What mechanics think of their customers

Nope! I don’t second guess my service people. If it is something simple and I can fix it quickly, I will do it myself. If it is something complex OR simple but takes time, I will pay someone to do it.

I recently took my truck in to have a growling wheel bearing replaced. I told them to do the rotors and pads if they thought it was time. They were like “Well, it will pass inspection this time but probably not next time.” I said to go ahead and do it since one side was going to be apart anyway. I also said not to skimp and use what they would use if it was their own car. They gave me a couple options. The most expensive option was one that they didn’t suggest. The truck is old and doesn’t get driven much so may not last all that much longer. That is one reason. No matter if I got the expensive or the next one down, it wouldn’t matter as it would likely outlast the truck. The reason they like the next cheaper option is they thought it had better braking ability although it wears out faster. Since the truck doesn’t get a lot of miles and the ones it does get are often when it is carrying a heavy load, stopping ability is probably more important.

If there is a choice between a brass or stainless fitting or something cheaper like steel/galvanized or plastic, I tell them to use what they think it best. If I can fix it myself and feel like taking the time, I will do that. Otherwise I am paying a service professional to do the job and that is what I am paying them for. People who tell their service people how to do the job should do it themselves!

I was having tires put on at a place. I had worked on their computers before so we had shared stories then. I started rattling off lines like “That is highway robbery! I can get Douglas tires for a fraction of that price at Wal-Mart!” and then “I am on a fixed income” of course. They knew I was joking and laughed. They were like “Do you work here? We hear those same lines from customers all the time.”

What I don’t want is the person who wants me to re-use old equipment or brings me cheap equipment to then be all mad and blame it on me when it doesn’t work or doesn’t work to their satisfaction. MEchanic shops tell me this is a huge problem with cheap Chinese parts off Amazon. Some come without holes drilled or they aren’t tapped with threads like they are supposed to. Stuff doesn’t line up as well. Plus many of these parts are of such low quality that they will not last. All the extra labor of installing such stuff more than offsets the cost savings and the part will not perform well and likely fail long before it should. It is the same no matter what you do.

I had one the other day. They were setting up an office and had the cheapest Black Friday Wal-Mart laptops. A $150 laptop is not what you use to run a business. I told them it was going to cost them $200 more to start for a proper Windows license and not the locked down Windows S license. I basically told them they were either going to use what I provided or wouldn’t do the job as these were not going to work for them. The boxes were still sealed so I don’t think they would have any problems returning them. They balked about the price at first but realized that the systems I installed ran so much better than anything they had ever used before.

I do not mind haggling if I feel it is warranted. So on my trailblazer I decided to let them do the gas filter while getting an oil change. It is 2 easy on off clips, and the charge was $65. I imagine that is the book charge if you drive it in for that only, I said it seems a little steep. Service guy says well I do not know what is involved. I told him what was involved and after he talked with someone, gave me a free $37 oil change, for the future. I still use them and trust them.Widows S licence is new to me @cwatkin Only retired last Feb from computer, network, software fiber optic backup antivirus etc guru. So I bought a nice thinkpad I7 processsor plenty of ram and hard drive space for $215, backlit keyboard and touchscreen, as no touchscreen drives wife crazy when I show her stuff. NO os, Put Ubuntu on it, have the regular window laptop and computer for windows only stuff, got a chromebook for the porch, I think many people do not really understand what they need. Keep the windows as google docs does not allow password protected documents, I imagine they are skimming them for targeted advertising etc., and for my password protected passwords document I consider that a bad option to not have that info protected. Thought I could just swap the hard drive, x1 carbon does not have a hard drive. So I tore apart the other thinkpad, MOBO connection undone after coffee cup fell off the table and hit it. Needed a new keyboard, touchpad toast but I do not mind a mouse. Movie and turntable conversion software and files on there. so happy!

I have a few areas of expertise but being years out of practice (10 years retired) would need refresher training to perform them professionally. Computer tech is not one of them. I have a skilled and honest local IT guy. 75% of his business is commercial contracts. I tell him what the problem is, let him work his magic, then pay in full. The same thing with plumbers, modern (computerized) auto mechanics, and other experts. They appreciate customers like us.

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I usually offer my customers a discount if there is something I think they should do at the same time I am in the computer and it is easy to access at the time I am doing the job. So, in car terms, take a timing belt. Let’s say the timing belt drives the water pump. I always change the water pump at the same time. I also change the idlers and ANYTHING else that touches that timing belt. Why do 90% of the job and skimp on some little part that could cause a big headache later?

I also have a minimum charge when onsite. This way they don’t call me back for any little thing. I tell them I can do something that seems like a miracle for them and it only takes 5 minutes. That way they only pay for a tiny amount of time, not another service call and minimum 1 hour charge? I tell them this if they are on the fence or want to do something later.

