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.)

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