Not Handling The Mechanics Of This Business

, , , , , | Working | November 13, 2020

I have several bicycles that I maintain myself. Sometimes, I will visit my local bike store and ask the mechanics for advice on a problem or which tool to buy. The mechanics are well qualified and very helpful. It is a huge international store which also employs sales staff.

Unfortunately, a pattern develops. I ask to speak to a mechanic, and some of the sales staff tell me they are mechanics. However, they are unable to answer simple questions. It has happened several times, and I am tiring of it.

This time, I walk in carrying a bicycle wheel.

Me: “Hi. If you don’t mind me asking, are you a mechanic?”

Employee #1: “Yes.”

Me: “Great! Can you tell me which tool I need to remove the cassette from this wheel? I don’t think it’s a standard Shimano spline.”

Employee #1: “I’m not sure. Let me check the workshop.”

I follow him to the workshop.

Employee #2: “Let me try this tool… I’m sorry I’m not sure.”

Employee #1: “Do you want to leave it with us and I’ll ask [Head Mechanic] tomorrow?”

Me: “No, thank you. Wait… I asked if you were a mechanic. Which Cytech level do you have?”

Employee #1: “I don’t have one.”

Me: “Then why did you tell me you were a mechanic?”

Employee #1: “Well, basic stuff.”

I leave and return the next day. [Head Mechanic] is working. He is amazing. He can do everything a bike mechanic would ever need to do, including building wheels.

Head Mechanic: “Hey, [My Name]! How’s that bike build coming?”

Me: “Getting there! I need this cassette off, but the cassette remover doesn’t fit.”

Head Mechanic: *Lifting something off a shelf* “That’s a freehub system, but you’re holding a Shimano spline tool. You need one of these. Slide it in and turn anti-clockwise, like this. It’s £12.”

Me: “Thanks. By the way… are the sales staff entitled to call themselves mechanics?”

Head Mechanic: “No. Why?”

Me: “It’s happened a few times. I ask to speak to a mechanic because I have a complicated question. They then tell me they are a mechanic and they get confused by whatever I’m asking.”

Head Mechanic: “Really? We haven’t hired any new mechanics.”

Me: “A few sales assistants seem to think that because they can fix a puncture, they are professional mechanics. It’s also really disrespectful, because you have paid thousands for formal training. Would you tell the manager you have had a complaint?”

Head Mechanic: “Yes, sure. When did it happen?”

Me: “Yesterday. I don’t mind speaking to sales assistants if they stay within their limits. If someone who doesn’t know what they are doing works on a bike, someone could get hurt. All this because people don’t have the guts to say, ‘No, I’m not a mechanic but why don’t you try me and I’ll do my best?’”

I also complained by Facebook private message. [Head Mechanic] still knows the answer to anything I ask. I now ask for a mechanic by name, or I ask if they have completed a course in bike mechanics.

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Don’t Expose People To Your Unhealthy Attitude

, , , , , , , | Working | October 28, 2020

Due to the global health crisis, our management team is required to take turns at the security gates of our mine and use a thermal camera to take temperatures of anyone entering the property. We also have to ask two questions: “Do you have any [illness] symptoms?” and “Have you been exposed to anyone with the [illness]?”

I’m assigned to the gate one morning, and around 5:00 am, a mechanic rolls up in a service truck with a smirk on his face.

Me: “Do you have any [illness] symptoms?”

Mechanic: “No.”

Me: “Have you been exposed to anyone with the [illness]?”

Mechanic: *With attitude* “I don’t know. How does anybody know if they’re exposed at the grocery store or gas station?”

This isn’t the first bit of attitude I’ve taken about these checks, and I’m pretty sick of it.

Me: “I’m scheduled here until 6:30. I can wait until you give me the answer I need. If you have a problem with the question, we can call your supervisor and HR to have a discussion.”  

Mechanic: “Umm, no. No exposure.”

