I was a long-time Pep Boys customer, but no more, mostly because they no longer honor their own policy that they will beat any competitor's price by 5 percent. Based on my recent experience, they now overcharge by at least 50 percent.
I went in for an oil change and to ask them how much it would be to fix a power steering leak; I told them the leak was right under the power-steering fluid reservoir. For the oil change, they wanted to charge 38.99; I told them to forget it, since places like Jiffy Lube only charge about 21 bucks; they also had a chalkboard that listed Olin Mott as doing oil changes for 19.99. When I pointed this out, they declined to price match, but did say they could give me a "special deal" on the cheap oil change and do it for 20, w/ a coupon they had in a drawer. So I went ahead and let them do it.
During the oil change, the tech told me that I was right, the power steering was leaking from a pressure fitting right under the reservoir. He also noted that I had a bad hub bearing on the left front wheel, something I knew about but did not ask them to inspect. When they were finished, the charge had somehow inflated to 68 bucks. As it turned out, they charged an additional 36 bucks for "inspecting" the power steering leak--despite the fact I told them where the leak was, and their oil change includes a 24-point visual inspection, ostensibly where they would have seen the power steering leak. After all, they did an inspection and found the bad hub bearing. They never even told me about this additional fee, even though I was clear to let them know I wanted to know how much they would charge BEFORE they did anything. I had only authorized the oil change.
Then they gave me a price to repair the pressure fitting for the power steering leak: just under 250. I thought this was outrageous, and since they didn't have the part anyway, I told them to see if they could get the part and I would let them know. After I left, I went to another shop, told them what I needed; they put my vehicle up on the rack to verify the leak, and told me the price--w/ shop fees, tax, etc.--would be 106. Then I called a dealership--and dealerships are well known to be the most expensive place to take a vehicle for repairs--and the dealership told me it would be 142, out the door.
I confronted the svc mgr at Pepe Boys w/ this info, and all I got was attitude. He finally agreed to just charge me 35 for the oil change and power steering "diagnosis"; he said he couldn't do anything on the power steering repair, but would be happy to look at the competitor's prices if I would get them in writing and bring them in. Given that he clearly wasn't going to price match--as is their posted policy--I told him it would be much easier for me to just get the work done elsewhere. I wasn't happy about the 35 oil change, but just went ahead and paid it.
Pep Boys used to be good about matching competitor's prices, but no longer. As a result, they've lost a long-time, regular customer. It's not a major issue for me--after all, there are plenty of other shops that don't overcharge. But the bad thing is that Pep Boys doesn't seem to care. I'm sure that for every knowledgeable customer, there will be at least 10 others who won't know they are being overcharged. It's really a shame.