Humorous look at the effect of perception

Allan from Winnipeg Instructor Posted   Latest  

First of all this is meant to entertain so please don’t take it seriously. I have had conversations with people who completely misunderstood and or mis construed what was being said. Thinking about that prompted me to write this. I think we’ve all seen it to some extent. Enjoy.

It’s all about perception.

A consumers perception of something we deal with every day can be completely different from ours and also completely wrong in many cases. For example here is how a person with little or no mechanical experience might interpret some of the terms we use daily and take for granted.

Hi my name is Noah Mekanik, I am very upset with the way mechanics take advantage of people they think know little or nothing about cars. When I was a boy I spent many Saturday afternoons in the driveway helping my Dad repair the family car. We would change oil and do tune ups together. Dad would change the spark plugs, unscrew the cap on the distributor and replace the pointer and the condensant. Then he would take the car for a quick ride and adjust the timing to get the most power. With newer cars mechanics tell you the timing can’t be adjusted, when your timing is out they need to replace the belt. Well if the belt drives the distributor you should still be able to adjust the belt rather than replace it. And when they change the belt they want to charge hundreds of dollars in labour. I asked a mechanic why it takes so long to change a timing belt and he said there are a lot of components that need to be removed in order to get at the belt. I have opened the hood of my car and I know the belt is right there in the open at the front of the engine. I thought I must be mistaken and asked him “where is this timing belt?” He said it’s at the front of the engine behind some covers that need to be removed. There are some plastic covers there but it wouldn’t take me hours to get them off to remove the belt. I could understand if he had to disassemble the engine to get at the belt but it’s right there! And another thing, when that engine light comes on in the dash they want to charge a fee to “diagnose” the problem. I found out on Google that every car built since 1996 has a connector under the dash called a diagnostic connector, and you plug in a reader to that connector and it gives you a code. That code tells you exactly what’s wrong and which part to replace. I found a description of these codes online. They are 5 digits, the first is a letter that designates which system the code applies to. It will be a P, B, C or U. The P is for power train, the B is for body, the C is for chassis and the U is for network. I asked the body shop I deal with if they could read codes and they said they have a tool so I’m not concerned with those. C codes are for things like brakes, steering and suspension so I will check for any C codes next time I take the car in for a wheel alignment or brake work. And U codes are for networks, since I don’t have hands free for my phone or a navigation system I’m not worried about network codes. Since I was interested in the engine codes because my engine light was on I will explain what the different parts of the code mean. P is for engine codes, the first number is either a zero or a one. The zero means it’s a generic code and you can use generic parts from the local parts store to repair these problems. If the first number after the P is a one that means it’s a manufacturer specific code and you need to use parts from the dealer only for these problems. The next number tells you which subsystem the code applies to. For example a common code is a P0101, the 0 is for generic so you can use parts store parts to fix it. The 1 after the 0 tells you it is a fuel system code. The last 2 numbers describe the problem, in this case 01 which means the mass airflow sensor needs to be replaced. You can buy a code reader and get these codes yourself and not need to take your car to a mechanic. This code reader will pay for itself the first time you use it. On my car the engine light is on and I took it to the local parts store to have them read the engine code for me. The code was a P0016, which the gentleman from the parts store explained means the timing is not correct. I researched this code online and found the most likely problem was the timing belt. I called my local garage and asked for a quote to replace the timing belt. Of course he said they would need to diagnose the problem first because it could be something other than the belt. I told him I just needed to know what the cost would be for the timing belt replacement. He reluctantly gave me a quote saying he couldn’t guarantee that would fix my problem. The quote was over 600.00 dollars and he explained that he would not replace the belt without also replacing the water pump. I don’t know why he wants to replace the water pump it works just fine. I have washers on the windshield, the rear window and even the headlights and they all work just fine, so there’s nothing wrong with the water pump. Not happy with the high cost of his estimate I spoke to the parts store and they told me they have a kit with all the parts needed to replace the timing belt for less than $150.00. He also said there were special tools needed to do the job, but that they have a tool lending program and I could borrow the tools needed. So I decided to do the job myself, it will be like old times spending an afternoon working on the car in my driveway with my son helping. Now what to do with all the money I’m saving by doing this job myself.

