Driving Home The Kindness, Part 15

, , , , | Hopeless | January 9, 2019

A few years ago I was working at a dealership for a manufacturer that produces notoriously terrible cars. Our service department was open on Christmas Eve, though with shorter hours than normal. I was hoping to get out a bit extra-early — which I did! — we booked light, but of course, we kept hoping that unexpected cars wouldn’t show up. Around noon, a car without an appointment pulled into the driveway, and when I saw who was getting out I thought, “Crap! Why is she here?”

She was a customer I knew well: an older Russian lady who was perfectly nice, but paranoid and oversensitive about her car. We’d had quite a few occurrences of her coming for “symptoms” that were not, in fact, actual issues but just the normal operation of a crappy sort of car. Helping her also tended to be rather time-consuming as English was not her first language. I was dreading finding out why she had pulled in.

She came to bring me a box of chocolates and thank me for being so helpful to her over the past year, taking the time to explain her car’s idiosyncrasies and make her feel safe driving it. She said she knew she could be difficult, but that she really appreciated knowing that I was there to help her out and keep her mind at ease.

The gesture had a big impact: I’d been getting jaded, but she really helped me remember why I love my job, and how even the frustrating moments can be part of a rosier big picture. I continued to work with her, but dreaded seeing her far less as I was able to remember how our visits could be rewarding for both her and me. A year and a half later, when her lease ended and she turned the car in, she brought me her favorite snack from her home country, gave me a big tearful hug, and told me if the car wasn’t so terrible she would’ve bought out the lease so she could keep coming to see me for service. I don’t know what she’s driving now, but I hope it’s taking good care of her!

Related:
Driving Home The Kindness, Part 14
Driving Home The Kindness, Part 13
Driving Home The Kindness, Part 12

Winter Is Coming; Good Service Is Not

, , , , , | Working | January 3, 2019

(My mother lives in a small town. She bought her first car while already in her 40s, at the only dealership in her town that sold the particular brand she wanted. She decided to service it at the dealership since she didn’t really know of any good garages. This dealership, like many others, offers a service where they will give you a ride to work and get you back — provided that you work within a certain distance — so that you’re not stuck at the garage waiting for your car for hours or having to take a taxi. One day in November, my mother brings her car in for routine maintenance and to have her winter tires installed.)

Service Advisor: “Okay, ma’am, you’re all set. You can wait to get a ride with [Employee]; he’s currently giving a ride to another customer but should be back in a few minutes.

(My mother decides to wait a bit. At some point, she sees the dealership car coming close to the entrance to drop off another customer, so she heads outside towards the car. The other customer gets out of the car and closes the door. My mother is a few feet away and starts towards the car door, but the car suddenly moves forward quickly and peels out of the parking lot, leaving my mother there. She heads back inside to talk to the service manager.)

Mother: “I was going to get in the car to go to work and your employee just left. Is he coming back? Is there someone else to give me a ride to work? I don’t want to be late.”

Service Manager: *looking out the window into the parking lot* “He did what?! I’m really sorry, ma’am. I’m going to call him.” *on the phone* “Hey. Where are you? You’ve got a customer here that needs a ride.” *pause* “What? I don’t care if you’ve had breakfast or not. Come back here right now and get the customer.”

(My mom is irritated but brushes it off and goes to work. When she comes back at the end of the day, she sees that her car is still on summer tires. She goes to the counter to talk to the service advisor.)

Mother: “Excuse me. I’m here to pick up my car but I see that the summer tires are still on it. Why didn’t you change them?”

Service Advisor: *condescendingly* “Well, ma’am, your tires were too worn out to make it through the winter. We couldn’t install them on your car; that was not safe.”

Mother: “Okay, but why didn’t you call me? Winter is coming. Obviously, I’m going to need winter tires, and now I’m going to have to come back another time just for that.”

Service Advisor: *sheepishly, as if the thought of calling my mother didn’t even occur to him* “Huh… I guess we could have done that.”

Mother: “You should have! It’s very inconvenient that I have to come back for something that was supposed to be taken care of today. Wait a minute. I’ve paid you guys to store my winter tires since last spring. Are you telling me that I paid for six months of storage for nothing?! Why didn’t you tell me my tires were too worn out before storing them?!”

Service Advisor: “…”

(My mother spoke to a manager, who refunded the six months of storage, but she still had to come back to have new tires installed. After a few similar blunders by the dealership, my mother vowed to never, ever do business with them again. About ten years later, she still hasn’t set foot in that dealership, and she still gets a bit worked up if I bring up that story.)

Driving In The Car Fool Lane

, , | Right | December 7, 2018

(I work in the service department of a car dealership. Despite the fact that I’m a girl and in my mid-20s, I know a lot about cars. A grumpy old guy in his 70s comes in.)

Me: “Hi! How can I help you?”

Customer: “The car told me to get my brakes fixed.” *refers to automated message in the car*

Me: “Sure. Let’s make an appointment, then.”

Customer: “No. You have to do it now!

