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

Trust

I just pick up my car from the dealership where I purchased it after having it inspected. Anyway Before I dropped it off I took my wifes advice and took my fishing gear & golf bag out of the car. But I counted the change I save in the console for tolls just for H*#! of it and left it in the console. Well guess what $3 was missing. Hey I’m not worried about $3, but feel just a little ticked that this happened anyway. I would appreciate any opinions as to how I should handle this situation.

Several years back one guy had that happen to him. He hid a video camera in the car, took the car back for something, and got video of the employees stealing his change. He then gave the tape to the national news networks. One of the news magazines (I think it might have been 20/20) picked up the story and splashed the dealership’s name nationwide.

I’m not that that tech savey, nor do I have the desire to ruin the home town dealership, but thought maybe I could get a free oil change or brake job or something! I also would’nt want the mechanic to lose his job over $3!

Its not the mechanic but the kid that drives it through the car wash. Just have the service manager deduct the $3 from bill. I’m sure they would like to know and don’t need these kinds of employees around. Someone that will take $3 will also cheat and steal in many other ways.

This situation is a good illustration of why I remove my radar detector, all loose change, my dial-type tire gauge, my Maglite, my tire inflator, and any other potentially valuable items from the car prior to bringing it in for service. While I have no reason to believe that anyone would steal from the car, by the same token, I don’t want to tempt anyone, including the low-paid “runners” who move the cars around at the dealership.

While you would have a hard time proving that anyone stole that $3.00, most likely the dealership will “comp” you to something if you mention it. Will somebody lose his job? That is hard to say, but you might want to consider this possibility before making an issue over the $3.00

And–in the future, I would suggest removing all valuable personal items prior to service, just so that you can avoid this type of situation in the future.

It’s your word against everyone in the shop, and all but one of them are right. You can’t win. The only statement you can make is to go somewhere else, if you want to make one.

It will be impossible to prove who took the 3 bucks. It could have been the person working on the car, the service writer, errand runner, or who knows.

My opinion is that you should say something about this to the service manager, not a service writer. I would advise that you be respectfully polite to the SM and let him know you counted the money beforehand and it was gone when you picked the car up.
Tell him you’re not even worried about the 3 dollars but having something come up missing is a cause for concern.

The SM will probably feel very badly over this and my feeling is that he will tell you that he will get to the bottom of it and possibly offer you a free comp such as an oil change, etc.
You will likely never, ever hear what transpires but I can just about guarantee you the SM is probably going to go and interrogate a few people. Whether one of them 'fesses up and/or gets canned is not your concern. Let the chips fall where they may.

Chances are…if it happened to you it’s happened to other people also.

I’d bring it up with a manager…and see their reaction. It’s going to be very difficult to find out WHO did this…but I’ve always found that places where management takes a dim view of this…the less likely it’ll happen. Places where management could care less the more likely it WILL occur. I’ve had problems with employees in the past. When I took over all of engineering for a company I worked for…we were loosing 10% a year of our parts inventory due to pilfering. I instituted new policies and had to set up mandatory training for EVERYONE on the new policies. If you got caught steeling…YOU’RE FIRED…AND we will prosecute…PERIOD. Pilfering dropped the first month…by the end of year it was down to under 1% (well below the margin of error). But I did end up firing 3 employees…And we prosecuted one. The two employees who were NOT prosecuted stole less then $10.

" I also would’nt want the mechanic to lose his job over $3! "

The mechanic would not be losing his job over $3.00 but rather over his honesty. If I he can not be trusted over the small stuff, why would you trust him over the big stuff.

This  time he stole $3.00 next time he will tell me I need a new engine and that might cost me $3,000.00  If he worked for me, he would be out of there today.

Exactly Joseph…

If he can’t be trusted for the small stuff…he can’t be trusted for the big stuff. Stuff like office supplies…I don’t worry about. But we were losing circuit boards…solder…solder guns…a very expensive ($10,000) circuit board test system…how they got that out of the building I’ll never no.

Joseph, you don’t know it was the mechanic who took the money.

I would simply let it go, and take everything worth stealing out of the car next time. All shops tend to leave cars sitting around unlocked, so you don’t even know it was an employee who took it.

On trust issues, I agree with you both. If I can’t trust the guy who works on my motorcycle to be there when he says he is going to be there, how can I trust him to be thorough? In this case, however, you don’t know enough to make an informed decision.

In 1964, at Ft. Leonard Wood, an old sergeant gave us a talk after several guys had watches stolen from their open foot lockers, while they were in the showers.

He said it is bad to steal, and if we catch the thieves, they will be in serious trouble.

But, he also said it is bad to leave your things out where they can get stolen. If you want to risk losing your watch, that is your business. But, what you have done is cause every man in your barracks to suspect every other man. So, actually, you have done a greater wrong than the thief. (One could debate this, but I agreed with it, because while you cannot control the behavior of thieves, you can always control your own behavior.)

He added, “I will punish any man who leaves his valuables out, causing men in my unit to mistrust every other man.”

When someone works at my house, I stay with them. Not because I don’t trust him, but so I can say this man did nothing wrong at my house. No one can accuse him of anything. If I fail to protect him against suspicions, I have neglected my duty to him.

I also strip out all the valuables from my car when it goes to the shop. I believe that is my duty to protect the honest employees from being suspected.

Did they wash and clean it? Maybe the $3 is in the vacuum cleaner.