“Sorry, We’ve Done All We Can”

As technicians, we need to realize that people pay us good money to make THEIR problem OUR problem, at least to an extent, right?  We all like the gravy jobs, the routine maintenance operations that pay so well and don’t require much figuring out, but it’s a foregone conclusion that some tough troubleshooting jobs will kick even the best technician around, and some labor hours that just can’t (or shouldn’t) be billed to the customer.  Then there are shops that take the customer’s money anyway and send him packing with the same (or a worse) problem.

I once replaced a single spark plug and fixed a car two shops had said needed a new carburetor.

One fellow had taken his Econoline to several different shops, where he had been charged about $700 for first one part and then another.  Finally as a last resort, he brought the van to the Ford dealer, where I found a wire harness chafing on a bracket and charged him $25.

Our tool salesman said a local diesel shop had just charged him $1700 to replace his injectors and his fuel injector pump, but his tool truck still didn’t run right.  They took his money, patted him on the back, and told him to live with the problem because they had done everything they knew how to do.

One of my fellow instructors owns a 1997 F150 that developed a low oil pressure problem.  A shop replaced the crank bearings at a cost of $1500, but the repair only lasted 8,000 miles.  He went back to the shop, prepared to pay again, but the shop owner told him to take the truck somewhere else.  The next shop claimed that the first shop put the rod caps on backwards and charged him another $1700 to do the job over again.  A few thousand miles later, the oil pressure problem returned.

One of the worst stories yet comes from the daughter of a friend of mine.  She had take her rough-running Stratus to a shop down in North Florida, where she was charged $450 and told by the shop that her car had an oil leak that had  “whacked out their machine” (whatever that means), and that as a result, she would need to have her car fixed somewhere else.  How they could look this woman in the eye and tell her such nonsense is sheer nonsense.

They had replaced the spark plugs and the coil pack and the car still had an annoying misfire on acceleration.   One of my students replaced the coil pack with a better brand and fixed the car.  The student also discovered that the engine had 9 quarts of oil in a 5 quart crankcase. How any of these concerns could “whack out” their machine remains a mystery, but the car ran like a dream when we were done.

What’s wrong with these pictures, guys?  We’ve all got to eat, but is a dollar in our pocket worth more to us than a good name and a clear conscience?  Remember, what goes around, comes around!     Whatever we plant, we’ll harvest.  Customers will talk for years, even decades to anyone who will listen about a bad experience, and unscrupulous practices on our parts will always lose more dollars for us than they gain in the long run, and the profession gets a black eye every time.  Count on it.         R.W.M.

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