We all have them…
Customers. Yes, them. The lovely people without whom we wouldn’t have jobs, and whose lack of mechanical knowledge or, more often than not, mechanical sympathy is the reason our services are so much in demand.
Sadly, though, their lack of car knowledge can sometimes make our jobs more difficult than they should be – for example, when a customer drops their car off and demands to know how long you’ll need it for when you haven’t even diagnosed the problem yet. I’m not normally sarcastic, but I do keep a ball of string under the reception counter for such occasions to demonstrate how long a piece can be.
Or there are other customers who think they know more than you do, because YouTube told them they could have the clutch in and out in less than two hours. It’s only when you quiz them about it and they’re asking you to do the clutch in a Renault Laguna when the video they watched was of a Ford Ka that you have to explain the difference between a two-hour and a nine-hour book time.
We had a guy the other week who threatened to bad-mouth us all around town because we’d been using his car without his permission, having stuck eight miles on the clock after changing the discs and pads.
I had to very politely explain to him that we, as a garage, had a duty of care to our customers to ensure that we’d done the job properly, and that also if he’d never driven a car with virgin pads in it before, he’d have actually appreciated our efforts to take the edge off the friction linings ever so slightly with a test drive.
But nothing beats the lady who once came charging into our workshop saying that she was going to take us to court for ritually abusing her car and racking up a massive mileage in the two days it was in our custody.
The car was a Renault Megane, and the job was to change some of the rear suspension bushes.
It turned out that the bushes didn’t all arrive on the van, so we’d been good enough to lend the lady one of our sales vehicle to keep her mobile while we waited an extra 24 hours for the parts to turn up.
Unfortunately, she was one of these people that, by nature, was very untrusting. Not only that, but her boyfriend (it’s always the bloody boyfriend) had told her not to trust mechanics, and to write down the exact mileage of her car when she dropped it in to us.
That she did. Or at least thought she had. However, somewhere along the way she’d got her maths a bit wrong. The day after she’d collected the repaired Renault, she came storming on to our forecourt with a face that could curdle milk while it was still in the cow.
She would, she said, see us in court, where she wanted full compensation for the loss in value of her car. She’d picked it up with 98,000 miles on the clock after having dropped it off the day before with 89,000 on it.
I politely but firmly explained to her, once she’d calmed down, that this wouldn’t have been possible, because we’d had the Megane in our custody for two nine-hour business days, during which we’d have had to drive it consistently at 500mph in order to rack up that mileage.
Not only was this a bit quicker than her car was capable of, but it would also have been somewhat inadvisable to attempt it with suspension bushes as worn as hers were, I added, admittedly a tad sarcastically.
‘And where was it overnight?’ she asked.
‘Well, Jupiter, clearly,’ I said.
I confess, my attitude (which, I hasten to add, I only ever really reserve for the truly ‘special’ customers) probably didn’t help, and when she realised that what she was suggesting was mathematically impossible – but only after double-checking loudly on her mobile phone with the clearly injudicious boyfriend – she did pay her bill. But not without mumbling stuff about ‘bloody garages’ under her breath.
Meantime, if you need to get anywhere quickly, might I recommend the fastest car on earth – the Renault Megane 1.6 Dynamique…