The Receipt Changed More Than The Oil Did

, , , | Right | August 25, 2017

(I’m a female working at a quick oil change shop (the kind you drive through). Although most people aren’t bothered by the fact I’m not a man, it bothers some. I was raised in a family of mechanics and have been wrenching since I was three years old. It’s mid Friday afternoon right before a long weekend, and we’re slammed, with lines three cars deep on all three bays, and more trying to pull in. Three out of five employees, including myself, are working today, and the owner is sitting in his office, otherwise useless. A woman drives up to the door, so I open it to let her in. She sits in her vehicle staring at me waving her forward, then opens her window.)

Customer: “Can you get one of the guys to guide me in?”

Me: *internal sigh, knowing already she’d be a problem* “Just pull forward. Everyone else is busy.”

Customer: “Okay, then.” *rolls eyes*

(Finally, her vehicle is in and I get her started.)

Me: “What can I do for you t—”

Customer: “Where are the lube guys?”

Me: “Lube technician, and I’m right here. What can I do for you today?”

Customer: “Well, I’m making a 10 hour road trip today and I’m overdue for an oil change, but JUST the oil. I don’t need anything else.”

Me: “Okay, basic oil or synthetic?”

Customer: “Whatever is cheapest.”

(I head down into the pit and start draining the oil. A thick black sludge of what used to be oil starts glooping out, so I go back upstairs to talk to the woman.)

Me: “When did you last have your oil changed?”

Customer: “My sticker says I’m due at 201,000 kms, I’m at 201,353.”

Me: “That has to be a mistake…” *I peer in and look at the sticker, sure enough it says 201k. Her odometer, however, reads 217,353*

Customer: “Yeah, okay, I’m a little over, but just do it.”

Me: “Well, your old oil is now sludge so I’m afraid there could be some more trapped inside. What I can do is run some fresh oil with some cleaner solution that will break up and flush out the old stuff. Normally the flush is $20 plus the oil, but I can put in fresh oil and only charge you for that; the solution I’ll discount to $0.”

Customer: “Yeah, no thanks. I told you I don’t want any extras.”

Me: “Okay, just so you know we won’t honor the warranty on this service since there’s a pre-existing issue.”

Customer: “Yeah, yeah, whatever. Hurry up, I’m running behind.”

(I proceed to complete the oil change and move on to checking tire pressure, washer fluid, etc, a free service we offer all vehicles.)

Me: “Almost finished. Just going to top up your washer fluid and do the final checks.”

Customer: *on the phone now* “Uh huh, hurry up.”

(I look at her coolant reservoir and notice it’s bone dry, not even residue. It’s 36 degrees Celsius outside and that combined with her upcoming road trip worries me.)

Me: “Miss, your coolant reservoir is completely empty. There could be coolant in your rad still, but an empty reservoir doesn’t leave enough room to cycle it out. If you want, I can open the rad and check but your vehicle will need to cool down a bit more.”

Customer: *still on the phone* “No! No more extras! Just the oil!”

Me: “Okay, your total comes to [amount]. As I mentioned due to the state of your oil when you came in, and now with no coolant, our company is voiding the warranty for this service and cannot be held liable for any damage that may occur. You’ll see on your invoice that you refused a flush and refused a coolant check/fill, and at the bottom it states ‘Customer refused checks. Warranty void.’”

Customer: “Good Lord, you exaggerate so much. The GUYS would never take this long. Maybe a GIRL isn’t cut out for this job. Go work at [Restaurant next door] or something!”

(She leaves. Three days later, I can hear the owner in the office sounding frustrated on the phone. He’s pacing back and forth with a worried look. Finally he hangs up the phone and calls me in.)

Me: “What’s up?”

Owner: “That was corporate on the phone. Apparently a service you did wasn’t done properly and the vehicle owner is requesting we replace the engine of the vehicle due to your negligence. I’m looking into it because it sounds really shady.”

