What mechanics think of their customers

A similar looking front rotor led me to quickly give the owner a totally outrageous estimate on the repair which luckily sent him on his way with a warning that his pedal would soon hit the floor or a wheel would totally lock up soon noted on his NO CHARGE estimate.

Ain’t it amazing how people will let things go and then think they deserve a cut rate price.

Fantastic that you have kept them, but in the real world around me, I have not seen a Cressida or a Celica on the road in a good while. They all rusted away a long time ago

I haven’t seen a Cressida on the road in years, but I still see old Celicas every now and then, even some with “historic vehicle” license plates. I still see the 1987-1991 Camry just about every day, and the 1988-1992 Corolla several times a week on the road here.

So I don’t think rust is the reason why Cressidas have become rare, because cars don’t rust here. The reason must be that those type of cars had expensive mechanical problems, which people did not want to pay to fix, and instead junked them.

That is exactly the same in my business. Someone has let something go for so long and then expects it to be a cheap and easy fix. Charging money upfront has run off these types for me. It might be different with cars but I get calls about people wanting me “just to look at” complete junk on a daily basis. With my business being mobile and onsite, I cannot take the time to pick something up without charging at the same time. I would be spinning my wheels looking at junk and getting nothing for it if I did free estimates. I used to do free estimates so learned the hard way.

Another thing about advertising… I like advertising in media that people must pay something to see. Of course anyone can tune into the talk radio station I mention but I am more thinking of print and online media. Advertising in the daily paper that people must actually buy gets a lot better clientele than those free things (free to the customers because advertisers like me pay for it) that are given away in racks at the front of stores, restaurants, and such. The same principle of charging upfront applies but the newspaper collects the money instead of me.

As for the old Toyotas, many sure did run forever if you could keep the RUST at bay. They rusted out really quickly around here. My dad had a coworker and friend with an early Tercel hatchback when I was a kid. The thing was about as basic of a tin can as they came and everyone made fun of it. Of course it was like this ugly yellow brown color and then there was the rust as well. I just looked it up and found some really nicely restored ones. It was either a 1st or 2nd gen but I think it was actually the 1st (pre-1982).

He drove the thing for years, rust and all. He was like “don’t laugh, it’s paid for” whenever someone made fun of it. I am sure the mileage was great as well. The rust never got a chance to finish it off. His wife or kid left it out of gear and it rolled down a big hill behind their house and smashed into a tree.

He replaced it with some other boring econo car of the time. I seem to recall it being a Dodge Shadow. I will have to say that it didn’t have anywhere near the personality of that crap Tercel! I kinda actually missed seeing that little POS car.

There was someone around here who bought a new Yugo back in the 80s and flogged that poor car for 15 years as a commuter into town. And they lived down 6 miles of red dirt and gravel roads.
I don’t think it ever saw a car wash. It kind of defied the odds and reputation.

As for customers; most are good, some are very sketchy, and a small minority need to be grabbed by the earlobes and unceremoniously kicked out the door.

That is funny about the Yugo. Sometimes their are outliers. I see it with tech equipment as well. Sometimes the cheap lines or a chipset with known flaws industry-wide will be replaced due to obsolescence and not failure.

Yugos are now somewhat collectible if you can find one in driveable condition. I wonder if there will be a day when the boat anchor CRT monitors and TVs will be collectible. Yugos were basically considered trash at one time and that is how we view CRTs today.

Back in the 80s I worked for a multi-line dealer (Pontiac, GMC, Subaru, Mazda) and rumblings began about taking on a Yugo franchise. Even worse, the rumblings were that I was going to be the designated Yugo guy. Well, time to think about moving on.,…
The following week the local news did a story on Yugos with the reporter going for a ride in one. Their opinion was that it was dirt cheap but tinny, noisy, and not comfortable. That clinched it as I could see this train wreck coming. I moved on the following week and a month later the dealer where I had been took on a Yugo franchise.

The only reason they do this is to suck people onto the lots and attempt to steer them into something much pricier.
I can only imagine what customer complaints and warranty pay would be like with people expecting a Bentley ride out of a Yugo.

“WHAT DID YOU DO! IT WAS FINE WHEN I CAME IN!”- customer, likely named Karen…

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When the Yugo and the Hyundai Excel were first introduced to the US marketplace, Consumer Reports tested both of them, and their opinion was something along the lines of…
Buy a 2-3 year old used car of virtually any make, and it will most likely be more reliable than either of these two, and for no more money.

Thankfully I left that place before I became the mechanic to have those abominations piled onto him.
It’s not the car I objected to working on. It was the near zero labor times for warranty repairs and the crushed expectations of consumers who expected more out of the car than what was there.

Then from frying pan into the fire. The next dealer found out a few weeks after I went to work there I was a Harley biker. Unknown to me they were also a Puch moped dealer so I was the lab rat for those. First thing I did is go through the labor manual and then decided no way, no how. Every labor operation in the book was …2 hours (12 minutes) except for a complete by the book engine overhaul and it paid …7 hours (42 minutes) and that included in and out of the frame. Thankfully they gave up the Puch line a month later.

