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April 22, 1999 article
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A while ago during a phone in Radio program that I was on, I was asked a question that I thought I should pass along, with my reply. A person called and ask me to explain what I thought was the toughest thing to do when dealing with customers and their car problems and I know he didn't expect the reply I gave him.

The toughest problem I have dealing with, is trying to tell a Customer that there is something wrong with a vehicle that they own, when they don't think that there is anything wrong at all.

I used two examples;

#1. After a person has been driving a vehicle for quite a few miles/kilometers, they become used to how the vehicle drives. As steering parts wear, the driver gets used to a gradual increase in the play of the steering wheel etc. and they don't FEEL the difference. Then, I (or another Mechanic.) take the vehicle for a drive and we think that we need a pail of oats and a whip just to keep the thing between the ditches. But, after we get all of the the worn out parts replaced and get the customer driving the repaired car, they think that it is like brand new. I'll bet that you have noticed yourselves at times, as the brakes wear and the pedal goes a little further to the floor, you don't even notice it. But when you get new brakes installed, you really notice the difference from before, Right? Well we see this kind of stuff day after day, week after week, but the next example is really the worst to deal with.

#2. A person buys a DIFFERENT vehicle (Be it new or used.) and they think that it runs and drives GREAT. After a period of time I get a opportunity to drive the vehicle and I think it steers like a Tank and runs like H- - - . (I can't say that.) But the person that owns the vehicle thinks I am crazy and just trying to rip them off. The problem is that they have never had anything to compare it to so they don't know. I drive dozens of different vehicles every week, so I know when I run into a vehicle that isn't running properly.

Now, the problem is that I have to try and convince the owner that there is INDEED something wrong with their vehicle and that is where I really love Computer Engine Analysers that will print out test results. In the old days of Scopes and Two Gas Exhaust Analysers, all a Mechanic could show a customer was a bunch of squiggles on a picture tube that didn't mean a darn thing to the vehicle owner. (And in many cases it didn't mean much to the Mechanic either.)

With the newer Machines, they will print out possible problems and customers WILL pay attention to the machine and if the vehicle will not pass an Emission test, that PROVES that there is something wrong. (Then, we get into the deal about who should pay for the repair because it has been running like that since they bought it and for some reason, a lot of people think that I should not charge them for the time I spend diagnosing the problems. Remember, Its not my vehicle, I didn't make it , sell it or buy it, so the problem is NOT MINE.) Before Computer Analysers came out, (I got my first one in the late 70's and will not even attempt to work without one now.) I used to spend two to three hours everyday demonstrating problems to vehicle owners. (None of which we charge for.) I have been able to cut that time in half now. and I can PROVE that there is something wrong.

"TOOT" Rick "The Wrench" - April 22,1999
Copyright of Rick The Wrench, 1999

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