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Old 03-28-2010, 02:55 PM
 
10,869 posts, read 41,128,193 times
Reputation: 14009

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Bagu View Post
Stories yes...we have stories.

One gal came in with an engine problem on a VW bug. I told her the alternatives and costs involved. She cried the old story of being low on money and making ends meet and of course the sympathy method working in overtime.

Ok...I'm a nice guy so cut her some slack on the price of the parts needed...future customer and all that stuff.

Do the repairs and she comes in to pick up the car with her husband driving a NEW car.

I'm feeling like a smultzy...so much for being a NICE guy.

Steve
As I'd pointed out, everytime ... without exception ... that I'd been conned into helping somebody with a sad sob story and pleading for a "break" (if not an "exchange of services" which doesn't pay the bills) ... it came back to bite me. I've had the full exposure of all the goods in the shop ... right down to some customers following me into our locker room when I was cleaning up at the end of the day, changing out of my work clothes ... or a couple that simply got into the back seat of their car and took their clothes off and waved me over ... or some, who'd wear very revealing skimpy clothes without underwear and flash as much as they could at me while we were discussing the car problems and their financial plight. One especially attractive model type was the wife of a neurosurgeon, and she even made a point of telling me that her husband "didn't have any time" for her anymore with his busy work schedule and they were in hock up to their ears from his med school education and his Porsche habit and their restaurant meals because she didn't cook ... I was real happy to hear he got busted by the state board for doing way too many spinal fusions and lost his hospital privileges, so they moved on and I didn't have to deal with her anymore. I don't know if her husband ever got a clue as to his wife's activities, but I sure didn't need to risk losing a whole medical practice of good clients just for her and his spending habits on high dollar cars.

I even had a couple of used car dealers pull this stuff on me ... oh, there's no profit left in handling this car if we fix it right. A couple even made a point of sending cars over to my shop using their teen-age daughters for shop runners ... and those kids weren't subtle about trying to help out for the business, on the same premise that the parts supply houses used to employ some exceptionally good looking and personable delivery drivers to solicit more business for their outfits ... only you weren't always sure for whom they were working. One, with an overheating MB 250C, got out the door with only a t-stat and fan coupler and cleaned out radiator via a worthless check. When I went to their place to collect on the bad check, the owner claimed that he hadn't authorized the work, his salesman had, and the dealership wasn't going to pay me for the services. His salesman's story was that the dealership benefitted from the work, so they should pay for it and not him ... and he leaned back in his fancy leather desk chair and showed me the pistol in his waistband. It took a year, but a client of mine brought a 1965 356SC over for a pre-buy inspection on a rainy day ... so I inadvertently directed him to drive down one of the streets by the shop on our test drive where I knew that the dips in the road might be bumper deep or more. So sorry, but that motor was shock cooled pretty badly in the flooded street carwash ... and the client wasn't going to tell them when he took the car back to the dealership. I had a few more opportunities in the later years to throw that dealer under the bus ... he was a steady buyer of wholesale cars from a source that I knew reconstructed wrecked MB's, and I was one of the few who could spot those cars and so advise the prospective buyer that they were looking at a collection of parts, not a pristine car as represented.

They lost a lot of sales by me .... finally came over one day to complain that every car that came to me for a pre-buy was "picked apart". As they were a specialist in cra* cars, the fact was the cars were junk at their price points, and my inspections were legitimate. Their argument was that I didn't need to advise my customers of my findings ... I never told anybody not to buy a car, I only showed them the problem areas I found and allowed them to make an informed "buy" decision. Of course, when you've got a pile of junk at top dollar and the dealer down the street has something better at that price point, you might lose sales unless your price is adjusted. Boo-Hoo. They were actually good for business, in a way ... I had a lot of work come through my doors fixing the cars that they'd sold ... especially electrical/electronics related items.

No worries, Mac ... sorry to hear of your recent exposure to some nasty stuff. And brake fluid is high on my list of stuff I don't like to get on me, too.

Last edited by sunsprit; 03-28-2010 at 03:12 PM..
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Old 03-28-2010, 03:04 PM
 
Location: So. of Rosarito, Baja, Mexico
6,571 posts, read 17,944,907 times
Reputation: 5919
Here I go again.......

Installed a Newly rebuilt engine in a bug for this sweet young looking girl. She picks up the car late fri afternoon.

Mon morning it is sitting in my lot with oil all over the engine and on rear of car...literally oil all over the ground. What the H*** happened I'm thinking.

