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Drinkin' Drivin' and Grandpa --- Rude DUI customer


Gonzo

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Drivin’- Drinkin’ and Grandpa

 

 

One of many slow days at the shop I had a small job come in from one of the local tire shops. This rather young girl brought the car to me from the tire shops just a few blocks away. She told me she was the owner and that the tire shop was rude and wouldn’t help her. I told her I’ve never knew them to be that way, but I occasional get like that depending on the reaction at the front desk. (Trying to lighten up the tension at the counter). She wasn’t much for my kind of humor, so I called the tire shop to find out what the deal was.

 

Her problem was that it would occasionally not start, nothing new, just another typical job. The tire shop didn’t want to get involved with this because it had a breath analyzer attached to the starting system. For anyone out there that hasn’t a clue what this is…, I’ll explain… drinking and driving should NEVER EVER mix, get caught, you’re probably going to have to blow into this ridicules thing to start your car. My opinion, if you get behind the wheel in a condition that would require having to blowing into a plastic tube to start your car, you are without a doubt the most STUPID, inconsiderate person of all times.

 

 

 

Don’t drink and drive!

 

 

 

Personally, I would rather see the driver’s license revoked and give ya a bus ticket instead. (Mandatory taxi/bus or signed sealed delivered notice that has to be approved by the court system from another driver any time you get into a car. Make ya prove you’re not the person behind the wheel.)

 

Beyond that, I need to find out why this car won’t start. First thing I did was disconnect the breath machine to verify if the problem was “factory” or the analyzer. Once the unit is disconnected from the car I have to call the 800 number on the device to let them know that it is an authorized disconnect and not the driver trying to bypass the system. It’s quite an ordeal to go thru… not the physical disconnect of the unit… that’s easy…but, the information you have to know to prove that you are actually a repair shop when it comes to properly disconnecting the unit. With that over with, I can get back to diagnosing the problem at hand. It turned out to be a bad starter motor. I called the parts warehouse and got prices on a replacement starter for the owner. Later that day the owner called back and said they had just put a starter on so I must be mistaken. …..yea, they did, but it was one of those “discount” brands…..the type that offer a life time warranty…..life time warranty, right a lifetime of changing it. (Note: cheap parts = cheap results)

 

Instead of getting a name brand part they wanted to replace the starter with another “cheap” brand. Ah yes, the cheapo repair part syndrome, repairing your car with your wallet not with wrenches...

 

She came for the old starter and sometime later showed up with the replacement starter. I informed the owner that since you have decided on the quality of the part but the quality of my diagnostics hasn’t changed, however if it fails to start for any reason beyond the bolts falling out of the starter do to the fact that I forgot to tighten them up… it’s an all new diagnostic charge to rework the test… which I have no doubt it will end up back to this cheap starter. It’s your choice, just warning you that I can’t trust these cheap parts to perform like good quality parts… “You get what you pay for,” I told her.

 

It went in one ear and out the other. She answer me, “Ok, can ya have it done today?” Whatever, fine, I’ll put it on…. To my surprise……it worked. The next thing was to rewire the breath machine back into the system. No problems there, everything is in working order.

 

Enough said about the repair….the next thing was….. Close out the ticket in the front office. That’s when old Grandpa showed up with one hell of a chip on his shoulder. (I think old Grandpa threw back a few before he showed up too.)

 

“You’re charges are higher than the tire shop,” he said angrily, “I don’t think I should have to pay that much for it if the other shop could have done it for less.”

 

I informed him that my prices were discussed before the job was even done and the price was OK’d before we even started. Besides, the tire shop may have a lower labor cost but, they also said they didn’t have the necessary skills to actually make the proper diagnosis and or the repair.

 

He rambled on about how he had fixed cars when he was younger and knew a lot about them He would have fixed it himself if he knew what was wrong with it. Aha! The old “if I knew what was wrong with it” scheme. Now we are on to something. So it’s not so much…what I did or how I did it…. It was “knowing” how and what I did .

