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Old 04-17-2006, 04:17 PM
1931 steve's Avatar
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Need to vent!!!

Just had a customer bring in a 1999 Jeep Cherokee 4x4 for a tire rotation and a front end alignment, I asked the customer if it was pulling to one side or the other, she (maybe 19 year old female) say no it drives great. The man (45 years old or so)t he uncle say it shows a little wear on one tire he thinks.

Well the test drive shows not much other than a memory steer. Put it on the rack for the inspection. The only front end suspension part that is bad is the Track bar, inspect the rest of the car and find that the front brakes are at about 5% life left and the disc brake rotors are below minimum thickness. The rear brakes are in good shape but the right wheel cylinder is leaking and the left cylinder is seized up and not working at all. The memory steer is from the front axle U-joints getting stiff and not pivoting properly, and a leaking front pinion seal.

So I write the estimate for front brakes with rotors, rear brake wheel cylinders with a brake fluid flush, front axle U-joints, track bar, and a front pinion seal. Call customer and explain to her what it needs.

She has no idea what I am talking about, and thinks I am taking advantage of her. She asks if her dad can call me. (he is in North Carolina) I say sure.

Now I have the dad on the phone and he is irate, he said this car is from NC and it's in perfect shape. she just moved in October 05 and all these parts could not have failed in that short of time. I tried to explain what all it needed, but he would hear nothing of it. I was just a crook and a thief. I knew nothing about fixing cars, just about taking advantage of people.

At this point I asked him what he wanted done to his car, he said just the tire rotation and nothing more, then he hung up on me. I buttoned the car back up and called the 19 year old, saying its ready to be picked up.

She (and the uncle) shows up expecting to pay $15.00 for a tire rotation. But I had charged her a 1/2 hour labor for the alignment inspection. The were not happy with this, the 19 year old starts going off on me yelling at me.Calling me the same thing her dad did. I told her if she wanted to talk about this like an adult she needed to stop yelling at me and that we could work this out.

I told them I would make a deal with them, since they didn't believe me, to give me a chance to prove what I was trying to sell them. I was willing to pull the car back in and remove the wheels to prove what it needs to be repaired. And if I was wrong I would not charge them the 1/2 hour check out fee, and they could call me what ever they wanted to.If I was right they would know I was honest. (a win win situation for them) The uncle said yes and he 19 year old said I need to call my dad.

Now she is taking to her dad (on speaker phone) and he is calling me everything he could about being a rip off and a looser. She at this point will hear nothing more I have to say, and that she will pay the 1/2 hour inspection fee and that I could take the receipt and wipe my *** (butt)with it.

She paid what I was asking, and told me to go F myself on the way out.

Sorry for such a long post, Know that I typed this out I feel better.

Steve

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Old 04-17-2006, 04:51 PM
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Thats a bummer Steve....As they say...that just goes with the territory. You just gave a classic reason why for 39 yrs. I was a fleet mechanic. I did not have to put up with customers. What was wrong I fixed my way...no questions asked.
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Old 04-17-2006, 06:02 PM
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That's why I could never work as a mechanic..............I can't even convince my stupid friends that their brakes are shot.
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Old 04-17-2006, 06:07 PM
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I've complained about people like this many times, and I only do a real little work on the side, so I don't deal with a lot. For some reason the auto trades have a bad reputation and a lot have the mindset in their head they are all rip off artists out to screw them out of thier money. But yet many of these people don't have a clue how to do a simple repair or maintenence on their vehicle. I am poor and can't afford to pay a mechanic a lot, but this is why I learn how to do stuff myself, or look at a shop manual and try to figure it out, not try and expect someone else fix it cheap for me. I don't know how many times I've explained what would all have to be done to someones car and the cost of materials, knowing a quoted a pretty good price, but won't hear anything back. I can just imagine them thinking it is a rip off, not realizing how much time truely is dedicated to most jobs. Mechanics and body men are always being asked to do something cheap or hear stuff like I am not looking for a perfect job, bull, that means you aren't willing to spend any money. Unfortunately there are enough rip off artists out their that the honest hardworking mechanics suffer some because of them. An ex of mine had a taurus that wouldn't start. She first took it to one of her friends boyfriend who owned a shop to fix. He had the car for over a month and couldn't figure the problem out. So he towed it to one of the ford dealers in town who said it needed a whole new wiring harness and ccrm (which the first mechanic replaced three times, it kept blowing out the relays.) They said they wouldn't garenty the new wiring harness would fix it ($400 bill). So I told her I would look at it and try to fix it. Took my test light and found out it wasn't getting power to the fuel pump. I traced the wiring till I found a broken wire near the battery, it wasn't in the wiring harness the dealer wanted to replace. Through on a used relay box, and it was fixed. And I don't even claim to be a mechanic. Cost more to rent a tow dolly and pay the dealer for diagnosing the fuel pump wasn't getting power then to fix. Later on she got soaked over $700 for an alignment saying she needed all new tie rods, ball joints, ect. I know some of those parts they said were bad were new, I had just recently replaced the tie rods. Don't let those types bother you steve, hopefully from now on they will go to another mechanic who will have to deal with them, or you can fire them as a customer. I can see them not believing it needs all you said, but when you are overly nice and accomidating, and willing to point out the problems and they still throw insults at you, f em.
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Old 04-17-2006, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry Highrise
Thats a bummer Steve....As they say...that just goes with the territory. You just gave a classic reason why for 39 yrs. I was a fleet mechanic. I did not have to put up with customers. What was wrong I fixed my way...no questions asked.
Wow, yeah, makes me really not want to work on other people's cars. I'm kinda screwed at this point and in for the long haul though, I've only got 6 more classes and I'll have my associates in Automotive Technology...yay.

