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Those crazy customers!

Seems like things happen in threes. Had these three things over the last 2 days:

Woman makes an appointment to have her brakes inspected. She requests 10:00 and would like to wait for the inspection and repairs. When she arrives with the car she informs the office staff that she has to leave by 10:45 to meet the furnace man at home at 11:00.

Man brings in 1997 Dodge Ram for rear brakes locking up and ABS problem. The repair order handed to me reads: “Inspect brakes, left rear locks up on moderate braking. Customer had rear brakes replaced 2 weeks ago elsewhere. Also customer states ABS and Brake warning lights were staying on so he removed the bulbs from the dash.”

Man brings in a late 80’s Volvo requesting an alignment, car has 4 brand new tires. As the alignment guy is beginning the customer asks to talk to him as soon as he gets some readings. For some reason he wants to compare our readings to the printout from the shop he got from the shop that installed the tires?

The tech gets the OK to do the alignment, and gets to the point of setting toe, which involves starting the engine and centering the steering wheel. I see him climb up the alignment rack and hook up a jumper box to start the car. I say “Sounds like this guy needs a new battery.” Alignment tech says “Oh no, the battery is brand new, there’s no alternator belt. He knows.”


First things first. Battery one month, tires the next, new belt after that. Can’t do everything at once on a budget.


This makes sense if he doesn’t trust the calibration of the equipment.
I had an alignment once at a tire shop (after getting TireRack tires installed there) that left the steering wheel off center.
The place seemed dodgey, so I didn’t want to go back.
Went to a better place and guess what? Toe was off such that adjusting one wheel to fix toe also centered the steering.

I wonder how he was able to drive the car to your shop without the alternator belt.

You know. I’m pretty OK with working on cars. Had I gone into the career, I’d have probably been pretty decent at diagnosing and fixing vehicles.

But I don’t know how you pros manage to keep from laughing at and/or smacking your customers on a daily basis. That skill would be beyond me.

Years ago, I was working at a body shop part time when I was in college. We had a Ford Econoline van, that belonged to some tradesman, who apparently had sideswiped a tree and did a number on the side of the van. The van wasn’t old but it was clear he didn’t take care of it, it had dents all over, neither bumper was flush, cigarette burns on the seat, looked like it hadn’t been washed in months, etc. Anyway he brought it in, insurance was going to pay to have the side replaced. And that’s what happened. The sideswiped side has been replaced, painted, and company logo decals replaced, it looked brand new. He comes to pick it up, and wants to know why we only repaired one side. The assistant manager, who was a really nice soft spoken guy, explained that his insurance company only paid to have the accident damage repaired, which is what was stated on the work order, and that’s what we did.

The guy said that he wanted everything fixed, the assistant manger said that that would be doable, but he would have to pay for it. The guy got visibly angry, and demanded the unaffected side be fixed because it looked stupid having one side being perfect and the other side all dinged/scratched up. The assistant manager told him that, the issue is between him and his insurance company. So the guy whips out his Star-tac (which was cutting edge at the time) , and pretends to call his insurance company. We knew he was faking it because, apparently State Farm picked up on the first ring, he didn’t have to navigate any menus, and he never even identified himself to who he was pretending to talk to. It really was incredible, He dialed a number pushed send, and literally 3 seconds later it he just started talking “I’m over at the body shop and they said that you guys only paid them to fix one side of the van, I wanted both sides fixed…okay…okay…yeah I’ll tell 'm”. He then hangs up and and announces “They said ya’ll gotta fix both sides.” Ed, the assistant manager, who wasn’t buying any of this, said he’d have to add a supplement to the work order and get approval from State Farm. And then went to pretend to tell the secretary to call up the State Farm adjuster and to have him come down.

When Ed got back the guy was shaking, he demanded that the other side of his fan be fixed for free, on the spot. Ed told him that he needed to take his van and leave, and that if he wanted to the other side of the van fixed he could have it done elsewhere. They guy then took a swing at Ed (which missed), then start to try to choke him, At first I was shocked that he this was happening right in front of me, but I quickly chop-blocked the guy and he went down in a heap. A couple other guys came running up wielding wrenches, and mallets. Needless to say that the cops were called, And it turns out that the guy BAC was well above the legal limit both during the incident at the shop and when he had the accident in the first place. Ed didn’t press charges for the assault, but the cops got him on a few things. Eventually someone who worked for his company came and got the van, we never did any further work to it.

That’s just the 2nd strangest thing that happened at the shop during my tenure there.


LOL, guys, I like the stories, keep 'em coming. I’ve long said that compared to understanding people, physics was easy.

