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

What has happen to customer service?

My sisters/dad’s car was leaking transmission fluid. so she took it down to a transmission shop that is local here in our town with about 5-6 shops around town. Well after looking at the car the mechanic found the leak was coming from one of the cooling lines that sends the trans fluid up to the radiator area to cool it. All he had to do was tighten up one of the items on that cooling line. It may have taken him about a bit to find the problem and then tighten it. When we called before taking it, the manager said that inspection of to find the problem was free. Well when my sister arrived the manager said he should charge her for 2 hours of labor to tighten the part (no parts were replaced or such) but since the mechanic didn’t write it up correctly he woudln’t charge her, but he did go out and yell at the mechanic for costing the place $200 of labor costs. I mean has customer service gotten that bad? I mean all he did was tighten the part so the leak would stop and he thinks that is worth $200? I was planning on taking my mini van there to have the trans drained and cleaned, but won’t now.

200 to zero in less than a second, sounds like me getting off the scale :). If he spent 2 hours trying to figure it out, Some charge certainly would not have been out of order, but the whole thing just does not make sense. You came out on the winning end of the deal, but would be leary of continuing the luck. If you like them get a quote first.

That sounds way excessive to me and one would think on something like that they would have done one of two things;
Inspection and tighten the fitting for a nominal fee of say 20 bucks.
Do it for free and consider it a PR service.

Based on what happened monetarily and the fact that this manager was yelling at a mechanic (within earshot of the customer or not) I’d say this place is to be avoided. The manager is certainly not a professional by his actions.

Perhaps i misunderstood: was the $200 agreed to before the work, or did they “backdoor it” after the fact?

If the shop has a standing policy of 2 hr’s labor on any job, that’s their right.

If the shop “got her in the door” with a “free diagnosis,” and then “backdoored” the $200 after the work was done, that’s sleasy.

Also, chewing out a mech in view of the customer is uncalled for and unprofessional.

If it took him two hours to find and coorect the leak, and to replenish the tranny and make sure no damage was done, then you owe them for two hours ahop time. $100/hr is perfectly reasonable.

Remember, you’re paying not only for his time but for his expertise, as well as for the cost of the facilities and equipment that were tied up for two hours.

The manager here should have talked to the tech privately after the transaction. He should not have exposed you the customer to this. As far as charging you, he would have been legitimate in doing so.

My sister was told that a inspection to locate the trouble was at no cost no matter the time involved. The mechanic then called her and said it was just a lose host nutt and it just needed to be tightened. He also gave her a long list of “other” things that needed repair and could do it for $450. She politley said no thank you as our own mechanic can do the same work for $150. When she went to pick it up is when the show manager went off and said he mechanic should not have tighten the item and not charged her.

It sounds like a $50 - $100 repair dependent on your locale. I think telling the mechanic someone else can do the other services for $150 when you are getting free service is not a good move by a customer.

So to tighten a bolt/nutt on a coolant line which took probably all of about 5-10 minutes is worth $50 to $100? Your kidding right? I could see that if parts had to be removed to get to it, or parts had to be replaced, but just to tighten something warrents that kind of cost? Also as for the other work, she didn’t tell them what the other place would charge because at the time she didn’t know, it wasn’t till she told our mechanic what needed to be fixed that he told her what labor charge he would charge us and we just added in what we will have to pay for the parts.

I would have insisted that for $200.00 that the o’ring on this line (or whatever helps it seal) also get replaced. Not a hint as to what kind of car we are talking about. I wonder why the shop is confident that tightening up a fitting is going to hold. Why don’t you loosen it a bit so it starts leaking again then they will have to do a proper job.

There are 2 kinds of businesses in the world. There are basic folks with interests and/or skills who work in their trades to make a living. Obviously a good living is desired and, just as obviously, that involves turning a profit.

Then there are those businesses that deal in “widgets” - it doesn’t matter what the product or service is. The purpose is not to work in one’s trade for the purpose of making a decent, honest living. The work itself does not matter. The primary purpose is to profit. The difference ends up sounding subtle but its not.

