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July 18th, 1999 Article
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I got an E-mail last week from a fellow who used to work for me and now has his own shop. He wanted me to re-do a column I had written years ago (that he had kept a copy of.) about how many people think that Mechanic's should work for free and it went like this:

How many people work for free or work an eight hour day but only get paid for two or three hours? I know it's a dumb question but just stay with me on this one. I had something happen the other day that reminded me about how many people seem to think that a Mechanic should work for free. We hear things all the time like; "I'm late for work and my tire is going flat, Can you fix it right away?" So we run the car in, fix the tire, present the bill and we hear, "What do you mean $15.00, it only took you twenty minutes to fix the tire and you should do that sort of thing as a favor, (???) after all I am a New customer!" (???) Or, "My battery is dead and I need a boost." So you drive over with the service truck and you get insulted when you present a bill for the boost because after all, they did get an Oil Change at your place last year.(???)

But, what happened the other day tops them all. I offer after hour's emergency service and I got a call from a tow company that had been called to a car that had stalled on the freeway. It was a nice Sunday afternoon and I had company over, so I excused myself and headed for the shop. I had just opened the door when the tow truck arrived with a Honda on the back. The Woman that owned the car came over and started telling me how much trouble she had with this Blankity Blank car and how she had just got "Ripped off" for a large repair bill. While the tow truck was backing the car into the door, I asked her what she had repaired as I thought it might suggest what sort of problem she might have. She went on to tell me how she had been planning a trip and wanted to get a "tune-up" before she left. She said she had spent an hour on the phone trying to find some place that had a DECENT price for a tune-up and how many "RIP-OFF'S" she had talked to.(???) She had gone to the place that gave her the cheapest price but when she went back to pick up her car the bill was over three times what they had told her on the phone. (Gee, am I surprised.) The shop had told her that she needed a new air filter and a fuel filter and some other stuff that WAS NOT included in the price. (DAA!)

But now comes the kicker, she informs me that she is NOT going to spend any more money on this car and I suggest that it will require some expense as it obviously has a problem. However, she is emphatic that she is not going to spend anymore money and I try to explain that I am going to have to spend some time working on her car and therefor I am going to have to charge her for my time. Now she is really starting to get MAD and she says that all us Mechanic's are rip- off's and she screams that all she wants is for me to get her car running so that she can get home. This conversation is going nowhere fast but I again try to explain that I MUST charge her something because I don't work for free. Again, she goes on about how much money she has spent on this car and she is not going to spend another dime on it and I am supposed to be the best mechanic around and I SHOULD be able to get her car running for her so that she can JUST GO HOME. I finally say, look Lady I charge for fixing cars and that if she thought I was going to fix her car for free that she was wrong and asked her if she wanted me to call the tow truck back. Once again she informs me that she is NOT going to spend any more money and that I am supposed to offering a SERVICE (???) because she belong to a Auto Club.

I called the tow truck back and then you should have seen the performance when she found out that the next tow was going to COST her as her membership only covered a tow to a repair facility. The tow truck driver and I push the car out of the shop while she is ranting about how this whole thing is a set up to rip people off. Once again, I ask if she wants her car towed home but she insists that she will not pay for the tow. As the tow truck drives off, I lock up the doors and then this woman says to me, "Well aren't you AT LEAST going to drive me home?" and I just show her where the bus stop is. As I am getting into my car, she is screaming about how she is going to file a report with the Auto Club and she is going to get my business license revoked. I REALLY needed this on a Sunday afternoon.

The next day the car was still in the parking lot and I took down my 24-hour emergency phone number, all of my CUSTOMERS know it anyway. Two days later the car disappeared over night and I don't even care what happened to it. I gotta check with the Mail carrier, that Magic Wand I ordered hasn't showed up yet.

"TOOT" Rick "The Wrench" - July 18th,1999
Copyright of Rick The Wrench, 1999

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