Batteries not included

2 06 2012

Remember I wrote recently we are now a one-car family. That means the 2004 Prius will get more wear and tear with two dogs and a second driver. If this car has to last us a long time, I said, we have to take good care of it. Wash it regularly inside and out.

We like the Prius mainly because the hybrid gets such good mileage compared to a gasoline-only vehicle.

For eight years I have taken it religiously to the Toyota dealer for scheduled maintenance and cannot complain about the service. A little red maintenance light goes on on the dashboard, and a windshield sticker shows at what odometer reading I should take it to the shop.

When I made the appointment for yesterday I noticed a change in the telephone protocol.  Whereas before I would say I’d like to bring the car in for servicing, the rep would suggest a day and time, and I would say “thank you” and we’d hang up; now there is a lengthier script including at the end, “Thank you, and is there anything else we can do for you today, Ms. Luke?”

The appointment time depends on what kind of service you want—”regular scheduled maintenance” in my case, whether you will be waiting on the premises for your car—”yes, ma’am,” and whether you need a courtesy shuttle to your workplace or wherever you want to go. It’s nice that the car place is paying attention to customer service.

Upon check in I asked about one more thing besides the scheduled maintenance. DH remembered about this, and he wanted to get it fixed before the arrival of our house- and pet-sitter, who would have use of the car.

I said, “I have two keys to this car. One of them is a replacement because the car would lock and unlock itself without my doing anything with the key. It was so frustrating, I ordered another key.” (Our Prius is not the model that starts with the key in your pocket, by the way.)

“Now,” I said, “the remote feature on two keys to lock and unlock the door doesn’t work, and we’ve been using the mini manual key to open the door. Is there some way to reset them? What could be wrong?”

And the service rep asked, “Did you replace the battery?”

Huh? I said to myself. The key has a battery?! In eight years, no one told me the key has a battery. And DH is an engineer! But I kept my cool and said sweetly, “Perhaps you could show me where the battery is and how to change it.”

“I hope you have a small enough screw driver,” the rep said. He turned the key over, and simultaneously, with the fingernail of one hand moving the same tiny knob used to release the manual key and the thumb of the other hand on the back of the key, he slid off the back to reveal four teeny tiny screws. “Under this piece is the battery,” he pointed out.

What a revelation. Who knew? Being Chinese, I wondered if I had to buy the replacement key to begin with. It was very expensive — three figures!

I told this story to DH at the end of the day when I picked him up, and he said, “Did you think to ask them to replace the battery for you?”

Sheepishly I said, “No, I didn’t think . . .”

Copyright 2012 Rebekah Luke
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