Ya Can’t Please Them All
When you start your own business, no matter what trade,
your initial goal is to make every customer happy with
the results of your efforts. As the years start tacking on, you
realize some people, no matter what you do, aren’t going
to be happy with whatever you’ve accomplished for them. That’s
not to say you did a lousy job, or screwed something up. No, not
hardly. It’s just some people’s nature to give every type of
service person a hard time, and always try to find a way of
getting a better deal, or to make it known they’re right and
you’re wrong. Even if that means ticking you off to the “nth”
degree in the process.
I’ve run into many of these people over the decades of servicing cars. It’s bad enough that a portion of the general population already has some misconstrued idea that all mechanics are out to rip them off. Then to add on top of that the deal breaker/makers and the price shoppers. We all know with a bit of effort, somewhere out there you can find a part cheaper, and if you can find the part cheaper there’s no doubt you’ll find someone to install that part cheaper, too. Although, quality seems to have been forgotten when it comes to those price shoppers. It goes deeper than that with some of these folks ya just can’t seem to please. Some, are all about their own principals of doing business with someone else, and it’s their principals they expect you to follow.
Case in point - - Diagnostic charges. Diagnostics is NOT repairing. Wherever this idea came from that a service person will spend an hour or so to figure out a problem is then going to give you that hour for free is absolutely absurd. I tend to tell people who ask me for free diagnostics to go to work every day and only get paid for half a day and see how they like it. As I’ve always said, “Stupid is free, knowledge will cost ya.”
Here’s a perfect example of a diagnostics unraveling into a “Get your car out of here and don’t ever come back” situation.
A car is dropped off for no headlights and park lights. The problem is discussed, diagnostic charges are explained, and the tests were approved. The results, well, that’s where it gets a bit weird. This particular car required a new body control module (BCM), and at the time the shop wasn’t setup with the proper scanner to perform the programming. It would be easier and cheaper just to send it to the dealer. Which means there are two ways to do that. You take your car to the dealership or the repair shop takes it there. If the shop does it there would be an additional charge for the techs time to run it back and forth. So, it would be cheaper if the customer took the car directly. We would set things up at the dealership, so they knew what you wanted when you arrived. All of this was explained to the customer, who (on the phone) agreed that it would be the best way to handle it.
That all changed when it came time to pick the car up from the repair shop and deliver it to the dealership. Now it’s, “Hey can ya give me a break on the diagnostic charge since you can’t fix it?” No hello, how are ya, or how’s it going, just fling the lobby door open and start right in trying to get a better price on the bill. Then, the girlfriend who came along as his back up, had to chime in said, “You shouldn’t even look at the car if you can’t fix it!”
This started a chain reaction of insults and denial that any of the original diagnostic fees were discussed, let alone how if I took the car to the dealer and back to my shop it would cost more than if you just took the car to the dealer yourself. Then, trying to slip in my own rebuttal to the girlfriend’s question, “If I don’t diagnose the problem how would I know what part or what wire needs repaired. The entire problem could have turned out to be a couple busted wires instead of the BCM! Seriously, I don’t rebuild transmissions, but I can diagnose a shifting problem. The way you’re stating things I shouldn’t even do that!”
The two of them were on a roll. One feeding off the others comments, which were all directed at my inability to “fix” their car’s problem. By, now I’ve reached that point where their goal and conquest of the almighty repair shop diagnostic fee has come to the boil over point. I’ve had enough, it’s not worth the effort, the argument, or the aggravation. Time to rip up the invoice, take the loss of time and move on. No sense in ruining the rest of my day. Ya can’t get blood from a turnip, and I’m sure as heck not going to be able to educate these folks on what it takes to diagnose the modern car. “Here’s your keys, take your car and get out of here. Don’t ever bring anything here again!”
The whole entire job seemed destined to end that way from the minute they walked into the lobby. I don’t blame them, I don’t even blame the car manufacturer for producing a problem that couldn’t be repaired without having to program a component. It’s the combination of all of it capped off with the unmistakable human nature of some people who always feel that the mechanic is only there to rip them off rather than someone whose primary function is to help them out. As it is, “Ya just can’t please them all”
There are those “experts” out there who will tell you to forget about these type of customers and only dwell on your good customers. But, when you’re in the business of working with the general public how do you know which is which? I still can’t tell. When I first started I had no idea there were people out there who had the gum-shun to consistently badger any professional about what they’re doing. I soon found out it didn’t matter if you were a fireman, a plumber, or a mechanic some people are going to argue with them no matter what.
They just can’t accept the fact that they don’t know as much as they think they know, or that a professional service person might know a bit more than they do and that you have to pay for their knowledge and services. Somehow, someway, they add 2 and 2 together and come up with 99 reasons why they're right and your wrong.
It’s a good thing you don’t run across people like this very often. But, it’s good to know the difference between the ones you can help and the ones you can’t. That’s when all you have to do is remind yourself, “Ya can’t please them all.”