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  #1  
Old 05-18-2002, 02:41 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Indiana
Posts: 206
Unhappy More then I asked for, but should I have to pay?

I'll start from the beginning... Tuesday I called the shop I take my car to for this type of work to schedule a transmission fluid change. I asked if they mind if I provide the filter (as I hadnít ever provided my own parts before) and she said not a problem we donít mind doing that. The estimate is $70 for the fluid change and you provide the filter, $125 and we'll provide the filter. So I check Fast lane and order the filter for the transmission and one for my engine oil as I knew I would be doing that soon also. I had the engine oil filter sitting on my passenger seat but I took the transmission filter in the receptionist when I brought my car in. A friend picked me up and I went to help him move and I came back to pick up my car after hours and they had changed my transmission fluid and my engine oil. I was going to change the oil myself this weekend, even had Mobil 1 in the trunk. Also the transmission service was $105 fluid $16.90 and oil change was $21 and oil $15.96. Itís not like they rebuilt the engine without asking but I still donít feel like itís a mistake I should take responsibility for. I also donít want to make a bad relationship with the shop. Suggestions would be helpful as I'll need to pay the bill soon.

Thanks,
Brad
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1986 190E 186K (For Sale)
(Maroon, Tan leather)
1996 C280 Sport 208K
(Brilliant Silver, Black Leather)
2002 CLK430 Sport 45K
(Brilliant Silver, Gray Leather , Birdseye Maple)
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  #2  
Old 05-18-2002, 09:49 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
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I really should keep out of this as its not a technical issue and I obviously come from the other side of the fence.

When its busy communications get strained. I was given keys to a Saab to align last week, went to one in the parking lot and the key was a little rough (Saab ignition is on the floor and they are POS). It did work though and I finshed the alignment.

Wasn't the right car! Of course we didn't charge for it. You obviously shouldn't be charged for something you didn't ask for. BUT, you set up the circumstance by asking for unusual procedures and a mistake was made.

If the situation was in my hands I would write off the oil change and pay the technician. He did the work and there is no changing that. I would do it with a smile. But my mind would not be smiling. If I let the human side take over that small event would cost you if return business was the plan. It may only cost you my interest in your problems, but that can be way more in the long run.

In the long run we are all people. If such an event occured in my shop and the customer said nevermind, he would benefit greatly. Such a small gesture (make sure to point it out) can be worth a long term fortune in that most important of relationships: customer-business. Get an up on that relationship and it will be a happy one.

Personally, I would note the issue and see what they do. if they offer to take it off, say nevermind with a smile. If they fight too hard its your call how to proceed.
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Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
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  #3  
Old 05-18-2002, 12:06 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Baton Rouge
Posts: 485
Gotta agree with Steve on this one, we have made the same mistake in the past . Whether confusion cause we are busy or whatever we pay the techs and just consider it a complimentary oil change.
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2000 Dodge Durango
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  #4  
Old 05-18-2002, 03:34 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,508
I agree with Steve, too.

My independent mechanic has solved problems on my car, and replaced components in the process that probably in the end didn't fix the problem.

He has always said that he wouldn't charge me for things that didn't fix the problem, but I've always insisted in paying him for parts and labor.

He is a hard-working guy who owns his own shop, making an honest living, supporting a wife and two little kids. He's not wealthy, but is working hard to support his family.

I'd rather give him the benefit of the doubt. At times, he has done small things free of charge, knowing that I'm a reliable, repeat customer. He always recognizes my voice when I call by saying "How are you Mr. Smalley?". He knows I hate being called Mr. Smalley, preferring to be called, Paul, and he does this to tease me. It's a running joke.
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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #5  
Old 05-18-2002, 04:13 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Indiana
Posts: 206
I like the idea of having a one up on the shop and as mentioned on the previous posts they generally do things that need be done in the process, it gets a wiper blade when it needs one without me requesting, a belt is replaced if its going to need it soon and things like that and I appreciate it. Sometimes I look at it as generating revenue... other times I see it as being aware of the car and taking the time to be personal. The shop says I need a new air filter then I'll have them replace it, did they create revenue or were they taking the time to do routine checks while it was in the shop? I guess thatís a reasonable question to ask as even though itís a personal shop, itís still a business. I know the receptionist, they know me by name, I talk to Jim, the head mechanic etc. and I'll be doing business there again so I think I'll pay it, and then request them to next time give me a call before they change the oil unless its been requested. Sound reasonable on my part?

Thanks for the comments!

-Brad
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1986 190E 186K (For Sale)
(Maroon, Tan leather)
1996 C280 Sport 208K
(Brilliant Silver, Black Leather)
2002 CLK430 Sport 45K
(Brilliant Silver, Gray Leather , Birdseye Maple)
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  #6  
Old 05-18-2002, 06:51 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
Different situation, but worth noting:

I had my wheels/tires balanced at one of our local dealers. The next day, we left for Vancouver on vacation. Immediately I noticed a bad vibration.

