Will Have To Tighten One’s Belt

| NJ, USA | Working | April 1, 2014

(My car has recently began making a slight but annoying squeaking noise somewhere in the engine. Unfortunately, my regular mechanic a block away from my house is closed for renovations. It takes longer than I’m comfortable dealing with, so I go to the garage near my work. Later that day I get a call.)

Clerk: “Hey, this is [Name] over at [Repair Shop], calling to let you know we figured out what’s wrong. Turns out both of your engine’s belts are worn down to almost nothing, and you’ve got a leak in your oil tank so that’s not helping things either.”

Me: *catching on instantly* “Oh, really? That sounds horrible! How much total will it be to get everything fixed?”

Employee: “Well, looking at parts and labor, we’re looking at $1500, before tax.”

Me: “Oh, that’s… actually pretty good, considering you’re installing an entirely new belt mechanism.”

Employee: “Yeah, we try to— What did you say?”

Me: “Yeah, my car has a single serpentine belt in the engine. So if you’re retrofitting the entire thing to have a two-belt system, that’s a darn good price! Not to mention the fact that I just got my serpentine belt changed about three months ago during a big tune-up.  I can’t believe it’s worn down so much.”

Employee: “… Oh… I, um… I think I may be looking at the wrong paperwork here.”

(He then proceeds to shuffle some papers around in an unbelievably fake-sounding manner, and then says he’ll call me back. I end up talking with someone else entirely. It turns out to be a single piece that needs lubrication, for under $100. When I go to pick up, the shop’s owner is there.)

Owner: “I’m really sorry about what happened before, but you don’t have to worry about that happening again.”

Me: “I’m guessing he’s very sorry, and learned his lesson?”

Owner: “No, that’s what he was the last TWO times he got caught. He thought being my nephew meant he could just keep scamming my customers forever.”

Me: “… So I shouldn’t say that he probably would have gotten away with it if he’d just tried to sell me a complete replacement for that one bit instead of a lube job?”

Owner: “No, that just goes to show he’s stupid AND greedy.”

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