Windows 10 S is a locked down version of Windows 10 and is mainly sold on very low-cost computers and some laptops. It is a full blown Windows but locked down to where anything on the system must come from an app store much like a Chromebook or a tablet. MS is now actively competing with Chromebooks for education and this is their answer. Another bonus is because it is so locked down, they are practically immune (not 100% though) to malware and viruses. They are good for certain customers such as a kid’s first computer but not what is good in an office setting where they need to install various software. Yes, someone bought these with the intention of doing all kinds of more complex work. You can unlock the OS to full Windows 10 Pro but must pay to do so. Who would bother on a Celeron Acer with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage??? Buying something like this for work is like buying a Power Wheels Jeep or Barbie car to drive to work.

I don’t blame your IT friend for focusing on commercial customers. This is also my bread and butter although I do get residential customers as well. I live in a rural area and travel great distances to some of them. Most commercial customers are decent and don’t cause nonsense although there are exceptions. You have to be a lot more careful with residential customers. Many service businesses I know of tend to focus more towards businesses for that reason.

Cars are a little more straightforward. We have talked about Yugos and such. You expect to buy a 4 passenger car and it have enough power to make it up a hill with 4 people inside. We all laugh at some of the worst examples of automotive history like the Yugo, Hyundai Excel, and such. These low-end systems that barely have enough power to turn on are more like these and otherwise reputable brands sell this junk each and every day. People simply don’t know enough and buy on price. They are left with a mess and there is essentially no way to salvage what they have initially invested in these things.

I will never forget my dad telling story about having 4 guys in some cheap import car while he was in college. It simply didn’t have enough power to make it up a hill. Everyone had to get out and walk to the top of the hill and the driver had to get a run at the hill. The other 3 got out, walked to the top, and then got back in. I think it was a Fiat or some French car.

Some of these online sites selling cheap car parts, tools, HVAC parts, computer parts, or whatever from China are really doing people a disservice. In some cases these can result in more costly repairs down the road or even unsafe situations. Amazon is a marketplace so lots of counterfeits and other imitations make it onto there. The same is true for eBay. https://www.worldtrademarkreview.com/anti-counterfeiting/counterfeit-automotive-parts-increasingly-putting-consumer-safety-risk

Having minimum standards which might cost more than the very cheapest priced unit may alienate some customers but ensures that the customers you do get will be happy in the end. Eventually word of mouth gets around and you get more customers who appreciate quality even if they have to pay more.

From a customer’s perspective, I think it’s a good thing to know how much something should cost, and if the stated cost is way higher than what it “should” cost, then question it, but at the same time make sure you have some supporting evidence that gives some credence to your claim. I’ve saved literally thousands by knowing how much things should cost. Keep in mind, I’m not pulling figures out of my posterior when I do this. I use the outfit’s stated labor rate, allow for an average of 100% parts markup in my figures, etc. I’m not lowballing, I’m just making sure everything is on the level. Unfortunately it seems that car dealership service departments are a hotbed for blatant overcharging with apparently zero oversight from the mangers (they have no reason to discourage it.)

You can read my latest epsiode regarding this sort of thing here .

I recently bought a used camper. I got a good price on it and knew it needed some work so figured I had plenty of leeway for extra nonsense that might show up which of course did. Campers are like boats. You never buy them new and expect to spend money to keep them going and make them how you want them.

It needed new pads and rotors for one plus a safety inspection to be legal. I could tell something was up with the suspension while driving it as well. I wasn’t sure what it was.

So, I call to ask about some of the things I needed and was given a price. I took it in and all 4 front ball joints were bad as well. That wasn’t in my original price quote but I didn’t blow a gasket at the shop. The stuff needed to be done but I wasn’t aware of it at the time I took it in. It ended up costing me QUITE A BIT more than the original over the phone quote. Obviously they were bad. The thing drove a lot better after I got it back. I was underneath looking at something and wasn’t even looking for the ball joints but they stood out as new because they were clean and freshly greased.

As I have mentioned, you can replace computers with cars or cars with computers in many of these stories. I end up finding unexpected problems with customer equipment much like the shop found bad ball joints, leading to a higher cost. People who can’t understand this and go ballistic are the problem.

I gladly quote a price but let them know that based on the symptoms they describe, it could be MANY other problems as well. I can’t tell what is wrong with a computer over the phone just like a mechanic cannot tell what is wrong with a car over the phone. The guy insisting it was “just the power button” is like the guy who says that the battery is simply dead but the engine has exploded!

I used to give accurate quotes for what I was told was wrong over the phone but started realizing they were incorrect 95% of the time because I wasn’t fully aware of the problems. I would give a price quote for one thing but it turned out to be something different. “WELL YOU TOLD ME IT WAS GOING TO BE X DOLLARS AND NOW IT IS MORE!” They forget that I tell them it will be X dollars only IF is the the problem I mention to them.

I don’t use dealer service departments or corporate chain places because of overcharging and “make work projects.” That is where all the horror stories come from around here. The independent shops all seem to be good from what I can tell.