Today I filled my gas tank at the Petro-Canada station in the Signal Hill Centre location in Calgary.
As my Honda SUV needed a bath, I opted for the “Basic” wash ($7.99) I knew it would quickly get dirty again; I just wanted the current layer of dirt and salt washed off.
Immediately after going through the car wash, I drove to the Staples right next door to quickly pick up some supplies. When I got out of my vehicle I noticed that the back of the car was still quite dirty. It appeared as though the jets/brushes had not touched most of the back panel of the SUV.
No problem, I thought, Petro-Canada has a “No Hassle Guarantee. A GREAT Wash or a Re-wash”. That’s what the sign prominently posted at the exit of the automated car wash says.
So within 15-20 minutes, I was back at the Petro-Canada asking for a rewash. The clerk said that he would need to check my vehicle before issuing a rewash ticket. You know, to make sure that there weren’t any problems with the car wash. Uh huh, OK, no problem – check away.
My vehicle by this time had mostly, but not completely dried in Calgary’s dry climate. This caused 2 problems:
1. More dirt had become visible where it had dried, dripping down from the windows and mirrors. It also made the back look even worse than it did when I first spotted the problem.
2. Most of all, the clerk was concerned that I was trying to rip him off and get a free car wash after I had driven around all day getting my car dirty.
I asked him to check the time on my receipt. Yes, it was true; I really just had my car washed, despite the fact that it was mostly dry.
Before even seeing the back of the vehicle, he claimed that the dried dirt dripping down from the mirrors and windows was in the acceptable range for a “Basic “car wash. The car wash was indeed operating properly. I just ignored that and brought him around to see the back. Oh, OK, no question (in my mind) that something in the wash was definitely not functioning as intended.
Then he proceeds to tell me that I should have purchased the “Superwash” for an additional $2.00. (In reality it’s an extra $3, but who’s countin’?) He tells me that this is what he always recommends to all the car wash customers.
I explain to him that I just wanted the dirt & salt washed away…and besides, isn’t it a GOOD thing I didn’t get the Superwash because now all this dirt and salt would be stuck onto my car with wax.
I remind him of the no hassle guarantee and say that I would have been happy with a good wash, let alone a Great wash, but alas, I did not even get a good wash. Now, could I please have the re-wash ticket that I came back here for?
He grudgingly gives it to me, another basic wash ticket. As I am getting into my vehicle and about to back up, I notice that he is charging out of the station doors and striding towards me. I roll down my window.
“That ticket is only good for an hour! You must use it NOW or not at all!”
“Yes, I understand that.” I said, “I’m heading around back to the wash line up right now. Hopefully it doesn't take me an hour to get through it.”
After the rewash, I immediately get out of the vehicle and walk around behind to ensure that all the dirt has now been taken away. Nope, it’s slightly better, but mostly still visible there, although it’s dripping wet.
So I drive up and park by the door, find him and inform him that now he can come and see for himself that fresh out the car wash for a second time, the back of my vehicle is still dirty. He is visibly annoyed.
As soon as he sees the remaining dirt, he announces again that I should have purchased the Superwash. He recommends the Superwash to all his customers. Then he proceeds to tell me that hundreds of cars are washed here daily without issue. By this time, I’m getting irritated and I respond that I do not care about the hundreds; I care about this one. THIS one is not getting properly cleaned.
Again he tells me that this problem it is my fault because I should have purchased the Superwash. I tell him that if the wash guarantee only applied to those that purchase the Superwash, it should say so. It doesn’t. And I add that I can’t imagine that getting the Superwash would make much difference, except for the application of wax.
Oh YES, he emphatically explains, there are more water jets and more expensive, very expensive soap nozzles with the Superwash.... You. Should. Have. Bought. The. Superwash. (apparently, he thinks I’m just not grasping this fact)
While we are standing there having this discussion, my vehicle is drying and more dirt by the second is becoming visible. I point this out to him. He throws his hands angrily in the air and barks that he has to talk to his manager.
In about 10 minutes he comes out with a Superwash ticket. Your car will come out perfect now... It’s almost perfect now, he adds. You MUST use this right NOW. The 48 hour rain check guarantee does NOT apply.
Yeah, yeah, I got it.
So for the third time, I go through the Petro-Canada car wash - Superwash style.
At the end of it, I get out and check the back. You guessed it, it’s still dirty and yes, the grit & salt is now waxed to my car. How purdy.
The clerk comes over , this time with the wash attendant. Unbelievably, he explains that the remaining dirt (after 3 washes) is “acceptable” and how I can’t expect a perfect job.
“Perfect” was your word, I remind him, not mine. All I wanted was a good wash. Still, after 3 washes, one of which was the recommended Superwash, my car had significant and visible swathes of grit and dirt remaining on the rear panel, now sealed with wax.
I state for the last time, that obviously, there is something wrong with the car wash. It has cleaned the back of this vehicle acceptably in the past. Now it does not, even 3 washes later.
Then, in tandem with his wash operator, pointing to patches of dirt here and there and here, he continues to explain why the wash didn’t get those pieces and how this wash should be acceptable. I tell them that I’m done with this discussion as I’ve already wasted more time than it was worth.
Next time – I’ll just wash it myself at a coin-op.