To shop-owners, dealerships, etc.: Tell me your horror stories with terrible customers

We get a lot of stories about bad repair shops, “stealerships,” and terrible mechanics.

Let’s turn this around a bit, just for fun reading.

I want to hear horror stories involving unreasonable suspicious greedy paranoid a-whole customers.


I had a young woman, a college student, bring her car in to the shop due to a brake failure. The car had blown wheel cylinders and literally no brakes, as well as worn brake pads and badly pitted rotors in the front. The car needed about $500 in brake work to properly fix the brakes to get the car back on the road and safe to drive. The young lady’s father came into the shop screaming and raising holy hell about us trying to rip off his daughter and telling her that her car was unsafe to drive, demanded the keys from us, and tried to leave in a huff. Consequently, he backed his daughter’s car into our building, gingerly re-parked it, and brought the keys back in with an apology and approved the work. It was difficult holding back a “we told you so” kind of statement towards him.

That’s pretty funny! Face was kind of red no doubt. :slight_smile:

Actually, quite the opposite. Red when he was screaming, but white as a sheet when he came back in.

I’ve got a bunch of them as the pool is pretty deep and some of them really stand out. One is lengthy so I’ll clip sentences to shorten it up.
Guy brings a car in that was badly overheated and needs a new reman cylinder head as the old one was warped too badly to surface.
Approves the repair, car is fixed, and he shows up on Fri. Asks to hear it run and is happy with it. Oops, says he, forgot my checkbook and no biggie, back on Monday.

Monday, car was gone. He came down over the weekend with an extra key.
Boss sends lot man over to the address and car is in the drive with no one home.
Boss takes car hauler, loads it up, and locks it inside a spare building with several cars parked behind it.
All week long, no word.
The following Monday walk through door kicked in, overheads raised, and car gone again.
Boss goes over to the address and finds the place cleaned out.

Boss puts out word of a reward for this car.
Several months later gets a call from a girl (very irate girl) who says the car is in Tulsa and knew nothing of the reward.
Girl is mad because guy who owns car WAS her boyfriend until she found out he was having an affair with her sister.
Boss goes to Tulsa, gets car again, brings it back, and stashes it out.
Some weeks go by, no word from the car owner.

Next thing boss knows detectives are at the lot asking about the car. The car owner had been arrested for going to one of those rental places, getting some furniture and electronics, and then selling them before skipping town.
Car owner had been extradited back to the town where we were located and filed a stolen car complaint against my boss.
Car owner’s dad came to visit from out of state and retained a lawyer for both issues; the car and the furniture thing.

Cops can’t prosecute the guy for auto theft because he owns it legally.
Cops can’t prosecute him for breaking and entering because no one saw him do it.
Car owner filed a lawsuit against my boss and got his car back while sitting in jail, leaving my boss holding the bag not only for the car repairs but a small fortune in travel expenses chasing this car down repeatedly.

That one convoluted enough? :slight_smile:

Wow… speechless.

…keep 'em coming!

Customer complains that the drugs they were sure they left in the car are now gone (true story). Customers that leave loaded guns in cars they put in for service (these always were made safe and locked up). You had the choice to just do nothing about the gun, but what happens when someone else in the chain of people that had access to the car decides to steal the gun, you are suspect along with all the others.

More comical, a customer swore that his in tank pump was not changed as he could see no indication the tank was removed. He was right, the tank was not removed, we took the bed off of his pickup to put the pump in.

Worst of the worst were customers that dropped off their car for warranty work early in the morning but wanted the manufacture to pay for a rental car before their car was looked at (and before a decision was made that indeed a warranty situation existed AND we would not get the car done that day). These people would get so irate we would have to get the cops to show up.

This is an all time favorite. A phone call from an inconsolable woman whose car is leaking oil after she paid me XXXX$ to fix it. She later brought the car and left it for me to check. Records indicated that I had rebuilt the 302 Ford engine the previous year and it now had 14,000+ miles. I found that the oil was fresh and topped off with no signs of a leak but the engine had an unmistakable “rod knock.” I called the customer and asked why she thought there was an oil leak and she stated that while driving the OIL light came on so she drove to a service station where they found that the dipstick would not touch oil, it had apparently leaked out, and they proceeded to change the oil and filter and inform her that there was a problem. When questioned about recent oil changes and service she most emphatically informed me that after paying such a bill she shouldn’t need to be opening the hood and ‘messing’ with things under there. Nothing would please her and I insisted that she take the car elsewhere. There was some consolation for me to know that the engine lasted 14,000 miles being totally neglected.

Is that how you got your screen name, Rod Knox?

Which brings up the question, do you have a brother named Fort?

I had a customer bring in a mid-'90s Honda Civic for an exhaust system inspection. He proudly presented not only the key for the car, but also his paperwork from a day shy of a year ago since the last time I replaced the exhaust system on that car. I raised the car up for an inspection and found that the exhaust system still looked like brand new, nothing was loose or rattling or leaking, so I brought the customer out and asked him what kind of problem he was having. He stated that the system was still under warranty, so he wanted the whole thing replaced, even though there was no problem with it, because it had been on there for almost a year. I then spent the next fifteen minutes (which is ten minutes longer than it takes to replace the exhaust system from the cat back on a mid-'90s Civic) trying to explain to this guy that there has to be some kind of defect in the parts or workmanship to get the system replaced under warranty, and it doesn’t mean you can come in whenever you want and have a perfectly good system taken off and replaced with a new one. He finally gave up and left with his 364 day old cat back system still installed.