+4

Anthony from Kirkwood

 

Technical Support Specialist
 

Hi Allan:

I appreciate that your post was meant to be a humo(u)rous look at consumer perceptions. Have you ever wondered how some people gain these perceptions? (In the immortal words of Tom Papa "I have.")

We allow people to use terms like "in other words". We dumb things down. We allow people to think things that aren't true because....

Don't believe me? If the MIL is on, the vehicle doesn't pass an OBD-II inspection, right? It's perfectly logical then for someone to think that if the MIL is not on, it must pass. Ever see the MIL wired to the alternator or the oil pressure switch? Here comes Tom, again. I have. We in the trade have created the problem by not explaining things properly. 

Then again, it's not just the general public who don't quite have a grasp on things. I had a Buick (IIRC) towed in for a crank/no start. It had no spark. I'm not sure exactly what happened but when I got it, the balance dampener was somewhat attached to the dampener snout with silicone. (The banging gave it away.) I guess that it could've been worse. It could've had large tires on the back to improve the fuel economy. Everyone knows that you get better mileage going downhill.

BTW, I had a friend from Central Alberta (the Ber part) stay with me one time. I asked him what y'all call "rubber bands". He said "elastics though he doesn't know why since rubberband has a perfectly good "u" in it."

Guido

0 Ð Bounty Awarded

Jim from Frederick

 

Curriculum Developer
 

BUt But But! In selling class I was taught to keep it simple and never get detailed with a customer.

Look where that got us. 

In reality I have always made my way on the other side of that fence, have been successful and still told it is not possible. Oh well.

+1 Ð Bounty Awarded

Kevin from Winnipeg

 

Technician
 

Hi Al Ah heck, just tell him to do it himself, after all how many shops would misdiagnose it. Sounds like this customer should be a "Mechanic" LOL

0 Ð Bounty Awarded

Allan from Winnipeg

 

Instructor
 

Yeah Kev, maybe I’ll write a follow up and see what he did with all that money he saved doing it himself. Oh wait, that’s right, he spent that and more paying to have his car fixed after he tried to do it himself.😄

0 Ð Bounty Awarded

Dick from Manchester

 

Diagnostician
 

These people are so clueless; they do not even realize they are insulting our profession

I will always spend the time to try & "educate" them on what they are really paying for 

I also end by telling them to have the internet do the work 

0 Ð Bounty Awarded

Allan from Winnipeg

 

Instructor
 

Well Dick as a wise man once said, “ I can teach you, but I can’t make you learn.” Many of these people are the same ones who don’t view us as professionals but that’s another story I plan to post about soon. You have to love the ” I saw it on the internet” people who already know what’s wrong as well as how long and how much it’s going to cost to fix. Although Matt Fanslow did have a twist on that one. 

0 Ð Bounty Awarded

Jeffrey from Yuma

 

Manager
 

Haha I like it. It plays off itself so well, got a grin out of me. 

0 Ð Bounty Awarded

Allan from Winnipeg

 

Instructor
 

Thanks Jeff, that was the whole point. We all deal with this kind of thing at some point. It’s how we deal with it that makes the difference. Sometimes you just have to shake your head and let it go. 

0 Ð Bounty Awarded

James from Pike

   

Owner/Technician
   

Love it! I've met this guy, he is usually with his girl friend while she is dropping off her car for something that he could fix but he's too busy right now, but it should be very easy to fix.

Oh and while your in there you might as well put the things he took apart back together.

+1 Ð Bounty Awarded

Josh from Lynchburg

 

Technician
 

Yes, I love the ”I just don’t have time right now.“ 

0 Ð Bounty Awarded

Allan from Winnipeg

   

Instructor
   

I have also met too many of these guys/gals over the years. Had a customer at a shop I worked at years ago stood and watched as we installed a set of running boards on his truck. Then when he got the invoice said”if I knew it was going to be that much, I would have done it myself.” One of our regular customers who was waiting to drop off his car asked him why he didn’t do it himself. He replied he didn’t have time. Our regular shot back with “well you had time to watch their guy do it”. Running board guy shut up payed his bill and left. Gotta love it when customers do what you can’t.

