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.)

Turning Down Their Volume Control

, , , , | Right | June 14, 2017

In 1991 I worked for the summer at a local dealer in the service department. Lots of stupid customers.

One evening, just as the sun is going down, a lady who has bought a new Chevy S-10 Blazer comes to the service desk and she is mad. Her complaint is that the dash lights are not working, and she is ranting about how this was ridiculous on a new vehicle.

My manager, who is familiar with this customer, walks out to the vehicle, reaches in through the open window, and turns the dimmer knob. Wow, dash lights! She says not a word, not even thanks, and gets in the Blazer and drive away.

Not a week later, she’s back. No sound coming from the right-side speakers. And she was again ranting, this time to other customers, about the crap Chevy she had bought. Again, my manager walks out to the vehicle and turns the balance knob for the stereo. One of the other customers chuckled loudly, she turned red as a beet, got in the Blazer, and left the parking-lot with squealing rubber. Her husband brought the Blazer in for service after that.

Her Son Trends Against The Curve

, , , , , , | Right | June 6, 2017

(A customer comes in to clean out and sign paperwork for a vehicle in her name. The car is totalled, as it had run head-first into a tree and sustained more repair costs than the car itself is worth. My coworker comes up from the accounting area of the offices with the forms and they stand by my receptionist desk to get everything done.)

Car Owner: “I can’t believe my stupid son wrecked this so badly!”

(She keeps referring to him as her “stupid son” or “stupid boy” but not meanly — it’s more like she loves him but can’t believe what he did. My coworker just ignores it in favor of taking care of business, but she finally smiles and shakes her head.)

Coworker: “I’m sure he’s not that bad.”

Customer: “Do you know what he told me? ‘I didn’t know the road curved, Ma.'”

Coworker: “Oh, well… I guess you have a point!”

Ignorer The Explorer

, , | Right | June 1, 2017

(I work at a lube/mechanical service shop. It’s my job to answer the phones and take payments. I announce cars to the lobby when they are ready.)

Me: “Ford for Ling. Ford Explorer for Mr. Ling”.

(A clearly Hispanic woman walks up to the counter.)

Customer: “Sí.”

Me: “I have this under a Chao Ling. Is that okay?”

Customer: “Yes, yes, yes.”

Me: “So for the Ford Explorer for Ling today I have a standard oil change and a light bulb replacement. That will be $26.98.”

Customer: “Yes, yes. Sí.”

(I cash her out, she wanders off to the parking lot, and leaves. All the finished cars have the keys inside; we have extensive cameras everywhere). An hour later an Asian man shows up.)

New Customer: “Hello, I am here for the Ford Explorer. Chao Ling.”

Me: *raging in my head* “FFFFFOOOOOO.”

(It turned out the Hispanic lady had not only a totally different car, she also had a full synthetic oil change ($59.99), a tire rotation ($19.99), an engine flush, and both differential services (a combo deal for $140.00). A lovely total of $219.98. So the shop was pretty darn mad at me. For the love of all that is good, PAY ATTENTION!)

The ‘Check Brain’ Light Hasn’t Stopped Flashing

| San Jose, CA, USA | Right | May 26, 2017

(I am a trained and certified mechanic who is currently working as a service advisor at a dealership. I am also female. A customer has a ‘Check Engine’ light come on in her car. The faulty component we replace is part of a monitoring system that looks for other issues. When she is picking up her car I explain to her that because before the part was not doing its job but now is functional, there is a chance that the ‘Check Engine’ light may come on again if the computer finds a leak in the system since now it is able to look again. She gets confused.)

Me: “Think of it like a smoke detector that’s beeping because the battery is getting low. If you replace the battery, it may beep again in the future if it sees a fire.”


Me: “Oh, no, I’m sorry if I confused you! I was comparing your ‘Check Engine’ light to a smoke alarm beeping.”


Me: “…no. A smoke detector is completely separate from your car. It was a metaphor.”

Customer: “Well, you shouldn’t do that! Metaphors are confusing! That’s stupid! So what are you trying to say if there’s no fire? AND DON’T CONFUSE ME BY COMPARING IT TO SOMETHING ELSE! Tell me about my car!”

Me: “The ‘Check Engine’ light can come on for literally thousands of different reasons. The part we fixed is designed to look for leaks; for instance if a gas cap is left loose. We don’t think there are any leaks, but now that the part works again if there is one it will find it. And the ‘Check Engine’ light would come on again.”

Customer: “BUT I NEVER LEAVE MY GAS CAP LOOSE! It’s REALLY offensive that you would say I would do something like that!”

Me: “That isn’t the ONLY thing that can turn on a Check Engine light; it’s just a common example and it’s exactly the sort of thing that the part we replaced is there to find.”


(I eventually manage to finish the conversation and have her heading out the door to her car. But, as she is walking away, she turns around to say one more thing.)

Customer: “And by the way, I REALLY don’t appreciate how you talked to me when you called to tell me what was wrong with my car. You should just tell me what’s broken instead of trying to CONFUSE me with your explanations. I’m an INTELLIGENT WOMAN. And you should talk to me like I’m an INTELLIGENT WOMAN!”

(Sure, lady. Sure.)

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