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The story of Thursday.


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You may have seen my post recently about the alcoholic customer, here's the story and events leading too Thursday.

About 5 years ago a very unusual gentleman came in the shop and asked us to take a look at his dodge 2500 diesel pickup. I said we'd gladly help and walk outside looking for the truck. I walk back inside once I realized it wasn't there and the customer is still standing in the same place with the same look on his face. I asked him where the truck was, confused he looks at me and says it's outside. I follow him outside and watch him look for a couple minutes, he then turns and says "oh I forgot, I walked". Instantly I question if I really do have interest in helping this man. He then ask if we'll come to his house and look at the truck, typically we don't do this type thing but I didn't see any other way that he was going to leave so I obliged. Once a we arrived it was clear the truck was out of fuel, it smelled of ether and whisky. I picked up a couple cans of fuel and returned with the fuel and then realized his lift pump was also dead, it would run but wouldn't pump fuel. I explained that he'd have to have it towed and the typical sob story followed, I worked for nasa and the army, I'm a contractor and a professional welder...blah blah blah

Eventually the truck arrives, fuel pump is replaced and away he goes. It's worth noting that since the previous owner let it go the truck has been all but totaled, doors and bed sides bashed, interior ragged out.

Three months ago he returns and proceeds to give me a chewing that R. Lee Ermy couldn't dish out. After getting him calmed down and the bits of spit off my face, I determine he's upset because his fuel pressure is below the 10psi mark and I had previously informed him pressures lower than 10psi would kill the vp44 injection pump. He assumes that I've sold him a faulty lift pump. I asked him when the last time the truck was serviced, fuel filter etc. He then explains that diesels don't need to be serviced but every 100k. So at 78k we do an oil change and service the fuel filter. I disclaim on the invoice that the vp44 could possibly fail in the future due to low pressure concerns.

Fast forward till this Thursday.

I'll give a little hint of my state of mind, just paid 3k in taxes, daycare is due along with every other bill you could imagine and it's been slow. We've replaced the front axle in another substance abusing customers vehicle and after receiving bad used parts and that taking 3 weeks to straighten out I'm on the stressed side of the pasture. She's not paid, says it took to long so the estimate should go down etc etc etc. Every job lately has been big and required more than a typical job (3 $3k+ jobs here now)

The Dodge and it's interesting owner pull in. He walks in and sets an injection pump on the counter, asked if my quote from 3 years ago stood for installing it.

I explained that we typically don't install customer supplied parts but since this is our area of specialty I'll make an exception but it'll be $20.00 extra an hour, I also mention that if he purchased the pump from us it would offer a 3 year /3k warranty including parts,towing, diagnosis and replacement and it would run about $150.00 less. After he chews me for "raping" him and taking advantage because him supplying the part makes my job pie he approves the ticket. He ask if I'll run him home and deliver the truck later, I obliged.

After getting to the truck it's obvious he's already tried the job himself. Bolts out and missing everywhere, still finish the job in a little over 1.5hr. The truck won't start. The diagnosis is quite simple so I spent 15 minutes double checking my work and confirming the new pump is bad. Call the customer, he explains how that's not possible it's new, or I did my job wrong etc etc. Finally it comes time to talk about payment for the now two pump changing jobs, he looses it again. "Well I'm not paying for you to change it, that should be included" I finally calm him down and told him I'd see what I could do. After calling the parts house where he purchased the part it was found he didn't have authorization to use the garage account he used and didn't pay tax on the purchase. Sticking my neck out for this old timer is likely to get my head cut off but I did. I called the other shop and made a resolution with them, and got the vendor to pay my labor for replacement. The catch is he has to come pay the tax and I'm the taxi service. Remember the Jeep job? She's now called saying I promised to pick her up to get her vehicle an hour ago. (I've not even spoken to her? No one has) 3 minutes pass the phone rings again and she screams that she'll just walk. I'm guessing her sobriety quest (her words) is slowly falling apart. We pick her up first and she then explodes I the parking lot saying we totaled her jeep. (Thankful I have pictures proving we didnt, it came in like that)

I resolve this situation and proceed to problem customer #1.

Here's where I gave up making everyone happy, and decided if I could just get home I'll be good.

I take him (hes drunk when i arrive) and straighten everything out, he explains to the entire store how I'm his guardian angel and the proceeds to try and hug and kiss me on the cheek. I'm nearing breaking point.

We leave the store, my helper is behind me in my black ext. Cab pickup and the customer is in the passenger seat. He ask to stop at a store his "buddy" needed him to get a beer.

