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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Escort Troubles

I’m sitting in the office, and I see movement through the glass, followed by a low pitched growl or clearing the throat noise. Upon opening the door, I see a man with one foot in the entrance, looking intently for something inside the shop. He sees me step through my office door and straightens up.

“Uh… hi… can I help you,” I asked, thinking it might be Tuesday's Santa, out of uniform.

“Sorry… I thought there might be a dog… you know… lot’s of places around here have dogs,” the man explained.

“Usually only the drug dealers,” I reply with a smile; “but no, I don’t have any dogs.”

“Oh… good, I have a Ford Escort. It needs a clutch. How much to get it done… just a ballpark figure will do.”

I give him a ballpark figure and he laughs. Maybe I should have added a couple hundred.

“No… you don’t… understand,” the man waves his hand, still chuckling. “I’ll supply the clutch.”

“Not here you won’t,” I reply amiably.

“Really?” He looks at me incredulously, as if he knows all the other repair places are putting in customer’s cheapo parts, and I’m the last holdout.

“No,” I reiterate firmly. “Bargain auto parts stores sell parts cheaply for the Do-It-Your-Self folks. If you wish to buy your own parts, you’ll probably have to install them yourself. A clutch job on a front wheel drive vehicle is not the typical Do-It-Yourself type project.”

“There are several shops I’ve already talked to that’ll do it. I…”

“Great news for you,” I say enthusiastically; because if there are several places putting in customer supplied clutch parts, they’re doing them out of their garage at home, and the chances of him driving his Escort away in good shape are practically nil. “I wish you well.”

I go back in the office, and he follows me in. Oh boy.

“I just live around the corner. It would be easier if you’d do the job.”

“That may be; but if you have it done here, it will be with my parts, at or around the price I quoted you.”

“You mean it could be more?”

“Since I’ve never laid eyes on your car, the answer is yes. It could even be slightly less. I won’t start the job until I give you a complete estimate. You can give me the go ahead then, or drive it out.”

“Shit!” The man exclaims and leaves in a huff.

We don’t give much Christmas cheer in the auto repair business. We’re like the Bad News Bears unfortunately. :)


Chumplet said...

Escorts. Don't get me started. I've been a Honda Gal since Day One, and to save money we picked up a '96 Escort Wagon. It's been a petulant and moody little pissant ever since.

I refuse to spend any more money on it.

BernardL said...

I believe you have chosen wisely, Sandra. :) Thanks for commenting.

Bernita said...

Amazing how some people avoid common sense regarding repair jobs.

BernardL said...

People mean to save for the inevitable, Bernita; but when they don't, the responsibility sometimes gets blamed on the solution. :)

raine said...

Gawd, I hope he didn't try to do the job himself! Hate to think of something happening to him.
And I never understood arguing with people who provide services. If you give me an estimate I don't like, I usually smile, thank you, and go on my way...

BernardL said...

I had a lady on the phone yesterday with a blown engine in an old 1988 Pontiac Bonneville. When we talked over cost, age, condition, and mileage, she decided to put the money into a better vehicle. She did just as you described, Raine; and in the case of that old clunker, she chose wisely. :)

Virginia Lady said...

He wasn't looking for any dog, I think he was trying to come up with some clever line to convince you to use his crappy part. Having done the DIY route and bought said crappy parts, I can attest to the rightness of repair people like you that won't use them. Of course, I bought them when I was 19 and too stupid to know that spending a few bucks more was well worth it in the long run.

The water pump shaft that sheared off while driving down the DC capital beltway at 60 mile an hour taught me the error of my ways. Interesting noise when pieces start falling through the engine and tumbling under the chassis as you're tooling down the road. Not one I ever want to experience again.

BernardL said...

"Interesting noise when pieces start falling through the engine and tumbling under the chassis as you're tooling down the road. Not one I ever want to experience again."

Amen to that, VL. :)

Anonymous said...

I fix certain things on my vehicles. The cheap line of parts are definetly of clearly lesser quality than, for instance, Toyota parts. So I usually get good parts, except the exhaust I did on my GMC.
There's certainly nothing wrong with doing some of your own work if you take pleasure in it and have the time and patience, and nothing I've fixed has flown apart on the highway, knock on wood. :)

BernardL said...

I think we all do what we can Anon. The trick is knowing when not to attempt something which could lead to disaster. I'm all for the Do-It-Yourselfer. As long as you're careful in what you attempt to repair, you can save yourself quite a bit of money. Thanks for commenting Anon.