Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Re female caller on how to command respect at mechanics

I’m compelled to post regarding the woman who called in to the show asking how to command respect at her mechanics’ shop, especially in the presence of her boyfriend. The thing is, asking her boyfriend to wait outside or politely remind the mechanic the car is his girlfriend’s isn’t going to cut it. It’s well-intentioned, but bad advice.

The answer is this: when the mechanic starts talking to her boyfriend and not to her, she needs to stop him, look him in the eye, and say, “Excuse me, the car is mine. I’m paying for the repairs. Please address me and not him.”

If the mechanic continues to speak to her boyfriend and not her, she needs to say, “Hi - talk to me. Not to him.” If, after these reminders, the mechanic continues to ignore her, she can say. “If you don’t address me and not my boyfriend when you talk about the car, I will take my business elsewhere.”

Then, if the dumb schmuck STILL doesn’t get it, she needs to make good on her word and take her car someplace where the mechanics understand that they speak to the car’s owner, gender notwithstanding.

The more people who do this means the more people will come out of the dark ages and into the 21st century when dealing with their female clients, as you do. And indeed, all of their clients.

Absolutely correct Maddy B. Asking her boyfriend to speak on her behalf just reinforces that she needs someone to speak for her.

I agree with PEM and Maddy, but it wouldn’t hurt for the boyfriend to reinforce the lady’s request by reminding the mechanic that the conversation should be with the car’s owner. The boyfriend should be upset that the mechanic is showing disrespect to his girlfriend.

Yes, if boyfriend wants to become Husband he needs to start sticking up for the Mrs.

Why obsess over the issue. If the situation doesn’t suit him/her, just move on.

You guys are usually spot on with relationship issues (admirable and quite humorous!)…or you catch yourselves in time when you see you’ve gotten on the wrong track to solving a gender issue. But this time you blew it! The problem was with Jessica who called in asking how to get respectful treatment when her boyfriend accompanies her to the shop. You advised that her boyfriend should inform the shopkeeper that the car is Jessica’s. While this is a gentlemanly helpful thing to do, it maintains the male dominance in the situation. Jessica needs to speak up for herself, “Excuse me, I am the owner of the car.” AND she should still make sure that she is getting a fair (“male-like”) charge for the work being done. Jessica should not have to choose between respect and money! As a human being, she is entitled to both respect and value - just as men are freely offered both without a second thought…unless they are jerks (as you guys were in giving your sexist answer). :wink: But keep tryin’, you’re not always sexist. :wink:
Rod Knox: No one is 'obsessing over the issue." If no one calls attention to the wrong doings of these unaware and insensitive guys, then how are men (and women) to learn how to change their behavior? How else will we get to an egalitarian/partnership world without explanations and teaching?
Fairly yours,

Beth, in fairness to Tom and Ray, I thought I did hear them advise Jessica to speak up for herself and claim ownership of the car and thus the right to be addressed directly by the mechanics.

But Jessica said that even when she did so, mechanics still tended to address the boyfriend. So the conversation turned to what the boyfriend could/should do to improve the situation.

Perhaps I misremembered the conversation. In any case, we’re all for women’s equal rights and fairness here. Wish we had more women regulars on the site (at the moment it seems all the regulars are men). Unfortunately car repair seems to be one of those career fields that seems to repel women, and understandably so.

I know 1 female mechanic, she was the daughter of my mechanic before he retired, she is now teaching auto mechanics. I don’t think the auto repair field shuns women, I know I have actively worked at having my daughter work with me on things for her car, we are going to do a couple more projects in spring. I never thought of Mechanic as a career for her, but when she gets her degree in philosophy and sustainable management, I have no idea of a career for her, it will be interesting to see where she goes, maybe I’ll suggest mechanic, like me she likes and is good at fixing things.

its a shame about the shysters out there,we had 2 woman mechanics in this area(one even chewed tobacco) they were fair and honest and as far as I know did good work,but believe me you there is a built in bias around here not to treat woman the same as men and some of the Gals with degrees who only know the textbook when they start out sure hurt the rest of the workforce after they have been in the field awhile they are equal or better then some of the Guys who are just there by nepotism or by wile and guile.Its a shame to see another Human Being being treated as a sex object or being condescened to.I’ve seen how hard some of these people work(at jobs no one else wants) at a payrate that should make employers ashamed of themselves.
If I sound like a feminist(its because basically I am) I want to smack some of these Monkeys on the back of the head that try to fleece the Gals and the guys that are always staring at a nice womans backside(wake up Guys,they dont want to have sex with you!)Being a Eunuch should be a requirement for some administrative jobs.Any way I’m done venting for awhile,Have Respect!-Kevin

Excuse me @Beth, but the situation as described seems to force the BF to either be included in the discussion or ignored. Maybe he could find a magazine to read while having a cup of coffee in the lounge.The expectation that the BF throws back any discussion made to him by the mechanic assumes that the BF is actually the superior half of the couple but is expected to demure in dramatic fashion.

