I don’t know much about cars, but I do know that when you go for an oil change, you are generally given two options for what type of engine oil you want to put in your car. So I was ready to ask when I walked into Midas last week and asked for an oil change: conventional or synthetic?
“Artificial,” I said confidently of a seven-year-old asking for himself the first time.
It wasn’t until the oil change was completed and I handed a Midas employee a voucher I received in the mail for what I thought was a $29.99 synthetic oil change that I learned that there was such a thing as synthetic blend oil, which is a mixture or combination of synthetic and conventional oils.
Turns out, that’s what the coupon was for, changing the synthetic blend oil. On closer inspection, those were the words on the coupon. But the possibility that changing the synthetic blend oil could be different from changing the synthetic oil (or changing the all-synthetic oil, as I later learned to be the more accurate term) didn’t cross my mind.
I made a moderate protest but relented after a Midas employee offered me a $10 discount, which I accepted even if it meant paying about $25 more than I expected to pay with the coupon ($56.31 versus $29.99 plus tax).
As I was driving away, I put the loop back in my head, thinking about things I could have said, but I didn’t. Ex: Why wasn’t a synthetic blend oil given as an option when I requested an oil change? Not only does Midas mail service coupons, but it also plays a Google ad to sync “$24.99. Blend Oil Special” within search results for “Midas oil change coupon.”
I sent an inquiry to Midas through a form on the company’s website, introduced myself as the staff writer at tricarewest and asked for comment. I was expecting an answer from someone in the marketing department, but the franchisee at the Midas location where I changed the oil responded instead.
“Unfortunately, it was a matter of misunderstanding, not understanding the voucher,” he said in a phone interview.
I agreed with the franchisor that, in hindsight, I should probably have presented the voucher before the work was done. That way, he could explain to me exactly what it was.
But I had to ask: How many people actually ask for a synthetic blend oil change?
“Very little,” he said, adding that 95 percent of customers either get full synthetics or conventional ones.
So the question for the Midas marketing team — who is responsible for the coupon and Google advertising, and who no longer specify what type of oil change qualifies for a “limited offer” — is: Why is it advertising a discount on an oil change that few consumers care about and may confuse many consumers? For another type of service?
Maybe Midas hopes consumers will be happy to pay more than the price on the coupon or ad if they continue to get some kind of savings, like the $10 discount you received.