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How do you handle if a customer comes in a says their windshield wasn't cracked when they brought it in, have a blow out while driving a car, etc?

 

my techs are noting this on our courtesy inspection if they see any damage prior to service. Today I had a customer return they told me their windshield was cracked on one side when they brought it in but not on the other. I explained to her that we notate all damage and I would be happy to review our security cameras to check. Check the footage and have a clear shot of the tech pulling up with no crack after the repairs. The windshield was replaced earlier this year and the quality is below par as they didn't reinstall the hood trim at the corners of the hood and windshield. My guess is it was cracked at the corner at installation and with the weather changes this week it cracked. This is the first time this customer has been in since 2015. We also have a clause on our invoices that we aren't responsible for fire, theft, articles left in vehicles, any damage or acts of God. 

 

Weve only had this come up a few times over 16 years but wanted everyone's opinion on how you would handle.

Edited by spencersauto
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I write the check.

If your doing all the right stuff all the time these checks will be few and far between, and they give you and help maintain a reputation that is worth more then any advertising you can find out there.

 

Arguing with the customer gets you one or two things only, a bad review and plenty of bad word of mouth, it just is not worth it. 

I bought a customer a Remanufactured engine once years ago when I had no way to really afford it. He Jas paid for that engine twice now over the years and continues to refer people to me. My ROI was huge.

Edited by Hands On
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Negotiate.

They needed a windshield before it ever came to you and he admits that.. The guy was going to need to replace it anyway so have the job done for him and have him pay 1/2 the retail price. He should be pleased as punch about that.

 

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Ask him what he would like you to do. You might have already asked that, but you didn't say what the customer wants in your post. Thankfully, windshields don't cost much, so no point spending a bunch of time figuring out who's fault it is and who's going to pay for it. The thing about paying for stuff like this is to do it quick, without a bunch of process. If they have a sense that they had to work it out of you, you just spent money but aren't getting anything for it. If you give freely, or at least with very minimal investigation and/or resistance then you earned a bunch of good will. No good will if the customer has to work for it.

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1 hour ago, gandgautorepair said:

Ask him what he would like you to do. You might have already asked that, but you didn't say what the customer wants in your post. Thankfully, windshields don't cost much, so no point spending a bunch of time figuring out who's fault it is and who's going to pay for it. The thing about paying for stuff like this is to do it quick, without a bunch of process. If they have a sense that they had to work it out of you, you just spent money but aren't getting anything for it. If you give freely, or at least with very minimal investigation and/or resistance then you earned a bunch of good will. No good will if the customer has to work for it.

This. I have found that some of my best customers are the ones I took care of a problem for no questions asked. They have also given me some of my best ever reviews with things like: Tom is a man of his word or Tom stands behind his work. These are golden sentences that I know have steered a lot of new business my way.  When the cost of getting a new customer can be $250 or more why would you even have to think about writing $150 check for a windshield?

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17 hours ago, ATLAuto said:

Some yes, some no.  I really don't care.  If they are the type of people that claim garbage like that, I really do not want to associate with them.  Another higher-quality customer will certainly take their place.

Does this happen to you a lot? Is it possibly due to the demographics around You? I think once or twice we have had someone complain that something was broken that was not related to what we did. One fellow I did blow off. Daniel was his name he is one of our negative Google reviews. There was no saving him. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

We note the damages to every part of the car and these are backed up by date and time stamped photos

once the pictures come up on the screen for them to see with the car sitting right where they parked it initially and the photos  are time and day stamped there's never been a problem

I don't think most of these people expect you to have pictures of their car before service 

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Not a one-size-fits-all question to forum members. We can usually tell when someone is a scam artist or when someone truly believes we damaged the vehicle. With my car count here we have a few every year. I've had people call in and if it's something easy I just take care of it and build goodwill. If it's going to cost me alot relative to their history and predicted future RO's I investigate. If they're simply scamming me, like for a new engine because their oil filter just fell off 3100 miles and three months after our oil change then I fight. Won a case in Small Claims Court this week because I refused to cave in, settle, and fought for what was right. 

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This happened this week. A customer had their vehicle towed in...cranks but no start. They didn't call in advance or leave a note. We just find this 09 Caliber in our lot, unlocked with the keys in the ignition. My service manager goes out to the car and opens the door to get the mileage and such. Unfortunately, the guy had a door hinge problem that would only allow the door to open partially. When my service manager opened the door fully, the front of the door and the back of the front fender had a disagreement. Damage done, our fault according to the customer. I told him to get an estimate and we'd work something out. Probably be covered by insurance less the deductible. Since the hinge will be repaired as well I'm debating making him pay something.

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20 hours ago, tyrguy said:

This happened this week. A customer had their vehicle towed in...cranks but no start. They didn't call in advance or leave a note. We just find this 09 Caliber in our lot, unlocked with the keys in the ignition. My service manager goes out to the car and opens the door to get the mileage and such. Unfortunately, the guy had a door hinge problem that would only allow the door to open partially. When my service manager opened the door fully, the front of the door and the back of the front fender had a disagreement. Damage done, our fault according to the customer. I told him to get an estimate and we'd work something out. Probably be covered by insurance less the deductible. Since the hinge will be repaired as well I'm debating making him pay something.

