What business do car dealers think they’re in?

After navigating a series of unspeakably awful automaker Web sites to gather the raw data for my previous post on fuel economy, I spent about an hour today looking at dealer locations and hours — particularly service hours. When I get a new car, particularly one with a lot of new technology like a hybrid, I want some assurance that there will be a factory-authorized service department available when and where I find it convenient. It seems that many dealership service departments still work “bankers’ hours” — or even less, given that many bank branches are open evenings and weekends these days. The rest of retail has figured out, by fits and starts, that it doesn’t matter whether they’re open or not when their customers are all at work, so if they want the custom, they have to be open when other businesses aren’t. The car dealers don’t seem to have figured this out. (They’re open for sales, which is useful once every three years or so, but not for service, which you need a few times a year.) Not being open on Sunday is nearly a killer for me, since Sunday is my errand day.

There’s probably a good economic reason for this (salespeople on commission versus service techs on hourly wages must play a big part) but it’s still irritating, and something I have to consider. So here’s the table that represents that. (Note that these are authorized service departments convenient to me, and things were you live are probably different.)

Nameplate Service on weekends
Honda 1 of 3 closed on Sunday
Mercedes 2 of 3 closed on Sunday, 1 of 3 closes early Sunday
Toyota 3 of 4 closed on Sunday
Acura all closed on Sunday
Hyundai all closed on Sunday
Mazda all closed on Sunday
VW all closed on Sunday
Nissan all closed on Sunday, 1 of 4 closed Saturday afternoon
Ford all closed on Sunday, 2 of 4 close early Saturday
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