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How come customers never post anything positive?

It seems that guys always complain how they were ripped off, the mechanic was incompetent and/or dishonest, etc.

it seems to be pretty rare that somebody will post on this website, for the sole purpose of saying that the car was diagnosed correctly, the price was fair, and it got repaired in a timely manner.

May I assume, if all goes well, there’s nothing to report?

If somebody that didn’t know anything about cars at all were to glance at this website, he might that everybody in the business only has negative attributes.

In my opinion, something can also be learned from the positive experiences that customers have had, should they choose to tell those stories.

For example, the car was accurately diagnosed, because the guy decided to follow the trouble tree, versus blind guessing . . .

For example, the car got repaired quickly, because the guy worked through lunch and stayed on that particular job, versus taking a break to work on something else in between.


I don’t think the typical customer understands how technically difficult auto-repair has become. It’s like being a computer engineer, only having to remove and install almost impossible to access bolts too. It’s one thing for a driveway DIY’er like me to read the factory service manual, buy a few specialty tools, and become a semi-skilled on fixing their own car. But it’s quite another to be able to fix any make, model, or year driven into the work bay. I greatly admire you pro mechanics for the countless training sessions you’ve endured, the incomprehensible technical specs you have to comprehend, customers who can’t quite explain what the problem actually is, and basically all skills you’ve developed over years in the business to do your job well in spite of all this.

I’ve got a few, My family has been going to the same place (Larson Auto Repair) for 21 years and on many occasions they’ve found the problem and made repairs on the spot. We had a sticky throttle plate and after raising the hood,pulled off the air intake and used up a fair amount of throttle body cleaner to fix the problem. Wasn’t worth going inside to do the paperwork.

We had a suspicious noise coming from the transmission, after a test ride they determined that the right hand C/V shaft that they had replaced recently was chewing up axle seals causing a fluid leak. Replaced the shaft under warranty and the problem never returned. It was chewing up seals within 1,000 miles and afterwards didn’t return.

As posted elsewhere we were trying to get a noise with my Dad’s Honda fixed and there was a TSB for the exact issue. The dealer (over the phone) wanted $100 just as a diagnosis fee. Dad dropped by Larson’s and after a short drive determined that the TSB applied and for $80 they’d fix the problem. Took under an hour in total and Dad drove away with the noise gone and a positive experience.

We started going there with a then 3yr old Mazda Protoge after 2 of the 3 closest dealers wanted to pad the 30,000 mile service. Larson’s quoted roughly the same as one of the dealers without having to drive 40 miles to do it. They’re only about 5 miles from my parents place. Since then they’ve been our sole mechanics with the exception of a few oil changes done at the dealer.

They’re not always the cheapest in town but do the work right the first time and for a very fair price. We managed to keep annual repair costs for the Mazda under $400 for years thanks to them.

When things go right, you move on. When they go wrong, we whine and complain. It’s our nature…it is mine anyway. Besides, we expect mechanics, like doctors know what they are doing. They get paid for doing it right.
I remember when I referred for twenty five years our interpreter always told us that we didn’t need complements after a game to know we did a good job. If people didn’t even know you were there, you knew you did. A lot of occupations are like that. You only notice when the garbage is not collected, the road is not plowed and your car isn’t ready on time.

"When things go right, you move on. When they go wrong, we whine and complain. It’s our nature…it is mine "

That is what I’m talking about

By only hearing the whining, the overall picture is not accurate

Its just what news is, thats all. If the weather is ok for 364 days but then a tornado hits, tht one day is news. The other 364 days are just normal. Catch a big fish thats news. Get a hole in one, thats news. Normal every day things are not news and not interesting to talk about. Having your car fixed should be ordinary, not news. When it becomes news, you tell some one.

“By only hearing the whining, the overall picture is not accurate.”

Whining and complaining is the only way sometimes to get things done right. A business that gets a lot of complaints usually closes their doors and that’s better for the consumer. Business owners know that and if they are smart…they will get rid of the offending employee quickly. If all is going perfect…there is really no need to comment. It’s the American way. I know it’s nice to receive kudos for a job well done but it rarely happens in this country. Just do your job to the best of your abilities and you can go to sleep at night knowing that you did good. That’s all that really counts in my book anyway.

People do post positive experiences on websites/apps like Yelp. I found a great local mechanic on Yelp. he had many positive reviews, and everything people said about him was true…great guy, good work, extremely reasonable prices.

Cartalk isn’t a place where most people will go to recommend a mechanic, unless they know about the Mechanics Files. Yelp is much more widely known and used, at least around here, for rating businesses.

“A business that gets a lot of complaints usually closes their doors and that’s better for the consumer.”

Let’s add something else

Sometimes the customer IS the problem

You heard right

Sometimes everything was done properly

The car was properly diagnosed
The price was reasonable
The car was repaired as quickly as possible

Yet the customer still has a bone to pick, because they’re just a miserable person.

