I rarely have a pleasant experience when I do that. Here is my latest ordeal.
First, the wife'* ride is a 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan, newest vehicle in our fleet.
Complaints: Intermittent hard starting, intermittent power door lock actuator on passenger door, clunk in suspension, dry bearing noise in engine compartment, intermittent transmission late shifts and general odd funkiness.
When I handed the service manager my keys, I immediately got the lecture about how my key ring was too heavy. I should've just taken them back then and said goodbye.
A hundred bucks (nearly) for diagnosis and none of it would be applicable towards the eventual repair. I really should've run at that point.
The service manager gives me the cold shivers in several ways when I mention I have a service contract with Honda. I did bring my paperwork to make things simpler, but still not getting any kind of warm feeling.
TSB code checks were promised, as well as fluid 'tests' to find out if ATF, coolant or even engine oil needed changing.
The diagnosis on the clunk indicated that the sway bar bushings were worn and hardened, about a $250.00 job, but covered by my service contract ($100 deductible). The bearing noise under the hood was the alternator. That was about $475.00, but also covered by the service contract. They started on the sway bar job before I signed off on having anything done.
The other work which was suggested was front brakes, $220.00. Rear shocks, $175.00. Tune-up $725.00. That is not a typo! It includes a fuel filter which involved dropping the tank, taking the intake manifold (plenum) off the engine to access the rear bank of plugs, plugs, wires, and a 'de-carbonization' of the intake, valves, and combustion chambers.
So, I authorized nearly $2000.00 worth of work, about $600 was paid by the service contract. I asked for all the used parts back.
The job took 3 full days to complete, largely because the alternator took a day and a half to source, and the car was given the sunshine treatment (no charge) while it was being delivered rather than complete the brakes, shocks and tuneup.
The old, working but noisy alternator and fuel filter were missing from my box of parts when I finally looked at them. I did eventually get the alternator, but was given a story about it being 'illegal' for them to give me the used fuel filter because it had gasoline in it. Well, I might've settled for just seeing it, but I wasn't even offered that. I also asked about the intake plenum, as it appeared to be untouched. Where were the old gaskets? Another excuse about some sort of 'zip wheel' being used to remove the old gasket material and there wouldn't be enough left to put in the box. I guess I do my gaskets the old-fashioned way, and when I R&R'd my engine in the Bonneville, I had plenty of gaskets to show from the intakes! No tools required to remove them, either!
The old shocks were cruddy and rusty, but as far as I can tell, still functional.
The car came back (after 3 days) with the oil level still below the 'add' mark, as well as the coolant. I haven't checked the ATF in about a year, and wasn't about to do so when I saw the rest... just minutes before sending my wife and daughter on a 2,000+ mile road trip.
The brakes work good now, better than before. The intermittent starting problem is still there. The intermittent door lock switch couldn't be verified. I have no indication that any fluids were checked or TSB'* pulled. I hesitate to call again, because every time I do the guy is axious to get me off the phone so he can get back to his line of other sheep to be shorn.
Oh, I forgot the lecture about the battery terminals. That'* how he knew I was a 'do-it-yourselfer'. The tech did clean them up nicely too. So, it wasn't all bad.
It just wasn't quite $1300.00+ good!
Am I being too picky? I refuse to go back to my nearest dealer because of antics their service guys pulled when I was having lemon trouble with my then brand-new 2000 Dakota. I no longer own that one.
Not all dealership service department experiences are bad, but how can so many be so lackluster? Maybe, as in my subject, shade tree or diy guys should shun these service departments as a matter of course, not just preference.