Parts-Store Employee Blues

A couple weeks ago stopped by a chain store auto parts store, witnessed this exchange

Customer: I need a gasket for replacing my car’s thermostat
Employee: These are the gaskets I show listed for your car (shows computer screen)
Customer: Ok, I’ll take that one (the least expensive, $5, price ranges from $5 to $15.)
Employee: We have none of those in stock, and none of the nearby stores have them either. We have this one for $7.50 at the store today.
Customer: How long would I have to wait for the $5 version?
Employee: None of the other nearby stores has one, and our local parts warehouse doesn’t have one either. The warehouse would have to order one from the vendor.
Customer: How long would I have to wait?
Employee: I don’t know. It depends on whether the vendor has any in stock, and how long it will take UPS to deliver it to the warehouse.
Customer: Well, that’s the one I want.
Employee: Would you like me to order it?
Customer: How long would I have to wait?

… lol …

Eventually the customer left without ordering any version of the gasket, presumably decided to purchase it online.

Anybody worked a chain parts-store staff job? Any funny stories?

I have a funny story about buying a throttle body gasket for my Corolla. It’s about 3 x 3 inchs, chain parts store had to order it. It arrived in a huge 36 inch x 36 inch flat package … lol … I guess that’s the only flat packaging they had at the time.

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Counterperson: How can I help you?
Me: I want 2 Timken set 2 and 2 set 6 tapered roller bearings and seal 1053. Your internet site says they are in bins A12, B10 and B21.
Cp: What year make and model car are you working on?
Me: Doesn’t matter, I told you the part numbers and where your own internet site say they are stored.
Cp: But I need make model and year…
Me: 1988 Chevy Camaro IROC, front wheel bearings and seal, 1LE package
Cp: I don’t have a listing for that.
Me: OK, so go look for the parts anyway.
Cp: Goes back and returns with the parts, surprised…
Me: Ring me up!
Cp: How did you know the part number?
Me: I told you… the internet (this was 20 years ago now)


l worked for what became o’reilly auto parts 2 mergers later back in the late 90’s, had a few of those encounters but my all time favorite was the guy who needed parts for his Chevy plumbers truck which I had a mental image in my head of what he was talking about but no idea which exact model t was in our computer or the paper catalogs.

Tried asking a chevy dealer that did lots of commercial sales and a few other sources and came up empty. Tried to help the guy and he still went to my boss. We were more geared to the walk in retail customer that was working on their own vehicle.

I had 2 parts houses about equal distance from me but different directions… I also price shop most of the time and I go in knowing what I am after with part numbers (like Mustangman above), but I was in a hurry and didn’t have time to look up the part so I called…

Me: What is the price of a universal battery terminal end?
Cp: What is the year make and model? (YMM)
Me: It’s a universal part, it will fit any top post battery.
Cp: Well I can’t look it up with out the YMM
Me: (biting my tongue) 1970 Chevy Chevelle…
Cp: What engine??
Me: (blood pressure raising) 454…
CP: Pos or neg??
Cp: Well how long is the cable???
Me: CLICK!!! lol

So I drive down there, walk in and I was asked how can I help you, I said what I was after, they asked YMM, I ignored them and walked straight to the battery wall (saw it as I walked through the front door) and said I need one of those…It was up to high for me to reach…
They said ohh you wanted a Battery terminal end… I just glared at them paid for it and left…

When you are used to only dealing with the Commercial department side of any given Parts store, you get really irritated at the regular counter people…
Now I, if I have time, order online and then drive down and pick up my order from the local parts house, or have it delivered… And they normally have online only coupons… :wink:

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Young guy at parts store tested my starter this evening. He was unsure of store part number and may have entered incorrect info and it passed. Another sales guy eventually got free and he looked up exact model number and retested it and it failed. Young guy did seem interested though.

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Back in the olden days, at a sears, lady needed a new tire, I would have gotten another 300 miles out of it if you did not have a gravel parking lot!

I went into a parts house back in the late 80’s (went out of business in the 90’s) and asked if they priced matched, he said not from cheap AZ parts not made in America, our bearings are made in America, then he went and got the box and the box said something like packaged in America, I opened it up and the bearing said made in China… I got my discount… lol


Just sort of happy story for Mr.
Blower motor resistor just provided lowest and highest speed. Walked into AZ, with the old one in my hand, they asked me nothing, had the resistors right behind the counter. I said must be a common problem, she said yes, we sell a lot.

