The Cost of Bad Service

One of our cars has been in the shop for seven days now, awaiting the completion of some minor* service. I just learned that it won't be ready until tomorrow, despite being assured on Monday that it would be ready yesterday.

To add insult to injury ("injury" being defined as the inconvenience of having to reschedule meetings to work around the limitation of one vehicle for two busy adults), the shop has yet to call me, unbidden, to report the status. I've had to call them every day to find out what's going on, and not once has the other party apologized for the lack of progress or failure to keep its promises.

This is unacceptable treatment, especially coming as it does from one of the largest dealerships in the city, one that claims to pride itself on treating the customer properly. Normally, I wouldn't have any recourse, but given that we've started shopping for a new vehicle, the cost to this dealership of its poor service will be tangible: we've bought our last four cars there, but the next one (and any thereafter) will be purchased elsewhere.

The lesson for all of us who provide services to the public is simple: never underestimate the importance of communicating with your customers and clients. And don't believe for a moment that there are details too small to matter.

*By "minor" I mean something that any qualified, competent mechanic could do in a few hours. That obviously excludes me, which is why the car is in the shop, and not in my garage.

5 Comments


We can extend your analogy to other sectors of our public lives. How many times has anyone spent hours waiting at the doctor's office only to be told 5 hours after your initial appointment time, that you will have to reschedule for the following day.

How about waiting for prescriptions to be filled and the cashier or pharmacy technician informs you that it will be 4 to 6 hours before your prescription is filled. I am a pharmacist and anything over 30 minutes to an hour ( except of a heavy cough and cold season of a reduced staff ) in my opinion is a lack of organization and work flow.

The gem of the day for me is that I was informed that the lawnmower repair gentleman would be at our house between the hours of 8 and 5 two weeks into the future? When the faithful day arrives, the repairmen arrives at.......4:45P.M. !! The same could be said about cable and satellite installers. Nothing like knocking around the house all day waiting for service.


A business that is increasing running behind on scheduled work that you pay good money for their product , the reason behind that symptom is usually due to a lack of:

1) allocating employees strategically or adequately to handle day to day operations.

2) the owners have cut back payroll dollars ( back to the marrow) allocated for hiring employees so severely, that there is no possiblity of setting firm times for completion of task. This is sometimes done to make certain operations more profitable without regard to customer service. The almighty dollar rules.

3) the owners and the staff are either demoralized or indifferent to the plight of their customers service needs.

If you see any of these symptoms that are causitive factors towards unacceptable service, remember that you have a choice. And if you can't make the choice during that particular transaction, then plan ahead to seek your needs through another retail venue in the future. If you continue to give your hard earned monies to poor and inadequate service, then you have no one to complain to accept yourself.

Dealership......not if I can help it.

One of the advantages of being involved with Chaparral Racing is the wealth of knowledge of our guys who work on the cars there. One call to Ronnie Low, chief mechanic, gets me in with the best. Tomorrow I'm taking my car in to have the A/C fixed. Ronnie recommended Watson's on the Rankin Hwy south of town. The guy has Chaparral Racing posters on his office wall...that's the kinda' guy I want working on my car!

If the pharmacy tells me they are backed up and it will be 4-6 hours, I don't get real upset. It's when they tell me 1 hour and it's 6 that makes me furious and not likely to go back.

It also irritates me to see other customers treated poorly even if I get good service.

There's an old saying that goes something like this: The only thing worse than having car trouble is finding a place to have it repaired.

- Eric, I'm guessing that your vehicle has a lifetime or otherwise long term warranty which can only be serviced at a dealership. I would guess again and say the vehicle manufacturer is one of the domestic manufacturers that recently got a government bailout.

- Wallace, you should compile your own list of recommended repair shops as a companion to the popularity list the local newspaper puts together.

- Eric, good thing you don't mind riding a bike.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on July 15, 2009 9:44 AM.

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