 

Seems I’m not doing my job right, maybe I should just start guessing at the repairs…. Maybe then I could lower the cost of the repairs then I could be like the tire shop…. Or maybe I should just throw a dart at a bulletin board full of pictures of parts and where ever it hits that’s the part I change… or better yet, I’ll send it to someone else who knows how fix it. Oh, wait a minute ….that’s how I ended up with it. Oh that’s right…..I’m the guy who is supposed to be the guy that supposed to fix it for the guy. Guess that’s why I get paid the big bucks.

 

Sorry Grandpa, maybe I’m doing you a big favor… you spend a few bucks with me, that way you’ll be a few bucks shy of that next 6 pack. That might keep you or your tube blowin’ granddaughter from getting behind the wheel drunk and I might actually be preventing a future fatal accident. So do me a favor…. Save some of that hot air for the breath machine Mr., you’ll need it to start the car….


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An appropriate article for this up coming holiday

 

If you follow my column in the trade magazines you've probably seen this story already in it's edited version for publication. The phone calls and emails after this story was published was unbelievable.

Some mechanics defending the drunk driver of the world or showed sympathy for the people in this story who obviously had a problem with alcohol.

 

I'd like to hear some feed back from you guys and gals as well.

 

Just for the record... I like a cold beer, a glass of red wine (merlot) and I probably over indulge more than I care to admit.... BUT... not behind the wheel. That's just plain stupid. AND, for all those calls that I got defending the drunks of the road... sober up! !

 

(just a bit pissed... sorry)

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Well, Christmas must be over, and back to reality. It was real nice reading the past few holiday articles...but that's life.

 

It is truly amazing how disrespectful some people are and how ill-informed they are about what we do. I agree with your reaction and had a similar situation.

 

We had a women come in a few months ago that needed a annual NY state inspection. She said we had to keep the car running for two reasons, she had a breath analyzer (probably a relative to your grandpa) and it needed a battery. We tried to explain to her that we might be able to keep the car running but it might fail the OBD II check if the monitors are cleared. And if it did, she would still owe us the $21.00 for the state inspection. She said she understood....

 

Well, it failed....no monitors set and the fight began. She did not want to pay us for the inspection because it failed, and we could not give her a new inspection certificate. She was also out of date and now driving illegally. Back and forth we went, until I threatened her that I would drive the car to the street curb and shut the car off. She threaten to call the Police. I laughed and handed her my phone! She finally paid the 21 bucks and stormed out.

 

Hey Gonzo, are all these crazies related to each other?

Related? Must be. They breed like weeds in a corn field.

You know, I've been called expensive, a chump, arsehole, jackass, uncaring, etc... the works. But one thing they have never said was that I didn't know what I was doing. I don't feel it's my job to put up with rude, stupid, and obnoxious people just so I can fix their car. For 30 years I've listened to this BS... and quite frankly... it hasn't changed from day one.

 

Just the other day I got into it with a gal over HID headlamps. Trying to save her some cash since it was just before Christmas I told her how expensive repairing these can be. "Some of these can run over a thousand dollars," I said. I also told her when I tell people that most of them walk out of here in a huff ... never to be seen again. Well, she walked out and several minutes later the boyfriend came through the door. He starts right off with "So it's going to cost a thousand dollars?" (in a threating tone mind you) I stood there and laughed... why??? Because I know the scenario... you know... boy friend/girl friend routine... wrote about that before. SO to me... it was funny... to him, he was pissed. And, of course he stormed out the door just like they all do threating me with the cops, BBB, and the like. In a way, after writing these stories for all these years I sort of already have an idea how it's going to turn out. I guess that's why I can laugh at all these situations anymore.

 

So the next time a lady comes in and tells you to inspect the car without shutting it off I'll bet you'll think of the last one that tried that. Predictable...yes....annoying...yes...laughable...absolutely. :) :) :) :)

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you know those that have to have breath analyzer's in their vehicles are going to be problems one way or another. Perhaps it would be best just to tell the customer I don't sevice those types of cars and on with the next job. Not your normal way of doing business, but then again like you said they are "STUPID, inconsiderate person of all times".

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         5 comments
      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
      Here’s one more thing to consider, for the most part, technicians don’t leave one job to start a new career, they leave one shop as a technician to become a technician at another shop. The reasons why they leave can be debated, but there is one fact that we cannot deny, people don’t quit the company they work for, they usually leave because of the boss or manager they work for.
      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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