Want to See the Future of Investment Advice? Visit Your Local Auto Parts Store

Old Big Red sprung a leak a while back. Many of you are familiar with Big Red, but there are a few of you who might need an introduction. Big Red is my 18-year-old Chevy Silverado 2500 HD. I realize this may not be the type of vehicle driven by the majority of bankers, money managers, financial advisors, or brokers, but for me he is comfortable, and for the most part very reliable. Besides, I grew up in farm country and quickly learned the value of a pickup.

Big Red has only had a few problems over the years that were all easily fixed with a little minor surgery. The surgery needed to fix this particular leak was the replacement of a valve cover gasket. So I took him to the closest auto parts store to buy a new gasket. The store belongs to one of the nation’s largest retailers of automotive parts. I approached the gentleman at the counter and let him know what I wanted.

“Sure” he said, as he straightened his keyboard in front of him, “we’ll find what you need. Can I start by getting your telephone number?” As soon as he entered my number, up popped my name, address, and countless other bits of my data, probably produced from some hidden box on the other side of the country.

“What was the year and make of the truck again?” Each question he asked was prompted in the form of a drop down box of choices on his computer screen. Next was, “What Model?” which led to, “Which engine?” Each answer prompted another set of choices that the man at the computer quickly selected from.

The final question was which gasket I was looking for, and after I replied, the screen filled up with a list of gaskets, one of which was in bold letters and highlighted green. The gentleman said, “It will be $27.99 plus tax. Do you want me to grab it for you?”

Personally, I thought this was a bit high for a gasket. So I looked at the list that appeared on the screen and found out that his recommendation was for a gasket kit. The kit included some additional parts that I did not need. So I selected the option without the extra parts for $16.97.