And they tell all their friends and neighbors what a lousy shop they brought the car to. And then they claim the price was too high, and they leave a scathing review on yelp.

Bad customers like that can really hurt, because a lot of people read yelp reviews

What about the customers who authorize a repair in writing, then later on they claim they did no such thing . . .

Sometimes you can fix the car but you can’t fix the customer.

Recently a guy dropped off his Explorer for a driveability complaint. We diagnosed the car, called him with the results and he approved the repair. I gave him the exact final total.

Later when he came to pick up the car I gave him a total that was $10 more than what we talked about earlier. I explained that after we finished the repair the low fuel light came on. I wasn’t going to send a guy on a test drive and run out of gas so we put $10 in the tank.

He said “That’s going to be a problem because I only brought the $367 you told me about. You gonna let me float the $10 until next time?”

I said “No. We’re closing in 20 minutes so I guess you can come back tomorrow with the rest. The bus runs by here every 15 minutes if your ride left.”

You know what? Miraculously he fumbled around in his pocket and found another $10.

I understand there are bad customers, but believe me there are some bad service providers too. I usually don’t complain and it takes a number of times before I just fire them and go someplace else, but I am very very forgiving. I’ve got a situation now where I have been waiting 5 months for a small engine repair but the guy claims he doesn’t have the money to buy the part to do the work so that he can get reimbursed by the manufacturer. I’ve been very patient and understanding but I’m going to end up having to foot the money for him. I haven’t bad mouthed him at all but will I ever ever go back? No way.

Same thing with the guy that held my car hostage for 7 weeks for a transmission. Same thing for burning out my transmission relay that required disassembly again when I told him not to. Same thing for not seeing a cracked crank sensor when I specifically asked that it be checked-costing me an $80 tow and a days work the next day. I may not post anything positive but I don’t post anything negative either, I just fire them and go elsewhere.

Ooh, that felt good.

We’ve fired a few shops over the years (mostly the Chain places)but also stuck by one that keeps providing top notch service for a fair price. If you find a great shop tell your friends and neighbors,send the shop all the customers they can handle.

people do post that they like their regular mechanic fairly often. the good experiences in our life don t seem to be as memorable as the bad

I usually find that the only people who take the time to review you or rate you online are those with something nasty to say - unfortunately, it seems to be harder to naturally get customers with positive experiences at your new or used car dealership to comment online for you. One thing that we do that is pretty helpful is to hand customers a printed document that shows them exactly how to review us on various sites, and offer incentives for those who do leave positive reviews, comment, like, follow, tweet, etc.

The forum is to help people with problems, not to sing the praises of shops that did what they were paid to do with a level of expertise that should be expected.

Occasionally someone will do something “above the call” and we’ll get a post of praise, but that isn’t usual. And it isn’t why we’re here.

I see no need to compliment people for doing their job competently and correctly,after all isnt that what they are being paid for? I only complain about gross incompetence where the mechanics level of technical training isn`t a factor because common sense should have told him he was doing it wrong or diagnosing it wrong.

Doctors,lawyers,mechanics, politicians,government workers etc, get paid whether they do a competent job or a completely incompetent job,and there`s no accountability when they do an incompetent job.

Yes @db4690 sometimes the customer can bring in more problems than the vehicle. All I ever did was try to grin and bear it…and take their money of course.

A lot of problems between customers and shops can be due to any or all of the following.

The disconnect between the mechanic and the car owner by the insertion of a service writer into the middle of the transaction. A decent conversation between the 2 parties about a problem would help a lot although it may not be practical seeing as how the mechanic working on flat rate will be gabbing for free if this happens. A dozen or so gabbing sessions a day will cause the mechanic to have a short fuse because of a short paycheck.

Service writers and managers who have little mechanical knowledge and cannot translate the problem to the customer at best or rely on total BS to cover their ignorance at worst.
Every writer or manager should have at least 10 years experience turning wrenches before getting into that position.

Customers who have no mechanical knowledge and whose expectations that their 10 year old POS with 180k neglected miles on it will have all of its ills fixed for one low price and in one shot.
Not all automotive problems are black and white; there’s a lot of gray areas.

Customers who will flat out lie or fudge the details on a problem in what I’m wild guessing can only be an effort to sugarcoat the problem so the financial damage won’t be as bad in their opinion.

Look to rating sites like Yelp or Angi’s list for a good reports on mechanics, not the Car Talk forum! They come to the forum for help after the fact or to educate themselves before facing the service writer with their car problem.

BTW, I always thought of Car Talk as the radio show for people who don’t LIKE cars but need them, and need help with them. The posters on this forum LIKE cars and want to help.

Most of the driving public sees the automobile as an expensive and annoying necessity, @Mustangman. Some of us enjoy them and enjoy haggling over the good, the bad and the ugly of automobiles. Occasionally some unlucky and troubled motorist is lucky enough to get some help here and make one of us regulars feel smart and important.