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!”

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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!)

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The ‘Check Brain’ Light Hasn’t Stopped Flashing

| 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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Their Quotes Are On Automatic

| Working | March 2, 2017

(I am having a relatively minor  –  but annoying  –  issue with my car. Since I work in the automotive industry, I do some quick research to troubleshoot the problem and order the necessary replacement parts. I don’t have access to a hydraulic lift all-but necessary to repair it, so I decide to call around and get quotes from local repair shops. The first place I call:)

Me: “Hi, I was calling for a quote on some repair work I need on my car.”

Mechanic: “Well, ma’am, it depends on what’s wrong with it. Does it run? Can you bring it by the shop for us to take a look at?”

Me: “Yes, it runs, and I already know what’s wrong with it and just need—”

Mechanic: “Ma’am, we won’t know exactly what’s wrong with it ’til we get it in the shop and take a look at it, but I could probably get you a ballpark figure. What’s it doing?”

Me: *humoring him* “First of all, it’s a 2006 [Domestic Crossover]: six-cylinder, all-wheel drive. When braking — particularly on a hill — it’s a bit rough. The ABS light comes on when the engine starts, and the all-wheel light flashes when braking.”

Mechanic: “Well, again, I’d have to actually get it on a lift and look at it, but it sounds like you got some bad brakes and warped rotors. Something like that goes on long enough, you could end up with a busted axle. We’re talking $100-300 for parts, about four hours or more labor. If your axle’s bent, it’s gonna be a lot more than that, but we won’t know that ’til we get it on a lift and take a look at it.”

Me: *DONE humoring him* “Actually, I replaced the brakes less than two months ago with ceramic pads, and the rotors were fine. The ACTUAL problem is that there’s a crack in one or both of the ABS tone rings on the front axle, causing the ABS to think the car is sliding when I brake. The rear wheels are engaged to compensate for the non-existent slide, and the car shudders a bit until I’m either completely stopped or moving again. It’s about a 2-4 hour repair job to replace both tone rings, but only $15 in parts.”

Mechanic: “Uh… ma’am, the ABS and four-wheel drive don’t work together like that.”

Me: “So, you’re saying you’ve never worked on a car with all-wheel drive?”

(Fortunately, the second place I called knew what I was talking about and quoted three-four hours of labor. Their per hour rate was a only a little higher than the third shop I called, but Shop #3 insisted they would have to order the parts themselves — at around $30 each, more than four times what I’d already paid — in order to warranty the labor. Shop #2 it was, and they did a great job.)

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Doesn’t Have Tow-tal Recall

| Right | February 15, 2017

(I own a garage in a small town. We get a call about a woman stranded on the side of the road. It’s from her roadside assistance company whom we’ve done work for before so it’s a no-cost tow for her. They bring her car in and we get it into the garage. Her car starts up, but can’t seem to rev up past an idle and won’t go faster than a few miles per hour, basically moving like you had it in gear and took your foot off the brake. I gladly take a look at it and within a minute I see the problem. The throttle linkage has come loose. Easy fix, but my policy is that if it came off once, then it might be a little worn and might do it again at a later date. I check my parts distributer and see that it’s a $15 part.)

Me: “Ma’am, the problem is the throttle linkage. It came loose. I put it back on, but since it fell off once it might fall off again. I don’t have that part in stock, but I can get it in by Monday and it’ll take all of five minutes to swap it out. Since your tow was from [Roadside Assistance] there’s no charge to you. I’m not going to bother with labor for a two-minute fix. You can take your car and head home, no charge, but I’d be careful as this could happen again. I suggest you let me order the part and have you come back in when it arrives. That would be $15 for the part and again, I’m not going to charge you for the labor.”

Customer: *flips out totally* “How DARE you try to screw me out of my hard earned money with your mechanical scams!”

Me: *hands her the keys* “The car is working. No charge. Good day.”

(I walk back into the garage and get back to work on one of the other cars. A few hours later I get a call from the roadside assistance company.)

Roadside Assistance: “We are calling to explain that if you’re going to be scamming and price gouging the customers, we’re no longer going to use you in the future.”

Me: “Is this about the woman you had towed earlier today?”

Roadside Assistance: “It is.”

Me: *sighing* “It was a disconnected throttle linkage. I pulled back the retaining clip and slipped it onto where it is supposed to be. It literally took me longer to explain it just then than it took to do it. I charged her nothing for the repair and since the tow was on you guys, no charge there. I DID say to her that if it came off once it might come off again in the future and that it might not be a bad idea to get a new one at a cost of $15, and again, with no charge for labor since it would take maybe five minutes. At that point, for this to not be any less price gouging I’d have to pay her to let me fix her car for her.”

Roadside Assistance: “Umm… Well… I see. We’re putting a note into her account and we appreciate what you have done for her. She was telling us that you tried to charge her for the tow and was going to ‘make her fork over $600 to replace half the engine.’ I’m sorry for wasting your time and we look forward to working with you in the future.”

(That was the first time I wished a customer’s car would go boots up on them.)

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