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Honesty... from the other side of the counter ----- after recent headlines, I had to post this story


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Honesty… from the Other Side of the Counter


Dealing with customers can be an uphill battle for a technician in the automotive trade. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the underlining mistrust brought on by the "bad" reputation the automotive trade has always been trademarked with. As a technician I'm always wondering if I'll have to defend my career choice with the next turn of my wrenches.


To be put into the same category as some of those crooks and unscrupulous people that end up on the 6 o'clock news is just appalling, but some people view the auto repair business that way. As bad as it gets sometimes, I still wouldn't have a problem defending my chosen trade, it's my job… it's what I do.


Like it or not, when the TV news wants to expose a criminal or politician in some business scandal they go at them with every microphone and camera they have. It has its advantages for the station, ratings mostly, but they do a great job of uncovering those unscrupulous individuals in our society.




Granted, there are few politicians I wouldn't want to be left in the same room with, and probably just as many auto repair shops that I wouldn't even think about taking my kids tricycle to. At least I know about of them, but what about some of these lunatics that walk through the lobby door? Who's checking up on them?


They say; it's the customer who should be on their toes when they come to a repair shop? I'm not so sure I agree with that. I kind of think it's the shop that needs to be careful. As a shop owner/technician, honesty in your deliberation with the customer is essential, but this honesty thing goes both ways, you know? The customer has to be trustworthy enough to tell me the facts without exaggerations or false claims.


After all the years I've been around this business, finding and retaining customers isn't such a problem. I still get a lot of new customers coming through the door every day. One thing is for certain though; a new customer should always be on guard when they come through the front door the first time, whether they were a referral or not.


Not that I expect the customer to know the correct answers when they come in for car repair, but at the same time, I don't want them to try to take advantage of the situation. Let's face it, I don't know them, and they don't know me. As a shop owner I'm apprehensive, probably as much on guard as the customer should be. Then I ask myself, how honest is that person standing on the other side of the counter?


Like these situations:


The front door opens, "Hi, how can I help you?" I'll ask.


"I was in an accident about a year ago. I broke my turn signal lever off and I don't have the money to fix it. So I'm going to claim it on my insurance, I just need you to write it up to say it was accident related," says the customer.


I've even had people watch and see when their car was pulled out of the shop and into the front parking area waiting for pickup, and when nobody is looking they take out their extra key and drive off. (In my state, you can't steal your own car… I have to take them to small claims court to even think about getting my money out of them… yea, good luck with that.)


Or the guy who tells me his old Corvette has been in storage for years. He doesn't want any service, all he really wants is an invoice dated back to the time he put it into storage, so he doesn't have to pay the extra fees for his expired tags.


People have asked me if I would turn the miles back on their cars. Oh, please, really? Yes, really, they actually had the nerve to ask me that? There's no doubt some of these bent wrenches out there have a dishonest streak a mile long. It's just poor judgment on their part to even SUGGEST some of the things I have heard over the years. I could go on with some of the things I've seen or heard from the wacky world out there, but I'm sure you've got more of your own.


Anyway, when you have a chance to stop and think about it, it's pretty funny. I'll listen to their stories, and then laugh while pointing towards the front door, usually followed up with, "Now, get out of here".


You know, someday those TV news spots need to do a story on people like this. Hey, I'd watch! I've seen enough politicians and auto shops get the third degree, why not a little of it coming from the other direction for a change. I'm not saying stop jumping down the throats of those bad shops and political figures. Absolutely not, I'm sure some of them deserved it, but let's see one of those "microphone in the face" interviews with some of these ditch dodgers of the open highway that drift through the lobby doors.


"Buyer Beware." Needs to be updated or at least changed to fit my front office encounters. I'd like to change it to: "Beware of the Buyer." Now that's more appropriate.


My customers may pay my salary and keep my doors open, but I draw the line at dishonest people. I've got a job to do, and I want to do it with honesty and integrity. Some of these people have no scruples at all, and I really don't need that kind of work.


I'd like to think I won't run across another potential customer like the ones I described. But, you know, they're out there, dishonest, untrustworthy or just flat out criminally minded. I'll keep my eye out for them, believe me, I'm watching.


The way I see it, if I could change one thing in this world, it would be to add a little more honesty and integrity back into our society. Maybe some of those old fashion values that our grandparents always reminded us about, and it wouldn't hurt to show a little more of that honesty... from the other side of the counter.





These stories are here before final editing and publishing. Don't forget to visit my website www.gonzostoolbox.com also now my Sunday night chat "Coast to Coast Chat" has moved right here to ASO Chat page. Stop by Sunday night 7pm CST. See ya there!!

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Water Proof And Self Adhesive

It's stories like yours Joe, that prompted me to write this one. I don't really care to write "ticked-off-about-people" stories, but, this was one area that I thought should be addressed. If we, as the law abiding repair shops, do our utmost to perform our jobs with the best intentions... what the H$$L are we supposed to do when some gear grinding idiot puts us in a postion that we are not comfortable with.

Ya wanna help them, but you can see the lies and criminal intent in their eyes.

To drive a vehicle that is UNSAFE and to knowingly go get it inspected somewhere else... is...in my book... purely a criminal act.

Good for you Joe... I'll guarantee, If I would have been there... I would have Ffn' the customer myself with my own brand of cuss words. ...





Gonzo, this is a topic that really disturbs me. Maybe it's because I'm from New York, but I think I have heard every con story on the planet. But the customer, in some cases, has been tainted by less-than-honest businesses too.


Here's case that comes to mind:


Years back I failed (New York Safety Inspection) a Dodge Van for a rotted frame. The spring shackles were rotted away, and where the shackles bolted to the frame looked more like Swiss cheese than steel. The customer was angry, even though I tried to explain to him that the Van is not safe. Not safe for him or for others on the road. He drove off mad as hell.


The customer returned about an hour later, drove up to my bay doors, beeped the horn and pointed to the windshield. He was pointing to a brand new State Inspection Sticker! Another shop passed it with a rotted frame.


What I told him wasn't pretty....it was the one and only time I cursed at a customer!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Boy, can I relate. The worst customers for me to deal with are the so called "high-end-professionals" doctors, lawyers, policeman, dentist, etc... but topping the all time list is the bible toting Christians. When I see the beehive hairdo or the bible on the front seat I know I better have every "I" dotted and "T" crossed... even then it's going to be a task.


The ones that have the Chilton manual or the owners manual neatly opened to the page on the passenger seat only make me laugh. Most of the time I throw the manual in the back seat. Those "wanna-be" DIYr's are the most fun. They try to act like they are a professional but only come off looking even more stupid than they started out to be.


Too funny... makes for great stories... Thanks for the comments guys. I'm glad we all can relate to the stories. Gonz

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Sure do... not as many as it used to be. To hot for all that hair around here... LOL

Do you still have a lot of beehive hairdo's in your neck of the woods? Some of the most holier than thou and down right meanest people I have ever know are those with beehive hairdo. Thankfully not all are that way.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      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.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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