If All Else Fails, Use Guilt

, , , , , | Right | December 18, 2018

(I work in the service department at a car dealership that is part of a larger dealer group spanning multiple makes. My particular brand’s franchise is closing for business so the car make will no longer be supported, and another brand is moving into the space. We originally were to have a temporary contract extension of a few months to remain operating in order for the manufacturer to open another location, so we could transition our customers, but at the last second, they opted out of that plan. The manufacturer ‘surprised’ us with news of the last date of operations with just under two weeks’ notice until said termination. We immediately had to cease bringing in new business to give us the best shot at completing the repairs that were already ongoing. As such, we have not had adequate time to prepare our customers for the closure. However, I do think it wouldn’t have helped for some as they don’t seem to understand the concept of ‘Closed for business.’ The first example customer dropped in without calling or scheduling — something that, even under normal circumstances, we were virtually always too busy to accommodate anyway.)

Me: “What brings you in today?”

Customer: “Well, I have [problem #1] and [problem #2] and I was hoping you guys could just fit me in.”

(He’s literally coming by in the afternoon on the Friday before a holiday weekend — the least likely time a by-appointment business would be able to ever fit anyone in for a drop-in.)

Me: “Unfortunately, I have some… unexpected news we just received. We’re going out of business. Our dealership is actually closing permanently a week from today.”

Customer: “Oh! Oh, no!”

Me: “It took us by surprise, too. Unfortunately, we’re not able to take any more cars in at all; we have to finish what we have in the shop now before our doors shut for good.”

Customer: “Oh, I understand. That sounds tough. And finding out during the holidays, too.”

Me: *glad he’s taking it so well, unlike most people* “I can get you the number for [Manufacturer’s corporate helpline] so they can help you find the most convenient location for your future service needs.”

Customer: “Oh, don’t worry. It’s okay. I’ll just come back later.”

Me: “Uhm… No. That won’t help. We won’t be here.”

Customer: “OH! You’re CLOSING!”

Me: “Yes. Closing.”

Customer: “Oh… I guess I’ll get that phone number.”

(I don’t know what other meanings he originally interpreted from ‘going out of business’ and ‘closing permanently’. The next customer called to schedule an appointment and proceeded to flip out on my cashier who answered the phone:)

Customer: “BUT I HAVE TO GET MY OIL CHANGED! I’M ALREADY WAY OVERDUE! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?”

Cashier: “There are many facilities that can perform the oil change on your car. You’re not obligated to take it to the dealership where you bought the car, especially as it’s no longer in business.”

Customer: “THIS IS SO INCONSIDERATE. I WANT YOU TO KNOW I’M LEAVING A BAD REVIEW ON YELP. WHAT ABOUT MY CAR?”

Cashier: *losing patience* “It’s blindsided all of us. [Manufacturer] gave us less than two weeks’ warning. I feel bad about your oil change, but I also feel bad about the fact that we have twelve employees here who just found out they don’t know if they’ll have jobs in less than two weeks.”

Customer: “WHAT?! Oh…”

(It worked so well that our manager actually encouraged us to guilt-trip people about our unknown employment when they gave us a hard time. It worked to shut them down pretty well. Fortunately, as the dealer group is large, they have guaranteed we will be able to keep comparable jobs at other locations, most of which are nearby. And we all shared a good laugh about why she thought slamming us on Yelp would make us feel bad: we were going out of business so our Yelp score means diddly squat. The only thing her review would do would be to help us by a. spreading the word that we were closing and not taking in any more cars, and b. making us look less attractive to customers, again helping reduce the number of people trying to bring in cars we couldn’t see anyway.)

The Customer Service Is Not Always Write

, , , | Working | November 21, 2018

(My car needs to get an oil change, so I take it to the dealership. My aunt drives me there since I can’t drive because of a recent operation. My car is VERY dirty because it has stayed parked for two months, and I was regularly going on nature adventures before the operation. I am a woman, and so is the representative at the dealership.)

Dealership Representative: *checks the car for bumps and hands me a paper* “Just sign here, and we will call you when the car is done.”

Me: *looks at the paper with scribbles all over it, written by hand* “Excuse me, but what is this?”

Dealership Representative: “Just an overall check of the car so that there are no misunderstandings if you find a scratch after you get it back.”

Me: “Okay, but I can’t read it. What does it say here?” *points to first sentence*

Dealership Representative: *sighs and goes to my left car door* “If you see it against the light it has minor scratches. It says dirty and scratched.”

Me: “Okay, I totally get it, but could you please write, ‘lightly scratched.’ I don’t want to come back to a giant scratch and them to tell me it was there.”

Dealership Representative: *starts getting visibly agitated* “Well, it’s dirty.”

Me: “Yeah, I know. Just put ‘lightly,’ so that I can be sure there are no misunderstandings.”

Dealership Representative: “Fine!” *snatches the paper from me and writes something*

Me: “Okay, thanks.” *leans over her to continue reading* “What does the second line say?”

(She starts shaking and angrily going to point each flaw in my car. She keeps insisting I “come see” it closer than I am and getting super agitated the more calmly I try to tell her I understand but need to understand what is written.)

Dealership Representative: *visibly shaking in what appears to be frustration* “I think what we can do is I won’t wash your car for the checkup.”

