Saturday, October 18, 2014

To know thine client.

First time client.
 I put my best face forward.  I'm all smiles as I do my best to welcome her to our repair family.
She proceeded to explain to me (before telling me what the problem with the vehicle was) that up to this point, everyone (and I mean everyone) had, in her own words, screwed her royally!
Every mechanic she encountered had managed to disappoint her. Some through incompetence, some through outright larceny, some through apathy and finally some through outright meanness.
What started out as small shoes to fill, soon became very large shoes, some would say impossible to fill.
Truth is, I didn't want to work with her or her car. Some say that first impressions are made within the very first few seconds you meet a person, but it takes eons to change it.
She made a very quick first impression with me, and it wasn't a good one.
I wouldn't have worked with her but I remembered the time I flat out refused to work with a new client (they were just too angry and damaged) and they posted one of my worst reviews. Can you imagine that, I got trashed and didn't even do any work for that client!
They said I was too uppity, that I thought I was too good for them.
So, with that in the back of my mind, I decided that I was going to be the next poor sucker in that long list of shops and mechanics that had disappointed her.
But I wasn't going to go there without trying.  See, I happen to think that all people are basically good, and that sometimes you have to go through a labyrinth to find that goodness.  I was willing to go through it.
She proceeded to explain what the problem was. The local dealer had diagnosed a faulty clock spring (a device to connect the horn and air bag through the steering column). She asked what our cost to do the job would be. A quote was given and it was accepted.
Okay, you may say... "Isn't already a prescription to fail to do anything that someone else had diagnosed"
One turn of the steering wheel and I could tell the diagnosis was correct. The dealer had been right.
But it turns that they couldn't work with her anymore and referred her to us.
Beware of your competitors referrals!
Along the way she added that her driver's side window didn't work.  We quoted to test the circuit and she agreed.
The clock spring was replaced and the testing on the power window was done.  It required roughly two hours of my time to explain the work done, to put her mind at ease and to continue to make her fill good about her decision. The explanation took longer than the work on the vehicle!
Fast forward to five months later...
We get an angry phone call and it's HER!  Yep!  The same one who said every mechanic before us had messed up. Now we were in that group.
She said very angrily that her ABS was continuing to engage on a sweeping turns, just like before. In addition, since we had the window motor apart to test (we never had it out), her alarm would engage randomly.  All our fault! and we better take care of it under warranty.
I tried to explain we had not been hired to fix any ABS problem, and that we never had the door panel off - that the power window motor testing takes place at the fuse box.
Finally, when things got to yelling, I agreed to take a look at the vehicle, and at a minimum recheck all the work I had done. I was going to back up that 24/24 warranty as it was stated in the repair order.
Oh, I forgot to mention, Our long discussion on the phone was partially over the fact that I wouldn't loan her a vehicle to drive while we were working on hers. I was however, willing to rent a car for her at our cost for any time needed.
My rationale was, I don't want an angry client driving one of our vehicles.  I wouldn't want them to take their anger out on our car.
One and a half hours of unrecoverable time was spent in inspecting the vehicle. The clock spring installed was working properly.  It took another hour and a half to explain everything.  YES, it took that long!
I swear, we repair shop owners are getting to be paranoid and schizophrenic. We hear voices in our heads of the bad reviews that angry or misguided clients are going to post. It doesn't matter if they are right or if they are wrong. All bad reviews hurt small businesses and as such, the economy!
Long story short (it's too late for that), she probably has had the ABS problem for quite some time. There was a piece of black electrical  tape over the ABS light. Who knows how long it had been there.
As for the alarm issue... she had the battery replaced just recently and the system had reverted to default. We reprogrammed it to fit the client's desire (as a courtesy of course).
" So, as long as I have the car here, can I get an oil change?"
I must have had the word "sucker" written on my forehead. This time I said we were too busy but I would be glad to set up an appointment 2 weeks in the future.  By that time my prescription for Xanax will be available!!!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Can't afford you!

Its Friday around 1:30 pm and I get a frantic phone call.   "Do you work on motor homes?   I need to have the alternator and the power steering pump replaced and also the brake system flushed.  Can you do it today?"

Mind you, it's a Friday and late in a busy work day.
We don't work on motor homes. I should have said that and it all would have ended right then. The caller would have had to find some other shop to take care of those urgent Friday needs. But they were passing through town when they found themselves needing this much work in such a short period of time.  Having realized they must have been huge procrastinators for them to find themselves in this precarious position, I felt pity and then said, yes, we can help you.
That's when it all went downhill!

"How much is the total going to be?"
 I guess I must be a magician, where I know all the answers immediately in my head.  And this on a 33 ft long, yet to be seen, motor home.  I dare anyone to give an accurate quote off the top of their head without the help of at least seeing the vehicle.   You can put a guesstimate together, but under the circumstances,  why put yourself in that position.
Obviously I resisted giving the quote, which I knew would be woefully inaccurate. Back and forth and back and forth we went, until he bugged me about it enough that I caved in. Ugh!
"Listen, if you just need a ballpark figure, then it's probably around $400 for the alternator, about the same for the power steering pump and around $150 to perform the brake fluid exchange."

The response was "I CAN'T AFFORD YOU!" and the phone went dead.
I wonder what would have happened if I had said "it'll be about $250 for all that work". He probably would have rushed to the shop and try and get the work done. At which point, upon properly inspecting the vehicle, I would have adjusted the quote to the appropriate price (which probably would have been about $950 bucks)

So I'm perplexed!  I know this person will continue to call other repair shops until he finds one that will give him a quote so low that he will jump on it. That doesn't mean the quoted price is going to be the final one. All it means is someone was willing to play the "quote the low price game" in order to get the vehicle in. So, is that what it has come to?
I keep being told time after time to never quote anything over the phone to a stranger. Maybe now I will just do that!  I can't afford not to!

#alternator #powersteering #brakeservice