Auto Service: A Pleasant Event? Or Nightmare?
You need service help for your vehicle. Soon. What do you do? The service indicator light is on, or your car is pulling to the right, or you hear a thump or strange noise. Or you just know it’s time for an oil change, or at least some type of service. You have to do something right away. But you’ve heard horror stories about atrocities and being ripped off at auto repair shops or auto dealership service departments.
The most obvious first step would be to check and see if the dealership or shop you are looking at is an Ask Patty Certified facility. These are shops that have passed a rigorous procedure from Ask Patty and are dedicated to provide you good service with respect and courtesy. Simply go online to AskPatty.com and check for approved shops in your area.
• Check Yelp and other online review organizations for any negative or positive comments regarding specific shops.
• Check the Ask Patty blogs and comments for any appropriate experiences.
• Call or email your women associates and even Facebook accounts for any positive or negative comments or experiences they may have had.
• Be positive, calm, and courteous at all times. Service personnel response will generally reflect your attitude.
If you are limited on shops in your area that fit in the above experience categories, then you may need to actually drive by and inspect them.
When you arrive at the shop, check out the reception area, and if possible the service area. How a shop looks is directly representative of the type of service you will expect to receive. If you see pin-up girl photos on the back walls of the reception or work area, just get in your vehicle and drive away. This type of shop is not going to demonstrate respect to women customers. If the management allows this type of environment, then they too will share this unacceptable attitude. If the person you talk to flirts with you, or in any way acts less than professional, then you probably do not want to use their services.
If appearances seem to be okay, take a good look at how the shop is organized, and if the sales personnel and technicians are wearing clothing that is neat and suitable for what they are doing. Torn shirts and ragged clothes, or a cigarette or cigar drooping from their lips, on an unshaven face, or messy service areas are also strong hints that you need to get in your car and leave, as that is probably how they would treat your vehicle, and will most likely provide sloppy and careless service.
Remember that service centers are profit centers. They are there to make a profit and that is okay. That’s what American business is all about. But you should be aware of what your real needs are when you visit, as many of these centers will aggressively present options to be added on to the necessary services which you are there for. Even “respectable” major auto line dealerships many times are guilty of this.
• Do not be impulsive. Try not to rush this. If at all possible compile a specific list of things you know have to be done on your vehicle. This will be your base list of needs to work from. Remember, service personnel are encouraged by their bosses to sell you as much service items as possible.
• Don’t go for names of services that you don’t understand. “You need a new Gramufuldango Famadarso retainer assembly.” Don’t just spring for it. Request full explanation of all suggested repairs that may be presented, and if suspicious, ask them to show you specifically what needs to be done and the replacement part suggested.
• Have another shop check your vehicle also and submit their version of needs.
• Stick to the list of services you know must be done unless a genuine dangerous discovery is made that can be verified.
• If repairs of service are projected to take a considerable amount of time, then make sure a loaner vehicle will be provided. This is normally provided at dealership shops, but may not be available at some of your smaller facilities.
If you have a good experience with the facility you choose, and plan to return in the future, tell all your associates about it online and in person or by phone. If you do not have a good experience, it is imperative that you let everyone know about this also, to help others like yourself have a professional and efficient service event in the future.
Good luck, and let us know how your service event goes!
Tom Procter is a former California Public School Teacher, Businessman, published Author, and 18 years as Internet Manager with Saturn, Ford, GMC, Subaru, Mazda, Mercedez-Benz, and Acura.