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



  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,079

    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: 1,079
    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: 1,079
    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: 1,079
    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: 1,079
    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: 1,079
    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: 1,079
    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: 1,079
    hint hint ;) to host ... new forum. The kind of car I would design or something along those lines ;)
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,079
    maybe it'll have legs..maybe it won't. but who knows unless you set it up : :shades:
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,079
    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 Northern VAPosts: 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: 11,025
    Hey, you should give them a service review in our Dealership Ratings & Reviews section.


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