Sunday, February 27, 2011

A trip to the car dealership

Last time I was home I went to the Toyota dealer to pick up a three-pack of oil filters. I paid wholesale for them because the guy behind the counter remembered me.

A couple of years ago I was sitting there with the service manager discussing what to do about my former pickup which had rusted but was covered by a recall. (I later got treated like a prince by Toyota.)

The door was open and a couple barged in holding a clutch disc and interrupted us, demanding to know what Toyota was going to do to replace this horribly defective part that had been destroyed after less than 10,000 miles.
Seems a couple had bought a brand new car for their high school son and he returned their generosity by promptly tearing the living daylights out of the clutch.

Abuse is not covered by warranty, nor should it be.

The sales manager looked carefully at the clutch and opined that it had been abused horribly. The parents were angry. He looked at me and asked me if I was a customer or an employee.

I told him I was a customer and didn’t like being barged in on. He looked a little apologetic and asked me if I knew anything about mechanics. I told him I did, as I am a Merchant Mariner and work with machinery. He handed me the disc and wanted my opinion.

I told him that it looked like the clutch disc had been abused. He didn’t look too pleased.

Then I looked at the service manager and told him that my pickup, the one Toyota was going to buy back, had the original clutch in it and 184,000 miles on it. I offered to let him yank it and show the parents what a clutch should look like after 184,000 miles.

The service manager looked at the parents like he was willing to take me up on my offer, and you could see the father cave in on the spot.

The mother asked her husband what they were going to do and I looked up.

‘Seeing you barged in on me,” I replied. “Let me make a suggestion. You bought a teenager a brand new car. Let him learn to take care of it. Park it as it is in the driveway and make him fix it. It might teach him a little responsibility. He’ll be a little less apt to tear it up if he has to pay for it.”

The mother gave me a dirty look, but I think dear old dad saw the light. “I’ll think about this,” he said and he walked out to the waiting room.

The service manager looked at me and got up.

“Follow me,” he said. He led me over to the parts counter and ordered the entire crew to come to the counter.

“This man is Mr. Piccolo,” he said. “He pays wholesale for everything he buys here from now on.”

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