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Customer Service: The good, the bad and the ugly!

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  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    I have a few stories to tell... but since it is past my bedtime and I should be in bed but I am still here browsing away, although I am too tired to coherently type anything worth reading... even this post is just a long ramble that doesn't make sense, I'll post a couple stories later... :D
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    yes they are ... We just recently moved back to the area and unfortunatley they are one of the two big dealers in the area... But I can't say that I would give my business to them if I ever decide I need a Honda, Toyota, or Chrylser product. Fortunately I am a GM fan and the Chevy dealer ship I bought my truck from a few years ago made it such a good experience that since we are back in the area it will probably be the place I go. It's a smaller one dealer place and it when we bought my truck (the truck to replace the wrecked one. We had the "wrecked" truck another year and then replaced it), the deal went pretty smoothly. Even after paying off negative equity we came out pretty good in the deal.
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    That reminds me of one tech I had constant problems with. He was a very nice guy, but he just was in the wrong field of work. He was an older man and not very small. He was slow and not very competent.

    It got to the point where I would no longer let him in the pit to work under the car. He was one that left an oil plug loose and stripped a couple other ones. The nail in his pit coffin was the time I had him down there and I was working on top, he gave me the all clear to oil the car and once I oiled the car he gave me the all clear to start. I started the vehicle but the oil pressure didn't come up. I immediately shut the car off to see why. I heard a "Whoops" sound from below and it turns out he never replaced the plug. All the oil I has poured in drained right back out. I also ended up pressure washing a couple engines because he left the oil caps off. By the time I left, he was regulated to just service writing and basic tire work. He was just too slow to do anything else and I always prayed that the vehicles he worked on didn't have problems afterwords. He was let go soon after I left for some of the things he ended up causing.

    Before him however we had a guy that was even worse. He was relegated to just service writing because not once, but twice poured oil into the power steering. He was also responisble for several engines that had to be cleaned because he failed to put the oil cap back on. He was banned from the pit for various reasons such as not putting on the right filter to loose plugs to not doing everything he supposed to. He was not allowed to work on tires and so the only thing he could do was service write and vacumn cars.

    Now before you go thinking that Wal-mart is the worst place in the world to get your oil change let me remind you that it was not all bad. By the time I left I had a fairly smooth system. Wal-mart also has policies that are fairly strict and when followed prevent all of the screw ups I have previously mentioned. Yes it was a constant vigil to make sure these policies were followed, but there was also those boneheads that couldn't even understand the difference between a powersteering fluid and 10W30 oil...
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    Okay, I promise to make this short. :D

    This involves the same vehicle as the last story did. It was a Chevrolet S-10. It was really a GMC Sonoma, but anyway. S-10 is easier to say. I bought it sight unseen (never do that again). My uncle runs a used car dealership and goes to the auctions once a week to aquire cars. Since I was living about 10 hrs away at the time I called him up and told him what I was looking for and if he could see if he could find it while at the auction. If he did, I would buy it and my parents would drive it up to me when they came to visit. Well he found a Sonoma that had all the options I was looking for. It was a V6, Ex-cab, manual transmission and power everything, even fog lights and tilt and cruise. About the only thing it didn't have was leather and a CD player. The only drawback was it was fairly beat up. It only had about 70K miles on it and was only about 5 years old, but it must have been a farm vehicle or something because the body looked rough. It was pretty dinged up. My uncle tried to tell me not to buy it but I was sold. I bought it anyway. He tried to make it look better by spraying in a bed liner and touching up the paint, but he was right. It looked pretty rough.

    Immediatley after getting it it needed brakes. Okay no big deal. I did the brakes. But then it needed a clutch. And thus started my service issues. I took it to a shop that was recomended to me since once again I was new to the area. I had them put in a clutch. It also needed an alignment and new shocks. The steering linkage parts also needed to be replaced for the alignment to be done properly. I cannot remember in order what started to go wrong so I will just list what happened. After the clutch was put it in I noticed transmission fluid under my truck. I went back and showed them the leak and said it didn't leak like that before please fix this. They obliged and took it in to check it out. They came back and told me it was the shift tower gasket. They replaced it and said I should be good to go. A few days later I noticed transmission fluid again. I took it back again and they took a look at it again and said it was the shift tower gasket they had just replaced. They noted that they must be using the wrong gasket. They said they needed to order a gasket and it would be in in a few day. They filled the tranny and I said I needed to make a 100 mile trip to Vegas that weekend. It was the middle of summer and blazing hot. I had the father of the family I was living with and his little girl with me. About 80 miles into my trip I here this clunk clunk and then my truck lost all forward motion. The transmission had blown. I had lost all the fluid in the truck. Since I don't want to make this story any longer, needless to say I ended up towing it home backwards on a two wheel dolly since the transmission was so torn up, the only gear I was able to manage was reverse. And that was only barely. I couldn't afford a tow truck to tow it 80 miles. I should have towed it back to the self same shop and made them fix it, but I was so mad at this point I decided I would never go back...

    Which means that the front end alignment issue must have already happened. That's another story from the same shop but I'll save it for later.

