Well after 40 years in the automotive service industry, as a licensed auto mechanic who served his apprenticeship at a Ford dealership, and then spent the last twenty years of my automotive career were spent as a fixed operations manager, I do know a thing or two about automotive service should be.
So now when I need to get a vehicle serviced I usually check the reviews for local repair facilities and pick the one that I feel the most comfortable with. I also make a point to tell them that I have lots of experience, I do this more as a warning, so that they understand that I do know what I’m talking about, and maybe let them know I have high expectations.
So as I mentioned a couple of blogs ago I booked an appointment to take the toad into a repair facility in Chemainus on May 31st. I was asked to bring it in between 8:30 and 9:30 on the Tuesday morning. Now I can remember more than forty years ago when every service advisor would have everyone bring in their vehicles in first thing in the morning, then try to sort through everyone’s concerns while trying to fill the shop on a demand bases and also trying to deal with the clients that had to wait for their vehicle.
In today’s world, most shops try to fill their shop in more of a planned system, by booking clients when it is best for the shop, for an example if you look at the task of performing a wheel alignment, there is a limit to how many wheel alignments you can do a day, and if for this example each wheel alignment takes one hour, there is not much sense of having eight vehicles waiting for an alignment sitting at your shop all day. It would just make sense to book them through out the day, instead of having your car for the four o’clock alignment there at eight in the morning.
Look at it from nothing more than a parking issue, unless you have unlimited parking why have all those vehicles there all day, not to mention the possibility of damage. And I have heard the excuse that everyone needs to drop their car of on the way to work, that’s just a silly statement, if that was the case there would be no cars on the streets after nine o’clock in the morning. But I know for fact that the streets have cars on them all day long, and in reality didn’t want to take the toad in at 8:30, as a 1 pm appointment would have suited me much better, but I did as I was asked and dropped of the toad and walked to downtown Chemainus, to fill a couple of hours of my day, I didn’t want to be a “waiter” as that usually causes a technician to rush the process, and I would rather have them take what ever time is required, with out worrying about the old fart in the waiting room.
Well I wondered back to the shop at 12:30, to find the toad sitting in the same spot that I had left it in. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement as I thought this practice had been abandoned for the last twenty years. Sometimes it is just real hard changing some of the simplest thought processes, so I’m now sitting here in the waiting room doing just exactly what I didn’t want to do. Oh well, the first impression thing hasn’t been very good, but we will see what turns up as I wait for oil service to be completed and the repair estimate prepared.
At this point it would have been hard to believe that the experience could be much worse than the first impression, but I would have been very, very wrong. Shortly after two o’clock the toad has had an oil change and had now been looked over for some much needed repairs. So on a quick recap I have by now invested close to six hours into this process, and I know if I had went to a quick lube shop, I would have paid a few bucks less but on the other hand it would have not been completed by a certified technician, but maybe it would have been done by a more competent individual, as I received the toad back with the “Oil Service” lamp still glowing on the dash, and if that wasn’t bad enough I have an invoice stating that it will require more diagnosis for the TPMS lamp, so on returning to the campground I shut off the service lamp by following the instructions that are printed in the owners manual, and then adjusted the tire pressures to shut off the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), the same light that I was told would need to be diagnosed.
Then we get into the $2400 estimate to repair three items on the toad, so it appears that what ever the flat rate time was for some repairs has been doubled because of “Eastern Vehicle Rust”, so a three hour exhaust manifold repair was quoted at 6 hours and then they throw in the line additional straight time may be needed for any broken bolts, now I’m wondering what the doubling of the repair time from 3 hrs. to 6 hrs. was all about. We also have a reported leak in the radiator and they are suggesting front brake pads and rotors, amazing they didn’t need to double those times because of “Eastern Vehicle Rust” which tells me they just didn’t want to repair the exhaust, so they just quote such a ridiculous price for that repair, hoping not to get the job. Well they succeeded, but not because of the quote, no that was because of the inability to shut off the “Oil Service” lamp and suggesting the need to diagnose the “TPMS Lamp” instead of just checking the tire pressures, items that I could have gotten done at any quick lube shop!
Now maybe my expectations were just two high, or maybe this is how business is done here on the island, I understand that different areas do things different and certainly there are different expectations on how business will be done. The differences between Fonthill to Goderich in Ontario were huge, but by everything that makes sense to me, if your going to charge real world prices $107 per hour, you had better act like you know what your doing and maybe even act like you care a little … jus’saying
I have intentionally not mentioned the name of the repair facility, I have not added a review to their business as of yet, but once I have got a second opinion on the three quoted items, I will update this blog and then add a review. (also the photo is just a stock photo)