Sometimes, I have to wonder if certain customers’ brains are firing on all cylinders.
But as an automotive service professional, I have to maintain a certain level of self-control while answering their questions, even though what they’re asking is beyond rational intelligence.
With that said, here are a few examples of the unbelievable things I’ve been asked over the years, that have left me dumbfounded as to what just happened. I still don’t have any explanation as to how to answer these questions.
THE HARNESS CAPER
“Hello, may I help you?” I asked the voice on the phone.
“Yes, how much would you charge to rewire my car?” the caller asked. “It’s got some electrical problems, and I can’t find them. Do you think you can repair it?”
Now, there’s an unexpected request. Rewire or repair? How in the world am I going to estimate that? I had no intention of giving this guy a dollar amount on something that vague. So, I went with the basic diagnostic fee as a starting point, and told him that a total rewire was probably not necessary. The caller eventually settled on having the repair done rather than the rewire. Then, he hit me with the next bombshell of unexpected news.
“OK, I’ll bring the harness in so you can diagnose it. I already have it out of the car.”
I’ve taken a lot of harnesses out of a lot of cars, and I don’t remember any of them coming out all that easily. I’m picturing this guy’s car in a million pieces scattered in his driveway, or, worse yet, a harness that’s chopped up into little sections so he could remove it without tearing the rest of the car apart. Either way, this is starting to sound like a minor electrical issue that turned into a complete disaster.
“You took it out of the car already?” I asked. “I can’t diagnose an electrical problem in your car with it removed.”
“Obviously, you don’t know what you’re doing then. I’m taking my car somewhere else,” he bantered back.
“The car is what I need, not just the harness,” I said, getting a little peeved at his comments by now.
“I can’t bring the car in; it won’t run. What kind of idiot are you?”
Now I’ve had it!
“Taking the harness out of the car before having it diagnosed is like tearing down a house just to check the light bulbs,” I said, already committed to the fact that this guy isn’t coming in.
“Just nevermind then,” he said. “I’ll fix it myself.”
And a fine job you’ll do, too!
“I noticed a strange fluid filling up my taillight lens,” the caller says. “I’ve done some research on the Internet, and I’ve found out it’s the blinker fluid leaking. Can you put it back?”
“Ah, no,” I said, trying to hold back the snickering. “There’s no such thing as blinker fluid. What you’re seeing is water in the lens.”
“No, you’re wrong, sir!” the caller said sternly. “I found a bottle of blinker fluid for sale on eBay. Obviously, you’re not a very good mechanic, or you’re just trying to rip me off! I’ll take my car somewhere else!”
I wonder if that’s the good blinker fluid or the cheap stuff?
CRUISE CONTROL DILEMMA
After repairing a cruise control problem for a customer, she called me up the next day and started complaining.
“I tried the cruise control and it doesn’t work!” she said.
I know that I checked it out before giving it back to the customer, which made me rather curious as to how it could have gone out in such a short time. After talking to the customer for awhile, it was apparent that she didn’t know how to use the cruise control, or was misinformed as to how it operated.
“As the light turns green, I hit the ‘on’ button, but the car doesn’t go as fast as I want to go,” she said. “Even when I take my foot off of the gas and hit the ‘resume’ button, it won’t go either.”
“Ma’am, you have to get the car up to the desired speed and then hit the ‘set’ button,” I said.
“Now why would I need to do that? I’m not sitting! (Setting, sitting; tomato, tomahto.) It should know how fast I want to go! The speed limit sign is right there!”
Yep, it’s official. Her brain is experiencing a “misfire.”
IT’S FREE, REALLY?
Another shop referred a customer to me for some work they didn’t do at their shop. The customer walks up to the counter, explains things in detail and sets his keys on the counter.
“Not a problem, I’ll get it diagnosed and give you an estimate once I’ve figured out the exact problem,” I told him.
“Oh no, no, no. You don’t understand. The other shop told me it wasn’t going to cost me anything,” the now upset customer told me.
“I’m sure ‘they’ didn’t tell you the repair was going to be free here, sir. I don’t work for free, in the same way I’m sure you don’t work for free either. I get paid to diagnose and repair cars just like the shop you came from,” I said.
He grabbed the keys off the counter and stormed out the door saying, “I was told free; I want it free, and that’s what it should be. I guess you don’t want my business then!”
Ah, you’re right, not that kind of business. Especially at the price you’re suggesting.
This guy definitely has a “misfire” issue, too.
How some of these folks make it through the day without falling off the edge of the planet is beyond me. You’d think I’ve heard every kind of strange request after the amount of time I’ve spent behind the service counter, but I seriously doubt it.
There’s always more.