I wait for her to call me for the particulars.

She calls and said it started smoking a lot.

I push into the shop...jack it up...a oily mess to see...pop the valve cover and THREE qts of oil dump on to my floor and me in the process.

Found out later that she had driven to a gas station on Sat night where a friend worked and he looked at the shiny clean engine...checked the dip stick and WOW!!!! NO OIL...so he pours in THREE qts of oil and she drives on her way. The idiot did not see the CLEAN oil mark on the dip stick. So now we have SIX qts of oil in a engine that only requires THREE qts. So much for gas station jockey mechanics.

Steve
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Old 03-28-2010, 03:09 PM
 
18,107 posts, read 16,444,002 times
Reputation: 9747
I am not a mechanic and have only basic mechanical knowledge but have a kindness streak. I was working at a retail store one night, a rainy night when the remnants of a hurricane was passing through. A lady had come in and had purchased windshield wiper blades and needed help putting them on her car. I said why not, at least its a warm rain and the tropical wind gusts weren't too bad. So I go out and hear her story about how a nice policeman had just pulled her over and had given her a warning about not having working windshield wipers. She was driving to her boyfriends and he or somebody had apparently removed the windshield wiper blades. So I get out there and its a pretty old domestic car, from the 80s and I try to locate the windshield wipers. No luck. I thought oh, it must have them under the hood deeply recessed, that's weird. Then I see the base for the windshield wipers with no stalks.The genius had removed the wipers completely. I said lady you don't have ANY windshield wipers, these blades aren't going to do you any good. she said " Oh, I guess I'll just go right to his house, then." Why didn't that cop fine her and have that car towed? A rainy night, and no windshield wipers and I got wet which was probably the biggest crime.
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Old 03-28-2010, 03:23 PM
 
9,816 posts, read 19,014,998 times
Reputation: 7537
Quote:
Originally Posted by rosecitywanderer View Post
Give people an inch and they'll take a mile.

That reminds me of another story courtesy of the Audi/Porsche dealer. This was going on right as I started working there so it was a heck of a way to start out employment. A man loaned his significant other his black A4 sedan and while she was driving it, the information display popped up the oil level low icon. Now in the modern Audis, this icon will show up when the car is one quart low on oil. Apparently she took it as meaning it had NO oil. You can see where this is going.

She figured "I can do this" and cracked open the owner's manual to see the oil capacity for the 2.0 liter engine was 4.5 quarts. So she went and bought 5 quarts of oil and dumped them into the engine. I went into the shop while the techs were draining the engine. There was so much oil in it they had to use a radiator drain pan to get all of it out then there was a cup or so of oil in each cylinder. There was a small crowd when they started the car for the first time and thankfully they had the foresight to do so outside. The cloud of smoke from all the burning oil was so large it covered most of the lot. I happened to see this car going down the highway while they were trying to burn the oil off and it was smoking like you wouldn't believe. I don't know what the final tab was but I'm willing to bet you she wasn't allowed anywhere near that car for quite some time.
Well that is the problem with Audis is that they are the most histrionic, hyper, hysterical cars around. The washer fluid alarm alone would have the average person thinking the car will explode at any second. The oil level low alarm is much the same with a big oil can icon and alarm.

Just recently I have exterminated all the warning lights that have been on in my A4 for the last 3 years. It's a constant process and hopefully the car will behave for a while.
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Old 03-28-2010, 03:43 PM
Status: "Hope is a walking dream." (set 10 days ago)
 
Location: Still in Portland, Oregon, for some reason
864 posts, read 2,980,835 times
Reputation: 691
Quote:
Originally Posted by wanneroo View Post
Well that is the problem with Audis is that they are the most histrionic, hyper, hysterical cars around. The washer fluid alarm alone would have the average person thinking the car will explode at any second. The oil level low alarm is much the same with a big oil can icon and alarm.
I will grant you that but if there is no oil in the engine then it seizes. Seems a little backwards to warn you that your engine is in the process of seizing. If she couldn't figure that out, then she shouldn't be touching the engine compartment.
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Old 03-28-2010, 04:21 PM
 