Me: “It wouldn’t happen to be a [Year, Make, Model], would it?”

Owner: “Yes… Actually, that’s exactly what it is. So you knew there were issues but didn’t tell her?”

Me: “Quite the opposite, actually.”

(I spend 10 minutes explaining what happened and what the customer said, and made sure to mention the NO WARRANTY I included.)

Owner: “Okay. Well, she’s coming in this evening so we’ll see what’s going on.”

(Later that day, a taxi pulls up and the woman gets out, fuming mad. She comes in and starts SCREAMING right in my face.)

Customer: “YOU! YOU F***** UP MY CAR! A GIRL HAS NO PLACE IN A GARAGE, YOU USELESS IDIOT!”

Owner: “Ma’am, there’s no need for that. Can I see your invoice for the service, please?”

(The customer digs in her bag and hands him a piece of paper. He looks it over and looks at me, obviously upset.)

Owner: “[My Name], you didn’t write any of that information you told me in here.”

Customer: “SHE didn’t tell me ANYTHING! I came in here with a PERFECTLY good car and I get two hours down the road and BOOM! Oil and stuff all over the road and my car won’t even start! I had to pay $400 to get it towed that YOU better reimburse me for! My car needs $4000 in repairs!”

Me: “Huh. That’s interesting.”

Customer: “WHAT are you TALKING about?!”

Me: “I’m surprised it made it two hours with no coolant on the highway in desert temperatures.”

Customer: “Well, I NEVER!”

Owner: “[My Name]… why didn’t you write any notes on this?”

(I grab the invoice and look carefully over it. There’s a strange grey line on the left side of the sheet, but what’s especially concerning is that none of my notes are there, everything says CHECKED – OK, meaning I didn’t advise of any issues. I look a bit closer and see at the bottom “PAGE 1 OF 1” which our printer does not write.)

Me: “Uh, boss? She scanned our invoice and cut-and-pasted stuff onto it. See the grey line? That’s from the scanner. Page 1 of 1 on the bottom? She doesn’t know how to use the word processor to remove footers. Our printer doesn’t print that. And here—” *pointing to a large bright white square over our logo’d background* “—she put a text box over my notes and wrote CHECKED – OK in Comic Sans font. We use Arial.”

(The woman is now red in the face, shaking and sweaty, looking like she could punch me at any moment. I go to our computer system and look up her name, and reprint her original invoice, which as I said, contained all these notes. The woman grunts and screams at the top of her lungs.)

Owner: “Well, that’s a new one. No, we won’t be paying for your repairs OR your tow. You drove a vehicle in nearly 40 degrees with no coolant… What did you think would happen?”

Customer: “SHE DIDN’T TELL ME!”

Owner: “According to this, she did. And this is something that you signed on your copy before you forged it.”

Customer: “How DARE you? I did no such thing! Give me $5000! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH MY CAR IS WORTH?!”

(The owner looks at me sympathetically, seeing my internal rage, and nods, letting me give it to her.)

Me: “First of all, it’s not a car, it’s an SUV. Second, it’s 12-years-old and has over 200k on it. Third, judging by the amount of junk and takeout that I saw in it in the 30 seconds it took to look at your odometer, I’m sure everything is broken and/or filthy, not to mention the lack of care you took, judging by the fluids. If it was in pristine condition, you’d be looking at around $700. Yours? Maybe it’s weight in scrap, so $115.” *she opens her mouth to interrupt me, but I stop her* “Fourth, I advised you NUMEROUS times of the issues and offered remedies, as I knew you were going on a road trip. I do this job to pay for school, to be a mechanic. This is the only job that works with my school hours.” *she now looks slightly defeated* “FINALLY, the moment you came in here asking for a MAN, I could’ve just opened the exit door and waved you out. I didn’t. I am the most experienced and best educated person here.”

(I smugly walked away. The owner stood beside the woman, the biggest smile I’d ever seen. I saved him $5000+ AND put an idiot customer in her place.)

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