So, let's see, where were we. Ah yes, my husband's car was still in the shop at the dealership. Well, on Thursday last week we finally got the call, they figured it out! And they can totally fix it! That'll be twenty eight hundred bucks, please and thank you.
When my husband called to give me the news, at first I was so shocked I couldn't even respond. Almost $3000 they wanted, after they'd kept the car for a week trying to find the problem. When it finally sunk in a few hours later, I sent my husband a text. It said something along the line of, "NFW. call them and tell them I will come get it, and to write up the cost for the diagnostic."
I was pissed. And by the time I got over to the dealership, I had worked myself up into such a frothing frenzy I was shaking from the adrenaline. Folks, just so you know, this state is something akin to what you mind find on a rabid raccoon digging around in your trashcan in the middle of the night. Normally, I am very tolerant of customer service people, I know its a thankless job. I try to be nice and courteous. But the kid who had our car had no idea what he was doing, and no idea how to service his customer. When he saw me coming and figured out who I was, he panicked. He made no attempt to solve my problems, he just swiped my credit card and pulled up in my car.
So I left my van parked on the street, and drove the audi over to Lenexa where a guy with his own little specialty car place took a look see. Even though he was a mechanic, this guy had all the customer service suave of someone in sales - he was that good. I will totally go back there, if I ever have another German car.
Anyway, after taking a quick look at the car, he came to get me in the waiting area. "Uh, I need to show you something, " and he led me back to the service bay, and pointed down into my open trunk.
All the screws and caps and non-integral parts to things that live under the hood of my car where lying in the trunk. Not attached to the engine, where they belong. They didn't even bother to put the car back together when they brought it out to me, AND they let me drive it away, in a less than safe state.
I nearly fainted from the surprise.
The nice mechanic said, "Look, I can take care of this for you, but it won't cost that much less, German cars are very laborious. And they really owe you to make this right. If management of that dealership knew about this, they'd be really embarrassed, and they would probably help you with the overall cost to make it right and keep the possibility of future business with you." (I think in writer's workshop they call this "foreshadowing.")
He charged me nothing, after assuring me the car was safe to drive.
This is where it gets a little nutty. My phone was dead, I had no charger in this car, the kids were down the street playing at a friend's house while I dealt with this, AND I had a babysitter set to arrive in 15 minutes at my house so that I could go to a networking event, for which I was not dressed and had not showered that day.
SO. I raced home (carefully), plugged in my phone, ran up to my closet and changed clothes (black ribbed turtleneck, same dirty jeans and switched to my high heeled boots-it's kind of my uniform), put my hair up in a twist and sprayed the ever-loving shit out of it. The babysitter arrived and I sent her to the basement freezer to get out a frozen pizza, and then to go down the street and collect the children and the dog from the neighbor's house (this was the day it was like 55 degrees, so everyone got to play outside, including the dog).
I grabbed an extra car charger, threw my makeup bag in the car, and left to head back the dealership. I had 45 minutes before the event started. As I was driving, I reached over and dug out the owner's manual from the glove box, and called the dealership. I asked the receptionist to speak to the manager. "Which one?" "The biggest one you can find." I think somewhere in there I twittered that someone was going to need to see a proctologist when I was finished with them.
(My husband wanted to know WTH on this one, I said, you know the phrase rip someone a new asshole? He just groaned.)
Okay, this is getting long, stay with me.
I got the general sales manager. I told him my story, that I was on my way over there and would be in his office in 5 minutes, and by the way, the engine shield to my car is missing, so maybe you could march over to the service bay and FIND IT before I get there.
He was dutifully appalled and apologetic. I will admit, he knew how to disarm me by agreeing with everything I said and apologizing profusely and insisting on making it right. Unlike the kid in service who just wanted to get rid of me rather than trying to help me. Experience, people, is the key to customer service.
I made it to my networking event only 20 minutes late, after leaving him the broken car and switching back to my van that had been parked there. The next morning, my husband took my car to work, and the manager from the dealership delivered me a loaner car, himself. (They didn't technically owe us a free loaner.) Then he called me later that afternoon and offered to split the cost of the repair with me, that the dealership would eat half of it. Fair enough, I said.
So. Where are we today, one week later?
We still have the loaner. Parts are apparently not being shipped, so the car is still not fixed. I'm okay with that, though, since we have the car we need to do the things we have to do. I can understand having to order parts. But overall they know I'm watching them closely, and if they want my business in the future, they will tow the line.
My husband was quite impressed with what he calls my negotiating skills. I reminded him that I used to negotiate for a living, but that's not what happened here. What happened here was I called them on their bullshit, instead of just rolling over. What happened, in reality, was I got kind of lucky that they messed up putting my car back together, because without that I didn't really have any leverage.
Maybe that's what people are missing as we try and figure out how to fix this stupid, jacked-up economy. It's all about the leverage, and where to start using it. A family can't make their mortgage payment, so the bank forecloses on a house they can't sell, so they need a bailout from the government, and the government uses taxpayer money to give that bailout.
Maybe, just maybe, the family that couldn't make their mortgage payment was given better tools and information to help them negotiate with the bank. And maybe the bank could be open to helping them adjust their mortgage so they could stay in the house, then the bank could avoid foreclosing, and not be stuck with another house they can't sell and isn't worth what they are owed. And not need to be bailed out. With taxpayer money. Of which, there isn't any, because do you have any idea how many people aren't going to be able to pay their taxes this year? Because they are trying to pay their mortgage instead, and will have to choose? Does anyone understand the future of this mess? Because I think Bill O'Reilly is still looking backwards at who to blame. Who is looking forward? It's all a big circle-jerk.
Okay I realize I went a little psycho-tangent there for a minute, but the point is, its all related, and its all a big circle, and I'm a little scared. One cannot march into their mortgage managers office and say, Look, motherfucker, I've not been treated fairly and now you need to make it right, or you won't get my business anymore. Because that person does not hold the leverage. And I don't have a way to wrap this up, so let's just discuss.
(PS - anyone want to buy a 2003 Audi A6 quattro? Only 60k miles! It's got a brand new timing belt!)