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That rant (was:thermostat/gasket)

Steve, sorry for the late reply, been busy fawning over my new grandson.

My problem, as a shop owner, is the particularly large number of people
passing through my doors saying things like "it can't be the starter, I
just bought one at (mass parts outlet here), or "the guy at (same) said
this was the right one, he looked it up".

In an previous rant, early in my list days, I described purchasing a
front wheel bearing for a Rabbit at Kragen, and paying $56. That's $22
over dealer list, and that's the price it's been for years, not one of
the newly lowered prices. THREE times the price charged by the foreign
car parts specialist  store here in town. How about $53 for a generic
universal oxygen sensor for the same Rabbit? Bosch lists theirs at about
36 bucks. They have the general public bamboozled into thinking of them
as both inexpensive and as purveyors of quality parts, as well as into
believing that their countermen are highly qualified both as parts men
and as sources of installation information.  "Sure, we've got that, come
on down!" "Well, I thought we had that, maybe this one will work."
"Well, I can have it for you tomorrow, but It'll cost ya extra." These
stores, in general, push substandard brands of parts at what seem, to
the uninformed public, to be low prices. Although some carry better
lines, you BETTER know what you want, and you'd better know what it
should cost. You can get some Bosch at Pep Boys, but they're gonna steer
you to a brand on which they can make more money, and you'll never find
Mahle, Mann, Knecht, or any of the nice European belts that fit and last
so well. You'll not find Boge, Koni, Sachs, Phillips, Bilstein, or some
of the better Japanese brands. They DON'T carry Pentosin, nor it's
equivalents, nor phosphate antifreeze. These are people who'll tell you
with a straight face that "Fram's the best there is", and that "As seen
on TV" is a mark of quality.

Sure, I got a price match, but it WAS inconvenient, and I had to get an
estimate invoice from the parts store, and run across town , and they
wanted to give me store credit instead of a refund, and the manager who
had to sign it off was suddenly nowhere to be found.

The sad thing is that the old line local parts store, the one with the
slightly higher prices, or maybe lower, and the machine shop, and
delivery, and commercial accounts, has begun closing on Sundays, so you
have to go to the mass marketers if you need something then. I've
personally seen some of these old timers come over at night to get a
part for a shop that just had to get a job out. Think the new guys'll do
that? It's just another example of the ongoing triumph, in America, of
form over substance.
Thank you for your time