4 posts, read 7,929 times
Reputation: 16
After carefully installing four tires for a new customer, including indexing for lowest possible road force variation, balancing, and cleaning off all brake dust and old wheel weight glue, we sent him on his way, only to see him trash our good reputation on the Tire Rack website because we were too stupid to match the yellow dots on the tires with the valve stem holes in the rims. That was like serving a patron in your restaurant a nice Filet Mignon, prepared exactly as ordered, and hearing the complaint that it came without Kethup already on it. This kind of stuff used to keep me awake at night, until the owner of another shop told me of a particularly irate customer who berated him severely on some website. The attention his strong words garnered drew many people to look into his cyber rating in more detail, and they noticed that nine customers sang his praises, and only one was a malcontent. The old adage that "If ten of your friends tell you you're drunk, you'd better sit down" applied in this case, and he won over several new customers. Perhaps there really is no such thing as bad publicity.
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Old 03-28-2010, 05:18 PM
 
19,122 posts, read 21,362,274 times
Reputation: 7313
Well I don't know, maybe New England at the time was a bit more conservitive with folks wanting to pay what was fair, on an average.

I had folks come in with bigger problems from away, that couldn't pay then, and would leave me with no more than a promise. Nearly all paid and a few wrote the local papers and told their tale, Nice write ups about the shop. I would know this before any work began.

Being some 40 miles North of Boston I got cars from Nantucket, who took a ferry to Bostons and then drove by a lot of places that could have fixed them up. I got Unimogs from Logan Airport too.

Most locals that would put the screws to me were figured out before they did. If I recall only 4 customers were banned from that shop. I took a few bad checks there who doesn't? Those were tacked up in plain sight. A law was made about not doing that, but I didn't care about that law and it never came back to sting me anyway.

I got a few bounced checks too, but a phone call would usually produce a very sorry customer, with cash in hand.

In another shop in NH, I had a city slick, from NJ get pushy with a BMW of somesort. I can't recall what it was, since I didn't work on it once.

That guy was very full of himself, and couldn't be bothered to set up any appt.. He was all about Right Now, and I wasn't, I was busy, and told him the first appt I could give, and he wanted no part, and wasted my time telling about who he was, his life history, and being from a 'metropolitian area', and how i should feel about the privilege to serve him.

That doesn't last long in my world, and I told him there will never be a time for your car now, come Hell AND High Water...

Next day, someone else drives that car in, and asks for an appt.. I ask "Where is the sales reciept for this car you bought last night?"

You can guess the rest...
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Old 03-28-2010, 05:28 PM
 
19,122 posts, read 21,362,274 times
Reputation: 7313
One Nantucket car:

I don't remember what it was called. it was a little red 3 wheel truck, and it had a 3 clyinder 2 stroke engine. I had never seen one before, and haven't seen one since.

The speedo went up to something like 50 maybe 55 mph... The guy wanted it tuned up, so I did. When I was done doing everything i could do, and all the stuff that was LAW in my shop checking fluids , lubing doors yada yada, I test drove just like everything else, and I could not get that truck to exceed 45 mph.

I checked and re-checked every detail I could think of, re-adjusted the carb, triple checked the exhaust, and there was just nothing I could do more.

The customer shows up, and I tell him there is a problem, and we head out for a ride. Now the truck will only do 43 MPH, and I look at the guy and he is turning gray. I ask if he feels ok, thinking he is angery, and having a heart attack for real.

He says yeah I feel fine, but can you slow down any? This truck has never done a thing over 28 MPH!
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:42 PM
 
9,816 posts, read 19,014,998 times
Reputation: 7537
Quote:
Originally Posted by rosecitywanderer View Post
I will grant you that but if there is no oil in the engine then it seizes. Seems a little backwards to warn you that your engine is in the process of seizing. If she couldn't figure that out, then she shouldn't be touching the engine compartment.
Nope there is difference. If the oil can stays solid, then you need a top up, if it flashes then you have an imminent problem and need to park the car. It's all spelled out in the owners manual. Either way both alarms are very annoying and noticeable.
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:54 PM
 
Location: Lafayette, Louisiana
14,095 posts, read 22,963,452 times
Reputation: 7957
Mechanics, did you enjoy popping the hood of an older car (early 1980s and beyond) and seeing an inline six cylinder knowing it'd be easy to work on and you had all the room in the world to work on it? Sister had a 1981 Mercury Capri with the snail slow Ford 200 cid engine. She hated that car. Everything on the car broke EXCEPT that engine. I'd rather have a slow reliable engine than a fast one that regularly brakes down. She didn't know how good she had it until she bought an Olds Cutlass Calais with the quad 4 engine. She loved the speed.
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