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There’s No Patching This One Up

, , , , , , | Working | September 10, 2020

On a major roadway, I drive over something in the middle of the lane that looks like a piece of ribbon at first, but I feel a bump when I go over it. A couple of kilometers later, other drivers start yelling out their windows that I’m leaking gas, so I pull into the next gas station.

I call my roadside assistance company and they tow me to one of their recommended mechanics. They’re closed when we arrive, so my sister drives me home and I phone first thing the next morning.

Me: “Hi there. Something punctured my gas tank so my truck was leaking gas everywhere last night. My truck is on your lot; I was wondering if you could take a look and tell me how much you think it will cost to fix.”

They agree but I don’t hear anything, so I phone again the next day.

Me: “Hi. I called yesterday about the red truck?”

Representative: “Oh, yeah! That one! Yeah, it’s the fuel tank. It’s punctured.”

Me: “Yeah, I know. How much will it cost to fix?”

Representative: “Well, I’ll have to look into it and get back to you.”

I wait for a few hours and call again that afternoon.

Me: “Hi. I’m looking for a quote on my truck.”

Representative: “Well, I told you. You need a new fuel tank.”

Me: “Okay, but do you know how much it will cost?”

Representative: “Let me take a look here and see how much that part would cost… plus labour… You’re looking at about $600 for a new tank with a one-year warranty.”

I take a few hours to talk to people close to me who know more about this stuff than I do and call them to tell them to go ahead with the new tank. Two or three days later, they leave a message on my phone late in the afternoon.

Message: “We’re calling to tell you that the tank we ordered arrived but it is the wrong tank for your truck and we can’t find one that fits, so our next step is to use a special material to patch the hole in your fuel tank.”

It’s too late to phone them when I hear this message, so I plan to phone them the next day after talking to the same people as before. This is a rough week, because I lose my phone that evening. After two days of searching with no luck and being advised by my boss and dad that the patch job will be too temporary to be worth it, I ask my mom to phone the mechanic to tell them to forget about it. To our horror, they inform her they’ve patched it up and are waiting for me to come get it.

Mom: “Well, how much are you going to charge?”

Representative: “We agreed on $600.”

Mom: “The $600 was for a new tank. Why did you go ahead with the work? We never consented.”

Representative: “It doesn’t matter; we’ve done the work so now you need to pay.”

Mom: “But you didn’t have a work order! She agreed to a new tank.”

Representative: “How about we do $500?”

Mom: “That’s too much money for a patch job! We never would have agreed to that and you didn’t have a work order!”

Representative: “Listen, the truck costs us money every day it’s up on the hoist. We can rip the patch off and you come get the truck, but it’s still gonna cost you a few hundred dollars.”

Mom: “Why didn’t you just put it back on the lot? We’re not paying $500 for a patch.”

Eventually, we managed to negotiate that they would fix a vandalized keyhole which I had been working around for months, and I would pay them $500 total. When I signed the paperwork, we learned that the patch job only had a six-month warranty instead of the original twelve months. 

Seven months later, the patch started falling off and I tried to submit a complaint about the mechanic to my roadside assistance company, as I was reminded of the terrible service and as frustrated as ever. They reached out to the mechanic, who claimed that they had never even heard of me or my little red truck.

We decided to pick our battles and just sold the truck for parts and bought a different one.

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Big Heart For Big Bird

, , , , , , | Right | August 27, 2020

When my son was about two or so, his grandmother gave him a huge stuffed Big Bird toy. The thing was, true to its name, big — easily five feet tall. My son insisted it go everywhere in the car with us.

One day, I dropped the car at our local garage for service. Big Bird was tossed in the back seat.

When I returned a couple of hours later, I got in my car and glanced in the back seat and laughed. There was Big Bird, sitting upright and safely seat- and shoulder-belted in.

Tucked into the belt was a note that read, “Safety first for everyone.”

I think I smiled the rest of the day over some unknown mechanic’s concern for my son’s favorite stuffed friend.

Thank you, mechanic, for your small act of kindness.


This story is part of our feel-good roundup for August 2020!

