POST YOUR COMMENTS: Dealing with Consumers Online Can Be Frustrating

POST YOUR COMMENTS: Dealing with Consumers Online Can Be Frustrating

When we redesigned the website, we permitted people to make comments on articles. Anybody can ask a question or share their opinion and it gets posted immediately. I manage the comments and respond to readers on a regular basis. Some of the comments and dialog between repair shop professionals is great, sometimes better than the article or news item itself. It has also been a great way for some aftermarket companies to address customers’ questions and concerns.

Since the redesign, we have steadily moved up the rankings of the search engines. Not only are technicians and shop owners finding us, but the occasional consumer wanders into our little corner of the internet to ask a question or they find my phone number. As an ambassador of the aftermarket, I always try to help the motoring public understand their vehicles. But, lately I have given up.

Maybe it is the economic times making people more cautious with their money, or there is more information or “misinformation” out there. But, people no longer want real advice; they want conspiracy theories, quick fixes and magic potions. They do not want sound advice on how to take care of their vehicle and get it properly repaired.

Most of these people believe in three falsehoods. First, shops and technicians are not as smart as them just because they get their hands dirty for a living. Second, a car is a simple device that can be fixed with fairy dust and a few inexpensive parts. Third, it is a bluffing game between themselves and the shop, and what’s at stake is their wallet. The less they tell the shop, the less money they stand to lose.

There are also three types of people asking questions. Since they have stereotyped technicians, I will stereotype them.
The first type of consumer commenter, and the most common, is the “price shopper.” This person is looking for a diagnosis so they can call around town for the lowest price on the repair. You probably will get a few of these calls today from someone asking how much it is to replace an oxygen sensor or some odd part that hardly ever fails.

The second type of commenter is the “paranoid idiot.” They are convinced shops and auto manufacturers are trying to rip them off. To them the “Check Engine” light is a form of slavery to “the man.” These  goofs often call you up asking if you can install parts they bought on eBay. The most common environment for paranoid idiots are “owners” forums for their specific vehicle.

The last type of consumer commenter on the internet is the “DIY Dummy.” Typically male, they want to go to a parts store and replace parts without understanding what  is really wrong with their vehicle. Generally, this guy assumes that a new set of spark plugs, air filter and a bottle of fuel injector cleaner will fix every problem.

I can no longer stand these people. Every time I receive a notification a comment has been left on the website starting with “My car…” or “I have a…,” I start to get annoyed.
Maybe it is pride or fear preventing some of them from taking their vehicle to a repair shop and paying a small diagnostic fee to find out what is wrong. But, these people need help, and they are not going to find it on the internet.

What really bugs me the most is  these people need and want to get their vehicles fixed, and there are shops that can help them. But, they have so much baggage preventing  them from communicating with a shop in an effective manner.
Have I become part of the problem? How would you handle it? Please leave a comments below.

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