This is one I wouldn't throw a dime at. There are certain things a reasonable person should reasonably be expected to know and not know and thins a reasonable person should expect other people to know. Your service manager should reasonably expect to be able to open the door to a vehicle that was left unlocked without expecting to cause damage. The owner should reasonably expect that if they were aware of the problem any other reasonable person would not be and it would be their responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure damage did not occur. If this issue has been there a while its the customer's own negligence in ignoring an issue that caused it. Plus who's to say the tow truck driver didn't do it first and your SM also did the same thing?

In my opinion you don't own this one and although they might be upset having a nice conversation to convey the statement above should solve it. Plus they needed a door anyway, those caliber's have the cheapest metal, the door frame cracks around the area the hinge is mounted to, the whole door needs changing anyway. Same thing happens to patriots.

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When it rains it pours. Has anybody ever had an oil filter fall off 2000 miles after an oil change? Yesterday a good customer's car was towed in. His daughter was driving it and she started to smell something "hot". She thought it was overheating so she pulled into another shop. They racked it and found the oil filter was gone and there was no oil left. They put a new filter on and filled with it oil but of course now there is a rod knock. My tech of 36 years just can't believe it could happen after 2k miles. I tend to believe him but I don't see any other option but to put an engine in it at no charge. Comments?

Edited by tyrguy
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Filters just don't fall off, especially after that long of a period of time. If another shop attempted 'repair' I'd question whether or not they're involved. An oil filter blow off would have ample evidence of the event with oil all over the under side of the car/truck/SUV. 'Driving it and smells something hot so pulled into another shop.' Without that filter it would get hot quickly and there had to have been warnings to shut the car down pronto. If this is a good customer for me - I consider the used engine replacement but that's the same as admitting fault. Insurance claim is an option. One of my good customers had two CV axle boots torn to shreds after a year. Something hit those boots and I told my customer. He asked what could tear them and I say anything other than flat pavement where this car has been, like a field, could have this lowered car suspect to damage. His son, naturally, tells him "No, Dad, I never was off road. I promise." Dad believes him. I redo the work, file a labor claim with supplier, and move on. Sure, weird things are possible but very, very unlikely. Also - I won my small claims court case on a guy who claimed his filter fell off and he lost an engine. Follow your heart, Tyrguy and do what you think is right. 

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Going to handle it. Called my insurance agent and he said it's covered....maybe. If they deem it could indeed be our fault it's covered. If they say we aren't responsible they won't. So it's a catch 22. I'll be happy if they say there is no way it's our fault but then I take the hit. In that case it will really make me look like a hero. On the other hand, if they say it could be our fault and they cover us, it makes us look incompetent. 

 

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Don't you believe that if this really just came off after 2000 miles you'd see more instances of this happening? Something happened but I don't feel it was your shop's involvement. I've had it happen here twice and both times it was a scam. 

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6 minutes ago, 3PuttFever said:

Filters just don't fall off, especially after that long of a period of time. If another shop attempted 'repair' I'd question whether or not they're involved. An oil filter blow off would have ample evidence of the event with oil all over the under side of the car/truck/SUV. 'Driving it and smells something hot so pulled into another shop.' Without that filter it would get hot quickly and there had to have been warnings to shut the car down pronto. If this is a good customer for me - I consider the used engine replacement but that's the same as admitting fault. Insurance claim is an option. One of my good customers had two CV axle boots torn to shreds after a year. Something hit those boots and I told my customer. He asked what could tear them and I say anything other than flat pavement where this car has been, like a field, could have this lowered car suspect to damage. His son, naturally, tells him "No, Dad, I never was off road. I promise." Dad believes him. I redo the work, file a labor claim with supplier, and move on. Sure, weird things are possible but very, very unlikely. Also - I won my small claims court case on a guy who claimed his filter fell off and he lost an engine. Follow your heart, Tyrguy and do what you think is right. 

Filters can fall off but I agree, there would be tons of telltale signs, oil everywhere and should have had an oil light long before it fell to the pavement. It does happen, happened with my old shop a few times, or at lease loose filters, every time it was by the hand of the owner. In any other scenario he would be looking for work but it wasn't my call to make at the time. Even if it is an honest mistake it never makes the customer feel good. How you handle it could though. If it was possible that it was your (shop) fault then own it and help the customer come to a resolution. So I agree, do what you think is right.

One time had a defective purolator and they covered the engine, so its not out of the question that it would have been a defective part.

On the note of those axle boots, inner boot failure is SUPER common on a lowered vehicle. Axles should never be warrantied on non stock ride height vehicles. I personally own a fleet of very low cars. Those that haven't had the engines raised to correct the axle angle blow through boots/axles on a regular basis. Especially FWD vehicles with long/short axle configuration, put it up on an alignment rack and look at the angle of the short axle under load, no way that boot is gonna last!!! 

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So I talked to the insurance company today. They left it up to me. They said if you feel responsible we'll pay the claim. As much as I wanted to say that I didn't see how in the world it could fall off after 2k miles, I said I just couldn't see any other explanation other than vandalism which I doubted. So I guess they'll be paying for everything except the oil change on the used engine. 

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
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