Jump to content


It Runs In The Family

Recommended Posts


It Runs in the Family


There’s an old saying; “The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.” How true… how true, it also applies to how people act at repair shops or other public business areas, such as restaurants or grocery stores. The other day a young driver, probably his first car, came in and asked; “I’m here to get my car diagnosed.” He didn’t even give his name, he didn’t even say hello, he was right to the point, and then some…


Mandy was behind the counter, “Well, Hello, thanks for coming in. What can I do for ya.”


“My dad and I already know it’s not the battery, and we already know which fuse it is. If you pull the radio fuse the battery won’t go dead.”


“So you have a radio problem?”


“No, just diagnose why the battery goes dead,” he said in a demanding tone.


Ok then, Mandy wrote up the invoice and I pulled the car in. A couple of quick checks on my part led to the obvious result that the radio the problem. Even with the car off this aftermarket radio remained on. Lit up like a Christmas tree, with every display and button on.


One look under the dash told a lot of the story… the radio was so cobbled up under the dash you could have pulled out enough wire to put in several other radios. With my luck, if I reached under there and grabbed a couple of these radio wires I probably wouldn’t be able to get it back the way it was. I didn’t have a diagram for the aftermarket radio and the stock wiring from the factory radio was buried up behind the dash somewhere.


Besides, it wasn’t one of those quick pull out radio installs either. This was one of those cars that the entire dash had to be removed before getting to the radio itself. Seemed to me the best course of action was to let the boy and his good old dad pull the radio out. It would save them some money and perhaps be the end of their problem without spending anymore with me. But my main reason for avoiding taking out the radio was the way it was installed. This thing was hog tied, lashed, and counter screwed in there with enough brackets and pieces of foam the likes of which… I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Without even knowing for sure… I’ll bet dad and son put this stereophonic-road noise cancelling-head banging-bass thumpin’-piece of modern music listening device into the car…


I’ve been repairing cars for a long time and when it comes to these “home installed” radios my best advice… for me… is to steer clear of them. There’s no doubt that it will be a complete disaster if as a professional tech tries to remove it with all the half-taped up wiring and the cluster of hap-hazard brackets people will put in to hold in their precious noise manipulator. You can’t duplicate the mess… and when you try to correct the install with proper brackets and good connections… the time, the labor, and the effort usual are higher than what they expect to spend.


I’ve seen everything from toilet tissue rolls to blocks of wood holding up a stereo. Wads of wiring crushed behind the units to chains and plastic bits and pieces screwed into anything they could find.


With that said… which by the way… I thought I was doing them a favor and letting them take their radio out. Wasn’t the real issue here… It was dad… he had a problem with the whole thing.


The dad calls his son’s cell phone, hands the phone to me and starts screaming in my ear, “I’ve already pulled the fuse to the radio… so I know that’s not the problem.”


The dad went on yelling… at this point I’m holding the phone as far away from my ear as I can.


“I’m a mechanic too, and you don’t need you to tell me how to check for a draw on a car… I know how to do that. You’re looking in the wrong place.” (the typical answer … didn’t you know… EveryOne is a mechanic…)


I told him, “Sir, I never asked you to pull the fuse… I said I wanted the entire radio to be disconnected so that I can be sure that there is no feedback from other sources. The radio fuse you referred to is only the key-on voltage not the entire voltage that would go to the radio, and right now the radio stays on with the key off. I certainly can’t trace for any other draws until this is disconnected.”


Still screaming in my ear the dad went on to tell me, “That radio is a real pain to take out… why it took my son and I all day to put it in.” (At least my hunch was right….)


“Sir, that’s why I offered you the choice for you to pull it out instead of me.”


“I already pulled the fuse… so what’s the problem?”


“Sir, as I said before… I didn’t ask for the fuse to be pulled… I need the entire radio disconnected… am I being perfectly clear…?”


(Still screaming in my ear) “You don’t have to be rude mister.” (Where’s my chance to say something like… quit yelling butt head! I can hear ya without all that shouting! But, you know… professionalism… not stupidism)


With all the screaming in my ear I thought I did a pretty good job of making my point. I thought “being perfectly clear” was a good way to get my point across without being interrupted for the umpteenth time. It’s simply amazing that a direct question... “Disconnect the entire radio system” is turned around to “I took the fuse out, and you don’t have to be rude.” It’s not like I said, “disconnect the right speaker or only disconnect the ground wire”. Merely disconnect the whole thing. It wasn’t that difficult to comprehend. I’m sure it’s the same thing any other trade goes thru… For me, I’ve had enough with this guy yelling in my ear, “Sir, just do me a favor, take the car home and pull the radio out, I’m certain your battery drain will disappear.”


