Can’t Even “Spare” A Moment To Listen

, , , , | Right | October 30, 2019

(In Ireland, all cars have to go through a road-worthiness test every one or two years. If you fail, it can either be a defect, which means you have to schedule and pay for a retest, or if can be a visual, which means the testers just need to visually inspect the car which can be done at any time for free. I’m waiting for my test results when they call up the guy in front of me.)

Worker: “Now, Mr. [Customer], your car hasn’t passed today because your rear tire is bald. However, your spare tire is perfect. This is just a visual defect, so once a good tire is put on in place of the bald tire, you will pass. You don’t need to reschedule for a visual inspection; it’s free and we can do it without an appointment.”

Customer: “For f***’s sake, I can’t afford a new tire right now!”

Worker: “I understand. What I’m saying is that your spare tire is good. You just need to swap the bad tire for a good tire and you’ll pass.”

Customer: “That’s not f****** good enough. I don’t have the time or money to get a new tire. This is typical of our f****** government trying to shaft the decent, hard-working man.”

Worker: “Mr. [Customer], you just need a visual inspection, so if you can put a good tire on your car right now, I can go straight out and pass you. Your spare tire is good. You just need to put a good tire on the car.”

Customer: “Why do you keep repeating the same thing? Are you f****** dumb?! I bet there’s nothing wrong with my car and you just have a quota of cars you have to fail every day to get more money for the government.”

Me: “Oh, for God’s sake! If you’d stop ranting and listen, he’s trying to tell you to put your spare tire on the car now and he’ll pass you!”

(The customer looks at me and then at the worker, who makes the slightest nod. The customer goes red and storms out to his car.)

Worker: *to me* “Thank you. We can’t outright tell people to do that and some people just don’t get the hint.”

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His Diagnosis Is Not Aligned With The Truth

, , , , | Working | October 9, 2019

(My tire light keeps going off and on. I keep taking it in to get checked and no one can figure out what the issue is. I’m a female in my late 20s but I look much younger. The tech that’s been helping me is an older guy, about my dad’s age. I walk into the shop, and my normal tech is cashing someone out.)

Tech #1: “Hello, young lady! Don’t tell me. The tire light went off again.”

Me: “Yep.”

Tech #1: “I think it might be an issue with your sensor. I’m gonna have [Tech #2] check you in, and then I’ll look into it myself when I’m done with this other customer. Okay?”

Me: “Great. Thanks!”

([Tech #2], who is about my age, waves me over.)

Tech #2: “Okay, so you’re [My Name] with the [Make and Model], right?”

Me: “Yep.”

Tech #2: “I was working on it last time, and I gotta tell you… your alignment is way off on that car.”

Me: “Really? I’ve been in here three times in the last month and no one’s said anything about it.”

Tech #2: “Well, it’s important to get your car re-aligned. Otherwise, it’ll drift, and you could cause an accident. I’d be happy to add that on today.”

Me: “How much is it?”

(He names a price that almost hits four figures.)

Me: “No. I can’t afford that. I don’t know what’s actually wrong with my car, and I’m not adding on any other services until I do.”

Tech #2: “But you could cause an accident! You don’t want that, do you?”

Me: “I just want my tires checked. That’s it.”

Tech #2: “Whatever.”

(He checks me in and drives my car onto the rack. I sit in the waiting area and pull out a book. Ten minutes later, [Tech #1] walks back into the store and waves me over.)

Tech #1: “I’ve only checked one tire, but I had to show you this. Been driving through any road work zones lately?”

Me: “They’re doing construction and road work near my office. Why?”

(He produces a very large nail that is the same shade of black as my tire.)

Me: “WHAT?!”

Tech #1: “It was in there at such an angle that you couldn’t tell until you took the tire off the car– which, of course, no one did until today. I’m sorry about that. That’s on us. I’m going to take the other tires off and make sure you don’t have any more.”

(He goes back outside. Twenty minutes later, he comes back in.)

Tech #1: “Well, [My Name], looks like you’ve got nails in two other tires. You’re gonna need a new set. We are having a sale on your brand, so that’ll take the cost down. I really recommend we get those on today.”

