"We might not get to it until Monday." It was Tuesday morning and I had dropped off my truck at the local Dodge dealer for some repairs. The service representative was telling me that the service, for which they charge people $69 an hour, might not happen for another six days.
"But I called yesterday and I was told to bring it in at 10 AM today."
"Yes, but we are backed up, and your vehicle was not a scheduled appointment," explained the service manager. Somehow I had gotten the crazy idea that '10 AM on Tuesday' was an appointment. I guess there are appointments that count, and appointments that mean nothing. Evidently I had the latter.
I must admit that the process of providing service at this dealer was well structured if not efficient. When I entered the service facility (I use the term loosely) and went up to one of the four service windows, I only had to wait about 10 minutes before someone said, "May I help you." I gave them my name and told them I had a 10 AM appointment.
"Did you purchase the vehicle here?" the woman inquired. Uh Oh! Warning bells rang in my mind. I had not purchased the vehicle there. In fact, before I purchase a vehicle, I make it a point to ask the salesman if I will get priority service by purchasing a vehicle from them. If they say yes, then I don't buy from them, because I feel like anyone who buys a new vehicle, be it a Dodge or Honda, or some other brand, should be able to get equal service treatment at any dealership.
I had not purchased my vehicle from this dealer for several reasons. First, they offered me nothing but excuses when evaluating my previous vehicle for a trade-in, and then offered me a trade-in value that was $6000 less than I got from another dealer 40 minutes away. Second, they would not come down on the price of a new vehicle to even close to what I ended up paying elsewhere. And third, they are too big and too impersonal. I don't know how they got to be one of the biggest dealers on the East Coast. There must be a lot of suckers out there.
When you have an emergency, you tend to go to the closest dealer for service. My truck had an electrical short that discharged its two batteries overnight, so I charged the batteries and quickly drove it to the closest dealer. My truck was under warranty, so going to a dealer was necessary.
The woman at the service window entered my information into the computer and told me to have a seat in the waiting room until someone could check my vehicle's mileage and process the paperwork. I sat in the waiting room for about 45 minutes with a dozen other people who looked a lot like the cast from the classic movie Night of the Living Dead. They had the typical blank, lifeless stares that are brought on by waiting rooms. I had not planned on waiting, so I was not in the same frame of references as my fellow inmates. While waiting I read a magazine called "In Style" which was three years old.
Finally my name was called and I went back to one of the service windows. A pleasant man asked me for my name. I wasn't sure why he asked, since he had just paged me by name. Then he typed my name in the computer and retrieved my data. "Ah, I see you've been here before," he stated matter-of-factly.
"Yes, about 45 minutes ago," I replied. He didn't see the humor in that, and continued on about the business of processing my paperwork. I explained what was wrong with my truck, and he asked me if I was dropping it off or waiting for it. I said I had to go to work and needed a ride home. It was then that he told me they were really backed up and that they might not be able to get to it before next Monday. This was a shock in and of itself, especially coming right after he asked if I was going to wait for it.
In reality everyone has to wait for his or her vehicle to be fixed. It is just a matter of where they do the waiting. I preferred waiting at home, so I went home and called for a rental car to be delivered. The rental company delivered a car in about the same amount of time that it took me to drop off my truck for service. Now that's what I call service.
The fact that the need for one service leads to a need for other types of services came across very vividly in this whole process. Roughly 80% of our economy today is service, and now I think I know why. It 's because things are not made nearly as well as they once were, so they break down sooner and more frequently. It's my theory that if the 20% who are making things would do a better job, there wouldn't be as much need for the service people.
The dealer just called to tell me that my truck is ready to be picked up. It only took three days, so I am supposed to be impressed with their service. Now I need someone to drive me to get my truck and then go with me to return my rental car. I guess I'll have to call a taxi service.