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Snake Oil -- -- -- Some people will buy anything... ah, not me.

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“Snake Oil”


When the phone rings, or you check your email, or perhaps you run out and check the mail, sooner or later you’ll run across somebody trying to sell you the next best thing since sliced bread.


A recent email sales pitch went like this:


“If you’re like Donald Trump and myself, and you’re fed up with these ridiculous gas prices, do I have something for you!


I’m sure you would agree that if there was an opportunity to help people save money on gas, it would be a goldmine! There is a patented and proven technology saving people money on gas that huge companies have been using for years. Just recently, it was released to the general public, and there is a HUGE opportunity for the right individuals.


What if the company paid you a HUGE 25% UNCAPPED COMMISSION on all your commercial sales INCLUDING ON RE-ORDERS?


Our company grew by 487% in 2011. Our customer retention rates are the highest in the industry at 85%, because people realize if they stop using our product... They stop saving money!


We are searching for serious entrepreneurs, visionaries, business professionals, and motivated individuals who recognize a legitimate ground floor opportunity when it is presented and are ready to take immediate action. For these individuals the compensation can be huge! You could be the next millionaire!


Seriously, in today’s economy your company grew that much? Please… don’t make me laugh. As a matter of fact, the guy never even mentioned what their product was, and if it’s “that” great why hasn’t it been done already? I just don’t get it. How about you tell me what the product is and how it will save my customers money, before you start spouting off how much I’m going to make. Sorry not interested.


As a shop owner I get calls and emails like this all the time. On those slow days at the shop is when I love them the best. I have the time to have some fun with these fly-by-night outfits, and I just can’t leave them alone, I have to mess with their heads. A typical phone call is ironically about the phone. They’ll tell me they can save me a ton of cash if I switch to their services.


“Well, how much are your line charges,” I’ll ask.


“How much are you paying now?” they’ll ask.


“Now why is it so important for you to know what I’m paying now? If you can save me money then why can’t you just tell me what you charge per line, and then I’ll tell you whether or not you’re really going to save me money?”


“We’ve got the cheapest rates around.”


“How cheap then?” I ask again.


The phone calls end up the same way every time. Me, laughing my butt off and the caller frustrated that he can’t convince me he has the best deal.


Credit card processing service companies, shop equipment, rental uniforms, cleaning services, on line advertisers… the list goes on and on of the different sales calls I get. You know, some of them might be legit, but honestly… they need to work on their sales approach. I’m not the type to buy the idea that everything is cheaper just because “you” said it is.


Several years ago (long before we had real scanners to diagnose cars) I had one guy who just wouldn’t take no for an answer. He kept telling me he had the best diagnostic tool ever made for a shop like mine. I finally allowed him to give me a demonstration of his so called “wonder tool”. I had a car in the shop that I already diagnosed as a faulty ignition module, and thought I would give this salesman a chance to prove if his magical diagnostic machine could find the actual problem faster than I could.


He showed up with his gadget, and I showed him his test subject. He had it hooked up in no time and gave the key a turn. The salesman pushed a few buttons, adjusted a few of his connections and then tried it again. All this time he’s telling me all about the wonders of his great tool and the advantages of his machine.


“Ah, dude… let’s see some results,” I said rather sternly.


He then made a few phone calls, (apparently to the home office), made a few corrections to his machine, and then tried the key again. This time his little machine started to print something out. The little print out looked pretty impressive. It had my company name on the top of the page, address, phone number and even my name as the technician. A few lines stated the year and make of the car, the motor size and type of transmission. Then, the answer to all of this diagnostic mumbo-jumbo… “You have an electrical problem.” Yep, that was it, the answer this super deluxe never seen before and better than anything else in the marketplace diagnostic wonder tool could only tell me… “This vehicle is experiencing an electrical problem.” I just stood there with my arms folded over my chest and shook my head.


“Fella, that is without a doubt the biggest piece of garbage I’ve ever seen,” I told him.


“You wanted to know a quick answer to what was wrong with it, and it did just that… ain’t it great!”


“I already had this car diagnosed before you got here, and I know what the actual “electrical” problem is… your little machine didn’t do a anything but waste my time.”


With that he packed his things up and headed down the road. Looks like another snake oil salesman has left the building. I can’t blame them for trying, and I would say, if you’re not on your toes I’m sure anyone could be taken by some of these quacks. You know some of these guys have the gift of gab and could sell just about anything to any gullible person out there. Just watch some of those late night infomercials and you’ll see what I mean. I guess it takes all kinds. Me, I’m more of a skeptic, and I prefer to see facts and figures, not hype and hearsay.


After being in the repair business for so many years … action speaks louder than words. Do what you say you are going to do… and don’t try to impress me (or your customer) with some grand dream of utopia. You know, if it sounds too good to be true… well, chances are it is. Everybody has a special niche in life, something they are good at and something that they’ll make a living doing… I just hope it’s not selling snake oil… we already have enough of those around.





Just another day at the shop... If it's not the customers, the suppliers, the parts, or the help... there's always the salesman to make your day go haywire. Leave a comment, I take great pleasure in reading your comments. Always appreciated. Gonz



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I'm more than half way to crazy... and yes... it doesn't matter what area of the country your from... those snake oil salesman are there.


We truly do go through the same things every day....all of us. My favorite line is, "Good morning, my name is Mr Smith, I am from Acme Insurance and I know I can save you money". The very first thing I reply back is, "Really? You know you can save me money without even knowing what my premium is? Really? Well can you beat this number?" (and I give him some rediculous low number). And usually, the guy says, "Yes". Like you, if it's slow and I want to have a little fun, I play along and sound real interested and then deal the final blow by walking away and leave the guy wandering what happened.


The truth is you are so right, Gonzo, there are too many Snake Oil salespeople.


Oh, and Frank, the credit card processers are the worst. They say, "Let me see your statement, so I can see if I can save you money". I always say No. You tell me what your charges are, then I will decide if you save me money.


The things we go through, you gotta laugh, if you don't you will go crazy.....some of us are half way there already, agree?

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