School Can Open Doors

, , , , | Working | November 10, 2017

(I live in a very small town. My car is hit and sustains damage on the passenger side. I take it to the only auto body shop in town for repairs. I pick it up on Friday. On Sunday evening I chaperone an event at the high school.)

Student: “Hey, Mrs. [My Name]. My dad’s outside.”

Me: “Why? You guys are supposed to be done at 10:00. It’s only 9:30.”

Student: “I don’t know. I’ll text him.”

(Several minutes pass.)

Student: “That’s weird. My dad never answered, and now his car is gone.”

Me: “He’ll probably be back at 10:00.”

(We finish up and I dismiss the other kids. It’s now 10:15 and there is no sign of the student’s dad.)

Me: “Did you try calling him?”

Student: “Yeah. It went to voicemail. I guess I can walk.”

Me: “I can take you. Why don’t you take my car keys and these boxes and go get in the car. I’ll be there as soon as I lock up here.”

(He takes the keys and goes off to the parking lot. I turn off the lights and lock up and head to the car. When I get there, the student is standing next to the car, looking perplexed.)

Me: “What’s wrong?”

Student: “Your key doesn’t do anything. I put it in the lock and it spins all the way around and doesn’t unlock the door.”

(I try the passenger door and find he’s correct. I try the driver’s door and it works fine. I reach across and open his door. As we are driving to his house:)

Student: “You know, my dad can probably fix that. He owns a body shop.”

Me: “I know. I just got my car back from your dad’s shop on Friday. He fixed the passenger side. I guess he forgot to reattach the lock.”

(By the time I get home after dropping off the student, I have a voice mail.)

Student’s Dad: “Hi. This is [Student’s Dad]. Thanks for dropping off [Student]. If you can come to the shop in the morning, I will fix your door. I’m really sorry. Um, just tell the girls at the desk you need to see me. They, uh, don’t need to know why.”

(I guess he was embarrassed to admit to his staff what happened!)

You Pay Like A Girl

, , , , | Right | October 17, 2017

(I’m a female heavy-duty mechanic. I get put to work on a customer’s truck that I’ve been warned is a pain in the a**. I get finished with his truck with no problem and bring him over to my service writer to finish paperwork.)

Service Writer: “Please sign here.”

Customer: “Do I get a cheaper price because she’s a girl?”

Me: “…”

Service Writer: No.”

Customer: “Why not? Other places do it.”

(There is a moment of silence as my service writer glares at the man and I focus harder on my paperwork so that I don’t swear at him.)

Service Writer: *finally breaking the silence* “We don’t work like that here.”

Customer: *grumbles and walks away*

Me: “Did he really say that?”

Service Writer: “Yup, and he’s not even paying the bill. His boss is.”

You Couldn’t Service-Write This Even If You Tried

, , , | Right | September 12, 2017

(I work at an auto and diesel repair shop, and I happen to be a young female. I write estimates, talk to customers, order parts, etc…)

Me: “[Shop]. How can I help you?”

Customer: “I need a quote on my truck.”

Me: “Sure, what kind of truck?”

Customer: “Are you the service writer?”

Me: “I am.”

Customer: “Are you the only service writer? No men?”

Me: “Just me. [Old Male Coworker] left a year ago.”

Customer: “Can I talk to anyone else?”

Me: “Sure. Hang on just a minute.”

(Transfers phone to one of the owners, who is an office manager.)

Owner: “Hi, this is Jane!”

(This happens about once a month.)

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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Repairing Your Faith In Humanity

, , , | Hopeless | July 1, 2017

(A couple comes into the car repair shop where I work, with their rather run down car. It needs quite a few fixes, but they can’t afford most bigger ones like some body work and a new clutch. They keep stressing about it during the entire time as they are obviously tight with money but they need the car to get to work. We manage to get the costs down as much as possible and set them up with a payment plan, but it’s still quite a bill to handle. They can’t afford to rent a car as a replacement from my shop so they leave on their feet, looking rather down. Soon after, a guy comes in with a very nice car for an oil change. While we’re going trough the details and payment he notices the young couple’s car on the shop floor.)

Customer: “Hey, mind if I take a look at that car for a moment?”

Me: “Oh, it’s not for sale; it’s a customer’s car that—”

Customer: “Oh, I know. I know. I just want to check something.”

(He walks over to the car and checks the license plate, some of the damage to the body, the tires, and finally looks inside through the window.)

Customer: “HA! Can you tell me what’s being done to it?”

(I list of the repairs we have agreed upon.)

Customer: “What? Wait, what about the front end?”