Large multi-line dealer and a guy from out of town brings his Subaru in for a clutch job. The customer and his buddy are going to wait on the repair. When I went out to unlock the car I see what appears to be a large bullet hole in the driver’s door with a corresponding hole on the inside. There was no hole in the center console so I’m thinking wow, what about someone’s leg? The hole was large enough to stick my thumb in.

After doing the job and turning in the paperwork the customer paid the bill and apparently asked if it would be ok to ask the mechanic who worked on the car a few questions. They called me up front and I noticed when walking out to the car the car owner had a bad limp and used a cane. After answering his questions I told him I didn’t mean to be too nosy but was curious about the apparent bullet hole in the door.

He kind of smiled a little and said that he and his buddy were going to pull a stunt to have his buddy commit an anonymous drive-by on him one night. The intent was to suffer a comparatively minor injury and collect some insurance from a healthy policy he had.
Neither seemed to be firearm-proficient so either they were ignorant of the damage a gun can do or were not on the same page with firearm selection. They used a .45 instead of .22 and the guy was now at least mildly crippled for life when the slug him near the left knee.

That’s a funny but all too often relative account of people who watch too many “Dirty Harry” movies and feel they know all they need to about firearms. These people have the same “car driving” invincibility as the do firearm survival expectations.

I work for an auto parts store that sells auto body paint as well. I’ve had several people bring in envelopes with fingernail size scrapings of paint from their cars, and want it “analyzed” for a perfect color match. Some get quite irate when I try to explain we can’t do that without a much larger sample. They say “Well, they do it on CSI!” Some people watch too much TV.

What a crock. They’re wanting DNA testing on paint! I’d have a hard time keeping a straight face. :slight_smile:

Here’s another bullet hole story from when I worked for Nissan. Got a repair order on a 2 year old Nissan that belonged to the Used Car Dept. and it stated, “Repair A/C to cool”.
After starting the car I noticed a small hole in the glove box lid. Unusual.
Once in the shop I go around to the passenger side and discover it’s a bullet hole made by .38, 9MM, etc. The hole went through the back of the glove box and once the box was removed I found that the bullet had gone through the A/C evaporator, the firewall, cut an A/C line, and had bounced off of a motor mount, ruining the mount in the process.

It was never determined how this happened but was apparently an accident. After the UC Dept. got involved and the parts manager to order some stuff, the parts manager vaguely remembered someone calling months before to price out some parts for a Nissan like this.
He also vaguely remembered them asking if “warranty would pay for damage caused by an accident” without specifying what caused that damage.

This car was a repossession and it appears that once the person on the phone found out how much all of this stuff was going to cost they just quit making payments on it and stonewalled the bank until hot weather arrived.
At that point they told the bank to come and get it and the car wound up back at the Nissan dealer I worked for and who had originally sold the car to these people.

I seem to recall a story where someone’s buddy got into it with a dealership service center about their work truck’s engine, or something, wasn’t working right and eventually they bought a new truck of a different make; the truck owner then brought out flood lamps and took all the equipment off the old truck and put it on the new one, forcing the service department people to stay WAY past their closing time.

That, and the mechanic and the near-new BMW 7 series tear down one was good too

I think OK had both those, though I can’t recall.

Is there not a workman’s lien, or some similarly-termed legal principle, in Oklahoma? In Texas, such protection for mechanics is in the constitution.

Lady came in and wanted an estimate for her exhaust leak. So I get the car up write the estimate and brought the customer out to personally look at it. I brought her out from under the car and stood by dump valve of out air/hydraulic in ground lift. Without hesitation she gave me the mean eye and said I ripping her off because she was a woman. I asked her if she all the holes in the pipes (every pipe) and she said yes but I still ripping her off all the while with a scowl on her face and she was flipping her tongue back and forth like a parrot. That was wierd and it did not help that this person was uglier than lye soap.

I then reached over and threw the valve for the lift and there was a hugh rush of air that was loud. The lift started to rock very slightly and the car started to come down. The lady jumped back in total surprise and asked what I was doing and I told her I was getting her car out of here. I told her I was not going to work on it since she thought I was ripping her off even thought she saw the problem with her own eyes.

She then back pedaled and said I was not ripping her off and asked for the repair. After completing the papers and receiving our pay I asked her again about being ripped off and I could tell she was ashamed of her actions.

Any customer who uses thier vehicles as a landfill and a battering ram and the only thing they do to the car is put gas in it and change radio stations, and then complains or states we put a microscopic scratch in this rolling turd after we turned it into a museum piece is a real P I T B

I’m better now (:

Did you offer to demonstrate to him that the car had, in your words “literally no brakes”?

Not convoluted at all. No mechanic’s lien, no action in small claims court. Your boss effed up.

Take the battery out of the car, take the wheels off, take the license plates off (for the customer’s protection, of course). Problem solved.