    I had it towed to another actual transmission shop and had the tranmission replaced. I borrowed the money from my mom to do so. A few days after I had the transmission replaced I again noticed fluid leaking out from underneath the truck. I was aghast! Doesn't anybody in this town know how to put a transmission back in with out it leaking!? I took it back and explained to the shop the problem the last shop had and I didn't want a repeat experience. They immediately took it in and did some research and found that my truck was actually a cross over year where they did some switching. Apparently they were using an gasket for an older model, while mine needed a newer one. Anyway, we solved the transmission problem. Then I moved to get married. I got married and had the afore mentioned accident. Right after the accident the starter went out which I replaced myself. Funny, I never had a problem with the starter after that. I never had to take it back to myself to get it fixed because I installed it wrong. The same with the brakes. I replaced the calipers and bled the system. I also replaced all the plugs and wires and cap and rotor and all that simple maintenance stuff. Funny how all that seemed to never have a problem. Maybe I should have just bought the required tools and put in the clutch myself the first time?? Anyway a few months after the accident the truck would inadvertantly fail to shut off after I had parked and turn the key off and pulled it out of the ignition. The truck continued to run. I had to put the truck in 5th gear and stall the motor to get it to shut down. It only did it inadvertantly so I didn't worry about it too much, but did think it was odd. I thought it might have something to do with the accident. About a year or so after the accident it started doing it all the time. Everytime I wanted to park I had to stall the motor. I pulled the entire steering column apart to see what it was. I checked all the ignition wires, and the fuses. I couldn't find anything. During this process the fuel pump burned out because since the ignition was always on it was always running - or at least hot. So now I had to replace the pump just so I could get the truck running so I could figure out how to get it to shut off. AS I was on my way home with a new pump I drove by the Chevy dealership and on a whim pulled in. I just asked if they had any S-10's on the lot ( I still wanted an S-10 as I really like my truck and it's problems were non-related to quality issues.) We walked around the lot and found a truck that met my needs. We made a deal and I tossed them the key to my old truck and said here's a fuel pump and the keys. It's yours. Have fun with it.

    A few days after that I was driving home and I happened to pass an automotive shop. I happened to glance over and I saw my old truck in the bay being worked on. It must have been fate. I pulled it and went to talk to the guys working on it. I asked them what they found and if they were able to get to to shut off. They told me it took them forever to to track down what was happening. What apparently had happened is that there is a set of wires related to the ignigtion that run next to the transmission. Some of the wires had become pinched by the transimission probably on one of it's numerous removals and eventually had frayed through. When that happened the truck would no longer shut off. So the carelessness of that previous shop were still plaguing me.
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    It has been slow that past week or so?? Not just in this forum, but I seem to have noticed a lot of the forums I frequent have been a little lighter on the posts....

    Anyway, I just have a small gripe that has been bugging me and by posting it, it will probably make me feel better. :D

    Here is a question for you on fast food. I know it does't relate to cars, but we eat it mostly in our cars so I guess it might count in an odd sort of way. At any particular fast food restaraunt, take your pick of which one, how long would you expect to wait to order and get your food. Have you ever actually timed it? I have never thought to time how long it takes because usually I am in and out before I can even think about the time it took. Hence the name "fast food".

    In the particular town where I do a lot of buisness there are two arched franchises. Typically this particular food chain is known for it's speedy delivery of food. Where I used to live, they actually had timer's over the drive thru and the times posted as to how long the average wait was. It was never more than 3 or 4 minutes. Now I have moved. I used to frequent unfortunately because it's bad for my health and arteries this particular chain. I went through the drive through one day and there was about 3 cars in front of me. I figured it shouldn't be a big deal. I pull in and I wait for them to holler over the intercom "WELCOME TO blah blah blah...." Instead I wait. And I wait some more. Finally a person blathers "WELCOME, We'll be with you in a moment...." Well it's already been a moment I thought what's the deal?? After several more moments I place my order and pull forward. The vehicle that was at the window when I pull around is still at the pick up window. Odd I thought, but maybe he had a big order. Maybe I pulled in a a bad time, or they had a short changed shift. Anyway, I finally make it through the line to the pick up window and I wait some more. I had orderd $2 worth of value menu items. It was several more moments when my food was finally delivered and I was on my way. I looked at the clock and was shocked to see that I had been in that drive-thru for almost 15 minutes! Talk about speedy service.

    This bugged me, but I thought that maybe it was just a fluke. The next time shouldn't be so bad. Next time I decide to go in and see what happens. So on my next visit, I go inside and I see a few people milling about. I stand in line and notice a row of order slips lining the counter. There are about 6 or 7 of them. Some on trays and others by themselves since they are to go orders. I wait patiently in line although it takes several minutes to get through the 3 people in front of me. By the time I place my order, there are now about 8 orders and they are having to shuffle trays around to make room for the other orders. Plus they have had about 3 people come up to the counter through out the course of my standing in line because thier order was not correct. So it seems that there is major confusion behind the counter.

    I can feel the air and I look at some of the people waiting "feeling" thier attitude and you can tell that these people have been waiting a while for their food. Probably not for more than a few minutes, and certainly not as long as you would if you had gone to a regular sit down and be waited on place, but much longer than you should have to wait at a fast food place. I go through the same thing, but really thinking this is incredible that a place that is supposed to deliver food quickly can be this slow and disorganized. I finally get my food and look at the clock and again I have been there for almost 20 minutes. To me, I should be able to walk into any fast food place and walk back out with my food in less than 5 minutes. 10 at the most if it's the lunch rush, but I have been to places where it has been the lunch rush and I have still been able to be in and out within 5 minutes.

    So maybe the first time wasn't a fluke. I now decide to "test" these guys to see if time of day makes a difference and how many times I go there and it takes more than 10 minutes to get my food. To make this story short, I went at different times of the day and I went both through the drive-thru and walked in. At no time was I able to walk in or drive in and out in less than 10 minutes. I did this about 2 or 3 more times to make sure I wasn't just hitting bad days. After that I just didn't go any more. I didn't have the time to waste waiting for my food that was almost always cold by the time it got to me.