By the time we got to Kamloops, I couldn't bear it any longer. I got an indie tire shop to rebalance the wheels. Perfect.

I pointed this out tot he service manager when I got home. He immediately offered to reimburse me for the wheel-balancing cost we incurred on the highway. It was about $40.00.

I never said much about it, and didn't bring in the bill. I wrote it off as "just one of those things."

Usually, when I do take the car in for service, I get a free loaner and my car comes back washed. Since this mishap, I still get a free loaner, but now they say "don't worry about the gas, we'll fill it." (They have a policy that you re-fill the tank) And now, instead of washed, my car comes back fully detailed. They have shampooed the carpet mats, and last time the car was in, it was hand waxed.

So, was it worth the $40.00 to me? Sure. I don't know for sure if the service manager gives me this extra service just because I didn't hassle him over the wheel balancing, but these little extras started the very next time I brought my car in.

When I was the automotive electronics biz, we appreciated that goofs happened, but were willing to make things right. However, some of our long-term customers were willing to let us off the hook, and we made sure that they got "paid-back" 10 times over.

If this shop is one that you have a good relationship, you might just eat it, and hope they have the good sense to come back with greater benefits to you over the long haul. Make sure you let them know about the problem.

Or, you could politely point out the goof, and wait for them to respond. It's up to you. But, it's only a few bucks...
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  #7  
Old 05-18-2002, 09:07 PM
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Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
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Yeah, my Japanese wife always brings him home-made almond cookies. Everytime I come in, he's asking for them. I make sure I bring him some when I pick the car up.
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #8  
Old 05-18-2002, 10:11 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Omaha, NE
Posts: 962
That's funny, about bringing cookies and brownies. A great idea! I used to like getting my car washed and vacuumed when I still used the dealership (until they put a ton of swirl marks in the paint!) Now I use a one-man independent shop I trust implicitly and I usually wash my car BEFORE I bring it to him so he has a nice clean car to work on. Don't know if matters to him...
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  #9  
Old 05-19-2002, 02:34 PM
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Location: San Francisco, CA
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Austin814

Years ago, I was a Service Advisor for a Porsche+Audi dealership. There were just two of us at the service desk, often writing 60-70 repair orders a day. It was unbelievably busy. We had two mottos that we always told the customers- Our goal is to exceed your expectations ~We will always tell you the truth. We believed in the long-term relationship with our customers. We wanted to be the best. It was all about the relationship.

No matter how bad a car was, not matter how weird a customer was, we always took the time to spell out what their cars needed, what could be done, etc. The customers really became friends. We went out of our way to be reasonable and if a mistake took place, the dealership ALWAYS owned up to it.

One day a customer was ripping into me about how her dash vents had been moved. I explained that the tech had moved them while checking her AC. No, she was pissed and said it had taken her a long time to get her vents just so, and we had messed with her car etc .... you can see where this was going. Finally she announced (in front of almost a dozen other customers) that something had been stolen from her car! I am sure everyone could see the blood fall from my face. I asked what had been stolen? The valve stem cap was missing. When the tech changed tires he put on three, but not the fourth valve stem cap. The lady ripped into me for a long time. I replaced the cap and offered to sit with her in the car and readjust the vent. No she was going to call the police.

To make a long story short, it was getting worse, it is almost surreal. I saw that there was no-way to satisfy this lady. Suddenly three customers came over to the lady. They scolded her, shamed her and said she should never come back to the dealership again. They went on and on with her saying how pleased they were with our work. They didn't let up. One was a lawyer and quoted legal song and verse about her unfounded claims. Finally, the customers told her to leave the dealership. My jaw dropped. The rest of the customers waiting to speak with us all told us we were great and to not worry about her. The lawyer handed me his card an said if anything ever came up regarding this lady, he would represent us for free. It was all about the relationship. I have never forgotten this.
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  #10  
Old 05-19-2002, 02:48 PM
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Thanks, for the great story! BTDT.
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Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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  #11  
Old 05-19-2002, 02:57 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2001
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I'm sorry, but I can't figure out the shorthand for BTDT.

It's killing me.
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #12  
Old 05-19-2002, 09:57 PM
Ali Al-Chalabi's Avatar
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Location: Knoxville, TN
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Haasman, that is an awesome story. I wonder what the lady was thinking after that incident.
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2001 CLK55
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  #13  
Old 05-20-2002, 12:01 AM
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Ali

I have no idea. We were all thinking that maybe a collection should be started to help her get help!

Thanks-
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  #14  
Old 05-20-2002, 12:33 AM
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Paul, BTDT = been there, done that.
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