Me: “You might as well. Can’t drive a car with three damaged tires. Quick question, though. Is my alignment off?”

Tech #1: “What? No. The rest of your car is great. Why?”

Me: “Someone told me it was off.”

([Tech #1] looks over at [Tech #2] and sighs.)

Tech #1: “Nope. Not your car. Ignore that. I’m gonna get those tires on your car and get you out of here. I’ll throw on another discount, as well.”

(While the tires were still a few hundred dollars, the additional discount helped a lot. I only use that mechanic now. I’ve been there a few other times for oil changes, and I haven’t seen [Tech #2] since.)

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Making A Speedy Diagnosis

, , , , , | Working | October 8, 2019

(In this story, everyone is wrong, but I’m putting it here because this was all started by my stupidity. My family owns property in West Virginia and we frequently make the six-hour drive for weekends and such. Usually, we take my father’s truck as it handles the mountains well, but my boyfriend and I need to drive separately so we take his tiny little car, instead. There are heavy winds and the car starts making strange sounds and having trouble making it up the hills. We finally decide to stop off at a repair shop to get it checked out.)

Mechanic: “What can I help you with today?”

Me: “Our car is really struggling up hills and making odd sounds. We were wondering if you could figure out what’s going on?”

Mechanic: “Well, mind if we all go for a ride?”

Me: “That’s fine!”

(We hand over the keys and all hop in the car with the mechanic driving. He proceeds down a very narrow and busy backroad overlooking a steep mountain drop. He proceeds to go 90 in a 55, zipping around all traffic using the oncoming lane and what little shoulder there is. He floors the car at every hill and the car flies up each one.)

Mechanic: *nonchalantly* “Yeah, your problem is that you weren’t giving her enough gas. You just need to push it a little on these hills. The car can handle it.”

(Miraculously, we made it back after the longest ten minutes of my life. We tipped the man and made it the rest of the drive without incident. Now I’ve learned to never let a stranger drive my car, even if they are a mechanic trying to diagnose a problem.)

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No Good Deed Slides Unpunished

, , , , , | Right | January 22, 2019

I’ve always loved old machinery, especially old cars and — since I’m a Michigander — snowmobiles. Since I enjoy wrenching, I’ve opened up a shop of my own. I cater mostly to old snowmobiles, the type of thing people usually can’t find a shop willing to work on. They can also be difficult to find parts for. One day, a guy with a cane limps into my place. He explains how he just bought an old sled and it needs work.

He says he doesn’t have much money and is hoping we can work out some kind of trade. He’s got two old machines at his home that he’s willing to put up as payment if I’ll fix the one he just bought. He says he got it for his young son’s birthday, and the kid just can’t wait to go for a ride on it.

My stupid heart of gold takes over and before I know it I’ve agreed, pending a look at his trade. I follow him out to his house and find two machines in pretty sorry shape. The first one is absolute scrap, as in not a single usable part. He is a bit delusional, telling me how it’d be worth “a fortune” to a collector if it was all fixed up. I don’t want to burst this guy’s bubble by saying that I’m a collector, and examples of that model, even in mint condition, can’t even be given away. The second machine isn’t as bad, and I decide I can probably flip it or sell a few parts from it and make my money back. We shake on it.

That’s when he drops the first surprise on me. He doesn’t have a truck or trailer, and the sled he just bought is still at the seller’s house. Since it is on my way home, I agree to pick it up there and then bring it back to his home after repairs are complete. Roughly two hours later, I am home with his sled and have just begun gathering parts. I haven’t turned a single wrench on it when the phone rings. It’s the guy, and he wants to know if I am done yet! I tell him nope, just got started. It’ll be probably four hours before I’m finished.

He reiterates that his kid can’t wait to go riding. I tell him I know, and that I’ll call as soon as it’s done. A half-hour goes by and the phone rings again. It’s him again, wanting a progress report. By now I’m starting to lose patience a little. Most shops have a week to two-week lead time, so the fact that I am getting on his job ASAP is a rare phenomenon in itself. I can’t believe how impatient he is. I tell him I’ll call as soon as it’s done, and that every time I have to answer the phone, the repair takes longer.