    Then just a couple days ago, I am on the other side of town where there is another of the same franchise. Surely this one couldn't be as slow, so because I need to get something to eat and it was there, I pull in and walk in. There are 3 people in line and 2 people waiting for thier order. This can't be too bad. I go to the bathroom, wash my hands and come back. The same 3 people are in line. I get in line. The lady taking orders doesn't seem to know where the buttons are for certain things, another woman at the drive-thru window seemed to be in training, another woman was walking around behind the counter going from station to station, looking at the orders on the counter, looking up at the screen, looking at what was being fed from the prep line and then repeating the process, but not really doing anything to fill the orders. Then there was a woman who appeared to be the manager running around screaming orders and trying to get things done. I rolled my eyes and wondered how long I would be waiting. I almost walked out. I should have walked out. There was another eatery just across the street that I could have gone to, but I decided to stay just to see how long it would taken. I guess I am a glutton for torture.

    I finally made it to the counter and placed my order - again about $3 worth of dollar menu items and a water. I knew it was going to take forever, but at least my fries will be hot right? I watched them dump a couple baskets into the fryer, and then watched them come out and sit hanging over the fryer for several minutes before being dumped into the large collection tray for gathering into the fry cups. All told I was there for 25 minutes from when I stood in line to when I recieved my order and walked out. And my fries were still not hot. I almost went back and requested fresh ones, but didn't want to cause an internal breakdown of thier already malfunctioning system....

    Needless to say I think it will be a long time before I go back to either of those two franchises. Besides, the value menu isn't much of a value menu anymore. I can get 2 whopper jr's which is more food at less cost. And it doesn't take me a half hour to get it.

    On the way out I looked for a comment box, or even a survey from that is sometimes in these types of establishments, but I didn't see any. I sure would have liked to have left some comments. But oh well. Maybe thier website has a way
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    okay so I lied. This story is also just as long. Maybe I just don't know how to tell a short story. That's it. I just like to talk. Good thing you don't have to listen to me. This way you can just ignore the post or one of the hosts can just delete it :D....

    I later saw the truck in the nickel ads for about 3K. Which was about 2K more than what the dealership gave me for it. I was tempted to go back and buy it but I didn't. It probably cost 2K just to figure out what was wrong with it. Anyway, had the shop put the clutch in right in the first place, I might still have that truck. Maybe I wouldn't I don't know, but even at 100K which is what it had when I traded it off it was still running strong. It didn't have any leaks, didn't use any oil, got fairly good mileage (better than the one I have now even) and looks fairly good now that the entire front end had been replaced and repainted because of the accident. The bed still needed a good paint job, but for the most part it had been a great little truck. Oh - the truck that replaced it. Well I still have it and it now has over 100K on it and I still drive it everyday. It has none of the problems the last truck had, but then again, it has probably lived a much easier life.

    So there's another very long story.... hope you made it through it all :D

    I wonder if they'll put a block on me to keep me from writing long storys ?????? :blush: :surprise:
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    And just another quick note... that eatery across the street that serves whopper jr's? When I was in there a couple weeks ago and it took a little longer than usual, the manager on duty grabbed a order of fries and threw it in with the 2 whopper jr's that I had ordered and apologized for the wait. I had said nothing, didn't motion that I had been waiting for a while and in fact hadn't noticed that I had been waiting. I had been watching and they were busy, but the manager seemed to be running a fairly well oiled machine and so when he did that I was quite surprised. And the fries were even hot and fresh and free....
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    I think the main reason I went back is somewhere in the back of my mind if I ever got the chance to complain to someone who could make a difference, I would be able to base it on several experiences instead of just happenstance.

    And just as a side note... I just visited their website and issued a formal "complaint" :D ... call me bad, or maybe it's the late hour, I don't know. Actually, I didn't elaborate near as much as I did here. I simply put that the restaurants were slow, and this was based on several experiences.... maybe something will happen, maybe it won't. It's not very often that I actually do something like a formal complaint. The last time I think I did it was with Wal-mart when they couldn't change my oil correctly.... (I think a "sigh" emoticon would work here)
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    Yeah - but unfortunately there are people out there that live their lives exactly as described...
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    Actually at the Wal-mart where I used to manage, we did "carry-ins" all the time. We charged $44 to mount and balance a set of 4. Lemmer, in your case we would have just charged a mount fee of like $3.00 and a tire disposal of $1. That was several years ago and the prices have changed and now I don't know what it is, but I still go to that store and they still operate much the same.

    In the winter they have changover season with snow tires and such. At that time we would actually drop the mount charge and only charge the balance. The total price came to $30.00. Only problem we ran into was making sure the tires were legal to be on the road and in good enough shape get mounted with out tearing it up. Some people would bring in these ancient tires that were worn and cracked with torn beads and want us to mount those. A couple of times the tech forgot to check the tire for that type of damage and we ended up giving the customer a new tire when the old tire was damaged beyond use while mounting... If the tire even looked close to suspect, I wouldn't mount it.