And the ones who pull half the dash apart to find a problem that was in the wiring in the trunk. Then when you put back what they took apart it’s usually “ever since you had the dash apart it squeaks/rattles or this or that doesn’t work".

+2 Ð Bounty Awarded

Josh from Lynchburg

 

Technician
 

Ha, that brought a smile to my face thanks for sharing

0 Ð Bounty Awarded

Gabriel from Hialeah

   

Owner/Technician
   

The level of articulation, and intelligence (or lack there of really) of society today is mind boggling. I feel like we are walking amongst living, breathing, helium balloons. At any moment you take your eyes off of them, they can be gone. Off floating in the wind aimlessly; wherever the current will blow them.

It is said you know you are old when you start to complain about present day, and reminisce on the “good old days”, but I’m only in my 30’s, and find myself doing this on a daily bases. How did we get here? Why are most folks so benighted, and out of touch with reality? What ever happened to accountability? You know, every action has a reaction? Every decision, has a consequence? This was hammered into me as a child. Either verbally, or physically, depending on how egregious my infraction was.

I used to sit down and really invest time and effort into any person who inquired or invested in my services. I spent a lot of time trying to convince folks on the importance of my trade, and justify the cost associated with my services. Eventually, I just realized there are two types of folks out there: those that understand and respect what I do, and those that do not. The latter are not my customers. I delegate those to other repair centers. The former I go above and beyond for, and cherish and appreciate.

Recently, I was driving home and saw a BMW e92 pulled over on the highway shoulder. I saw a potential customer so I pulled up behind them to introduce myself, and see if something could be done for them at the moment. I instantly saw the right-front tire was flat. Shredded, as it was more than likely run flat for a bit before they pulled over. The owner was irate, and belligerent. which is understandable. Nobody wants to break down, I understand the frustration. I told them if they were interested, I could set them up with a tow and he would need a new tire. He went on an ignominious tangent about how he had just replaced that tire less than a month ago at a tire shop. He also went on to accuse the shop of stealing his spare tire. I simply replied well Sir, I do not know this repair center, but I can confirm your theory is impossible. This vehicle DOES NOT come with a spare tire. This vehicle comes equipped with special run flat tires which would have saved you from this very predicament. His response was well how much does that cost? I kept it cordial, gave him some guidance, and wished him luck before hurriedly getting as far away from there as possible. 

+4 Ð Bounty Awarded

Allan from Winnipeg

 

Instructor
 

Yes Gabriel unfortunately we live in a society where too many people believe they have no responsibility for, well, anything. When something goes wrong it's always someone else's fault. The shredded tire is a perfect example, customer doesn't want to pay for the proper run flat tire so the tire shop offers a cheaper alternative. They don't recommend this option and explain why he shouldn't do it, but all the customer hears is "cheaper option" and blah-blah-blah. They probably also told him his vehicle does not come equipped with a spare tire because it uses the run flat tires, but again all he heard was blah-blah-blah spare tire. So there he is on the side of the road with a shredded tire and its all someone else's fault. Then you show up, as the perfect target for his tangent. Being the good guy and trying to help sometimes puts you in this position but I would still stop to help anyone in need. You were the professional, you offered a solution, he wasn't interested, move on with your day. You choose not to deal with this type of customer at your shop, why deal with them in your personal life. We can't control how people act or react but we can control which people we interact with. Thanks for the response.

+2 Ð Bounty Awarded

Marlin from Estacada

   

Technician
   

My experience indicates that you are incorrect in your assumption. He actually had his wife contact the tire store and get a quote. He went off about the price and told her to call them back and work out a lower price. They discussed the details with her, and he would not listen to her report. She got the tires installed, and he is still ignorant.

We frequently experience this craziness. The wife will be on the phone asking the man on the couch for answers to our questions. She wants to make an appointment, but the man thinks that he can save some money, I cannot figure out why the doofus doesn't make the call himself.

0 Ð Bounty Awarded

Allan from Winnipeg

 

Instructor
 

Marlin thanks for your response and a different perspective. The doofus can complain about the terrible deal his wife got because he wasn’t there to negotiate. 

0 Ð Bounty Awarded

Anthony from Kirkwood

 

Technical Support Specialist
 

Hi Gabriel:

See how much you've learned in a few short years. :) 

Guido

0 Ð Bounty Awarded