After reading the owners manual it was discovered that synthetic oil was not required by Ford. They did not say "no", but they were clear that it was not essential. In the back of the manual on the maintenance schedule they discovered that the oil and filter service was 10,000 miles not the 3,000 miles on the sticker placed in the window by the competitor. After looking at the receipt one more time it was discovered that the last time the Ford was serviced by the competitor the automatic transmission was serviced and the radiator was flushed.
Next stop, back to the Ford dealership to see if they could learn anything more. Sticking out like a sore thumb was "The Works" - Fords synthetic oil change and comprehensive inspection for $39.95. Their inspection was a whole lot more comprehensive that the competitors.
So is the competitor cheaper and more convenient? No on both counts. Here is the math. They can get "The Works" at a Ford Quick Lane facility that is closer than the competitor for $39.95 - synthetic oil change and comprehensive inspection. This would be done every 10,000 miles. Or, they could go get the "Signature Service" for $35.99 nearly $4.00 cheaper than Ford. But, once there, they switch them to synthetic oil with an up-charge of $29.00. They hand a bill over for $67.25 (after tax, 58% more expensive than "The Works") and slap on a window sticker to come back in 3,000 miles. Their computer reminds them and the customer, that they always get synthetic oil. And the counterperson assures them the Hybrids require it. It is convenient but, probably no more convenient than the Ford Quick Lane they pass on their way to the competitor. Over the course of 10,000 miles I'd be reminded to go to the competitor three times. Total cost would be $201.75.....only if they could resist aggressive sales tactics to change the air filter, flush the radiator, flush the transmission and so on. The "Works" would have saved them $159.20 for a single necessary oil and filter change.
Consumer education is a wonderful thing.