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Frustration - - frustration - it's a fact of life.



It’s early in the morning, time to get ready for work, the morning breakfast and the obligatory cup of coffee are down the hatch, dogs fed, paper picked up, time to go. You make your way to the car, hop in and turn the key…crank, crank, crank… the whirl of the starter motor is all you hear. What now? What a way to start the morning. Your knowledge of cars goes about as far as the key in the ignition and where to put the fuel in. Panic sets in. It’s one of the many frustrations of modern life that has just become a part of your morning.


In your panic mode you can picture all of your plans for the day are going to be ruined. Immediately you start dialing the phone. First you call the boss and tell him you’re having car problems, then a call to the guy in the next cubicle to see if he can give you a ride to work. Next you call the wife and tell her the good news. Of course, she reminds you that you’re supposed pick the kids up from school and to take them to soccer practice, and you’re supposed to pick up your suit from the dry cleaners on the way home today. Today is not your day, and the frustrations just keeps piling up. All because the car wouldn’t start.


The first tow company you called is backed up with other calls, so you try the next one. They can make it in about an hour. Then you finally make the call to the repair shop. They’re backed up too; they can’t get to it until later today or possibly tomorrow. Your voice starts to show signs of frustration as you talk to the service writer. (Believe me, the service writer can tell.) Then in a fit of desperation you ask the service writer, “Is there anybody else who can get to it quicker?” The service writer hesitates for a moment, gathers his thoughts and says, “I’m sure there is sir, but let me see what I can do about getting you into the shop a little quicker, but no guarantees.”


You’re first lucky break of the day. He’s going to try to squeeze you in. Ok, things are looking up for a change. Your frustration level drops a notch, but not by much, you still have to figure out what to do about soccer practice, the dry cleaning, and how much is this all going to cost. At least your ride showed up to take you to work… work, I almost forgot… gotta go.


You’ve made it into the office, but you’re still worried the repair shop won’t get to your car soon enough. Even though it’s only been an hour or two, and for some reason the original conversation with the service writer about the possibilities of squeezing you in were slim seems to have slipped your mind. You figure now is a good time to call them, and see what they found out about the car.


The service writer you spoke to earlier doesn’t answer the phone this time, but a different one instead. Your frustration leads you to believe you need to go through the entire explanation of the problem all over again, even though the guy on the other end of the phone said it wasn’t necessary, because he has your work order in front of him with everything you told the previous service writer. The service writer tries to explain to you that the car has just arrived, and it will be a bit longer before they can make room in the shop for it, but your stress level has almost reached its maximum. The frustration keeps mounting as you plead with the service writer to get your car in as soon as possible, which only puts him under even more of a strain than he was before you called. Mainly, because you fail to realize… you’re not the only one whose car isn’t running.


The two service writers converse, and decide to push this one through the shop a bit quicker. Now the frustration has passed from the customer, to the service writer, and then ultimately to the mechanic. The service writer taps the mechanic on the shoulder, who is busy reading some scanner information on another problem car. The service writer says, “Hey Hank, can ya put that stuff down for now? I’ve got a rush job for ya.” The service writer stands over the tech, nervously tapping the work order into his open palm as the mechanic mumbles something under his breath, and slowly puts the scanner down and takes a look at the work order.


“Yea, fine, leave the work order with me, and log me in on it. I’ll get off of this one and start on it,” the mechanic tells him as he writes down a few reminder notes as to where he left off on the car he’s currently working on. The mechanic then heads out to the lot with the keys and hops into his new “rush” job for the day. He turns the key, VROOM the engine starts. More under his breath comments come to the surface. The mechanic drops it into drive and pulls it into the service bay. After a few regular checks, codes, fuel pressure, gas level, battery connections, etc… the results are… “Unknown failure. Cannot duplicate the no start condition at this time. Advise the customer that we can either keep the car for a few days, and try it off and on, or they can keep track of it and let us know.”


Now the mechanic is frustrated. Pulled off of a job that has a legitimate no start condition to an intermittent “rush” job that doesn’t seem to have one. Now the frustration starts back up the chain, from the mechanic, back to the service writer, and of course, ultimately back to the customer.


The car is started periodically all day long, up until the time the customer comes to pick it up. Frustrated, angry at the situation, and more than a little upset that the shop couldn’t find the problem the disappointed customer drives off. The next morning the service writer calls the customer to see how things are going. “It started just fine this morning,” the customer tells him. “Great,” said the service writer, “I’ll check in with you for the next couple of days and see how it’s going.”


Finally, it wouldn’t restart, and stayed that way long enough to get it checked out. An intermittent fuel pump and relay was the problem. Nearly three weeks after it all began, the frustration finally ended for everyone. This fast paced, modern world we live in can be frustrating when all these modern conveniences fail to cooperate. Dealing with the stress of it all is different at each level, and it’s hard not to get frustrated over such things. But, it sure would be nice if we could.



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Story has a nice ending, which is not always the case. Interesting that the service writer would call the customer to see if things are ok, when in reality most of the time it is the customer that has to initiate the call, as most shops are way to busy. Maybe not everywhere, but that's the way it is in my area.

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This is an everyday occurrence for us. The customer perception coupled with what the customer has planned puts us in tough place at times. We need to balance what's fair for all customers, and the customer needs. It's not easy and sometimes things can go sour real fast.

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