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Hey guys!

I am writing to ask your advice. I own a shop and sometimes I go to local events to promote my business.

The other day, during one of these events, a customer came up telling me he was very disappointed with my shop. He said he took his truck to a brake job and my mechanics had forgotten to check the transmission oil level . “I know the transmission and brakes are two different things” -He said- “but it is your responsibility to check the entire vehicle before leaving your workshop.”
He also told me that I was lucky that his truck had not been damaged by my mechanics mistake because otherwise I would had to pay him for the repair.

I apologized and told him I understood that he was upset. I also told him that it would never happen again. In addition, I mentioned him the good jobs done on his truck on my shop without any errors. However, he kept scolding me over and over and over again.

I guess that what really bothered me was that he discredited my business in front of a bunch of people. I felt terrible and quite embarrassed. If he had discussed his disagreement with me alone, everything would have been different.

I kindly spoke alone with the mechanic who made ​​the mistake about what happened and asked him to be more careful. He nodded and told me it would not happen again.

Leaving my pride aside, I think the client as a thorn in my side. I am sure he will not hestitate in discredite my business again for one minimal mistake. I am thinking about letting him go.

What do you guys think?

Thank you in advance for your time!

Best Regards!


Possibly that customer feels he should have received an oil analysis and compression test… For FREE.

Is this a regular customer who brings all his repair and maintenance to you? If so, and the mechanic saw indication of a leak checking the fluid level and topping it off as a courtesy would be reasonable. But some people would blame the shop if they had a flat tire the day after an oil change. Go figure.

First of all, he could sue you but I don’t see how he could win unless you had included that transmission and/or all fluids would be checked on your written estimate. Then even if you did forget to check the fluid he would have to prove that what you didn’t do caused whatever damage occurred.

However, in my opinion, for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t tell him to not come back. I would just be more specific with the services you’ve agreed to provide to him (and any other customer) from now on. You might want to charge him an extra $10.00 or so if you’re going check all fluids and list it on the estimate.

To put it bluntly - I think this guy is an idiot. No one “forgot” anything. Why anyone things that a brake job means a thorough inspection of everything, including fluids, I don’t know. First of all, IMHO, it is the vehicle owner’s responsibility to check his/her own fluids. Second of all, if a customer wants a full vehicle inspection, that is what s/he should ask for - and should expect to pay for the time.

I, by the way, am not a pro - just a DIY car guy. Others here are pros in shops, some running their own and they may have other things to say.

That is not the kind of customer that is worth keeping

I suspect if you threw the guy a bone, he’d probably still badmouth you to his friends and neighbors

By the way, how are you planning on “letting him go” . . . ?

Will you not say anything, and simply hope he doesn’t show up anymore?

If this guy comes back to you, I would suggest you tell him you were very concerned by his complaints, and if he wants you to work on his vehicle again you are flattered and that you really want to get the air clear. So, ask him to write down exactly what he expects you to do, in detail, and then charge him for that work, and check off each item on his list as the work is done. If he won’t do that, then apologize and send him down the road, because he’s just trying to trap you.

I’m a DYI guy myself. But, occasional I find myself in a shop and get to hear some priceless interactions. The one that sticks out to me the most was heard while waiting for a battery to charge. Customer was getting really irate and the manager was doing his best to calm the man down. Turns out that he came in for an oil change. The technician started the car in the parking lot, moved a couple of feet, then stopped, and got the manager. Both heard the unmistakable sound of a rod knocking and decided not to touch it. And the customer was upset the shop didn’t fall into a trap.

Good grief. There are “jerks” everywhere. Everyone complains, but how you do it makes an informative conversation turn into a rude encounter. There is little you can do now. You can’t please everyone all of the time. How could your shop be held responsible for something you didn’t do ? Feel good you only have to deal with this guy when his car needs service. I would write this guy’s wife a sympathy card.


The guy’s wife should also send OP a sympathy card, for having had the misfortune of working on the guy’s truck


Well ya know I asked my regular oil change guys if they check the differential fluid, yes they said, we do a finger dip test, well I see no evidence of it, I mean the dust on the nut tells the clue. Well that s one circumstance where I have been misled in my opinion, but if a guy brings in a vehicle, and says I need x, and you fix x, you should add would you like us to check out every other possible problem for x$ charge? or just do the work requested. Then note additional condition report accepted or denied. I know how one nasty for a job well done can jade you, but in my opinion a customer needs to pay for time and or materials. PS if you are near chicago I need some work done and would trust you to do a fine job! I mean sure it could be regular protocol to do a 21 point inspection but then you need to add that to your minimum standards, and cost, and I feel for you!

Cigroller, you shouldn’t insult idiots that way.

To the OP: aren’t you glad you aren’t that miserable?

Thank you guys for your supportive comments! I really appreciate them.
And you are absolutely right. That is not the kind of customer that is worth keeping.
Thank you all!

Sometimes it helps to recognize when someone is being a miserable human being toward you that some people just aren’t happy unless they’re miserable. I’m sure glad I don’t have to go through life like that!

@Gilillo, if you are a small, independent shop, it’s possible you got a little bit stuck behind assumptions built up by the big corporate chains. You know - the “oil change and 72 point inspection” - whatever that means. I think that more and more people might operate on the assumption that if they ask a mechanic to check their oil it means they have simultaneously given the car a clean bill of health. I’m not sure how to get around that problem. But luckily most people aren’t twits like that guy was.

Those same people get really upset if the mechanic checks the vehicle out and finds things wrong other than what they brought the car in for. With some people, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

To quote Annie, the sun’ll come up, tomorrow, … {:slight_smile:

If the mechanic had gone over the vehicle from front to back and provided a list of needs then you know what the customer would be doing then; accusing the mechanic of piling on, gouging, or outright thievery.

What would I do if I were in your shoes? Next time he shows up just tell him that his vehicle will no longer be accepted for any repairs whatsoever because odds are he’s already run his mouth off to everyone and will continue to do so no matter what.
You were a lot more diplomatic about it than I would have been.

I wouldn’t expect a shop to check the transmission fluid if I took my vehicle there for a brake job. Unless of course I asked the shop to also check the fluids or something to that effect. Or the shop has a policy to do that on all vehicles they service. If neither of those is the case, I’d recommend to the customer to find another shop to address his future car repair needs.

Pretty much everybody has to turn down work at one time or another simply b/c the client is not worth the trouble.

Edit: I’ve been on the other side of this transaction too. I was giving the owner of a trenching company too much grief before he started the job so he told me to find somebody else to dig the trench … lol …

I’d drop him like a sack of potatoes. He’s got you upset for no reason. Why would you have checked the fluid level? It sounds like trouble in the making. I’d save some gray hairs and tell him to use another service garage.

That is not a customer. He is a guy with a broken car. He is a consumer, as in he will consume your time. I have no patience for people like that, people who don’t accept responsibility for their things and look to others to take care of them.

From the attitude he took if you had checked and topped off his transmission he would have complained about $10 for some fluid.

Did your shop tell him or did he ask that you do an overall inspection when he brought it in? If not, I imagine more onlookers were impressed with your patience than with his rant.