Me: “Sorry, sir, but that’s not possible. We are fully booked for the next couple of days. However, if you could leave the car here, I could get someone to drive you home, and we could possibly manage to get it done by tomorrow evening.”

Customer: “No! I’m going on holiday tomorrow morning, with the car! Can I drive to [Place about 600 miles away] with the brakes being in this condition?”

Me: “No, sir, I don’t think you will make it there. When did the car start to show you this warning?”

Customer: “Two weeks ago.”

Me: “…”

Customer: “Can you tell me what the new brakes are going to cost?”

Me: “Sure. It will take just a few minutes.”

(One of our mechanics takes a look at the brakes, and then prints the offer for the customer. We have hardly any influence on the prices, as they are given by the brand. I hand the offer to the customer, and he tells me he will be driving home to think about it. I then give him some information on how to make the brakes last a little longer, like avoid using the speed limiter.)

Customer: “No! You are wrong! That’s not true! You don’t know anything about cars! Why do you say something like that when you don’t even know how brakes work!?”

(I try to keep calm but tell him I know what I’m saying, as I was trained to know things like that. He insists I don’t know anything and leaves, refusing to make an appointment. About three weeks later, the same guy approaches our store. I recognize him immediately, and I tell my coworker I’m going to take this. He comes in and pretends we have never met, obviously hoping I have forgotten him. He tells me the exact same story — that he needs his brakes fixed — and asks for the price.)

Me: “Oh, what happened to the offer that [Mechanic] printed for you? You took it with you when you were here three weeks ago.”

Customer: *shocked that I recognized him* “Um, I, eh… I guess I lost it.”

Me: “Well, okay, then. We can just print it again. The price will be the same.”

Customer: “Oh… The price is going to be the same?!”

Me: “Yes, and we still need to make that appointment.”

Customer: “But I can’t make an appointment! Why can’t you do it now?”

Me: “For the same reason I told you three weeks ago. We can’t let other people who have made appointments weeks ago wait, just because you don’t want to make an appointment.”

Customer: “Now that’s ridiculous. Let me talk to a mechanic.”

(I call one of the mechanics on duty and tell him the whole story. He then tells the customer the exact same things that I told him, but the guy continues to ask really stupid questions.)

Mechanic: “Look. I really don’t have time to talk to you about things that you could have easily asked [My Name]. I have work to do. Now, if you have any more questions, please go talk to [My Name]. She is great at her job and knows what she’s talking about.”

(I can’t help but smile and wave slowly at him. He comes back to me, obviously pretty unhappy with what he has just been told.)

Customer: “I’d like to make an appointment.”

Me: *with big smile* “Sure. The next appointment will be available next Thursday.”

Customer: “Okay, I’ll take that.”

(When he came to pick up his car after his appointment, he told me he did some research and it turned out I was right with everything I said. He used to be a mechanic himself and said things had just changed so much since he retired. Apparently, he was just extremely sad to find out that his knowledge from twenty years ago wasn’t going to help him anymore.)

Unfiltered Story #123493

, , | Unfiltered | October 14, 2018

*I answer phones at my job to set up service appointments for our customers. The gentleman called to set up an appointment. He had an open recall on it.

Me: “Okay sir, what vehicle is this for?”
Him: “It’s a spiral cable recall.”
Me: “No sir, which vehicle is this for?” (he had more than one on file)
Him: “It’s for the Corolla.”
Me: “Alright (I go to make sure he does in fact have an open recall, we are required to do this with every customer. He does in fact have an open recall. I’m in the process of setting up the appointment for him). Okay sir, when would you like to bring your vehicle in?”
Him: “I need to make an appointment!”
Me: “Okay, when would you like to bring your vehicle in?”
Him: *hangs up*

I don’t know if he thought I was asking these questions for fun, or what.

Some Customers Are Beyond Belief

, , , | Right | September 28, 2018

(I work as a sales receptionist for a luxury car brand. There are four of our brand dealerships in the state, but none of us are actually linked as businesses. I receive this call late in the afternoon.)

Me: “Hello, welcome to [My Dealership]. This is [My Name] speaking!”

Caller: “Hi. I want to talk to [Other Dealership], but their phones aren’t working!”

Me: “All right. We are a completely different company, but I can check their phone number on Google for you.”

Caller: “Please do that.”

Me: *gives her the number*

Caller: “That’s the one I have tried; I need to speak to marketing!”

Me: “All right, well, they do have an option to be contacted via email or through the website. Could I give you an email to try?”

Caller: “Excuse me, but not everyone has a computer.”

(She has been pleasant so far, so I have no reason to not want to help. I plan to offer to email her phone number to them so they could call back. I have a couple of calls coming through, so I ask if she minds if I place her on hold for a moment, and she says she doesn’t mind. One call is quick, but the other is taking a while, so I put that call on hold so I can update the lady looking for the other dealership.)

Me: “I am so sorry for keeping you on hold. There is a high level of calls at the moment, but it will only be another minute until I am able to keep assisting.”

Caller: “I don’t believe you. Goodbye.”

(And then she swiftly ended the call, leaving me a little surprised and upset, but able to continue assisting our actual customers.)

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