The man with no name keyed in the information that I had already given to the service manager, Craig, when I called a few weeks prior to make the service appointment for my vehicle. I remained courteous even though No Name made me repeat the answers to his questions several times because his squirrel-like attention span caused him to stop his process to respond to his chatty co-worker. Once No-Name finished his task I reminded him that they were also to either update the Sirius XM portion of my radio or if the update did not solve the problem they were to replace the unit. I will note that the radio has been an ongoing issue and has already been replaced once. I further note that if No Name had been a bit more professional I would have attempted to learn his name.
While No Name finished either putting my information into his computer or perhaps he was finishing a game of Assassin’s Creed, service manager, Craig materialized seemingly out of thin air. He was sporting an out of season pastel plaid tie which was peeking out from his partially zipped windbreaker jacket. He introduced himself and shook my hand. When the door opened for another customer to pull their vehicle into the shop a sudden rush of air splayed my hair all over my face. As I tried to finger comb my locks out of my eyes and mouth I noted that Craig’s hair remained unscathed.
To his credit, Craig remembered our phone conversation about my past issues with their service department and he told No Name that my oil change and tire rotation were to be comped. As Craig stepped away No Name remarked that if the update didn’t solve the problem that they would order a new radio for me. I sweetly let him know that Craig had promised they would have a new radio on hand just in case it was needed. As I explained, my gaze slipped four feet away where I could tell Craig had heard me but he was pretending to be very busy on his laptop. I may be old but I know that meant that if the update didn’t work then I was out of luck until a radio was ordered and I spent another wasted day at the out of town dealership. No Name told me the work would take about an hour.
I settled myself at a table in the waiting area, made myself a cup of complimentary coffee and fired up my laptop. This dealership does not offer loaners when routine maintenance is being done but it was only an hour, I decided it would be a good opportunity to work on my my new blog.
After an hour and a half I was getting antsy. No Name kept coming into the waiting area and calling out names of people that had not been there when I arrived. After two hours had passed I said, “excuse me” to summon No Name’s attention as he was being very good at avoiding eye contact. I politely asked if he could tell me how much longer I should expect to wait. After he checked he came back and smiled as he announced, “Only about 30 more minutes”.
This is not the first time that they have grossly underestimated the time needed for service. Clearly, they have no respect for my time. Typically when a business makes this kind of thing a habit, rather than an isolated incident, I simply leave and take my business elsewhere. Not an option since they were holding my car hostage.
The dealership is about 75 miles from my home, there is not one closer, so calling an Uber, a cab or walking wasn’t an option. At the time I made the purchase I thought I wouldn’t mind the extra miles for service as I was retiring and spending a day out of town once every few months would be a nice little “me day” with some shopping and a nice lunch.
I could have demanded to speak with Craig and then loudly or angrily or perhaps both, told him what I thought about their crappy customer service, but I didn’t think that was a good option. First of all, it wouldn’t make me feel one bit better and since I am one of those people that cry when I am really angry that was a real and potentially embarrassing possibility. Another reason is that, in my opinion, people that take the loud/angry approach always end up looking like an idiot.
I had thirty minutes to sit there and map out a plan for how I would handle such treatment at this dealership in the future. Time to get creative.
I asked myself what I wanted and immediately knew the bottom line was that I wanted service provided for my vehicle in a timely manner. To get what I want I needed to make them want the same thing. The proverbial win-win. Simply put, I needed them to want me in and out as quickly as possible. This could be fun!, I mused. Here are a few of the possible things I might do to encourage them to want me out of their dealership ASAP.
The showroom joins the service waiting area. I think I may just climb in and sit behind the wheel of one of the shiny 2019’s. I can clutch the wheel with white knuckles and make motor sounds. Of course I can also sing very loudly and tap the wheel as if I was listening to my favorite song. Did I mention that I can’t carry a tune? I don’t even sing at church. Out of respect for others I just lip sync my musical praise.
Another option would be to pretend to race the vehicle and even make crashing sounds and throw myself towards the dash. If that hasn’t got their attention I can climb out and proclaim that, “The airbag doesn’t work, you better send this one back!”
I think I like this next idea even better. I can lie down on the floor in front of a showroom room vehicle and then scoot myself halfway under near one of the tires so that just my legs are sticking out. When I see feet approaching I can make my legs twitch and in a weak and shaky voice call out, “help me!”
Those are pretty drastic. If I lose my nerve to carry out the drama, perhaps I can just open my book and read. After a paragraph or two I can stick my head into the nearest occupied office. In my sweetest, most polite tone I will inquire, “Oh hey, since you aren’t busy, could you tell me how to pronounce this word?” Then I will stick the book in front of the employee with my finger under the word in question. After about 3 minutes I can repeat this with a different employee and just keep going. My theory is that the more annoyed they become the more they will be trying to do everything they can to get me out of there.
If they get really bent out of shape I could just take a pillow and blanket with me, curl up in a vehicle and catch a little siesta. If I have a little trouble nodding off I could make a nice sticky cup of hot chocolate and return to my slumber with my drink and one of their complimentary powdered sugar doughnuts. Of course, I prefer to get the nap in a vehicle with all black interior. Darn, don’t you hate how that white sugar seems to get all over everything? What is the best leather cleaner for removing hot chocolate?
Now that I have vented my frustration and have a plan that I may or may not be bold enough to carry out during a future visit I reluctantly admit that I have learned yet another lesson in car buying. Besides researching customer satisfaction with the vehicle, safety, durability and anticipated value for a future trade in or sale, I need to be more diligent about checking into the dealerships service department. When they say they have loaner vehicles I will get it in writing that this is not just for repairs that they anticipate will take 4 or more hours. I will go sit in their service waiting area and chat with folks that already own one of their vehicles to find out if they are satisfied with the quality of service and wait time.
What do you suggest for dealing with a dealership that seems to no longer treat their customers like important people once the sale is over? I would really love to hear your creative ideas to “encourage” the dealership to perform service in a timely manner.