    But other than that, I never had a problem when someone brought in thier own tires to mount. Unless they were lawn tractor or ATV tires... those were a pain in the butt... and our prices showed it. 10 bucks just to mount one.
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    Walmart wouldn't touch those and I worked for a different tire place for about 2 weeks before quitting because it was so slow that the only thing I could find to do was throw used tires from one big stack to another... I had gone to the manager a few times and asked him what else needed to be done, what else could be done and since he could never find anything, I found my own things to do. Anyway - that store would do split rims, but only one came through while I was there. Since I had never done one, all they would let me do is watch. But I did get lots of practice mounting and dismounting 18 wheeler tires in my spare time when I wasn't chucking used tires from one pointless pile to another.
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    I have made an observation of sorts over the past few weeks. I am in business for my self washing windows and such. It's a small operation and makes enough to pay the bills and even a little more to put away for a rainy day. I do my best to take care of my customers and make sure I am fair with them. But there a times when things just don't go right. I have noticed a couple of times that when they don't go right, it always happens to the same customer, and no matter what I do, the bottom always falls out and this customer alwasy gets the short end of the stick... the one instance that sticks in my mind is a customer that this happened to 3 times. 1st time we had to cancel because I was sick. I was at my first job and couldn't even lift my ladders to move them. I struggled for about an hour and gave up because I was not making any progress. It was taking my 3 times as long just to get something done. Her job wasn't till later in the day, but we rescheduled. She was cool with that and understanding.

    Her second appt. rolls around. Because she had to be rescheduled, and before I had control of the schedule, she had been squeezed into a day that was already full. It was not a big job, but it was at the end of the day. As I go through out the day, just because of how things go, I get a little behind. All jobs are scheduled with hour windows in which I can show up. Like between 1 and 2 or between 3 and 4 and so forth. This is to allow me to get "behind" but not really be behind because as long as I get to the job within that window I am still "on time". She was job #4 for the day. Usually 3 jobs make for a pretty full day. So I knew I would have to be flying just to make it. By job #3 however I was there right at the end of my hour window and it was not a small job. Therefore I knew that I would over run my 4th job's hour window by about an hour. I called in and let the office know that we needed to call this customer and let her know that we are running about an hour behind. That wouldv'e put me there late in the afternoon, but still hopefully enough time to complete the job. She was not pleased with that as this is now the 2nd time she has been pushed back. Well I finish job #3 a little later than planned and I am pushing it to make it before my pushed back hour is even up. That's when I notice that the van has a low low very low tire. Just great I thought. I get ready to pull into the gas station, but then thought it would be better to just stop by the tire store since it was more on my way. I pull into the tire store to get air and it turns out the valve stem is busted and we couldn't even get it to hold air. They tell me it will take 20 minutes to fix. It would take that long for me to find a flat enough (the town was pretty hilly) spot to park and jack up the truck to put the spare on so I say go ahead, get in her in quick. I have the office call the customer again to let them know that I am even further behind and would they like me to still come? By the time I would get there it would be late late afternoon. Most people would be headed home from work by then. But I was still willing to make sure she was taken care of. Well at that she just gave up and said not to come at all if we can't manage to get there at a decent time. Once was okay , but to keep stringing her along she said was different. If we weren't going to show we shouldv'e just told her so in the first place and not wasted her afternoon.

    So unfortunately these things happen. Everything that happened I couldn't control. I could have rushed through every job, did a poor job at that and had 4 unhappy customers, but I did the best I could to accomadate them all and still some fell through the cracks... But such is life I guess.
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    actually - we did offer to do the job - not for free, but substantially discounted.... and she was still fed up and didn't want to deal with it anymore....
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    But I don't have time to write it out now... you say the length of my other ones and since I have to go cook dinner in about 5 min for mamma and the kids, I had better not get started. But it does involve an oil change. Actually, come to think of it, I may have posted it in oil change fiasco's already. Maybe I will just go over there and see if I can find it and cut and paste. Is that allowed ??
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    Okay - let's see how far I get before I have to make a second post. :D I wrote out my story in Word and spell checked, but have not re-read it make sure it makes sense, but heres going nothing....

    Well here is my story... I searched through oil change fiascos but couldn't find it. I don't feel like trying to hunt it down so hopefully due to memory lapses and such I don't over embellish what I have all ready written... who like the tale that keeps getting taller with each telling? :D

    Anyway here goes...

    As I have mentioned before I used to be a service manager at a Wal-mart Tire and Lube Express in Oregon. After being there for some time I took a good long look at where life was leading and decided I didn't want to follow the Wal-mart way of life and keep moving on up the ladder. The lifestyle (not money-wise) that is required can be torture on families because of the long hours and holidays that you are required to work. So I started searching for a new career. I found one working for a home building company in Arizona as a Customer Service Rep inspecting and spear heading warranty work on new homes. (I have some stories from that front as well... :D).

    I quit my job at Wal-mart and moved my family 1200 miles to start this new career. Because of my loyalty to Wal-mart however I decided to keep taking my vehicles to Wal-mart to be serviced. I knew the Wal-Mart system and knew that when followed correctly, you received at a minimal price a pretty good service.

    I went to closest Wal-Mart to my house. Previous to this experience I had visited this particular store while interviewing for my position just because I was curious as to how it was operated. What I saw didn't bode well then, but I passed it off as maybe it was a busy day, or they were short-handed or some other reason. All shops go through days like that. So when I got there and started to see some of the same things I had witnessed a few weeks earlier, little red flags started going up.

    First off, EVERY car if it is line for an oil change is supposed to be written up outside by a service greeter, or a technician. This is to make sure that all the proper info about the car is entered into the system. Make, year, mileage, engine, pre-existing body damage etc. If the customer is written up inside, this step is skipped and vital information can be missed leading to a costly mistake. It also helps ensure that the proper oil and filter can be obtained and is available for the service.

