the website.”

Later that day, I find myself at the dealership with a $1,006 bill. I hand Chris a coupon that saves me $30. Chris asks if I found the $40 coupon instead. If I had, I’d be using it.

Punching at his computer, Chris tells me he’ll try to apply the $40 coupon. You know, because I am a great customer.

While printing the final paperwork, Chris says, “there’s a survey coming. I either pass with 5-star ratings across the board, or I fail. Keep an eye out for that,” Chris tells me. “Oh, by the way, that $40 coupon worked. Have a good day!”

Reciprocity. The service was good, but that tiny extra coupon influenced the transaction towards the 5-star rating Chris requested. Though I have to wonder if they’re really that stringent on the 5-stars.

You’ve certainly been in many reciprocal transactions. Think about it. Which do you remember the best? Which end were you on? Tell us in the comments below!

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