Let me start by reminding you that each and every view reflected by me on this blog is mine, and solely mine.
Secondly, I apologize in advance for the length of this post – but as a consumer, I feel like if I can keep one of you from experiencing the dissatisfaction that I did last weekend with a local merchant, that it’s worth the post.
Also, let me preface this by saying that I usually have great respect for people who work in a service industry – because I know that I, personally, am not cut out for it. I do not have the patience. Which probably has a lot to do with why I LOVE people who go the extra mile and who do customer service so well. It’s also why I loathe people who fail miserably at it. I want to say “you chose this. Or it chose you. Either way, it was a CHOICE. You suck at it. Go do something different.”
AAA is one organization that has always gone above and beyond. The Hilton family of hotels is another. And State Farm, particularly my agent, is another amazing gem. So before you assume I have it out for anyone and just loooove to gripe when things don’t my way – know that I appreciate the positive, just as much as I loathe the negative.
Last Sunday, I took my vehicle to Sears Auto in Franklin, TN. I have been to Sears numerous times for my Eclipse. Matter of fact, when they pull my account, it has the home address for my family from before I was even driving. We haven’t lived there in over 17ish years. My dad established the account with Sears when we lived there, and it’s kind of nostalgic that it pulls that old address every time I go to Sears. My car is 10 years old (go girl, go) and has been getting her new shoes at Sears for most of her life.
So last Sunday, I took her in to see if she needed two new tires – but definitely needed to get an oil change, balancing and alignment.
I got there at 9, when they opened (according to the website).
First FAIL. The sign on the door said they don’t open till 10. Oh well, the mall is here – lots of stuff around – I can kill time. Negative. It’s Sunday morning. Nothing, not even the blessed Chik-fil-A that is just down the road, was open.
Finally they open the doors. I’d nearly drained my phone battery surfing the interwebs. I was met by a lovely young man who measured my tires and said they were good to go for a couple thousand more miles at least. He said, “I don’t want you to have to buy new ones if you don’t need them.” ACES. I like you already, sir.
It will be done in about 1.5 hours. Well, 1.75 hours later, I went to see why they hadn’t called me.
“We’re having some trouble with your alignment.” Nice. So I sat in the waiting room and watched the mechanic jerk my car back and forth violently on the rack, trying to get both the front and back alignments to stay in place. 3 hours after arriving there, I left with $109 less in my bank account. Not too shabby.
It was rainy and wet off and on in Nashville the next couple days. (Trust me, this is important later).
Wednesday, three days after Sears, I get in my car and it was stinking to high heaven. Dang – I must have left a dead animal under my front seat, I thought. Oops.
Then, I notice the front floorboard has standing water in it and MOLD growing around the floor mat, under my seat and behind my seat. It was a Petri dish on wheels. WTF.
Rogers and I did some investigating that afternoon, and shop-vac’d at least an inch of dirty, moldy water out of my driver’s side floor. It was FILTHY and so unhealthy.
After poking around, we found out it was coming up through the floor. Now, how the hell would that happen, you may ask? Cars have these plugs on the bottom that keep water out when you’re driving on wet roads. The two on the drivers side of my car were smashed and crushed (due to the lift that Sears uses so they can remove tires, align them, etc.) and the smashed plugs were letting water in as I drove. When we got underneath the car, you could see water just dripping out. This was just a theory, at the time, though.
I called Sears and gave them my theory – no way, they said. It could NEVER have been something they caused. Right. But bring it in and we’ll look at it.
Of course they’re going to say that – but it’s a little convenient that I’ve had this car 10 years and that three days after visiting your shop, it starts letting in massive amounts of water. And the plugs on the other side are in no way corroded – but two on the same side are smashed and broken?
Again, I’m no mechanic, but process of elimination is a handy tool and doesn’t require a genius IQ. This has to be something that happened during my visit.
Rogers, bless his soul, went and sat at Sears for four hours the next day. One of the blessings of working from home and making your own schedule – he can take care of stuff for us while I’m doing the 9-5.
To make a long story short, the manager is convinced the water must be coming from the sunroof. There’s no way it could be coming from the floor, even though Rogers and I saw it dripping out. But what do we know. We just have eyes.
So, the mechanic sprays water on top of the car, and nothing. Sprays it at the window, nothing. (Side note – if it HAD been coming from the door or sunroof, the seat would have been soaked. It wasn’t even damp. Not a bit. But they were deaf to this information).
After some time, the manager tells Rogers they can’t find the source of the leak. It’s probably coming from the sunroom, but they can’t recreate it. Hmmm….
Manager continues… It was up on the lift, and they inspected it and everything is fine – they can’t recreate the leak. THEN, the mechanic interrupts and says “no we didn’t…put it on the lift. We haven’t looked under the car.” OH, really. So, are you confused, Mr. Manager, or just lazy, or a liar, or some combination of all three?
He claims he “assumed” it was on the lift. Well, you know what happens you assume. It makes an ass out of u and me. (ass-u-me.)
My car is put on the lift, sprayed with water from underneath and WHAT DO YOU KNOW…water comes right through those damaged plugs with a vengeance. Right where Rog and I saw it leaking out. Again, the manager is convinced they could have never done this. Off-line, other staff thought it was definitely possible this was caused by their lift, even though they hadn’t necessarily seen this before. Nice.
So, how do we fix it? The LOVELY staff at Sears can fix it for $600. Something THEY BROKE – they offer to kindly mend for $600. I would rather pull my eyelashes out one at a time than give them another dime.
Thankfully my man is a handy one, and finds out (via staff with more sense than management) that it really only takes a $20 bottle of sealant from Auto Zone, and manpower (which is why it would cost so much at Sears).
So, over the past several days, Rogers has put in countless hours taking up the carpet in my car, drying out the moisture and cleaning up mold and mildew, taking off the tire, climbing under the car and sealing up the holes, etc.
Looking into the shop vac. Dirty, filthy, road sludge water from the floor of my car.
It seems to be fixed for now and I’m so, so grateful for his handiwork. And I am so bitter about the customer service at Sears.
Ha – on a comical note, while Rogers was at Sears on Wednesday and reporting back to me via call and text about the mixed information he’d get from the shop floor and the manager, and how they were so adamant that it wasn’t coming from the floor, and then they proved themselves wrong, etc. – I Tweeted about how disappointed I was with Sears and this would be the end of our long friendship.
I immediately got a response saying they’d “elevate my complaint to the store manager.” REALLY? I responded …
So soon, I got a call from that manager who had a copy of my Tweets in hand. I listened as he defended himself to me on the phone about how he was “confused,” not lying. Either way – you’re providing subpar customer service and your shining inadequacies will keep me from ever gracing your doors again.
After I learned they wouldn’t fix the car they had damaged, for under $600, I tweeted that I was still dissatisfied with their response to my complaint. They responded that they had “notified the store manager I was still unhappy.” You are missing the point, Sears.
In the end, I know I’m just one person. And I know that Sears Auto does a booming business each year. The loss of my piddly visits a couple times a year will not affect their bottom line. But that’s not the point. The point is, they missed an opportunity to have a lifelong customer in me, and could have probably screwed up in the future and still kept me coming back, if they would have gone the extra mile in this effort. Even if they can’t prove that they damaged my vehicle, based on process of elimination and some basic detective work, that’s definitely what happened. So why not hear your loyal customer’s plea and fix the damn car that you could have (according to your team members) broken? What’s $600 to you, Sears – particularly when I could be raving to my readers about you right now, rather than griping?
It’s unfortunate – and makes me so much more thankful for those companies that do it right. Take note.
**Read the update/finale of this post HERE.