    When I had visited previously, this step was not in play. They were making all their customers go inside and have a cashier, one who knows NOTHING about vehicles write up oil changes. This was also the case when I brought my vehicle in for service after moving. I asked where there service writer was and they replied that they didn't have one and that they sent everyone inside. I raised an eyebrow and asked why one of them (the technicians) write up oil changes and they said that they didn't know how. FWIW, every single one of my techs knew how to write up a vehicle. I rarely if ever had to send someone inside to be written up for an oil change, battery, headlights, rotations, balances, flat repairs. The only thing they didn't know how to do was write up tire sales since all our tires were kept inside the store and we always had someone on hand inside the store that took care of that. It was an older shop and it was easier to work it that way.

    Anyway, I proceed inside to be written up for my oil change. I can't remember the wait or what was happening inside all that much, but it seems it must have been okay since I don't remember exactly what happened. I ask how long and I was quoted a time. Again I don't remember the actual time, but it could have been as long as 2 hours. I didn't really complain since my shop at times at been known to have wait times that are that long. So I venture off into the store to look around.

    I wander back a begin watching the cars go through the line. I am now curious as to how they are performing the oil changes. There are two bays for changing oil. When properly staffed the shop can work on a total of 4 cars all together. My shop was only able to work on 2. It was possible to in that shop to have 2 cars being drained and lubed at the same time, while 2 more in back could be having all the other checks performed - air filter, washer fluid, tire pressure, vacuuming and such. They were only running one, but yet had a line of cars stretching clear around the corner. I thought to myself "they would be more efficient if they would open the other line". They appeared to have enough staff to do that.

    But I also thought to myself, maybe they know what they're doing and this works for them. Then I start paying closer attention to how they were performing the oil changes. To preface, I'll quickly go over how Wal-mart at the time and I am sure it is still pretty much the same likes this done. A vehicle is pulled into the bay and some preliminary checks are done. Oil level is checked and also motor and vehicle year make and model are verified. Fender covers are placed on the vehicle to protect it. A clear to drain signal is given by using a system called "Call and Echo". Simply put, one person on top calls out a command and a person in lower bay echo that same command to verify that the command was heard. Anything that is performed to the vehicle is performed using the call and echo system. It is a safety device to make sure that a vehicle is not started, moved, oiled, anything without proper clearance. The vehicle is drained of its oil, and the old filter replaced. Also the under side is also checked - manual trannies, differentials, transfer cases and ALL the fittings greased - driveline, steering linkage and ball joints if the vehicle has the fittings to do so.

    Upper bay performs certain checks like the air filter, washer fluid, and power steering. He also oils the car once directed by the lower bay. Once the car is oil and ready to start, a clear to start is given and the vehicle is started, pressure checked and a leak check is performed to make sure that the filter and plug are tight. Then the vehicle is shut off and a final oil check is performed and topped off if needed. The oil cap is replaced and the technician checks to verify that everything has been complete. The vehicle is then cleared, the technician in the lower bay closes the grates and gives a clear to start and leave. The vehicle then leaves the bay.

    That is simply without making this longer than it already is how Wal-mart as I remember it doing the oil changes. I left out a few basics, but hopefully you get the gist....

    continues next post...
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    Continuing...

    Now on to my experience… I noticed that when they were bringing a vehicle in the lower bay grates were never closed. The lower bay technician just stood there his head poking up from below and waited for the next vehicle. I also noticed that he never moved from his perch. I was able to see under the vehicles brought in and I never once saw him get down, move the grates, checking anything on the rear of the vehicles that came through. Granted a lot of these vehicles were front drive and didn’t have grease fittings. But I also saw several that went through the line that did. I also saw a couple that were rear drive and so would have a differential. Now some services are not a full service so checking the differentials would not be requires, but some of these rear drive vehicles I noted had the other “full service” items performed. So I mentally logged that to check and watch to see what they did when they got to my vehicle.

    I also noted that they were not using fender covers or safety glasses. They just slopped the tools they were using all over the fenders and under side of the hood. Then I saw the biggest thing that really threw me. I could deal with the little things. I might be able to even deal with the lower bay tech being too lazy to move from his perch. But then I noticed that all they would do is pull the vehicle over the pit, drain the oil, hopefully change the oil filter, add fresh oil, shut the hood and drive the vehicle out. That one did me in.

    I didn’t say anything yet as it was not my vehicle’s turn, but I knew for darned sure the minute my truck hit its turn I sure would. At this point they didn’t know I had worked for a Wal-mart and knew how things were supposed to be done. As they brought my truck through the line, I watched. Like a hawk. I never saw the technician get off his perch to check my rear differential, or grease the fitting that is back there. I never even saw him grease upper and lower ball joins. I only saw him grease what was right in front of his face and that was only about ¼ of the fittings. I watched them oil it. And then I watched them start it, shut the hood and try to drive out. That’s when I hollered. I hollered across the bay that they need to check the oil level. The tech looked at my with this dumb look on his face like “what???” I said, shut it down, check the oil lever and make sure it’s actually full. He came back with a smart remark like, these things all take the same amount. It’s full. I said, but you didn’t check for leaks. You also didn’t check the differential, or grease the fittings. You’re not using fender covers, safety glasses or safety chains. You have never once closed the grates over lower bay. I went down the list. By this time I was standing in the bay and I was pretty furious. The service manager came over to see what the deal was. I went over with him the things I wanted done right. He came right back and said, “we are the busiest store in this town. We have to do it this way to stay caught up. I almost said B.S. but held my tongue. Our district manager has given us permission to do it this way. He then proceeded to tell me that customers are not allowed in the bay and asked me to leave. I told him, pull my vehicle back in, do it right and then I’ll leave. The unwillingly pulled it back in, I watched while they checked everything over and then I went in and paid for the oil change and left.

