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To Sell or Not to Sell?

Joe Marconi


The other day one of my techs was replacing front brake pads and rotors on an older Subaru. The caliper bracket bolts were seized and one of them snapped off. This is a common problem and we are well aware of it. We try our best with rust busters and heat, but sometimes nothing works. The tech drilled out the broken bolt and finished the brake job. No problem, right?


Here’s the problem, who pays for it? Me,or the customer? I asked the tech if he informed the service writer. He said he did. I asked the service writer if he told the customer and up-sold the repair. The writer told me it was a hard sell just to sell the brakes and felt he could not approach the customer. I informed my service writer that I did not buy the car, build the car or break the car.


I did something that maybe I should not have done; I went into the customer waiting room myself and explained the situation and sold the caliper bracket repair.


My issue is this. Are they times when we can't charge and we just have to eat it? I say yes and no. That depends on the situation. I also think that this particular writer needs more training in customer relations.


What do you think? Charge or not charge? What policy do you have?


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This should be sold to the customer. If the customer is in the waiting room it would be good to show the customer what needs to be done and why. I understand the writers apprehension but we need to realize it is the customers problem not ours. Our shop is gulty of eating things like this when we should not. There are times we do need to eat things but we should reserve that to times we make mistakes or just overlook something we should not have.

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I think this is a no brainer. There is absolutely no reason why your shop should have to pay for anything that is rusted, previously cracked, or any other similar situation. What I do do in that similar situation is put the estimate together first and then call the customer. The thing I really feel good about is explaining the situation and encouraging them to come down to the shop and give them a tour of their car. 9 out of 10 customers are able, appreciative and interested in learning how things look and work. Once this visit happens they always understand that this was no fault of ANYONES. Stuff happens, can't always avoid it. Now they also have gained a little insight to what a mechanic can come across when it starts out to be a typical brake (or whatever) job, and have some knowledge of how things work. Not to mention the level of trust you build with this customer is PRICELESS. That is exactly what referalls are made of! Now, if we screw up and we brake something, it is entirely our fault, of course I pay for that, sometimes the mechanic steps up and reimburses me for the part. I have a great couple of guys on my crew.

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