Dear Tom and Ray:
When I take my car in for service and the mechanic hands me a "doggie bag" on my way out -- a sack that contains the used/faulty parts that have just been replaced (air filter, spark plugs, etc.) -- what am I supposed to do with them? Should I examine them, and if so, what should I be looking for? Should I just throw them out, and are there any recycling or environmental concerns I should be aware of? Should I save them in case the new part fails and I need a quick fix? -- Vicky
RAY: What a great idea. I'm going to start handing out doggie bags of old parts. I'll save hundreds on my disposal fees!
TOM: Most mechanics will provide the "replaced" parts to customers upon request. In fact, they have to, by law, in some states. But few customers ever ask for them. Why? Because, like you, Vicky, they'd have no idea what to do with them!
RAY: It sounds like your mechanic is trying to demonstrate his honesty: By giving back the used parts with each repair, he's deflecting any possible suggestion that he didn't actually do the work you paid him to do.
TOM: But you're under absolutely no obligation to accept the doggie bag. You can simply decline, like you might decline a cashier's attempt to give you a paper receipt for a 50-cent pack of gum. You can just say, "Thanks; you can keep those."
RAY: Then he'll simply toss them in the garbage. Or parcel them out in the next few customers' doggie bags.