    Previous to this I had tried to talk to the TLE manager, but he was not around. On the way out however, I did get the number for the district manager that is posted on the wall and I did give him a call. The next day, I actually got a call back from him and he wanted to here my story. I told him and he apologized. Then he said that he was going to do a surprise visit on the store and see what was going on. A few days later, I received a phone call again from him saying he would like to meet me. I met him at the store and he thanked me. He had done a surprise visit and found things to be just like I had described them. He explained that they were indeed not following policy and that he would be making changes. He also gave me a $50 gift card for Wal-mart. He also asked me to give them another chance to see if they could improve and I told him I would. A few weeks later it was again time for an oil change. I decided to give it one more try and see what changes had taken place.

    I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. While they were no longer just shutting the hood and driving out, everything else was pretty much the same. I didn’t say anything this time because I decided it wasn’t worth the wasted effort. I paid for my service and left. I never went back to the store. I went to a different Wal-mart that even though it was several more minutes away, I received much better service and I didn’t really have to worry. Although FWIW, I never could find a store in that town (and there were several to choose from) that I felt did a proper job. My truck never had any problems, but the level of service was never what I felt it should be. Maybe this is my own fault since I had once managed a shop and knew how things should be run and strived everyday to meet that goal…..

    Anyway there yet another long story. I think this is the longest one yet! :D Hope you made it through all right. I am on page 4 in Word single spaced. Hopefully it all makes sense :D.

    BTW... I have since moved back to the town in Oregon where I was the service manager. This is 3 some odd years later. I left on a good terms and I am still good friends with the TLE manager who still manages the place. It was good to see that turnover has been only slight as half the crew I worked with when I left was still there. I have noticed that the service there is also still fairly good. Probably about the same level as when I left. Plus since a there are some of the same people still there in the shop, I know I can trust them and they will do things the way they are supposed to be done. So there is good service to be found. It is just harder and harder to come by.
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    I'll bet they didn't let the oil drain out all the way. From my experience, even a 4500 mile oil change should produce "clean oil" after a change. Most of a vehicle's oil should drain out within a few minutes. If drained properly, enough of the old oil (99.9%) should have been drained out and the new oil that replaces it should look new for a few hundred miles. There is not enough "old oil" left in the pan to make it appear "not new".

    Some brands of oil, Castrol GTX is one of them does appear darker than others, but since you went to a Valvoline shop I assume they used Valvoline. I have used Valvoline my entire life in every vehicle I have ever owned. Always right after an oil change the oil looks as clear as it did going in. Some of the vehicles I owned were also not brand new, nor in the best of shape. So unless your vehicle has some mechanical engine problem, or it has not been properly maintained, the oil should have looked fresh. The tech probably just got into a hurry and plugged it while it was still a slow stream.

    Now granted, if your vehicle had a ton of miles on it and was regularly taken to the 4500 mile mark and beyond, like 7 or 8 thousand miles and has been in severe service, than I would bet that there is sludge build up in the motor that would cause a fresh oil change to look as black as midnight. However a 4500 regular oil change is not that unusual and should keep a motor running free and clear of sludge and build up.

    I will grant though that as Valvoline is inherently a light colored oil and so like clear water, even a little bit of dirt can make it cloudy. It could have been that as much oil as feasibly possible was drained out and that tiny bit that was left did indeed muddy the waters. Most likely though in my opinion they just plugged it too quickly and didn't let it all drain out. However I doubt any real harm was done to the vehicle. I am glad they tried to make it right.

    BTW - One quick way to have known this was to compare the amount that they replaced. If a significant amount was left than the amount they replaced should be lower than usual. If they usually put back in say 4 1/2 quarts, but this time it's only 4 and the dip stick still reads full, than that is a sure indicator of oil being left in the pan. It also works if they put in the same amount as normal, but now the dipstick reads "overfull", again not all the old oil was drained out....
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    those and full size vans too... At Walmart we straight up told the customer we could not check those as we wouldn;t tear the "dog house" apart. IT was actually Wal-mart Policy not change them.
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    You reminded me of one of my service stories I experienced afew years back...

    I used to work at a Wal-mart Tire and Lube Express (you never had to worry about me not doing work I told you I would do.... :D yes it was a supposedly a quick lube and tire place, but our shop tired hard and I felt we did a fairly good job taking care of our customers... although I do have a few horror stories that I might get to and I did have my share of cranky customers but... on with my story...)

    I was on my lunch break and headed back to the store when I nailed an 80's style S-10 Blazer that had pulled out in front of me. He was making a left turn from a side street and pulled out too soon (or is it too late since I hit him?). He ended up taking out my front passenger corner of my S-10. The grill, the hood, fender, tire, bumper, and the mechanicals under the hood in the region needed to be replaced. Since I was new to the area, I didn't know any body shops around and I didn't have a clue as to where to take it. Fortunately or unfortunatley as it would turn out, there was an insurance office at that intersection. As luck would have it, the insurance agent happened to agent of the guy I had hit. The agent came out to the scene to see what was going on. Since it was his fault (he was cited, and not me), that insurance agent listed off a few names of body shops that he knew were approved. I picked one that sounded familier and that the agent told me did good business and told the tow truck driver to take it there.