Read the next feel-good story here!

Read the feel-good August 2020 roundup!

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You Will NOT Be Mugged Off

, , | Right | June 15, 2020

I’m a female mechanic, but I’m also a welder and I spent a year in Finnish Defence Forces, so I’m trained as a gunsmith-corporal. We’re having a coffee break on a loading platform when an elderly customer pushes his lawnmower in front of us.

Customer: “Now, start earning your salary and take this up there!”

Without waiting or looking at us, he just walks around the corner to enter our shop. We exchange disbelieving grins and return inside to see what comes next. Inside, the customer is acting snobbish and bold, giving out a list of what to do to his lawnmower, and belittling products we have on sale. He goes on and on about them all being made in China without quality checks and about how the factory stamps are lying about the origin.

We’re getting irritated and my coworker is snapping back at him a bit sharply. We sell quality gardening machines which run literally twenty to thirty years if maintained right. Luckily, he leaves after noticing that our mood to serve him is getting very cold.

A week passes…

The customer appears and wants to buy a big trimmer. He continues belittling everything but now he includes chauvinist jokes! I ignore this as usual and start to prepare the trimmer for test use.

Customer: “No, no, no! Don’t put gas in it! It will leak in my car!”

Me: “This is a brand-new machine; the cap will hold. It won’t leak, and we can put a plastic bag around the engine just in case.”

Customer: “No! It will leak! Don’t put gasoline in!”

Me: “Are you sure you want to take this with you without testing its use? You’ll know that if you do, we can’t guarantee it works and you are on your own with it.”

The customer thinks for a moment, and just when I start hoping he’ll just take the d*** thing and leave, he has an idea. 

Customer: “You can put some gasoline in and then pour it back to a canister after.”

We do that and I test-run the engine. Giving instructions is easy; he listens and hopefully understands. He makes only a few mild chauvinist jokes.

Me: “Okay! You can now go back to the shop. I’ll get you an equipment box and carry the trimmer out for—”

I’ve walked ahead to get the key and I hear the loud cracking sound of porcelain breaking behind me. THAT sound was my own personal Disney Princess coffee mug breaking. 

Customer: “Oops. Hope that wasn’t expensive.”

The customer storms past me carrying the trimmer.

I have had enough. Being rude, chauvinist, ignorant, and stupid, I can take any day at my work, but you don’t break stuff and just lift your shoulder about it. As he comes back for the extra equipment box, I approach him, holding the broken mug.

Me: “You broke my mug. I told you I’d bring the trimmer and there’s a d*** good reason for it. THIS.” *Shaking the mug* “And this.”

I point at the huge “WORKSHOP — NO CUSTOMERS” sign next to the workshop door.

The customer is about to take the box and head casually out but he freezes. I’m short and polite to customers, so my stern, strong military-command voice takes him by surprise. 

Me: “The workshop is slippery due to oil on the floors; if you slip and hurt yourself, our insurance won’t help you.”

Customer: “But I have my own—”

Me: “That doesn’t matter. We handle machines in the workshop so customers like you don’t hurt themselves or break anything. Customers don’t have anything to do there for many good reasons. I told you to go to the store side. Now. You owe me for that mug. It was my d*** favorite Disney mug.”

The customer is stunned and his eyes are nailed to the floor as he has realized there’s no use trying to argue with me or be a smarta**. 

Customer: “How much do you want for it?”

After giving me ten euros, he slips away very, VERY fast without looking up again. I should have announced a higher price, but just having the opportunity to give him a brimstone-and-fire lecture was priceless. When he is gone, I notice there’s another customer at the desk. 

Customer #2: “Did he break that?”

Me: “Yep. I’m not letting anyone in the workshop today.”

Customer #2: *Amused* “Then it was right to demand payment. It should be clear why the workshop is for mechanics only.”

I hope we’ll never see that snob again, and if that misfortune appears, I’ll make sure to be there, glaring at him and just waiting for him to give me a reason to smack his oversized ego down again.

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