I took my wife's Outback XT in to our local independent shop, Metric Motors, In Taos, NM for a check engine light. We live an hour and a half from the nearest Subie dealer, and leaving it overnight entails renting a car, so I decided to give MM a try.
The computer indicated a miss firing cylinder. They swapped coils and plugs and could not isolate the problem. They took the car on so many test drives, they used up a half a tank of gas.( I think they were just enjoying shifting the gears on this rare manual turbo Outback.) Once they isolated the bad coil, all they charged me for was the labor to repair the problem. I was stunned. Did they lose money on the deal? Probably. But they also earned a loyal customer...one with a big mouth who will brag about them to all who will listen. They made a bunch of it back on the 30k maintenance on my 2010 LGT. I will only go to the dealer for required warranty service from now on.With 2 turbos in the garage, I'm sure they will come out ahead.
I was the same way with my BMW dealer, Moritz, in Dallas. They treated me right in the shop and I bought 3 new cars there, costing well over $130k. Some call it the cost of doing business. I call it the cost of earning my business. I've never heard of paying for a test drive, but to me, it sounds like a company asking you to take your business elsewhere. Dis-service like that should not be encouraged.