He waits maybe 45 minutes and then calls again with the same question. I try to break it down as simply as I can. Every time I have to drop what I’m doing and answer the phone, I lose my place and have to start all over again. It’s far more efficient if he just lets me call him when I’m done.

As I’m tightening the last bolt, he calls again. This time I answer and tell him I’m just finishing up and that since I worked through dinner, I’m going to eat something quick, and then I’ll be right out with it.

He has the gall to sound disappointed, like I should just bring the sled out immediately and eat something on my own time! By now I’m anxious to drop it off, gather my payment, and put this one behind me. After this, no more sympathy deals! A half-hour later I arrive at his house. His kid is going absolutely ballistic, so that makes me feel a little better and eases some of the tension. While the kid buzzes around on the sled, I tell his dad I’m ready to pack up the two machines we agreed on and head home.

He looks at me like I’ve got two heads and says, “Two sleds?” I tell him, “Yes, like we shook on.” He tells me I must have gotten confused, and that the deal was only for one sled, and guess which one? Yup, the absolute junk one. I level with him and tell him it’s not worth anything to me, or anyone else. I’ll be losing if I take it as payment. I want the two that we agreed on.

He keeps trying to backpedal, telling me how it’ll be worth so much money when it’s all fixed up. I tell him, rather heatedly, that he’s not honoring our agreement. I tell him I made a special exception and agreed to a trade with him, went and picked up his sled, fixed it with him looking over my shoulder the entire time, and then dropped it off at his house, and now he’s trying to screw me?

He seems uncomfortable, but just keeps repeating the whole “worth a ton when fixed up” thing. I say, “So, your word is worth nothing? Is that what you want to teach your kid? That you can lie to people and never face consequences?” I tell him to keep the piece of junk if he thinks it’s worth so d*** much, and to never come near my property again.

I know it’s immature, but for a long time after, every time I pass his house and see him in the yard, I honk and give him the single-finger salute, just as a token of my appreciation!

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This Behavior Is Almost Mechanical

, , , , | Working | August 23, 2018

(I’m out running errands when I notice my car is making a strange noise, and I feel a scraping when I turn the wheel. I’m pretty sure I know what’s wrong, but I swing into a local chain auto shop just to make sure it’s not something more serious and that I can get home safely. I plan to get the issue fixed a couple days later when my usual mechanic shop is open. To note, I’m a woman, and the experience of being a woman at the mechanic can be pretty unpleasant, ranging from patronization to upselling unnecessary parts and procedures. They take my car into the back to be looked at while I describe the problem to the guy behind the front counter.)

Me: “I’m pretty sure it’s the wheel bearing. I spend most of my day driving the car for work, so they need to be replaced frequently. It sounds and feels just like it did the last time.”

Worker: “Well, we’ve got in the back now. But to me, it sounds like your brakes are going.”

Me: “No, the brakes are fine. I just had the car in to be inspected a couple months ago.”

Worker: “Listen, I’ve worked here for years, and I know a thing or two about cars. Now, we’ll have to charge you [amount] for just looking at the car.”

Me: “I’m aware.”

Worker: “But then, to check the brakes, we’ll have to take the whole tire off and that will be an extra [amount that is more than double]. It’s a more complicated procedure and requires more manpower. And then, to replace the brakes, it’s [amount much more than the last time I replaced them].”

Me: “Let’s see what [Mechanic] says before we do anything.”

Worker: “Fine. But I’m telling you, it’s your brakes.”

(A few minutes later, the mechanic comes in from the garage and hands me my keys.)

Mechanic: “Your right wheel bearing needs to be replaced. You’re good to drive home, but you should get it fixed as soon as you can.”

(I thanked him and suppressed the urge to stick my tongue out at his colleague behind the desk. I paid the consulting fee and had my own mechanic fix it a couple days later. The victory was sweet and one I shared with my female officemates, who also wear out their cars for work and also hate going to the mechanic for this very reason!)

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