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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"But... why?"

I’m in the office updating my customer database when a late model van drives up into the shop. I go out to greet the potential customer, and see a mustachioed man in his late twenties, or early thirties, sitting in the driver’s seat. I gave him my usual professionally interested greeting.

“I’m interested in getting an estimate for doing the brakes on my old Chevy El Camino,” he replies. “It had drum brakes originally; but I had disc brakes put on the front, and now they lock up. I don’t know why.”

I do, it’s because you changed them from the original drum brakes to disc brakes.

“Sorry,” I’m not of course, “but I can’t help you out with that.”

“You do brakes here, don’t you?” He asks, with a slightly perturbed tone.

“Yes, I do brakes on all American and Asian vehicles, but I don’t work on anything with changes done to the way a vehicle comes from the factory. I fix only factory manufactured. Once someone does re-engineering on something as vital as brakes, I won’t work on them.”

“So, if I have my vehicle towed over, you won’t look at it?” He asks, a second after hearing the answer.

“No, I won’t,” I repeat my answer. “Look, who changed the El Camino drum brakes to disc brakes?”

“I did,” He answers proudly.

“Well, why don’t you stick with your re-engineering project and fix it yourself?”

“I don’t have time anymore,” he answers. “They lock up, and the pushrod (in the master cylinder) needs adjustment.”

He had time to screw up the brakes, but no time to fix them. Okay, and now I’m supposed to get them working. A professional who works on someone’s Mickey Mouse attempts at re-engineering will be held responsible for it from then on. If five years from now, the man wrecks the El Camino, it would still be my shop held responsible simply because the brakes I fixed were not OEM (original equipment manufactured).

“I can’t help you,” I inform him once again.

“Is there some reason you won’t look at my car?” He persists.

“I don’t fix anything but factory equipped,” I persist.

“So, you won’t fix my brakes?”

This is getting fun now.

“Not unless the brakes are factory equipped.”

“I can’t understand why, if you work on brakes, you can’t work on mine,” He states yet again with this award winning perplexed look on his face.

Wait, wait, I know this one. “Because they’re not factory equipped.”

“What would it take for you to work on them?” He continues as if we have not been talking about it for the last ten minutes.

“For you to have never altered them from factory equipped,” I answer. This is like playing scrabble.

“I can’t…” he begins.

“I’m all done talking about your El Camino, Sir,” I end our one sided negotiation, and head into my office. He sits in my driveway until I figure I’ll have to help him find his way out; but as I get back up, he starts his van and backs out.

I figure the guy must have sold encyclopedias or vacuum cleaners door to door at some time in his life. :)

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