Had truck in for oil change and tire rotation. Service writer comes to the waiting room,
SW: we need to talk, (never a good thing to hear). The lug nuts are swollen. New ones are $40.
Me: For a set per wheel?
SW: No, each.
Me: Can I just walk over to O’Reilly’s and get them for $5? Joking, well it needs them, they are ten years old.

Service is done, I expected two or three nuts to have been replace. Paid the bill. Invoice and service report is three pages, so I wait until I got home to review it. They replaced all twenty four nuts, at $5.49 each. Where he got the $40 figure I don’t know and am not going to ask.

next question was going to be 2wd or 4wd?

Had a similar situation at a Starbucks inside a grocery store. They couldn’t make the drink I wanted because they were out of chocolate chips. I asked if I could walk 25 feet, get a bag off the shelf, purchase it, and give it to them for use in my drink. She said no… :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

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Always answer: Henway!

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Well, a top post terminal might be a different price then a side terminal.

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This is not for an Auto Part, but a part for my dishwasher. The reason I am posting this is to show that not all Parts Store Employees are flunkies…

I diagnosed the problem with my dishwasher using YouTube Videos. I removed the part, the Water Inlet Value, tested it and found it defective. I checked eBay and Amazon and found the part’s price ranged from $17 up to $63 and all the lower priced values had high shipping costs, even the most expensive value has a shipping cost…

I then checked my local appliance parts supplier, now knowing the general price range. And 'lo 'n behold, they had a couple in stock. They researched the price and wow, it was only $24 and that included tax…

Granted, I did have the part in hand to read the part number on the piece, I also provided the Model Number and Serial Number of the unit. He was like, “Wow, usually I am told, ‘It’s white…’”

I said I was on my way and when I arrived, the counterman had the part on the counter. We compared the two parts, exact matches, and they even gave me a military 10% discount (I am a 30-year AF Veteran).

The part went in smooth as silk and I gave the business and the counterman (by name) a 5-Star rating on Yelp, Google, and Facebook.


Me: I’m looking for a rear upper trailing control arm for an '08 Trailblazer and I have the part number and your SKU.

CP: What’s the part number?

Me: 123456 says on line you have 3 of them in stock.

CP: Looking on computer- we don’t have that number listed.

Me: I just looked it up before coming here.

CP: What’s this for?

Me: 08 Trailblazer LT 4WD with the 4.2L.

CP: There is no trailing control arm on that “car” (sic)

Me: I’m holding the broken one in my hand right here.

CP: No such thing exists.

a back and forth discussion occurs next with the CP getting more beligerant as it progresses telling me I must be mistaken, don’t know what I’m talking about etc. I go to my vehicle and come back with my phone showing their website and the part details to the manager that was standing in the wings while the CP struggled and argued with me. Suddenly, now they can find it. Incompetent fools…

Oh yeah, almost forgot. The part number (and other details) I gave them was in bold print on the box.


I think O’Reilly’s may be trying to hire incompetent people. I went to O’Reilly’s to buy windshield wiper blades. I was offered a job after I made my purchase. The store wanted a courier. I can’t think of anyone more incompetent than myself for the job.


Unfortunately, that phenomenon isn’t just a recent occurrence. Thinking back to the '70s, I bought a 45 RPM record from a family-run record store, and it was clearly defective. When I tried to return it, the clerk said, “your record player probably just has a headache”.

When I replied that my Technics turntable with a premium price cartridge was functioning properly, she told me that I should try taping a nickel onto the cartridge, and if that didn’t work, then I should keep adding more nickels until the record tracked properly.

Because I didn’t want to cause a divot in the record and cause even more damage to my stylus, I rejected her advice, and demanded to speak with the manager–who was her uncle. Luckily, good sense prevailed with him, and I got my refund.

How many forum members remember “the good old days” :wink: of vinyl records that were frequently defective?

Good old days? Vinyl is alive and well these days, at least at my house. Probably 600 or so LPs, played on a Pioneer PL-12, a JVC JL-A40, or an old GE changer I keep around just for fun.


This is car (insurance) related - they’re running the Geico ‘yard sale’ commercial - recognize that piece of electronics? I had one years ago:

To me that looks like a vintage Marantz receiver. Is it?

Good photo. Urges me to connect my turntable to my stereo again. I want to hear the Beatles White Album, don’t have it on CD. Fortunately I moved my favorite vinyl to storage when CD’s started.

I worked at magnepan for awhile. Had access to $20,000 systems. Was interesting. They had an inside track to audio research equipment.