People have become gun shy of mechanics bearing bad news. Sorry to say, but on more then one occasion I’ve gone to a mechanic for an State inspection or a even tire rotation and given a list of completely bogus repairs. Most were from dealers or a chain store. While I agree that most mechanics are honest and truthful…there are still far too many out there who will steal every dime you have.


I love the comment about “It was fine when I brought it in.” I deal with this as well in IT. My comment is then “Why did you bring it to me then? You don’t take your car to the mechanic if there is nothing wrong. You don’t bring your computer to someone that advertises repair and other services if there is nothing wrong with it.”

As for the Yugo, I can totally see it. It often seems that those who are willing to pay the least expect the most. Yep, the people who buy a Yugo probably expect a Bentley ride. I used to deal in used computers but no more. I remember selling off some old Windows XP systems back when it was losing support for $50. People would expect them to come with a 24 inch flat panel monitor and all the latest stuff and gaming graphics. You couldn’t believe it. The people who bought something in the $300-400 range were a little more realistic. I would tell those people “You need to come up with about $4000 more for all you want.” I would also let them know that the $50 system was just for kids use and that it couldn’t be used online. They would say they wanted that unit but had plans to use it for many of the things I had just told them it wouldn’t work for. I told them it wouldn’t work again but they would buy it anyway and then call all mad when it didn’t do what they wanted… I can totally feel the pain of a Yugo dealer!

I went to having people sign a form and then finally got out of this altogether. Those older units just get sent off to be properly recycled these days. Newer ones get refurbished donated for a write-off but even a lot of these get junked simply because I would be drowning in them otherwise. Anything that can’t be upgraded to Windows 10 automatically gets recycled without a second thought.

The difference between a cheap car and a cheap computer is that a cheap car is still worth enough to be repaired. That is likely not true for a $99 or $199 Black Friday cheapo. It seems they roll out stuff with such horrible specs for this one day or week a year. Even the simplest repair is likely going to exceed the value of these units. As with the Yugo, people are upset about the terrible performance and quality these units provide. They want to have them upgraded and call me. I let them know that it would cost more to upgrade something like this and you STILL wouldn’t get what you want. They always seem amazed when the cheaper option is to buy a decent system and forget about the old dog. I am sure the answer on “upgrading” a Yugo would be simply to replace the thing with a different car, even a used one as mentioned.

Cheap cars may be a lure to get people into something better. I am not sure this is the case for computers when Wal-Mart has a $199 unit on the shelf any day of the year. Lots of people just go buy the cheapest one they can find and are often disappointed. I had one where the person bought such a small drive that it crashed during the first Windows update, leading to a real mess to recover it. There was simply not enough space for the thing to operate, much less run an update. I normally wouldn’t have even bothered with something like this but I was curious about the thing and wanted to check it out in person. I would also be interested in checking out a Yugo just to see how bad it is.

Stuff like this is what I no longer offer the “cheap” option. I offer what is going to be a good value for the majority of customers. The associated services I bundle also help guarantee a quality user experience by ensuring they won’t get infected the first time they use the computer. This has been working out well for me. Many think I am doing myself a disservice by avoiding the very low-end but I am only avoiding headaches for myself and my customers.

I went through the bait and switch deal when my GF needed a new car a couple years back. We went to the local Kia dealer. She wanted a small economical car as she was driving a lot for work and school. We settled on the Kia Rio as the best possibility. She didn’t like all the bells and whistles. She told the salesman “I want one without the touch screens all that stuff. I also want a manual transmission.” Well, they had two on the lot and they were buried behind other cars. It took them 30 minutes of playing musical cars to get one of these two base models out for a test drive. We drove it and it was a nice car for a basic little ride. The 6 speed manual was fun.

So, the dealer wouldn’t give a price. It was all about the finance terms and the monthly payment. Of course they wanted a sale RIGHT NOW and were real pushy. My GF didn’t like their attitude and I didn’t either. I never got an out the door price on the thing. It was all about the monthly payment. I got the feeling that selling financing was more important to them than selling cars which I hear is common practice these days. They wanted a phone number before we left so I gave them mine. I didn’t want them bothering my GF. We drove to a nearby city and she got a car there that night. We got home and there was a flyer from the local Kia dealer giving an out the door price for a Kia Rio that was very agreeable. Why did they come right out with a price on a paper sent to everyone in the county but couldn’t do this in person at the dealership? The deal was done at this point and they lost a sale.

The salesman called me next week and asked what we were thinking about buying cars. I told him that she bought a car that evening. He wanted to know why we didn’t pick his local dealer. I informed him that the tactics used at his dealer were a major turn off for both of us. I also let him know about the sales flyer we got in the mail that night. I told him that there was a good chance we would have bought the car from him had he just come right out with that price and not started playing “the game.” He was like “Well, that price is for the base models that don’t even have an automatic transmission or anything. Nobody wants one of those.” I had to remind him that this is what we wanted and they had to spend 30 minutes moving cars around to get one of these out so it could be driven. There was a long period of silence and that was that. He didn’t have a good answer to that.

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The Yugo talk made me think about this SNL skit: https://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/adobe/n9492

If a Yugo is too rich for your blood, there is a car that can be bought for less money than a Black Friday laptop!