By the way ASE, apparently things happen in FOURS!! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

He must charge the battery every time he parks the car. Maybe he even has a deep cycle battery.

…or perhaps it was a diesel. They can run with no battery or alternator since they don’t have spark plugs.

Ouple of stories I remember, Lady in front of me at sears, I could have gotten another 3oo miles out of thos tires if there wasn’t a gravel parking lot, or tech fixed my work computer, and now my car won’t start, what did he do?

A friend used to walk into a pizza parlor and order a pizza. He’d then add that he wants it cut into six slices instead of eight because he wasn’t hungry enough to eat eight. He wanted to see how they would react. Most of the time, they would j just do it and wouldn’t react to the request at all.


Used to go out for breakfast after the late shift, ah guy I want coffee with cream and sugar, stirred 3 times to the left and 3 times to the right, now he was really good at reading personalities, would take a taste and say fine or take a taste and send it back. What a nard.

That’s how I’d likely handle the situation too, probably with a smirk on my face. I try to be as low key as possible with people who are fishing for a reaction. I probably miss out on several interesting conversations that way.

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The same way he drove it out. He asked if we could hook up a battery charger for a few minutes. What an idiot.

It’s tough and we do laugh or call them names behind their backs. See my post directly above.

But we do try to make a distinction between people like the Volvo driver who make bad decisions while acting like they know what they are doing and people who just don’t understand cars and need help keeping them running. Case in point:

AAA brought in a Chevy Blazer, customer said she drove to the hardware store and when she went to leave her transmission wouldn’t shift. Some fine people from the hardware store tried to help, told her the transmission was empty. They filled it up and the car still wouldn’t move so they called a tow and got the car to us.

Transmission failure? Nope. Apparently the “empty” fluid was less than a quart low. And no one seemed to think that not being able to move the shifter out of Park was a clue that the problem might be with the shift mechanism and not at all a transmission problem.

The woman was happy with a $300 steering column repair instead of a $3000 transmission.

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I own three pairs of Vise-Grip pliers and have never bought any. They were all clamped onto cars that I bought. Two were holding a part on the car. The other was just clamped under the hood in case it was needed I guess.

As some of you are aware, I worked for a major tire manufacturer in the warranty department. We once got a call from a guy who bought an Audi Sport with 40 series tires. He did not like how rough the car rode, so he wanted us to replace the tires with something softer. I told him that 40 series tires was most of the problem and that the wheels would need to be replaced to get larger series tires - and he expected us to do that, because the car dealer wouldn’t, because he had purchased the car 2 years ago. He was also unimpressed that the word “Sport” in the car name might mean the car was designed to handle well and the trade-off is a stiff ride.

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Or the guy who called us because he had a tire fail on an RV he was traveling across the west with. Because he was traveling, we agreed to overnight a tire to a dealer at his next destination - only to find out he changed his mind where his was going and he wanted us to overnight another tire somewhere else.

The gas station where I worked in the late '60s was very close to the NJ exit from the Lincoln Tunnel, and as a result of summertime traffic congestion, it wasn’t unusual for cars to run “hot” just before they got to our station. Back in those days, it was commonplace for us to check all of the fluids when somebody gassed-up, but almost none of the customers would warn us that their car was overheating when they drove in.

After one of the guys–George–had his arm scalded by steam and almost had his block knocked-off by a flying radiator cap, the manager posted a sign reading ABSOLUTELY NO RADIATOR CHECKS.

Too bad someone proficient in writing and with a sense of humor hasn’t written a compilation book about incidents like these. It would provide a lot of laughs and what the xxxxx moments.

One goofy one that I remember involved a guy who came into the dealership about a clutch job on his Subaru. He was quoted a price and thought that it was a bit high.

He then asked if he could do the clutch job outside our doors while using our equipment and tools if he bought the clutch parts from us. He said that “he might need some help if he ran into a problem”. NO; too big an insurance risk and bad form to say the least.
Off he goes with a slippping clutch.

The following week I get called to the phone by the service manager to speak with corporate Subaru. The guy had called them and told them we were a “franchised dealer who flat refused to service his car and told him to get lost”.
Corporate tone changed when they heard the rest of the story… :wink:

That’s not very different from dealing with parents who believe everything that their kids tell them regarding their school and their teacher(s).

I eventually lost count of how many parents came to school “loaded for bear” after hearing a tall tale from their kids, but after seeing documentation and hearing the real story, they learned that their child had stretched the truth to the breaking point. To their credit, most of those parents apologized for the rash accusations that they had made.