    Now my story starts. Since I am out a vehicle I am alloted a rental. I get one from a national rental car company. Since I am planning on taking my family on a 1200 mile trip to visit my parents for Christmas and we are going to be gone for a couple weeks, I ask the body shop how long it will take to get my vehicle ready. Since it is 2 months to Christmas I didn't think that they would have a problem getting it ready. They tell me it will take about a month. I'm thinking that is a pretty long time, but since I had never been through this I don't complain. I am driving a brand new car at someone else's expense so I don't complain to loudly.

    A couple weeks go by and I call to check up on it. They tell me they had a frame straightning machine go down and now only have one and are back logged. They hadn't even started on my truck yet. It will take a few days to get it repaired. A month goes by and still no action on my vehicle. I begin to wonder what really goes on there. Now keep in mind that this is a HUGE body shop. Not some hole in the wall place in some one's backyard. The body shop is under the same name as the multi brand dealership in the area. As it gets closer to when I need to leave, I am trying to nail down a solid date on my truck being ready. I wasn't planning on taking the rental to Arizona from Oregon, but I also didn't want my truck to be ready in the middle of my trip and since I wasn't footing the bill on the rental, I didn't want to be charged for a rental when I wasn't able to return it immediately. I tell them that I am getting ready to leave and is my truck going to be done by then. I can't get a straight answer. They have trouble getting parts, they can't locate a wheel, and on and on...
    I tell them when I am leaving and when I will be back. They tell me it will be ready on Jan XX.... I say fine. It won't be ready till a couple days after I get back. So we go on our trip. We did take the rental. (by this time I am on my 3rd car. The first one needed an oil change, the 2nd was too small for us to take and so I took it back and requested a larger car and we got one. An Altima and Malibu are in the same class although the Malibu has a larger engine and is a much larger car and better road vehicle... Anyway, we get back and what do ya know. My truck still is not ready. I don't get it. Finally the 1st week of February my truck is done. They call me and tell me I can come get it.

    I go to pick it up. I start checking it out see how it looks. One of the first things I notice is that it has the wrong bumper on it. I point this out to guy that was managing the vehicle and says, no it's the right one. I say so where are the fog lights? The truck is supposed to have fog lights on it, but yet now it doesn't. You have the wrong bumper on it. That is why it doesn't have fog lights. His reply is "well the fog lights had to be special ordered and when they come in we'll call you and have them put in. I say "yeah right". You still have the wrong bumper on. He says trust me.

    What ever. I knew he was wrong but he wasn't bending. I decided I would wait and make them eat their words. Besides, if I made them change the bumper, I wouldn't get my truck back that day and I was aching to get out of the Malibu. Yes it was a free car, but it was still a car. So I take the truck with the promise they'll call when the lights are in. As I drive down the road, I notice the alignment is way way off. If I let go of the wheel, it's almost as if I were making a left hand turn. Immediately turn around and go back and let them know and demand they fix it. It takes another day but they do. Another thing that I noticed is my radio will now never shut off, and the A/C blower motor doesn't work. The A/C and the radio were working just fine before the accident, but now they don't. The body shop tries to tell me that they are not responsible for those because the accident could not have caused them to go bad. So they went bad during the 3 months you had it?? They replaced the blower fan, but didn't do anything about the radio. I can't say I really blame them. It is possible that it was just my luck it decided to do that.

    The fog lights come in finally. Like a week or so later. I take the truck down there and drop it off and tell them they can bring it back to me at work since I don't have all day to wait and I'll be at work still when they close. Close to when they close they show up with my truck with... surprise! No fog lights. They couldn't figure out how to put the fog lights into the bumper. Well DER! I told you you had the wrong bumper on it. They can't do anything about it that day. The next day, I go back down there with the wrong bumper still on it with a picture of the truck I had taken prior to the accident and a picture and the truck after the accident. I show them the differences in the bumpers. The manager looks at it and goes "Oh I see now!" What had happened and I had tried to explain this to them weeks ago, was that they had put a 4 wheel drive bumper on that had holes in it for frame hooks. The holes were right it front of the frame rails so that a tow hook could be attatched to it. The bumper that needed to be on my truck had the holes cut into it closer to the ends of the bumper and the lights mounted directly to the bumper. Well they had to eat their words and order a different bumper. Finally, I had my truck all back toge
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    Actually I do have a good customer service story...

    When I was living in AZ, I needed to find a good mechaninc to work on my vehicle(s) when the problems exceeded my abilities. I had a buddy of mine who had a mechanic that he took his vehicles to and seemed to like. I had even gone with him a time or two to this mechanic. So when it came time to get an alignment done, I had him do it. Not that you can do much to screw an alignment up, but I was treated with respect, and my vehicle was treated with respect.

    I had actually taken it to a previous alignment shop, one that was recomended by the place I bought my tires from and when they had it on the rack to give me a price on how much it cost, they came back and said that they couldn't do the alignment because some parts were worn out and it wouldn't allow them to do the alignment properly. Since I had heard this line before with a previous vehicle and was taken to the cleaners on it, I was very cautious and asked which parts and how much. I also asked to see what they were talking about. I was shown the parts (they didn't appear to be that worn, or I couldn't tell that it needed to be replaced), and quoted a price. I was also told I needed new shocks, which I knew to be true, but just hadn't replaced them yet. I asked them how much to go ahead and replace the shocks and was told a final bill. The final estimate came out to well over $500. I was in shock... just for an alignment and a couple of bushings to be replaced. I told them to drop the truck because I was not paying that price for something that I didn't think I needed.

    It was then that I decided to go the mechanic that became the one I always went to. I decided not to tell him I had already been to another place because I wanted to see if he would notice the same thing the other place did. I did however tell him that I needed new shocks and I asked if that was something that I could do. He responded that shocks were very simple to do and I could very easily replace them myself. I was impressed that he would do that when he could easily tell me that it would be better for him to do it. He would be able to make more money that way, but yet he told me to replace the shocks before my scheduled appointment and he would do the alignment.