That should have stung him a bit. Here he admits nobody wants them and yet he has one in inventory that has garnered so little interest it is tucked away behind everything else. And then, when someone comes in showing interest in this slow mover, they ruin the opportunity to unload it…

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Saving money on some things is OK. Tools that you don’t use all the time might be fine from a place like Harbor Freight. I have bought stuff there but it wasn’t their cheapest line of course. I have some tools from their older NiCd line that were pretty much their top line back in the day. These things have been used, abused, and dropped so many times I can’t count. I figured the drill was done for the first time I dropped it 8 ft from a ladder but it has survived this COUNTLESS times. Then there is the time it fell out of the back of my truck at slow speeds on my property. It just kept coming back for more.

That being said, I have been upgrading my power tools to Milwaukee M18 Fuel series. This is their best line and I have been very happy. The performance and ergonomics are definitely much better than the old Harbor Cheap stuff. That being said, I don’t know if the build quality/durability is any different. There is more metal in the housings of the HF tools than the Milwaukee. Of course I am sure the plastic is high strength. I am a lot more careful with the Milwaukee stuff as well and use the HF set when I am worried about possibly damaging or losing the tools.

I recently bought a small 2000 Watt inverter generator from Aldi, the grocery store. It was on clearance for too good of a deal to pass up. To them it was like milk about to expire or day old bread. It wasn’t their current product and needed to be dumped, surely at a loss. I don’t expect to own this thing a lifetime either. I had read the reviews on these when I first saw them at full price. They are based off the Chinese Wen generator. Basically all the cheap inverter units are based off this design which doesn’t seem to get bad reviews for the money. The Harbor Freight Predator is the same design and all the accessories such as the parallel kit sold by HF will work on any of these units. They are all basically the same thing under the hood but with a different color and label on the outside. There are also repair parts out there. I may or may not bother with this if the time comes but was surprised one could even find parts for the unit.

I don’t expect Honda or Yamaha from this thing but it isn’t bad for less many than a cart full of Aldi groceries! I understand Aldi isn’t everywhere in the US. Sometimes they have the most strange random things for sale there. Much of this is seasonal stuff of course. I don’t know who came up with the business model of selling power tools, generators, and even a push lawnmower at a grocery store but apparently it works for them. One of the store is trying to be a Trader Joe’s while the other side looks like a Harbor Freight.

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That is what I thought and I made sure to remind him of that. There is a reason there was a long period of silence when I reminded him of the fact. I am sure it stung him a bit. Car sales is slimy and this place fits the model nicely.

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A friend recently traded for a new 12019 Rav 4 and when she opened her check book and turned the offer around to read the total cash due to fill out the check they told her she couldn’t take the new car for 3 days so they couldn’t close the deal. A branch bank was less than 1/2 mile away but and it was 2 hours before closing time but they wouldn’t close the deal. Then in walked some lady with the keys to a rental car with a full tank of gas to drive for a week allowing the buyer to drop in at her convenience to close the deal after the check had cleared.

It was a seen made for SNL.

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Here is a tale of two customers.

Call yesterday: A woman calls and wants to get the price down as cheaply as possible and figures I might charge less if I talk her through it over the phone. I told her it didn’t work that way and we would be both so frustratingly mad if we tried to proceed that way that I didn’t offer that service. If I did, it would be even more money due to the frustration. I quote her a price if she did my cheapest service and she is like “I will just buy a new system.” Of course she will be spending more money for anything decent.

Call this morning: I was already out on a job and figured I wouldn’t get any more calls with the short week. People are busy with other stuff. This guy calls me and wants me to come out in the afternoon. I had been to his place before and the old computer he is using is REALLY old. I think it is a Windows XP system that had been upgraded to 7 and later to Windows 10. It has been nickle and diming him for a couple years and I keep telling him to get a new system. I keep telling him he should replace it and he is like “Maybe next time.” Anyway, he called about another problem and it had only been a couple months since I had been there so I suggested replacing it. He is an older guy and was reluctant at first. I explained to him that continuing to put money in something like this is false economy and that the problems would continue. I compared it to a 20 year old car with lots of problems and miles. The time had come to replace it.

Anyway, he is like “I don’t really want to spend $5000-6000 dollars right before the holidays.” I was like “I bet I can do this with a new system, monitor, and accessories for somewhere around $1000-1200, including my time.” He was like “That is cheap. Go ahead and replace it.” Anyway, I got him all setup, got the thing secured, updated, etc. I also include a new surge protector by default these days as I see lots that are cheap and/or no longer working properly. I moved all his data over from the old unit and made sure he could use everything. He is like “Wow, this thing is fast and I can see the monitor so much better.” He gladly wrote a check for $1100+ and was like “I wish I had done this back when you first told me I should replace it.” This is all for an in-home setup and I hauled off the old junk for proper recycling after I was done transferring the data.

Customer #2 is who I market to of course.


And I can guess he’ll refer friends and call you first for any future business and trust your advice. Taking care of good customers is just good business and customers who find and stay with capable, honest people to do business get their best bang for the buck. It’s a shame that it seems so hard to find capable, honest service people.