With that the young lad grabbed his keys off the counter, ripped his cell phone from my hand and was out the door.


An hour or so later the phone rang. It was the mother. Mandy answered the phone, the angry voice on the other ended shouted, “You can tell Gonzo that somebody needs to come down there and smack the sh$t out of him.” CLICK…….. Mandy didn’t get another word in.


Boy, I made some new friends there, didn’t I? Sometimes it isn’t a matter of repeat business, sometimes it’s just a matter of maintaining your sanity while dealing with the irate customer. I don’t run across this type of customer often but when I do it’s a memorable occasion.


At least one thing is still true, that acorn didn’t fall far from that tree. But, I’ll add one more line to that … “It must run in the family too”. Because it sure did in this one.





Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Similar Forum Topics

    • By Joe Marconi
      At the Ratchet + Wrench Conference last month, I met Charlie Marcotte, owner of Amerian Pride Auto in Virginia and the founder of Family Service Day. After doing a little research, I joined the organization.
      Family Service Day originated in 2009 with a Williamsburg, Virginia based company, American Pride Auto. The idea was simple: offer support to single parent families and deployed military by offering the gifts and talents we have been given, the ability to repair vehicles, for free. There are really no limitations — if you have desire to make an impact in your community, Family Service Day is a great way to get involved.
      Getting involved in your community is the best way to make your shop stand out as the business that cares about people. Plus, it will get your staff involved which will boost morale. You can reach out to your vendors for help with parts and also get major businesses in your area to help sponsor the event.
      Shop owners, I recommend that you find out more about Family Service Day. Below is a link for more information:
      This has kind of been a hot topic here lately...how do you guys deal with family and friends? I am trying to run a business, as are the rest of you, how do you deal with people wanting "friend discounts" or family not paying their bills. It seems I try and separate business and personal relationships and in the process end up being the "bad guy". How do you deal with close friends as customers and try to give them a deal but not go out of business by them expecting it every time? Do you just not do business with family or friends?
    • By BNC173
      I started a business idea & funded everything to get the business going. It has boomed faster then I expected, i still own & run the shop from the outside but I have 2 family members that have grown the shop from the sales & service from the inside & have been paid a weekly check plus sales bonus checks above any local shop. I have the idea that over the long haul I will recoop my investment & time. I have told them the more we grow the more you will earn pretty simple plan. The company continues to grow every month so I'm not worried about location & all the other things that go into what is my business worth. My question is if I would sell to 1 of them how would I figure a fair price. Mind you I personally have yet to gain a profit from the business myself. I draw a small check but it goes toward bills that it took to get the company started that came out of my own pocket. My quick simple thought was Equipment+Inventory+ (Net profitx3)= Selling price to walk away. I would like to know others I feel I should gain on taking the risk & putting my personal family finaces on hold, but also feel I don't want to cause family issues that I was trying to cheat a family member that would say the business would be nothing without them.
    • By fnevets
      I am looking to migrate toward my own shop. I will be purchasing a house with shop within the business ordinance and starting my business there. I have been looking at the snap on solus as my main diagnostic but after speaking with a few small shop owners, most were saying there primary diagnostic and repair info is thru alldata and that they hardly use the solus or verdict.
      However the alldata we use at work does not go into detailed diag or repair info, it does not have tsb or vin search features. Im asssuming they are using something a little more detailed like the s3000. Anyone input is appreciated.
    • By Gonzo
      The Magical Elf
      There’s a Christmas tradition in our family involving a little magical elf. This elf lives in a box all year until December 1st. Then he magically comes to life. At night he gets into all kinds of mischief, and just before the little ones get up in the morning, he freezes motionless, wherever or whatever he was doing at that very moment. He’s been known to spill flour on the kitchen counters and make snow angels, sometimes he can be found sitting on the toothpaste tube, one night he even wrapped the big screen TV like a huge present with a large bow on top! He could be anywhere; you just never know what he’ll be into next, and he seems to stay busy getting into things all night long. But, even when he is motionless he’s actually working… watching and listening to all the children in the house. His job is to report back to Santa at the north pole just before Christmas eve, so Santa can be sure each and every little boy and girl is on the right list. You know, the “Naughty or Nice list”? That’s how Santa knows so much … he has his own spies… and that little elf doesn’t miss a thing.