In business it payed to avoid becoming tangled in domestic situations. Whoever steps forward and takes contol of the conversation was the one I dealt with but honestly, when the wife/S-O was there and not happy with the negotiations that her partner was making I often offered an outrageous estimate for the service with a 10 day wait. There is little hope of satisfying couples who were unhappy with each other and me before the first turn of a wrench so discouraging them from doing business with me was my only alternative.

I remember that a mechanics time is money. If you demand respect from a mechanic who is trying to get to the issue, you need to be well informed yourself. A mechanic isn’t payed by the hour to teach engine repair, he is there to fix a problem. Male or female, it doesn’t matter, if a driver comes in and says the " thing a ma jig makes a bumpity bump bump sound when I turn left, or is it right " he will immediately turn his attention elsewhere. If it happens over and ore again with his female customers, he developes a prejudice. If you want respect, leave the boy friend in the car and go in by yourself, but be knowledgable about the problem and don’t waste time.

While there are many females who know more about cars then many men the number of men who know more about cars then females is probably 100:1. My daughter who is EXTREMELY technical does NOT want to take the time to work on her car. She brings it home for me to do the oil changes and brakes. I taught her when she was 16 how to change the brakes. But she just doesn’t want to do it. My oldest son is the same way though.

I find that a good mechanic will talk to anyone who will actually listen and can understand what they are talking about. If a mechanic tells their customer (male or female) that there’s a problem with the input shaft bearing of their transmission - and the customer gives them a look like a deer-in-headlight look…then it’s not too reassuring for the mechanic that the message is getting through. As Dag said…they don’t have the time to TEACH their customers. They can explain it the best they can. IF a woman brings someone who is more knowledgeable on cars with them to the mechanic…then the mechanic is more then likely going to talk to that other person.

Good or bad…that’s the way it is.

Dealing with a mechanic with poor people skills can be difficult for women and men. For these guys there isn’t much one can do to gain respect. Hopefully most mechanics are interested in pleasing a customer for return business. So, if a woman can’t deal with a particular mechanic she should go elsewhere.

My mother had more mechanical instincts than my father. She could hear something amiss and was often correct in her assessment of the possible problem(s). It is wrong to assume all men know about cars and all woman don’t. It is one of our societal prejudices that boys play with cars and girls get the dolls and parents might overlook daughters with mechanical ability and not develop them into mechanical skills. My mother didn’t get dirty and take motors apart, but she understood how a car worked.

I think a woman who wants respect from her mechanic can get it. She needs to show some interest in the car, a desire to take care of the car, and a willingness to listen to the explanation of the problem(s). Even if she doesn’t understand all the information she hears, just the attempt to learn and understand will impress the mechanic. A mechanic that feels the woman is listening and trying to get it will be respectful. If he isn’t then the problem is not with the woman and there isn’t much she can do but go to a different mechanic.

If we can just keep this a little gender neutral to discuss human relations. I’m not a mechanic and I don’t have to report to anybody, but I am deeply offended when someone tries to push their weight around, male or female to another male or female. The proposed language to bring the mechanic back in line seems to me to be pretty abusive and I would not appreciate someone talking to me that way. I think maybe everyone needs to be a little less sensitive about the whole thing.

I have seen it both ways. For some reason the dealer seems to think our car is my wife’s car, so on the few instances we’ve brought it in together, I (the guy) have had to try and get the attention of the service writer (another guy), because I’m the one that knows what’s going on with the car, not my wife. I also have a problem when the service writer is a female or a male, doesn’t matter, but essentially don’t want to listen to me and just telling me they’ll have the mechanic check it out.

I’m just sayin’ I don’t think it is a male/female thing but a complicating factor when there are two people involved and one mechanic. Somebody should just take the lead and the other bow out a little. If someone comes up with that psychological take control babble with me, rather than having an even handed friendly interaction, I’m not going to listen to them much.

Now I have seen it where it was justified too. Some years ago our female school Super, went down to the local GM dealer to look at a car. It got to the point where the salesman told her to come back with her husband. (I would have fired him on the spot for that and sent him to Walmart). At any rate she told the salesman in no uncertain terms that she was the one buying the car and not him and if he didn’t like it she could go somewhere else. He deserved whatever he got, but in most cases I think we need to deal with people in a gentler fashion until they need a firmer hand.