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Monday, September 17, 2007

Now Voyager

I was working on a 1999 Ford Ranger when I heard my motion detector go off as a vehicle stopped inside the shop. It was a middle nineties Plymouth Voyager I recognized, although it had been at least six months since I saw the Plymouth last. A well-dressed man in his early forties exited the Voyager. I recognized him too. He had brought his Voyager in for a diagnostic check to determine why it was stalling and hard to start, intimating the whole time I was ripping him off with a diagnostic fee like all the others. Apparently, he had three other shops have a go at finding out what his problem was with the Plymouth, all to no avail. I received this news in detail at the time; but since I tend to tune out after hearing how I’m ripping off a customer I haven’t even met before, the details elude me at the moment. To my surprise, the man I will identify as Now Voyager for this post, decided to have me check out his vehicle even though by then I didn’t want to at any price.

After a detailed diagnostic scan, and some hands on poking around, the main two culprits causing the six trouble codes stored in the computer were the downstream oxygen sensor, and the cam angle sensor. Fuel pressure, and a myriad of other tests I won’t bore you with gave normal readings. He also had an ABS brake code unrelated to his problem, which was coming on due to a corroded connector near the battery. Now listened to my explanation why it would be important for me to erase all the codes, and then have him drive the SUV for a week before rechecking what new or old codes showed up. This narrows down the inadvertent codes from the solid troublemakers. Once he knew the retest was free, Mr. Voyager was all for it.

Now drove in after a week with a detailed log of stall-outs and hard starts I had asked him to keep. The ABS was fixed, because he had not seen any other indication of an ABS trouble light, and the slight pulsation he had felt when applying the brake was gone. Mr. Voyager had two repeaters, the cam angle sensor and oxygen sensor, which I explained would have to be done first before going any further. At this point, Now wanted an iron clad guarantee everything on his vehicle would be in showroom condition after I fixed these two items. I told him what he was demanding was impossible. He decided to keep on going with it until the Plymouth screwed him up real good, or he found a shop to guarantee the impossible. So, I’m less than enthused as I recognize my good buddy, Now, again in my shop, and up to no good I’ll wager.

I greet Now as he comes around the front of his Plymouth toward me. He hands me a receipt instead of talking - always a bad sign. Reading over the invoice, it appeared some enterprising garage I will not mention, had replaced everything on the Plymouth but the oxygen sensor and cam angle sensor. The invoice was missing the key ingredients to legally operating in the state, such as the shop’s state license number, etc. It didn’t even have the shop’s address and phone number on it, let alone an area for writing an estimate with customer’s signature. I handed the receipt back to him with a shrug.

“As you can see, I spent a lot of money,” Now said through clenched teeth, when I didn’t respond to the magnificence of his receipt verbally.

“So, how’s it working for you now?” I asked, not in the least bit interested.

“It still stalls, and is even harder to start,” Mr. Voyager answers, as his voice rises a few decibels, “and I want to know why!”

“Probably because you let this shop replace everything except the oxygen sensor and cam angle sensor,” I reply amiably; because other than the guess I just gave him, Now was getting nothing from me.

He tries comically to hand me the keys. “Here, I want you to check it.”

“No, Sir, the statute of limitations has run out on that. You decided to ignore my diagnosis; which is your right, and go somewhere else to get your vehicle worked on. I suggest taking it back to them. I imagine you demanded a guarantee, so now’s the time to cash in on it.”

“They… they’re not there anymore,” Now’s voice drops down to a whisper.

“I would suggest taking it to the dealer, or another shop,” I suggest earnestly; because while I take no comfort in other people’s woes, I have no empathy for stupidity. “They will have to check it over to make sure this other place didn’t add to your troubles.”

“You should do the diagnostic over for me for free,” Now states with gusto, thinking he’s in a Walmart arguing for customer rights.

“Not going to happen,” I state more firmly. “Have a nice day, and good luck with your vehicle.”

Now starts to launch into his mantra, but I hold up a hand to dissuade him from further dialogue.

“Not going to happen,” I repeat.

Now gets it finally, and leaves in a huff. Better than leaving with help. Ah… Monday… :)


December/Stacia said...

Stuff like this always reminds me of my favorite line from Lost in America: This isn't a swap meet!

People always expect you to fix their own stupid mistakes.

Tempest Knight said...

Gotta love Mondays! *lol*

BernardL said...

You’re right, D, except for a rapidly shrinking number of people grounded in logic and commonsense, personal responsibility no longer exists. :)

Thanks for stopping by, Tempest. I like your blog site. Monday in the auto repair business is definitely Forrest Gump’s celebrated box of chocolates. This guy was one of the coconut filled ones. :)

ERiCA said...

it appeared some enterprising garage I will not mention, had replaced everything on the Plymouth but the oxygen sensor and cam angle sensor

Bwa ha haa. Wow. It almost never pays to be cheap. Not saying people should throw money around indiscriminately, of course, but to ignore a smart deal just to take a cheaper deal? Yeah. Stupid.

BernardL said...

They get trapped, Erica. Someone tells them what they want to hear; and once the vehicle's torn down, they're in for an expensive and bumpy ride. Live and learn. :)