Like Highrise though, I don't think I'd mind being a fleet mechanic, then I really wouldn't have to deal with the public. I'm just not a people person. I guess though in a dealership the service advisor has to deal with them. *shrug*

Anyhow, Hoovers about their attitude, Steve.
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Old 04-17-2006, 07:01 PM
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I hear ya on this. I'm not a mechanic, but I build computers as a second job. There are a lot of folks that I will talk to that ask for a quote. When I give it to them I usually hear "well I can get it from Dell for XXX dollars". Then I end up explaining to them the difference in quality between the two, Dell like a ford or chevy and my computers are like a BMW or Benz. People don't listen and they buy the junk. It usually only takes a few months before they are back. Lo and behold the cheap Dell didn't come equipped with all the software or hardware they needed and wind up spending even more than they would've if they bought from me in the first place.


For a little story about a mechanic:
I was in college and my nova's brakes went almost completely out on it one day out of the blue....of course it was while slowing down for a 35mph freeway exit ramp, that was fun! I checked the brake fluid and it was all there so I knew the master cylinder had passed on. I didn't have any tools down here to work on it so I called up the local full service station that has a repair bay. I told the head mechanic my brakes don't work because the master cylinder when out and I need it replaced. I explained that I didn't have any tools but that I knew my way around a car. Without even looking at my car he started to explain that it could be any number of things. I cut him off and kindly asked him to just do the service of changing the master cylinder to a new napa unit that I was quoted for. Wadda know the master cylinder was all that was wrong with the car. I was a nice guy and for some reason he didn't want to listen to me That was the last time any of my cars have been to a garage for any simple mechanical work.
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Old 04-18-2006, 10:13 AM
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It sure does make you wonder why ten different shops find ten different things wrong with my car? Why does it cost so much? It might be that %150 mark up on part's.
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Old 04-18-2006, 11:24 AM
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customers

I feel your pain brother...It's a shame that you cannot even use reasoning with this typ of person..... I worked for 1 1/2 years as a wrench at a local car lot...I was only 16 at the time i started the job but, when i quit i was like 35!!!!! I got blamed for everything from the guys girlfriend getting knocked up to people loosing there jobs because the car would not start......


I do-not do general repair any more just for the reasons you stated. I have had people beg me but i just don't want the problems... Allthough with the internet every new customer that walks into my shop is now a professional engine builder and can tell me exactly what i need to do to his engine to make it fast.......

It usually starts out with 4 bolt mains and 6" rods!!!!!


Keith
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Old 04-18-2006, 12:01 PM
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On one hand was the 1/2 inspection part of the deal? For having your tires rotated. Second I think I would have pulled the Jeep back on the rack and showed them what you found before you showed them the bill.
Out here in Arizona a inspection is a whole different charge. But if a tech see bad brakes when he is rotating the tires he just says you need new brakes. and give you a cost. and in the process they fine other problems related to the brakes then they give you a cost showing you the problem if you need to see it.

My self I would not want to pay for something I did not ask for. But I would be willing to pay you to inspect the rest of the brake system if you showed me the bad brakes first before telling me I need to pay you for a inspection. I did not ask for.

Craig
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Old 04-18-2006, 01:35 PM
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We get a lot of people now who are internet experts. They come and and say I need this wiget changed. We used to ask why they thought that and suggest we diagnose the problem first. Most get belligerent and say just change it for me, I know that this is the problem. Well as you can guess 99% of them are wrong. My favorite was a customer who broke down and had the car towed in. On the front seat was a fuel pump and relay. We were informed that his brother in law had looked at it and said it was one or the other and he would pay us to install both. We did and guess what still no start. Call customer and ask what he wants to do now. He will call brother in law and call back. Well they were out of ideas so he decided to have us diagnose it. Simple rotted ground wire for the fuel pump.
The best part is the cheapo fuel pump they bought at Autozone crapped out 2 months later, so they paid us to change it again, this time with our airtex pump.

