Lots of cars come into a repair shop for one specific problem, but before the car is even in the service bay the customer will say, “Since you (or the short version, “Sinchya”) have the car here, could you do “XXX” repair too?” Sometimes it might be a related problem, but most of the time it’s something far removed from the original issue. Now, unexcitingly, the mechanic has to reverse gears and setup to look at this “By the way” issue. It is almost always completely opposite from the original problem, requiring totally different tools and testing methods.
For instance, the car may come in for a routine brake job, but they’ll ask, “Sinchya got it here, could you take a look at the rear speakers that are making a load crackling sound when the radio is turned up full blast.” Or, when a customer asks if they could swing by so you can fix their power outlet while they run a few errands. You’re busy, but you slide it in between jobs. Just about the time you’re putting away the tools . . . the phone rings. It’s the car owner, “By the way, could you look at the emergency brake while you got it there?”
The mechanic answers, “No problem sir.” Although the car that’s on the lift either has to be finished or moved off, so he can get his up in the air, and of course… he’s in a hurry. Ya just never know what that “Sinchya” or “By the way” might turn out to be. I can’t imagine somebody asking their doctor to add some other procedure, while they’re in the surgery room and he’s just about to close up a delicate operation, but cars are different and most mechanics are used to the added work. That is, as long as the customer realizes adding more “Sinchya’s” also means additional costs.
These “Sinchya’s” work two ways, though. Every now and then a car comes in for one repair, and it’s the mechanic who finds something else wrong. Now the mechanic has to ask, “By the way, sinchya got it here we should take care of “XXX” problem too.”
Granted, bringing your car by for a quick wiper blade change only to find out there’s a hole in the radiator may not fit into your schedule, but what do you do? Deal with it and get it fixed, but it’s probably the opposite of what you had planned to do with your afternoon.
These reverse opposites can come in all kinds of forms too. Sometimes it’s the car that throws the curve ball into the game. Say, the car is in for a scheduled repair and the technician lowers the driver’s window, but the window track or cable is faulty. Or, let’s say you need the charging system checked, and as the mechanic makes the turn into the service bay the CV snaps. You might be saying, “Oh, that would never happen. You’re making that up.” You’d be wrong, because I’ve seen both. Now…to tell the customer all about this new... unrelated... and sometimes costly repair so they can drive the car home again. You know, “Sinchya you’re here and all…”
On the flip side of those situations there’s the ever present scenario when a customer picks up their car, and immediately calls back saying something that wasn’t a problem has now become a problem. It could be a major issue, or it could be as little as to why did somebody move the floor mat. Ya just never know. Let’s face it, mistakes happen on both sides of the service counter, and cars, new or old, can have some sort of failure lurking in the background just waiting for their chance to pop up.
Take the time a guy brought a car in and wanted to find out why his park lights kept blowing a fuse. He had already tore apart most everything inside of the car, as well as the trunk. The owner couldn’t find it, so it’s up to the repair shops now. The problem was found in no time, and just to be courteous the mechanic took it upon himself to reinstall all the trim as well as the center console at no additional charge to the customer. The customer picked up their car, paid the bill, and was off with a smile. Two weeks later, the same customer is back at the service counter. But, with a completely opposite attitude about his car and the service provided.
The headlights aren’t working now, and of course… it’s the mechanic’s fault. Then, just to make sure that everyone knew that it was all due to the mechanic’s inability to do his job, he added that when the mechanic reinstalled the console he trapped the driver’s seat belt under it. Talk about a complete opposite and reversal of attitudes! Sure mistakes happen, and it could be a result of the last work that was done, but seriously, there’s better ways of handling things, ya know.
My only question is, when the guy originally picked up the car did he not put his seat belt on, let alone avoided driving after dark for two weeks? If it was a problem at the time he picked the car up, why didn’t he just walk back up to the service counter and mention something about the seat belt then?
Or let’s take the scenario of a drivability test for example. The technician grabs the keys and heads out for a long stretch of open highway for a test drive. Within a mile or so those red lights start flashing in his rearview mirror. It looks like the state trooper wants to talk to the mechanic.
The officer walks up to the driver’s window and says, “Did you know your tag has expired? In fact it’s been expired for over two years.” Now seriously, mechanics have to test drive cars all the time and seldom does he/she ever think about whether the tag is up to date.
Considering the fact the customer just drove it up to the shop why would you even assume it wasn’t legal for the road? Mind you, if it’s some sort of car that’s been in moth balls for years, there’s a good chance you might take a gander at the license plate. But, do ya think anything was ever a mentioned to the service writer that the car didn’t have a current tag? Probably not. This is one of those times when the mechanic wishes the reverse would have happened. You know, let the customer get pulled over instead. But, luckily opposites do attract as they say. The customer called the next day and said they just got pulled over too. He thought it was funny, I thought the opposite.
Complaints and problems can come from any direction and from anyone that’s involved. The lack of information and the lack of understanding of how problems crop up are all part of this job. Now, if somebody could ever figure out a way to reverse the opposites before the opposites become the reverse of progress... let me know.