Why do drive-in oil change businesses prey on young women?

Under the hood of a car. CREDIT: KATE OTTERBEIN
“If you don’t hear, feel, or see anything wrong with your car, say no and only get the service you went in for.”

Recently, I had to get an oil change for my car. Not a huge deal, right? There are tons of places around Fanshawe that do it quickly, without even having to get out of the car. Simple as that! But for women…it’s not always this easy. When you stop at one of these places, they see money opportunities and I have never understood why.

This was evident as soon as I put my car in park in the bay. I chose the kind of oil I wanted, said, “no” to the fancy synthetic filter (because to my understanding…it doesn’t make any difference!), and then the head honcho moved in, telling me my transmission fluid needed to be changed. He told me it should have been changed at 40,000km, and naturally, I panicked. My odometer was at 55,000km!

I asked why my car dealership didn’t do this when I took it in for an oil change last time.

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“Because you’re a woman, unfortunately,” he said. “Those places prey on young women.”

I thought he was on my side! But knowing I could still be scammed out of hundreds of dollars, I texted the knowledgeable people in my life, only to be told 40,000km is way too low to be requesting a transmission fluid change. I ended up only paying for the oil change and upon checking my vehicle owner’s manual, a transmission fluid change isn’t needed until 240,000km! That service, as I was being talked into it, would have cost an additional $100 on my already over $100 bill.

Long story short…had I not had people in my life who know about my vehicle and are able to help educate me on this, I would have been short an additional $100, which could be utilized in better ways as a student.

So I ask, why do places like these prey on women? Why isn’t it common courtesy to teach people who aren’t knowledgeable about their car what is actually necessary for their visit, rather than sucking hundreds of dollars out of them? I personally don’t think it’s right and I can’t imagine how difficult that would be for someone who has no family around to help. It’s 2022 for goodness sake! We should treat everyone equally.

With that being said, other places are recognizing that women deserve to be knowledgeable in these areas. But, as time goes on, post-secondary schools are realizing this is important for women to get involved. I have faith that even if these businesses continue to try and take advantage of people, those people will have the resources and the knowledge necessary to advocate for themselves and what their vehicle needs.

For anyone who needs it… here’s some advice from my father about going to places like these:

“If you don’t hear, feel, or see anything wrong with your car, say, ‘no’ and only get the service you went in for.”

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.