We have given up the fight, we just do what customers ask now. We let them bring their own parts if they want and we get 50% more labor if they do. We tell them this upfront and nothing is guaranteed if they bring their own parts.
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Old 04-18-2006, 01:50 PM
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well, he'll be eating his words soon enough. IN about 1000 miles the breaks are going to start grinding, and he'll take it in for that too. The shop will tell him the back breaks have problems as well and he'll have to accept that he was wrong about the car.

BTW, I used to own the same ride. Those front U-joints do end up puking after a while. If he'd done any kind of research he'd realize it was a common problem with those jeeps. I'm willing to bet this ride had well over 100k on it too.

K
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Old 04-18-2006, 02:04 PM
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Steve:
Listen to this: Woman Car Repair

At least you did not try to refill her headlights with the premium "halogen" fluid (Lol)

Ed
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Old 04-18-2006, 03:05 PM
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I also feel your pain; I have delt with that in my own shop. I am willing to bet that if you were able to talk to other shops they have been at. It would be the same story all the way down the line. Not to mention when the car does crap out, it will be some mechanics fault, because they had it inspected and nothing was ever found wrong except the ones that were just trying to rip them off. How many times have you gotten this one! You give the woman her estimate to fix her car and she bust out in tears, telling you her life story and how she cant afford this right now. Making you feel sorry for her and wanting to cut a deal, but you know you just cant. I always find those to be the worst. some days you feel like you have a sign out front that says “Get your loans here” Or the people that come to pick up their car and forgot the wallet at home, or I will be in on Friday to pay you! Yea ok buddy. I have found that the worst customers for not paying the bill are other business owners, what’s the deal with that? Here is another one , I know you have heard at some point. IT WAS WORKING JUST FINE BEFORE I HAD THE OTHER THING FIXED. Ohhhhh I so love that one! Sorry for the caps guys, it wasn’t meant as a shout. Well kind of anyways, lol Keep you wrench up Steve, you’re not alone in the game and for all that have been there, we feel for yea. Oh yea one more, not the same but how many times have you gotten a call and the person on the other end wants you to listen to the car and tell you what’s wrong. I always love those. (Can you hold the phone a little closer to the engine, I think I hear the problem) lol

I just wanted to add, on the other side of the fence, there are some great joys too. Like repairing a car that other shops have passed down the line and couldn’t find the problem. Seeing the smile on the face of a customer that hears their fresh mill fired up for the first time. I love that one. All the people that are happy with your work and thank you for the repairs you have done. Those tires you air up for the kids that ride by on their bikes and think you are some kind off a mechanical god. The little old ladies that bake you things and let you know the world still has some mayberry left in it. Being able to tell the boss to get bent! (Unless of course you are married) then it could be dangerous! Having your own shop is a lot of work and stress at times, and some days you feel like you are married to your wrenches. But all in all I could go on and on with a list of good things about it.

Last edited by Twistedwrench; 04-18-2006 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 04-18-2006, 03:31 PM
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That's the reason I quit working on "friends" cars. I did a tune-up once on a friends pickup, fuel & air filters, plug wires, plugs, etc that he had bought and wanted me to coach him thru the parts swap out. Of course, he was on the phone the whole time, in the house, etc. "I" completed the tune up, we drove it around and I left for home. The next week his fuel pump goes out and gets towed to a shop. They change fuel pump, plugs and wires. Guess what...he blames me for the pump failure and said I put the wrong plugs and wires in the truck. He is no longer a friend. Now when people have a problem with their cars, I just refer them to a good friends shop. I feel for you 1931 Steve....
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Old 04-18-2006, 03:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnsongrass1
It sure does make you wonder why ten different shops find ten different things wrong with my car? Why does it cost so much? It might be that %150 mark up on part's.
It's not our (my) fault that your (or the customer's) car is in the shape its in. Its my job to diagnose and "try" to sell you what your car needs. It is ultimately your decision to have the repairs performed or not.

If I did not tell them about their brakes being bad, and they were in a accident, guess who they would blame. Customers get upset if you tell them what they need or if you don't. This is a no win situation.

As far as parts mark up goes, yes there is a mark up but not 150% Also the parts they call to get a price on is from Murry's or Auto Zone, well the parts stores I or most repair shops use have much better quality parts than those fast food type auto part stores. With better quality come a bigger price tag.

Quote:
ChevyTruckGuy On one hand was the 1/2 inspection part of the deal? For having your tires rotated. Second I think I would have pulled the Jeep back on the rack and showed them what you found before you showed them the bill.
No they wanted a front end alignment and a tire rotation. If I did the FEA they would have paid for something that did NO good. So I saved them money in the long run.

I did offer to bring it back in and let them inspect the parts that are bad, the declined the offer. This is a typical response from someone that is looking for something for free.

Like I asked them. Do you go to work and work for free..... Neither do I, so please don't ask me to.

Steve
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