It sounds like the mechanic is of the former type and the manager the latter. If management is of the latter type, then the business in general likely has that character as well.

I live in an area that has grown a lot and I’ve watched quite a few shops change shades.

Maybe the bottom line here is that the mechanic is honest and fully prepared to chalk this up as not worth the effort to do the paperwork and the manager, who likely has a pay scale heavily dependent upon that 200 bucks, begs to differ with the employee.

Well, this sounds like a $30 repair to me BUT I really doubt whether it is going to hold. I really can’t see a steel line fitting coming loose and if it was a hose, unless the thing is double clamped it will come loose again so keep an eye on it I guess. Just putting something up on the rack though should require some expense but this really sounds like an AAMCO shop to me. The managers could be in a shoe store, transmission shop, or anywhere, doesn’t matter-the method is the same.

I had my Olds towed to an AAMCO once because they offered free towing and diagnostics. So they towed it 15 miles closer to home, dropped the pan and told me they had to take it apart. I explained the Olds dealer had just worked on it and they would stand behind it if it wasn’t something simple so I’d just have the dealer tow it the rest of the 30 miles home. Man that guy’s demeaner went from nice guy to old cuss and slamming stuff around. They did put the pan back on and trans fluid and pushed it out the door but it was a long wait for the dealer tow truck to come and rescue me. If looks could kill. The free towing or diagnostics is just a loss leader to get you in the door is all.

The labor rate is usually calculated at $75.00 to $95.00 hourly, then cost of goods. These charges allow the facility to provide for the technicians and their families as well as ensure it stays open. Something for nothing has become apparent in the automotive industry, news flash… you do not recieve something for nothing. Leaders like “Free Inspection, Preventive Maintenance Analysis etc” are the building blocks for repeat business. Perhaps a customer that continues to state “My mechanic can do it for less” should start out at their mechanic. Although their mechanic doesn’t change oil because of EPA regulations, or their mechanic does not pay garage liability insurance, phone bill, is not subject to department of commerce visits, EPA inspections, local code enforcement rules. Maybe he operates in fantasy land, not sure. As the provider you are responsible to conduct business under the guidelines set forth in your state such as the “Florida Auto Repair Act” that means as the consumer you sign up front for used/old parts and estimates. The wounded consumer doesn’t fly anymore. If you are looking for free towing, diag and repair check with UNICEF. When you get the results please post their address.
Enough of my rant. For consumers, your local facility is actually looking for a chance to meet you and provide service, not to have you come in once and leave upset. Building a relationship with the provider and him building one with you is the key. If you do not get what you are looking for from your visit, let them know. Through effective communication automotive service can be a good experience for both the customer and the service provider.

No I am not kidding.

The 5-10 mins was to perform the repair. However finding the issue and diagnosis is well worth the $50-$100 along with repair.

I have absolutely no idea why you are whining as this repair was free.

Because of thier attitude. They told my sister that diagnosis was free no matter how long it took. The actual repair was the tightening of a screw/bolt that took probably all of 5 minutes. So why not say, hey this was just loose, we tightened it up for you and you are good to go. Then they could add we also recomend you get this and this fixed and we can do that for price X. When i took my van to another place to check the brakes and such, they said they looked okay and even cleaned them and such for no cost at all. It took them about 40 minutes to remove all four tires, check all the breaking system and such and clean them and charged me nothing. To me that is good customer service and they will get my other business.

Honestly, I think you’re overreacting. Even though they said the diagnosis would be free, and the repair itself only took 5 minutes, the knowledge, facility, and equipment to do the diagnosis and perform the repair has value easily worth the $200 they should have charged. The repair prevented a $3,000 tranny replacement.

I only see one problem here; that the tech was “chewed out” in front of the customer. They honored their free diagnosis offer and even performed the repair for free.

IMHO the question would have been more appropriate had it asked “whatever happened to good management skills?”.