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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,638
    You were in a no win situation here and I would have done the same thing under those circumstances.

    I also would have made it VERY clear that I never wanted to see him in my shop again for ANY reason.

    Sometimes (not often) you have to fire a customer.
  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,325
    Sometimes (not often) you have to fire a customer.
    ____________________

    For what it's worth I've never been "fired" as a customer. Disliked? Maybe so, but never fired.

    Now, I have fired the business from providing product, service, or work; but usually, I let things lapse from non-renewal, or just simply never visiting or using them again.

    Of course, when they are going out of business I might go into their store to scavenge some "clearance" deals.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    What's that old saying.... "No good deed goes unpunished."?
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,176
    Heh, interesting that the case was pursued by the techs and not by irate customers.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,638
    edited April 2013
    I might have been the shop that fired you.

    If I disliked a customer I would try to resolve our differences, If this wasn't possible I would have suggested that he take his future work elsewhere.

    I don't need the headaches and stress that an unpleasant customer can cause.

    Life is short...
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Heh, interesting that the case was pursued by the techs and not by irate customers.

    Since when have customers cared about any of this beyond having their car fixed right, quickly, and/or cheap? Heck if they think about the techs pay at all, they only concentrate on the angle where if tech beats the book time they think they should be charged less, which only makes it even worse for the techs during any production gaps.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,176
    Exactly, that's what makes them irate. If the job is done in half the flat rate time, the job should cost 50% less.

    And no, paying double for a newbie to experiment on the car doesn't make customers less irate. :-)

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Exactly, that's what makes them irate. If the job is done in half the flat rate time, the job should cost 50% less.

    So everything should just be billed straight time? Where is the incentive to work more efficiently, and to buy better tools, and get more training.

    It was the shops not being able to deal with the kind of pricing pressure that you are suggesting that lead to them mistreating their own employees. For example, the better that I got with electronics and diagnostics, the less money that I actually made per week. I couldn't convince those who were writing the bills to charge correctly for what I was doing. In the end, it caused me to have to leave and go out on my own. Then competing against them in the market place hasn't been easy because the consumers still haven't equated free diagnostics as no ability to actually do it.

    The time that the techs have been on the clock but not paid for often falls in the scope of either no cars to work on, or they were doing work that the shop didn't charge for. That's going to be some $16 an hour in restitution, and associated fines for as far as they go back. The techs not being paid was usually portraited as a customer service or satisfaction angle, or a competitive one. But no matter how you slice it, it was wrong for them to not be getting paid. In some places this will be so much money that it just might bankrupt some of the shops.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,176
    edited April 2013
    Cheaper flat rate is the answer.

    You know, just like the manufacturers are doing to the dealer shops for warranty work. :-D

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  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    they only concentrate on the angle where if tech beats the book time they think they should be charged less

    And they'd be correct in feeling that way if they don't get a good long service life out of the repair. And a 1 year or 90 day wty doesn't cut it. An example I am thinking of ...two even...first being a rocker cover gasket re and re. And the second sealing an oil pan after it had been removed. A simple weeping leak due to aging gasket and/or sealant. If a mechanic does this in half the time, where did he save that time? I'd like to think that it wasn't from a far too incomplete surface cleaning before applying a bead of sealant. Sure, maybe the surface was denatured alcohol cleaned in the places it is easy to get to, but what about that back corner where even after cleaning there was some debris block oil that had seeped back down due to gravity over a place where you had already alcohol cleaned it. This happened while you answered the phone because you didn't have a phone-answerer out front. So..do you look carefully again with a strong light to see if the surface you had cleaned, (and let's say quite diligently even the first time around) and did you do that look using a mirror cuz the back corner is blocked by a chassis rail and while maybe you can see most of it, there is about 1.5" that you can't see. How about when you are about to move the oil pan up into place, and because that same %^&# chassis member is in the way, it jars your co-ordination of it into place, and one end you think (cuz you're more diligent than the next guy being very aware of every movement you're doing...rather than thinking about the clock...mighta actually been bounced up and smeared the sealant in that PITA area that is hard to see, let alone get to. Do you take it back outta there...get the light and mirror? Do you you see that it did smear it? Do you wipe it down and start over? Do you answer the phone again the 2nd time you redo the alcohol cleaning? Or maybe THIS the time that you say to yourself...SCREW IT! THAT'S GONNA HAVE TO BE GOOD ENOUGH...I AIN'T SPENDING ALL DAY ON THIS %&^# OIL PAN INSTALL!

