A Lesson in Customer Service – Or Lack of Customer Service

I am a little reluctant to even write this post. I try t be really positive about things that happen in the shop, and this is a story about something not so positive. I am also reluctant because I don’t want to talk junk about the people that I work with. When I make a mistake, I have no problem telling you guys about it, but what I am about to tell you is about someone else.

Yesterday, I worked on a customers car, this customer has been one of my best customers over the years. She is a little old lady, and is as sweet as can be. She reminds me a lot of my grandma, who is one of my favorite people in the world.

When she came to pick her car up, they service advisor called me to the front. She told me that the work I just finished did not fix her car. Based on the week I was having, I would not have been surprised. She smiled and told me she was just messing with me(a taste of my own medicine). About 15 minutes went by, and another advisor paged me. They told be that someone had rear ended the lady. The auto park I work in has an awful intersection at the top of a small hill.

I drove up to the intersection to see if she was okay. She was really shaken up, but physically fine. The guy that hit her was totally fine. As I looked at the damage of both cars, I knew that she didn’t get rear ended, she must have pulled out in front of the guy. Her Beetle took some damage on the right side. The Mazda the other guy was driving didn’t do so well. The whole front of the car was destroyed. I helped her call a friend to come get her. I was also able to nurse the car out of the intersection and into a parking spot at the Porsche dealer. The cops came and did what they had to, and when her friend showed up, I went back to work.

30 or so minutes later, I get another page to come up to the service drive. The customer was there to pickup some info about where to have her car towed. We chatted for a minute, I gave her the information she needed so she was just about set.

This is where the story gets bad. I am writing this  and I know my blood pressure is gonna be sky high! This poor lady was just in a car accident, she was visibly shaken up, and asked for some water. Now, we have 2 drinking fountain in the waiting room, we have a vending machine in the waiting room, and we have FREE drinks up stairs. My service advisor looks her dead in the face and says “There is free water just up the stairs if you want that’. Guys, my jaw hit the floor. How the hell are you gonna tell this poor lady to walk up the stairs and get her own drink????? Thankfully, my service manager was standing right there and went to get it for her.

Now, I don’t pretend to be a customer service expert or anything, but what type of person does that? How would you feel if that was your mother or your grandmother? I didn’t say anything to the advisor, because what would be the point. Someone that would do that will never get why that is so bad. Really, how can you call yourself a man if that is how you would treat someone in the situation! I hate to admit that someone at my dealer would do that, but I have told you guys before, I will always be 100% honest with you!

Today, I went up to take some pics of the car. It honestly might total her beetle. The car is a 2000, so it wont take a ton of money to total it. It will most likely be better to just scrap it and for her to get a new car.

I have worked really hard over my career to try and get rid of bad customer service stereotypes at the dealer. This like this really set everyone back! So, what do you guys think? Am I just blowing this WAY out of proportion? Should I have said something to him about it? I would love to know your thoughts!

20 replies
  1. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    You know how I feel about it. Mona was one of my favorites. I would buy the lady a drink before I let her walk upstairs, even if she wasn’t Injured! That’s the point I’d make.

  2. Ken
    Ken says:

    I don’t even know her but I’d agree with Kevin. That’s a definite failure in customer service in my opinion. If it were me I’d have said something to the offending individual but it would depend on what sort of working relationship I had with him.

  3. Rudy
    Rudy says:

    You were raised right and I applaud you for being so considerate of the elderly. My grandparents raised me from day 1 and I owe them everything. They cared for me and provided me with so much love and wisdom. I currently help care for my grandmother because all 3 of her sons (my uncles) don’t want the burden. It boggles my mind. It’s the least that I can do for everything she sacrificed in raising me.

    What’s unfortunate is that not everyone sees it that way. At the end of the day, it’s common courtesy and having respect. Not everyone has it and I commend you again for having it. Your emotions are completely valid.

  4. Marshall
    Marshall says:

    First and foremost having great customer service tells a lot about the dealership and the kind of people that work there. I applaud the Gen. Manager for his or her deeds, but that Service Advisor should go, don’t look back, don’t collect $200. just go straight out the door. As for me, I know how my mouth is no matter what type of working or personal relationship I have with the person, they would have heard my mouth from one end to the next. My Grandma, I worship the ground she once walked upon, I lost her back in Aug. she was 104 yrs old. So Senior Citizens be Blessed and we younger ones should take a lesson from them.

  5. Marshall
    Marshall says:

    I also applaud you Humble, your deeds will not be forgotten believe me on that. Something good is going to come your way and when it does, just remember the Old Lady you helped and just look up and say, “Thank You”.

  6. Jeremy
    Jeremy says:

    You’re not blowing this out of proportion. The women was just involved in an accident and you tell her to walk up stairs to get a glass of water. I probably would have bought her a coke or something from the machine or gone up myself. If someone said that to my grandma I would have been really upset.

    At the end of the day her car is 12 years old. It may have been in good condition but now she can get a nice new beetle. There is always an upside to everything 🙂

    Post a follow up to this if you find out what ends up happening

  7. Lindsey
    Lindsey says:

    That’s really awful. I commend you for taking such good care of her throughout the years. I wish more mechanics were like you! I would hope that persons supervisor will have a discussion with that person to raise their standards, because it is needed. That was a pretty insensitive move.

  8. Peyton
    Peyton says:

    No offense but most of the service adivsors are douches! I had one that was cool and he left a while ago. I dont care if it was man or woman, young or old. If you were just in an accident do the right thing and have a little common courtesy. If the person was a costumer and a long time costumer at that go the extra mile and get the person a drink. But sheesh I cant even get my service adivsor to return a call to make an appt for my car so we are all wishing for a little too much there arent we?!

  9. Mil
    Mil says:

    I’ve worked in high-end restaurants for years, and so service is a given.

    I’m with you. In this instance, it was more than about service, it’s about caring, courtesy, and helping another vulnerable human being out. And especially to an older lady!!!!

    Perhaps a higher up should talk to this insensitive person who could bring a bad name to your organization. Thankfully, you and and the service manager were there to brighten her day.

  10. Jer
    Jer says:

    I’d have to concur as well. Additionally, even if there was no accident and she was talking about how she was healthy as a horse, if she asks for a drink you start moving to get her one. Common respect for the elderly. I’d like to say the offer should always be given to anyone regardless, but I’m one to over-service if I can. Hell, when I was installing parts for customers out of my garage at home I’d always offer them a beverage which was often a good microbrew or two!

  11. Jer
    Jer says:

    I meant to also include this is just another example of how customer service, especially in this country has generally taken a nose dive when you’d expect the opposite due to the economy. Unfortunately people aren’t trying to “earn your business” as much as they think they deserve your business and act like it.


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