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Didn't want the Jack Anyway

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This is another story for one of my columns. I'm not sure I like the flow of the story... so I thought I would let the group give me some feed back on it. Let me know.


I didn't want that jack anyway


A city slicker has a flat on a lonely country road. After looking in his trunk he finds that the jack is missing. Unfamiliar with the surroundings he looked around to see what options he had. Way off in the distance he could see a single farm house. The choice was simple, start walking and borrow a jack. Down the dusty dirt road towards the farm house he went. As he walked his attitude was getting the best of him.


Thinking to himself, "I wonder if this farmer has a jack, wonder if he'll let me borrow it, he might want me to pay for it, he might not even answer the door, he might come out the door and tell me to get lost. He might meet me at the door with a shotgun, what's with this guy; all I wanted was a jack… I'm going to give him a piece of my mind, he's not getting away with this, threatening me at the door, and unload his old shotgun … I'm going to give this jerk a piece of my mind."


On and on he went, the closer to the door the madder he was getting. By the time he knocked on the door to the farm house, the poor farmer didn't have a chance to say hello. The city slicker throws back a punch and shouts out "I didn't want the jack anyway" and storms off down that same dusty dirt road with his original problem at hand.


From my point of view this is how some customers pre-judge the mechanic before they get to the service counter. Not to mention myself, I'm guilty of it too. My "jack" story starts shortly after the car is in the shop and I find out what's wrong with it. I'll call the customer and give him the news and they don't believe me or they questions me like a private investigator.


"Did you do this, did you check that, how do you explain the failure, are you sure…?" The customer would go on to say, "Well, I'll have to think about that, I'll call you back later and let you know what I want to do."


After so many years of working with the general public I have gained a "sixth-sense" about these things, call it the "jack" theory. I don't want to pre-judge the reaction of the customer anymore than I want to pre-judge a repair based on what happened in the past. Because now I'm judging the results before it actually happens. Sometimes your right on the money, other times there is something out of the ordinary that can't be explained until you reach the very end of the diagnoses.


I was asked once on a radio show about this same subject. The host of the show answered me this way; "I'm so afraid that the mechanic is going to rip me off that I'm always on guard when I'm at the repair shop."


That can be so true, except, look at it from the other side of the counter; I can have the same knee jerk reaction to a customer. I spend my entire day behind the counter, however that customer who wants to yell, scream, threaten, etc… his time at the counter is now and never more. This is where the shop puts itself on guard and starts to think… jacks… do I need this jack or not.


When one of these situations come along you can bet I'm not the happiest camper in the shop. I'm more like a growling bear ready to jump on the first dork that asks the next stupid question.


I have to remember to keep a professional approach while I'm talking to the customer. Be completely up front with all the labor charges and parts costs. Save the personal attitude when no one is around or the drive home.


As these situations escalate, the blood pressure rises. Jack or no jack I'm still going to pump the blood pressure higher. Is it the repair, a clash of personalities, or is it the cost of the repair? A lot of times it's the personalities and egos that get in the way of the repair. For some unknown reason a lot of people mistrust the industry to the point that they have to question everything you do. Or, they have had their car "per-checked" by "Uncle Fred" so by the time they get to your shop they have already determined the exact problem before you even have put their name on the work order.


More times than not, it's the old wallet talking, not the car, not the type of repair, and certainly not me. My diagnostics, and repair methods haven't changed from the previous job to this one, just because it's not going the way the customer would like it to go and the cost of the parts and labor is getting higher and higher doesn't make it right to raise your voice and be so demanding. I know they want their car back as cheaply as possible but in some cases the condition of the car doesn't quite allow that.


Usually a few hours or sometimes days later, I have to laugh at the whole thing, you have to. At this point all you want to do is move onto the next project. I make a living fixing cars, not arguing with a frustrated person that doesn't have the money for the repair or lacks the common sense to view the situation in a civil manner. And the last thing I need to do is start looking for another jack down a dusty country road.


Sometimes I'm stuck with the car at the shop, unrepaired and the customer doesn't want it back. Then, I have to decide to have it junked, repaired or sold as is.


So if you are looking for a cheap, trashed out car, usually with high miles on it, more than likely something broken, missing, or in need of even more repair than you can imagine, then go to your local repair shop…. They probably have the car for you. Do me a favor though, check for a jack first.

Edited by Gonzo

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