    All that extra attention takes time. Conscientiousness and diligence competing with the almighty $. For one to win out, the other must be compromised. If a tech is mentally constantly trying to average up every job he's doing, isn't he more $ motivated than quality/longevity motivated? The mech looking to save time might say..oh it'll be ok..yet in the real world if we could track that particular repair, we might find it started to seep again in year 3. long after the repair wty, but way sooner than the original factory seal started to leak.

    You see my point? What I described above is one of the reasons I try to do as much of my own vehicle repairs that I can. NO ONE is as motivated to spend as much time as necessary to ensure that if they're in there to do a repair, they want to NOT have to be back in there 2 or 3 years later, than the owner. I don't want to have to be back in there for a good 7 or 8 or more years..or until I maybe am driving different wheels.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited April 2013
    Is it just me, or has this forum evolved from one of "tales from under the hood" to a general auto mechanic gripe session?

    There isn't an industry that exists in the US that doesn't have some type of competitive pressure on it... Constantly.

    Example: Telecom. In the early 1980's, before the Bell companies were broken up, the average domestic interstate call costs a little more than $0.40/minute. By 1995, that same call costs the customer approx. $0.10/minute. I now can call a friend every Sunday in Germany for $0.02/minute. And that call is still profitable for the carrier.

    Everything changes, including how cars are serviced and maintained... And how telephone calls are connected.

    If one wants to talk wages, take a good look at the food service industry, where the federally mandated minimum wage is less than $3.00/hour for wait staff. And, those folks aren't making tips while preparing tables for customers, cleaning up afterwards, etc. If one has worked in the food service industry, they know there's a lot more to the job than just taking orders, serving them, and collecting big tips.

    If one bothers to look much, its not difficult to find perceived "mistreatment" in any profession.

    I'm no fortune teller, but I can say with confidence that any industry that doesn't adapt to the changing times dies. The auto industry is no different.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    Over the time I've been reading this particular forum, a common theme (and one I happen to agree with, BTW) is the lack of entry-level and mid-level techs getting into the car repair business. Low pay is certainly one of the reasons. Job security is another.usa today immigration

    Now, grab today's USA TODAY and you'll see an article on immigration changes. If you take the time to read it, you'll quickly see that companies such as Facebook are creating political support groups, funding them with millions of dollars, and targeting both parties. The goal is to increase the limit on high-level immigrants into the US.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/29/tech-companies-lobbying-imm- igration-facebook-family-visas/2121179/

    You can bet their reasoning isn't to increase the benefit and welfare of the domestic worker.

    So, before we go too far down the road of blaming the customer because he wants the cheapest price possible, lets also remember who is helping drive that car to lower wages and less job security.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,581
    I live in the middle of H1-B land, and a big theory here is that employers inflate potential jobs by posting positions that don't exist, and thereby go unfilled, so they can whine about needing more visas. This opens up the gates, and everyone knows the new arrivals will take less pay and worse conditions, so the positions tend to go there, and it drives down wages for all.

    Socio-economic gap is greater than it has been since before the depression, and it isn't accidental.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,176
    edited April 2013
    Well, if you revisit Post #1, Shifty included "how mechanics run their business" in the topic description. Some of us enjoy learning about that aspect too, even though idiot customers and pricing pressures are a common theme everywhere, but especially so in small businesses like mom and pop garages.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,638
    A botched oil pan gasket job is going to take a LOT less time than three years to start leaking again.

    Some of the best mechanics/technicians I have ever known were very fast and efficient with the work they did. They got down to business, didn't take smoke breaks and they weren't afraid to spend big bucks on the right tools for the job.

    Sometimes these guys could beat the flat rate times and sometimes not.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,566
    That's very interesting about the immigration issues. Historically, America has used immigration as a marvelous resource in nation-building, and I don't see why that should be any different today.

    Americans need to "get real" about immigrants on a number of levels: One, they come here to make money, not because it makes them "free"--Most immigrants are just as "free" in many cases, where they come from, but, unfortunately, free to do nothing--including no work. Two, nations without the infusion of immigrant energy tend to stagnate (let's not point fingers but we know who we mean) culturally, and in some cases even economically---since they become so stagnant that intellectual talent LEAVES the country for better opportunity.

    The worst possible outcome for the USA would be the above---a "brain drain" because other countries end up paying more money and offering more exciting opportunities in new technologies.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Cheaper flat rate is the answer.

    OK, so I'll start you at $7.00 hr flat rate. You start monday, make sure you bring your own tools.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,176
    Okay boss.

    Remember that you get what you pay for.

    Ouch, just dropped a monkey wrench on my big toe. Your worker's comp is paid up, right? :shades:

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    edited May 2013
    One doesn't have to look very far back in history to see the real effects of what brain drain can do to a country (can you say 1930's Germany, for instance?).