Me: “Actually, the people who own it can’t afford anything more, so we’re just doing what needs to be done to keep it running a bit longer.”

Customer: “Really?”

Me: “Yeah, they need it fast so we don’t have the time for any longer repairs, in addition to them not being able to afford it.”

Customer: “Hmm… Can I cover the costs of the repair? I mean, is that fine with the shop?”

Me: “Yes, you can! That’s awesome! Can I just add them to your bill?”

Customer: “Sure, but before you do, a couple of things. You’re going to fix that front end. It’s pushing the fluid container against the exhaust pipes, so it’ll melt if left alone. Actually, it’s probably damaged already so replace the container, too. Then you’re going to fix the horn and windshield cleaner spray-thingy; that’s been shot for years! And when we’re on with the things that haven’t been done for years — all new filters for oil and air. The doors also need new stoppers. Exhaust needs to be tightened down; it starts vibrating at about 2500 revs. New belts. New tires…”

(I’m amazed as customer has listed a lot of things we noticed wrong with the car by just looking at it.)

Me: “That’s going to raise the bill quite a bit, sir. It’s now actually up to—”

Customer: “Couldn’t give a f***! And a new gear selector! They still have that 0.50€ cloth top cover on it so I assume it hasn’t been replaced.”

Me: “Okay, sir. Sorry for asking, do you know the couple that owns it?”

Customer: “Never met them. Oh, and a new clutch, yes! I’m pretty sure I’ve shot that while drifting around corners with the bloody thing. And before you ask — yes, only 60 HP under the hood, but you can get him to slide if you know what you’re doing! Don’t recommend trying it, though.”

Me: “The price for the clutch is a rather high one, sir, as it’s an old model, so—”

Customer: “C’mon, mate.”

Me: “May I ask why, sir?”

Customer: “Oh, see, that piece of s*** was my first car; I loved it! Much fun was had in it! All the damage on to it has been done personally by me, I’m afraid… When I finished college and got a decent job I could actually afford something a bit better than a matchbox on wheels so I didn’t even bother fixing it up. I just drove it over to the first mechanic I found and gave the thing to him for free to use for parts. My guess is the f***er decided to get the better of some kid and sold him that!”

Me: “Maybe it was cheap?”

Customer: “Oh, come on. You’ve seen the monstrosity! A kick in the balls and some spit in the face would be too much to give for it in that state! The thing is, it’s actually quite a decent little thing once you fix a couple of issues that are plaguing it. Small, easy to drive, spends almost no fuel… The engine should still have less than 100k km on it, and I never had an actual issue with it. Transmission works like a charm, too. Oh, is the suspension fine on it?”

Me: “Yes, the suspension is actually in great shape.”

Customer: “Wow, really? I wouldn’t have thought, but I’ll trust the expert. I guess the problem was me going into turns too fast. Anything else that needs to be done to it?”

Me: “The stuff you listed is everything, sir. I guess you know it pretty well!”

Customer: “I drove the thing everywhere! Anyway, could you also get them a rental? It’s going to be quite a while and you told me they needed a car. Full insurance on it. And deliver it to them! It’s hot outside. I don’t want them coming here on foot.”

Me: “Of course, sir! Would you like me to let them know your name or a contact if they wish to thank you?”

Customer: “Not a chance. My car should be done already so please just wait until I’m gone before you give them a call. Actually, II would like to leave a note, if possible.”

Me: “Sure, I can type it in here and they’ll get it with their bill. Feel free to give it to me.”

Customer: “Please just write something along the lines of: ‘I hope you enjoy the car. I know I did when it was mine! I’m better off than when I owned it so I can finally repair it now. All the stuff should be fixed up. Sorry about that. Make sure you don’t upshift on a hill; it will stall. And if you get the chance, someday, pay it forward!””

Me: “All done! Your bill is now [significantly higher that just an oil change] and your car is ready to go.”

Customer: “Thank you. I’ll be seeing you for my next oil change! And make sure to give me a call if you find something else that needs fixing on the car.”

(After the customer drove away, I called up the young couple to let them know the good news. They were ecstatic! When they came in to pick up their car, which was now in more than decent shape, they let me know that they’ve been struggling financially for a bit and they had to purchase the cheapest car they found. The boyfriend worked two jobs and he absolutely needed the car to get from one to the other so getting a rental while their car was fixed saved them and the free complete fix on their car helped them make a couple of payments on their loans. I couldn’t have given them the information for the customer, but I have attached a note to his account on their request in which they thanked him and promised to pay it forward ASAP. During the repairs, we found out that the brakes were rusted, and the customer covered replacement of those, too. The final total bill for the repair was in the thousands of Euros.)

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