Me: *trying to act super calm, as I feel like she might attack me if I don’t* “Please don’t get defensive; I really only want to understand. I don’t mean to attack you or anything. I just need to know what I’m signing.”

Dealership Representative: *screams for a girl to come help her “deal with me”* “Well, I’m sorry you can’t understand my writing. Look…” *points to a word* “There it says, ‘dirty,’ D-I-R-T-ammm… There it says … emmm.”

(She continues reading the whole thing to me like this. Sometimes not even she can understand what she wrote. Some are apparently abbreviations, and some are in English, and others in Spanish. In the meantime another girl is “standing guard,” but she seems to be telling her to calm down and smiling at me.)

Me: “Thank you.” *to the other representative* “I really meant no harm; I just wanted to understand. You see, you guys trust that you mean no harm and I trust I mean no harm, but if I sign something I need to be sure.”

(The first representative was now shaking in pure anger and just got in my car. The other girl thanked me and explained when I could pick it up and such. As I walked away, I could hear the first one talking about me to the other. I get it that some people are annoying with these things, but you can’t get angry and mean when someone just wants to understand what they are signing.)

They’re A Sexist Jerk Under The Hood

, , , , , , , | Right | November 6, 2018

I currently work as a service writer at a car dealership, but my original background is hands-on; though I’m now tied to a desk, I am an ASE Master Certified Technician — among other professional certifications I maintain — and have been working on cars — first as a hobby, then in a vocational program, and then professionally — for almost twenty years. I am also a woman and am often mistaken for being younger than my age.

Many of my customers, especially “old-school” car guys, don’t expect me to be so knowledgeable. While most of them are delighted when I can not only keep up with them but teach them new things, a few just can’t quite grasp the idea of a female being technically capable, no matter how many times we’ve interacted.

One customer in particular is the type that thinks he’s very knowledgeable; he has literally said to me multiple times, “Well, I happen to know quite a bit about cars.” From what I’ve heard, his knowledge is both limited and mostly twisted by misunderstanding. He often tries to second-guess me while still asking for advice but trying to sound like he knows what he’s talking about.

Since our first interaction I have thought he’s not nearly as sharp as he thinks he is, but I try to give him the benefit of the doubt due what I choose to tell myself is our personality clash; that’s a nicer way to sort it in my brain than, “He’s a sexist jerk who squirms every time he has to come to me.”

I felt completely vindicated when one day he has to call me to ask me, of all things, how to open the hood of his car. The answer: pull the bright red lever with the silhouette of a car with the hood popped that’s right by the driver’s left knee. He has owned the same car for about a year. Anyone who “happens to know quite a bit about cars” should be able to figure out how to open their own hood after a year, without having to make a phone call to ask.

Make It A Point Not To Question Appointments

, , , | Right | October 25, 2018

(A customer who is notoriously difficult — another dealership even called the cops on him for refusing to leave their lobby — shows up with no appointment. Due to his nature, he deals exclusively with our service manager, but he’s out of town for the week. The customer has never been even a little bit mean or nasty to anyone; he just doesn’t seem to be able to reason logically. I overhear his conversation with our assistant service manager, which only serves to reinforce the idea. They go over his concern about his car and she starts to schedule an appointment for him as we’re extremely busy and can’t just work him in, which is normal procedure for us.)

Assistant Service Manager: “Oh, I see you had an appointment last week?”

Customer: “Yes, I did.”

Assistant Service Manager: “But it looks like you didn’t come in?”

Customer: “I didn’t; I wasn’t able to make it. I called to cancel it and I wanted to reschedule for today, but they said [Manager] was going to be on vacation this week.”

Assistant Service Manager: “Yes, he comes back Monday.”

Customer: “I always talk to him, but they said he wouldn’t be here this week, so I didn’t make an appointment for today.”

Assistant Service Manager: “But… You came anyway.”

Customer: “Yes.”

Assistant Service Manager: “Even though you didn’t have an appointment today?”

Customer: “Yes, I didn’t want to make an appointment for when [Manager] couldn’t help me and I know he’s gone this week. I come from really far, so it doesn’t make sense to make an appointment when I can’t talk to him. That’s why I didn’t make an appointment for today.”

Assistant Service Manager: “But… you still came.”

Customer: “Yes.”

(He really does come from far away; he lives and works almost a hundred miles from our dealership, so it’s not like he’s just casually dropping by. After going around in circles a few more times, she finally scheduled him another appointment. He no-showed.)

It Was A Good Death!

, , , , , | Working | July 27, 2018

(My brother and I are buying our first car together at a used car lot. We’ve chosen a car we’re interested in and negotiated a reasonable price, but since this is a relatively recent car and in good condition, it’s still roughly $10,000.)

Salesman: “The next step in the process is to set up a payment plan.”

Me: “Actually, I don’t think we need one. We were just planning to write you a check.”

Brother: “Yeah, our grandmother died and left us enough money for a car.”

Salesman: “Oh, good!”

(You could see the exact moment he realized he’d just implied that it was good our grandmother had died. We reassured him that we knew he meant it was good we had the money, and that she had died peacefully at a very old age — which she had — but I’m sure for a second the poor guy thought he’d just lost his commission.)

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