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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

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Have you ever had an experience like this one. On Thursday I had a customer come in for a set of tires. It was a 2007 with 245/60/R18's. It came in with a donut spare on one wheel and three slick tires on the others. It also obviously needed an alignment which we sold the customer. He needed to leave our shop by 3:45. The total ticket was about $900 which included a real good price on the Continental tires we installed.


However, would you believe that when we finished and tried to start the car to back it off the alignment rack it wouldn't start but just clicked. When we raised the hood we saw the battery was leaking acid. The customer had had no previous problems and didn't want to buy a battery. He probably was looking at what he had already spent and because of that I didn't want to sell him a battery either (even though I know he needed one). Would you believe that nothing we did would get that car to crank. We tried jumping it, charging it then jumping, etc. Finally with the owners permission we installed a new battery but he wasn't happy about it. He didn't say it but I think he believes we did something to cause this. We didn't gouge on the battery we sold him but unfortunately it was a Group 36 reverse post which are expensive. The Interstate MTP-36R which cost us $79.95 was installed for $99.95. This is about $20 less than we normally would charge. However, I would say there was a 50/50 chance at that point in time that we had lost this customer.


If that wasn't enough the guy's wife brought the car back in the next day with a dying at stoplight issue which it didn't have before. Now remember I am not a tech but my understanding is that when the battery went dead and the new battery was installed we wiped out the previous information stored in the vehicle's computer. This vehicle had over 100,000 miles and had a dirty throttle body. Before the new battery the computer was compensating for this but now it was set back to normal parameters hence the dying. We cleaned the throttle body and cured the problem. I know this and you know this but the customer doesn't know this. To them we look like the guys who screwed up their battery, sold them a battery they didn't want to buy and caused a running issue they didn't use to have. Why would they want to do business with us again?


However, what I understand is in our shop we found a battery that was about to go kaput on them and changed it out before they got stranded somewhere and had to deal with it in a less than favorable circumstance or before it leaked enough acid to require additional repairs. We also cleaned their throttle body at no charge and actually improved the performance of their vehicle.


To me I am a good guy because I sold them good tires at a good price, sold them an alignment they badly needed, sold them a battery they needed probably preventing a lot of aggravation or worse, and cleaned their throttle body at no cost. We did all of that for just a few dollars over $1000. We did the very best we could, explained everything, and now think there is probably a 95% possibility that we lost a good customer all because the battery chose that moment in time to die on them. If it had happened anywhere else and at any other time we would still be the good guys.


In closing there are two things that I am going to do. First, we will start telling customers that when we do an alignment there is a possibility it may indicate a problem with their battery if it is weak. This is because we have to use a pedal depresser while on the alignment rack which causes the brake lights to burn the whole hour or so they car is being aligned.


The other thing I am going to do on Tuesday is to call the cuistomer and see how his car is doing. At that time I am going to tell him that I forgot that there is a free GPS rebate on those Continental tires and that I will send in the paperwork for him and he should have it in 6-8 weeks. Maybe that will help soothe things over.

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