    And I take no issue to immigration, unless its done in a manner to import labor meant to work at a significantly cheaper price than what is currently available...at least, on a large scale.

    What so many Americans don't seem to understand is the period between WWII and the mid 1970's was an aberration caused by the destruction (followed by the recovered industrial capabilities) of most of the industrialized world, excepting the US. The US really wasn't the power of the 20th Century until after the start of WWII, yet quite a few seem to think its always been that way.

    It's not (or it shouldn't be) a surprise to hear the claim that the 21st Century is China's time. It's certainly got a lot going for it.

    There are a lot more alternatives for educated people besides the US economy today than even 20 years ago, and if one researches the employment destinations of, say, engineering graduates today .vs. 1970, they'll find far more graduates leave the US after graduation than in earlier years.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,581
    IMO, in many ways, some immigration is indeed to create wage pressures. I don't know if I want imported mechanics, either - unless the knowledge is really the same and can be proven as such. I doubt much of that will come from the second or less world.

    It is interesting to watch China evolve. Lots of potential, but also a very delicate balancing act, which could tumble with terrible blood loss. As it stands now, it is a bit of a mirage or house of cards.

    I wonder how much brain drain takes place today, to areas born or kept stable and safe by our expensive military-industrial machine. We are our own enemy at times.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Perhaps. It depends on the degree of injury during install. In using 3 years I was trying to be more than fair with potential life expectancy from a botched install. Had I said 2 months with a 90 day wty and went back for a claim, who pays me for the time (and cost outlay) invested to go through the whole be-without-the-car-process all over again? As jus t one example. I could have used any number of of other examples far more complicated than an oil pan re and re.

    FWIW, I used that example because in the past I PAID to have that very job done. It didn't last, but did last outside of wty. The next one, I did MYSELF. Took me 7 hours (I don't have anywhere near the tools, including a lift, at my disposal, that the shops have) but lasted till I sold the car 8 years later and is probably still not leaking because I invested a lot of time with the details.

    I thought I had gone to a lot trouble to portray my point. Still...it looks like I failed..at least for some..
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    they'll find far more graduates leave the US after graduation than in earlier years.

    This same thing happens in Cda. Especially in the medical field. My tax dollars educate them...then they go to.....the USA (or back to Asia) to realize their profession.

    You're welcome.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Ouch, just dropped a monkey wrench on my big toe. Your worker's comp is paid up, right

    Tis but a flesh wound, fight on nave.....
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,176
    My lawyer says you have unsafe working conditions (greasy, slippery, unteathered tools) and OSHA is coming by this afternoon. See you in court. ;)

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,566
    I am completely scratching my head on this one:

    "i have a 2003 ford expedition that will sometimes not shut off when the keys is turned off i have to slam the driver door & then before it will start again u have to repeat openeing & shutting the driver door, when this happens you can hear a clicking under the dash."

    My only conclusion is that the slamming of the door is merely setting up some kind of vibration in the ignition switch wiring /????

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    It is interesting to watch China evolve. Lots of potential, but also a very delicate balancing act, which could tumble with terrible blood loss. As it stands now, it is a bit of a mirage or house of cards.

    China has 2 major issues its going to have to deal with in a big way...

    1- Significant pollution and the health issues created by them, which also relates to the next item, which is...

    2- The repercussions caused by its "1 child" policy. For the current younger generation, there is 50 million more males than females. Add to that anomaly the Chinese custom that children take care of their parents, and you now have basically 1 wage earner taking care of 2 aging adults (4 if married), whereas in the past that responsibility was spread across several children.

    So, it seems we aren't the only country that devises and implements half-baked ideas only to find out we missed a lot in understanding the problem in the first place.

    Gonna be interesting, that's for sure...
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,638
    I agree but I'm afraid much of the former "nation building" has been badly eroded by the flood of recent immigrants who don't bother learning English.

    When my father came here from Norway at age 16, he HAD to learn English quickly and he did! He wanted to be a part of the "melting pot" and become an AMERICAN.

    I'm afraid we have lost much of this concept.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,176
    Vibration or an electrical contact in the door somewhere that's triggering something?

    One test would be to pound on the dash to see if that lets it start. Where's the big hammer? (not the one that fell on the other guy's toe).

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,581
    The gigantic culture of corruption and alarming socio-economic gap won't ensure future stability, either. Even worse than here on those counts.

    If anything, it just adds to the mutually assured destruction we have made with our "partner".

    And I agree with isell's latest point about demographics - we live in the same are and see similar things, and it aint pretty. At least mechanics will have to know passable English, anyway.
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