Again I agree, after setting at the store for approximately 20 minutes my helper says "I'm going to grab a drink and smokes, I'll see if I can find him" as he exits the vehicle he had a "look" on his face but I wrote it off as frustration. When he returns he says "look in the gold civic at the gas pump". Here's where I loose it. The customer gas gotten in a gentleman's vehicle as he's pumping gas and proceeds to kill to bud light tall boys. Mind you hes been there at least 20 minutes. The owner of the vehicle looks terrified and there's a crowd gathering. As I'm about to take action the owner of the car opens the driver door, and ask can I help you? My customer jumps out and runs, straight to my pickup, jumps in and says " yall didnt see that did ya?".

I was furious and then my helper blurted out the deepest laugh I've ever heard. I decided then that laughter would probably be the best exit to the situation. I'll let you all know how the situations progress this coming week. Hopefully this phone typed post makes enough sense to at least understand it, and hopefully one day it'll make someone see their day wasn't so bad! I know there's some customer we don't want, but sometimes we have to help folks too. No one else around installs these pumps and I paid my daughter daycare bill with his bill!

 

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Wow, your patience is saint-like. I had a recent scuffle with a crazy customer, but I'll post that later.

I am still fairly young, but I have learned this is almost how you have to be when dealing with the public. If you never get angry with an already irate customer, it steals their fuel. They almost expect you to blow up infront of a group of customers and then cave to their demands to redeem yourself.

 

If you keep your cool, focus, get the irate customer alone and calm them down they sometimes can turn into decent people, and occasionally good customers. At the very least, you end up looking professional and in control.

 

Most people just want assurance that they are not getting screwed. Once they realize that, they are good.

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I am still fairly young, but I have learned this is almost how you have to be when dealing with the public. If you never get angry with an already irate customer, it steals their fuel. They almost expect you to blow up infront of a group of customers and then cave to their demands to redeem yourself.

 

If you keep your cool, focus, get the irate customer alone and calm them down they sometimes can turn into decent people, and occasionally good customers. At the very least, you end up looking professional and in control.

 

Most people just want assurance that they are not getting screwed. Once they realize that, they are good.

This is how I handled the Jeep customer. She was upset and so was I but the entire situation was out of my control. I can control my work flow but the speed and accuracy of the other businesses I depend on I can't control.

I smiled and told her I didn't think we were responsible for the damages to the vehicle but if she ran by Monday we'd reinstall her fender flare on the driver front and it would cost absolutely nothing and that I was very sorry that it took so long but I had her back and we'd make sure she was happy. Not another peep!

 

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Even though I write story after story about customers and their strange behaviors, this is a good one.

 

As with most of my stories, and I can tell this story is no different. It's not so much the customer that the story is about, but more to the point how YOU as the technician/shop owner came out of it. It's a learning experience for all of us in the biz.

 

It's so true, dealing with the general public is a challenge.... a never ending challenge.

 

Keep your chin up, or dodge to the left.....whatever it takes, cause ya know.... it's harder to hit a moving target. LOL Great story...

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Even though I write story after story about customers and their strange behaviors, this is a good one.   

 

As with most of my stories, and I can tell this story is no different.  It's not so much the customer that the story is about, but more to the point how YOU as the technician/shop owner came out of it.  It's a learning experience for all of us in the biz.

 

It's so true, dealing with the general public is a challenge.... a never ending challenge.

 

Keep your chin up, or dodge to the left.....whatever it takes, cause ya know.... it's harder to hit a moving target.  LOL   Great story...

As I made my way through the mess that was Thursday, I kept thinking back to your book and saying "I'm not the only one this happens to, it happens to other people too, this is not a direct assault on my sanity just a display of my customers sanity".

Gotta say Gonzo if it wasnt for your book and the support here I'd likely have locked the doors Thursday evening and never looked back.

 

Sent from my SCH-I605 using Tapatalk 2

 

 

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As I made my way through the mess that was Thursday, I kept thinking back to your book and saying "I'm not the only one this happens to, it happens to other people too, this is not a direct assault on my sanity just a display of my customers sanity".

Gotta say Gonzo if it wasnt for your book and the support here I'd likely have locked the doors Thursday evening and never looked back.

 

Sent from my SCH-I605 using Tapatalk 2

Ya made my day... a little weird endorsement, but I'll take it. :) In theroy that was the whole idea about the book. We all have those days, and why not share them. We might learn a thing or two from all these experiences. Thanks for the post.

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