Thursday, November 25, 2021

Generational differences

Generational differences This past week I had the pleasure of having my company truck inspected. That hour we all spend wondering how much the mechanic might find wrong. Sometimes it is an all-day affair, "just drop off your car, and I will get to it sometime today." Another customer who sat with me was mulling around for a cup of coffee. The gentleman being even older than I, looked to need some help. I got up from my seat to help him and found the coffee was cold. I am 61, my counterpart was 80+, and in my generation, we respect our elders. I went to the customer care team employee and made the mistake of calling him, Terry. I thought his name was Terry. Looking with disgust, the customer care team member barks, my name is not Terry. Apologizing, I asked, what is your name? I am not going to tell you was the answer. The customer care team member picks up the phone and calls another person to make some coffee. A lovely young lady comes to greet us; her name is Spring and makes the gentlemen a cup of coffee. 

On this day, my inspection went relatively fast and downhill at the same time. A second customer care team member comes to me and says, we failed your truck; the windshield has a crack in it. I looked at him for a moment and suggested that he go and get the regulations. I wanted him to point out where this crack was a reason for failure as written in the regulations. The customer care team member goes off in a huff, returns with a printed version of the windshield regulations. I asked him to point out in the regulations where it says my windshield should be failed. With bewilderment or the lack of the ability to interpret regulations, the customer care team member turns to walk away. I started to read the regulations out loud, he returned. I point to each regulation and ask again, where does it say this windshield should be a reason to fail the inspection? I commented that I should call the state police. He says, and I quote: "We are not going to argue with you; call the state police if you want." I called the state police. An officer from the Toano area met me at the dealership the next day. He inspected the windshield and remarked that they should not have failed this windshield. He said, best you let me handle this, and it was a good thing that you called the state police. I think he was worried an altercation might rear its ugly head. I looked at him and thought, being a Master Mason, that is not going to happen. I assured him I am a peaceful man. 

 Once inside, the state trooper draws attention. The two customer care team members won't even look at me. Never said hello or how may we help you. Another customer care team member was able to call for the mechanic who had failed the inspection. A crowd gathers in the showroom, primarily salespeople and my friend who has sold me cars in the past. His name is Stu Young. I really like Stu, and he is a good man and an honest salesman. The state police officer and the mechanic talk privately. I am asked for my keys to get the inspection done.

 All was not lost. We got to look at the new Ford Bronco in the showroom, and as men go, we were all envious. With my inspection done, I left. I thanked the state trooper for his assistance and thanked the mechanic for his work. I do not think for a minute the mechanic was trying to pull a fast one. I think he did what he thought was right. It was a learning opportunity to understand the regulations a bit better. I do not believe the service team in general or the mechanics have anything but the best intentions. I plan to continue my relationship with this business if they will have me. If you are going to be in sales, know your customer. 

Not one of them knew I was a master mechanic three careers ago. I had called and asked for the dealership owner to contact me, and he never did. Therefore, I am writing this op-ed to inform you. I wanted to tell the owner that the customer care team needed more training. On this day, moral decisions did not rise to the level of my generation's ethics, which resulted in poor customer service. You never know when you will run into someone whose knowledge exceeds your own, Mr. Dealership Owner. That is a life lesson in any business. Take the time to listen, be good to one another, live now in peace, and finally, memento mori.

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