    When he finished the alignment, I asked him if he noticed anything unusual. He said he did not and I should be good to go. From that point on his shop became the place I always went to and sent all my family and friends to. My sister took her car there several times and each time he would drive it around to discover what ever the problem was and if he couldn't see or find anything, he didn't charge. He was always honest in his prices and the work that he was going to do. And if it was something that I could easily do, he let me know and told me how to do it. Even after I moved away and was dealing with my coolant problem (see the S-10 forum for that story), I called him up and asked him what he did when he re-tanked my radiator and helped me track down what could possibly be wrong by eliminating the things that he had done and replaced. From over a 1000 miles away he was able to help me get my truck back on the road again and he wasn't even obligated to do that...

    So there are still some mechanics out there that do honest good work. He didn't have to try and cheat any body to make a good living. He was always busy and it usually took several days for him to get you into the shop, but the work was always completed quickly and without much downtime. So to anyone who lives in the Mesa Arizona area, Bryan's Auto on the corner of Glibert and Main will treat you right...
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    Wow - I guess my story really is too long :D. Sorry. So does it really take 3 months to repalce a hood, fender, grill, headlight assembly, upper and lower control arms, tire, wheel, battery and coolant tank? It's not like this vehicle was a ancient classic where parts are hard to come by. The vehicle was less than 6 years old when the accident happened. That particular body style was still being produced! The only thing that had changed was the grill. Every thing else was exactly the same. Was it really that hard to get the parts? Anyway, needless to say, that particular body shop and the dealership name in general left a bad taste in my mouth. Now I know the dealer ship and the body shop are completely separate in management, but my experience just confirmed what I found out later as I asked questions to other people who had had experience with any aspect of the car business that name associated with.
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    So what kinds of cars would we have on the road today if we all had salesman who would call up the design studio and custom order a car tailored to fit our needs???

    I know I know, it really does happen but who have to be among those for whom money is no object :D, but what if it were available to the general car buying public?
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    hint hint ;) to host ... new forum. The kind of car I would design or something along those lines ;)
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    maybe it'll have legs..maybe it won't. but who knows unless you set it up : :shades:
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,073
    Your expectations are about right unfortunately. I used to manage one and everyday that was a constant struggle... What the previous poster just descibed was not unusual. The problem was these guys are not paid to care. I had to be vigilant in making sure that my guys put the wheel covers back on straight, didn't use too short to long valve stems (ever see a car going down the road with the valve stem sticking out 2 inches from the wheel?)

    The change oil light was also a challenge. A lot of guys just didn't know how to do it and they are not allowed to open the glove box and look through the owner's manual to find out how to do it. Now granted a lot of cars from the same manufacturer use the same procedure, but still I can understand the frustration... at least they never left the oil cap off, left the drain plug loose, had a wheel fall off, left oil stains on the carpet, jumped out of the vehicle with it still in drive while in the bay so that it continues to roll through the bay, started a vehicle with no oil in it, stripped out an aluminum drain pan, fill the power steering with 10W30 because you thought it was the oil fill and then couldn't figure out why the car took less than 1 quart, dumped over 10 quarts of oil into the crankcase and wondered why the vehicle showed over full and so on....

    I experienced all these cases while working at just one shop. A lot of them happened before I became service manager, a few of them happened while I was there, but it was a constant thing to make sure that things were done right and that my techs didn't do bonehead things....
  • bryanbryan Posts: 217
    2004 Pontiac Bonneville GXP--couple of customer services stories I can relate to I experienced with this car. My selling dealer is 130 miles from my home of record--I spend most weekends where the dealer is (small town) and have purchased several cars there due to the great selling and service experience. (I have four cars!)

    First problem: Air conditioner would work most of the time. Could never get it to malfunction while at the dealer. I give the dealer credit--they sure tried to fix it. Replaced all kinds of parts, would work okay for a couple of weeks, and then, out of the blue, it would do its thing. I really started to hate this car! I kept a log of each event, circumstances, how I was driving, etc. when the problem occurred. The fourth time the a/c went out, I was 10 miles from the dealer--I drove straight to the dealer and they immediately plugged into a sensor--NO codes!

    Their tech could see that it was not operating correctly. I told the service manager I would leave the car until the cause was determined and it could be properly fixed. I authorized their senior a/c expert tech to drive my car as his personal car. He did. He drove it with the scanner plugged in for close to three weeks, when it finally malfunctioned on him. It threw a code; from that, he was able to determine it was a relay switch that the wires into it were crimped. In addition to fixing the problem, he reconfigured the wires to prevent future crimping. That was two years ago--not another problem. When they returned the car, it had been cleaned and had a full tank of gas!

    Second problem: Picked some type of nail/screw in rear tire. Had no idea until I got to my parking garage at work; driving on the smooth pavement, I could hear this clicking sound--not good. Parked, found the imbedded screw in the tire, left it alone and immediately took it to the Goodyear tire place. They worked me in, found the problem, removed it, told me there would be no issue because the screw had lodged between the treads and had not punctured much of the rubber. How much for the diagnostic I asked. No charge sir, you have had service done here and we're glad it worked out for you.

    Both times I took the time to call management to report the excellent customer service. I guess from the reaction I received, they don't usually hear about the positive experiences!
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,914
    Hey, you should give them a service review in our Dealership Ratings & Reviews section.

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