      My oldest daughter Katie wanted to start her own magical elf tradition at her house with her kids. Let me introduce you to my three adorable granddaughters; Kelsie is 12, she’s the nonbeliever. She doesn’t think Santa is real at all… that’s kid stuff… she’s all grown up, you know. Kaitlyn is 9, she’s the tattle-teller. Maybe more like the talker of the group… even if she’s a part of whatever trouble they’ve gotten into now, she’ll be the first to tell you all about it. And of course, she’s still a big fan of jolly old Saint Nick. Then there is Audrey, she’s 6. Now Audrey…well, she and Santa go way back. (Too cute for words the way she tells her stories about the guy with the white beard and the big red suit.) She’s all about decorating the tree, and making sure there are milk and cookies for Santa on his big day. With these little munchkins, you can count on one thing for sure, there’s always something about to unfold at their house, especially around the holidays.
      This year was special, as it was the first year for their magical elf. He came in his own little elf box, all decorated like a little house. There are even holes on the sides for him to breathe, cause ya know, ya gotta keep him comfortable and all. The house rules about the magic elf when he is in his box are simple. No one is allowed near the box, no touching, no looking, no nothing. He’ll come out when he’s good and ready. So on the shelf this little house sat… waiting for the right time to make his entrance. All the kids knew what was in the box, because they all knew the story of the magical elf, and they all knew he would be informing Santa, well… except of course for the nonbeliever, she’s too old for that sort of thing you know.
      It was December 1st, and Katie was so busy preoccupied with putting up decorations she had completely forgotten about the little elf. She had to get him out of the box and into his mischief as soon as possible, time for a plan, a plan that would distract them long enough for her to accomplish her mission. Katie had an idea that just might work. Get the younger two interested in decorating cookies while Kelsie was upstairs in her room. Then she could pop the little guy out of his box and put him somewhere for the girls to discover him later. The cookies were out of the oven, cooled off and the decorating began as planned. Katie made her way out to front room while the two were busy adding sprinkles to everything and anything that was on or near the cookies. She took a quick peak up the stairs to make sure there was no sign of Kelsie. So far so good, now to get the little elf out of his resting place.
      As she carefully opened the box she could hear tiny footsteps coming down the hallway. The rush was on, Mom can’t be caught with the box opened, no turning back now… what’s this???? The new little elf is wire tied into his little house!!! Quick, quick, untie him and get him out of there! The footsteps grew closer as the last wire tie came loose, then with a quick fling the elf went sailing through the air and landed in the branches of the Christmas tree. His head was buried amongst all the lights and ornaments with only his butt and legs exposed… undignified yes, but no harm, no foul… the game was on. Just as the tattle-teller rounded the corner Katie was standing there with that typical motherly look we all know from being on the other end of the situation, and using her best “mom” voice while showing her the empty box said, “Kaitlyn have you been in this box? Where is the elf?” Kaitlyn completely surprised and in utter shock says, “No Mommy, I know not to touch it. It wasn’t me… honest…ah, ah, I think it was… ah, Audrey.” Of course by now, that mom voice brought the youngest one running into the room carrying a half-eaten cookie and leaving a long trail of sprinkles behind her. “Where’s the elf mommy?” she asked. Katie with that stern look still on her face said to her, “Did you open the box?” Audrey, now almost in tears thinking the little elf must have ran away, “No Mommy, where did he go?”
      Katie wasn’t about to let up on the Mommy thing just yet, but decided to soften the blow of losing their new elf and assure them it was perfectly alright. She told the two girls, “Well, it is December 1st, and it is his day to magically come to life. I guess he got out, and is probably somewhere in the house.” About then the nonbeliever came down from her bedroom, “What’s going on?” Kaitlyn quickly told everything (as usual), “He got out, he’s in the house somewhere, and we’ve got to go find him! Come on, let’s go!” Now Kelsie, who didn’t seem so interested, is now very interested, because she knew something that they didn’t know. She was going to logically explain the whole thing… because she knew mom wouldn’t have known about it either. With a firm conviction Kelsie said to them, “There’s no way he could have gotten out. He was strapped in there!” (That little sneak peeker!!) Clearly she had more interest in that little elf than she let on.
      Kelsie, being the oldest, took charge of the situation and told the other two, “You look over there, you go over there, and I’ll look over here.” Off went the three of them, running through the house in search of one small magical elf, while mom stood by the tree still clutching the empty box. They eventually found him and screamed with joy like the little girls they are. And as for Kelsie, well… I think she already knows mom is really Santa, (the hand writing and the way the packages are wrapped are just like her birthday presents… sorry mom, she’s figured it out.), but that magic elf… oh he’s real… he’s very real.
      There’s no doubt in my mind that the magic of the season is for the kid in all of us, and sometimes all it takes is a little mischievous elf to bring out. Even Kelsie knows that now.
      Wishing you and your family (and your little magical elves) a Very Merry Christmas.
      Click here to view the article
  • AutoShopOwner Sponsors