Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kickin' up a fuss

It is hard to know when it is appropriate to "kick up a fuss" in order to get what you want or need. I was confronted with this twice today.

In the morning I took Tim to 7th grade registration. I was a little peeved when the paperwork came in the mail for this and there was a letter informing parents that an incoming 6th grade student has a peanut allergy and outlining the precautions that were being taken. A similar letter had come out at the end of last year, and I promptly called the principal and asked him why different actions were being taken for that child when there was ALREADY a child in the outgoing 6th grade class. (Tim) He didn't have a lot to say about it which indicated to me that the difference was that the parent of the younger child can "kick up a fuss" better than me. Also, the day after school let out I went to pick up the EpiPen, and when I requested it at the office the lady started rummaging through a drawer muttering "Now where is that?" and then turned to me and said "it's not here, I guess." I guess my dagger-shooting stare prompted her to go and ask someone else and then rummage through a different drawer from which she finally produced the EMERGENCY LIFE SAVING MEDICATION. God help them if the stuff had been needed for an actual urgent reaction.

I had recently complained about this to my friend Sharon, who is the mother of one of Tim's buddies. Sharon is the very definition of assertiveness, she always gets her way.

We were getting ready to leave the registration and I heard someone hissing "Mindeeeee" and it was Sharon. She said "Go and talk to the new vice principal, she's over there. I told her you'd be coming by to discuss your issues with the allergy!" So I went over to her and introduced Tim and expressed how I thought that the school should have a consistent policy. "Oh I agree! I'll make SURE that this is discussed during our meetings next week!" I'm kinda hoping that she'll kick up a fuss about it!

Then in the afternoon we had an appointment at the Saturn dealership to have my car looked at AGAIN. I had it in for the A/C in June, and they said they could not find a leak. Well now it's running warm again and there was a puddle of green goonk in the garage so I took it back. The service guy said it would take about an hour, so we agreed to wait since the dealership is far away and we were armed with DS Game Boys for entertainment. Well after about that long the service guy came up to me and said that they had found a hairline crack in the condenser and that's a big job. He said I should bring it back tomorrow and that they'd just have it run through the car wash and we'd be on our way. So we waited a couple of minutes and then gathered up our things and went to the check-out girl to get the keys. She looked at me with her dopey eyes and shrugged "I don't have it yet." So we hung around waiting for the service guy to show up with the keys but he didn't. I asked her again, "Are you sure you don't have that?" Negative. So we wandered back over the waiting area. My soap opera was starting up on the TV but then they kept showing scenes inappropriate for little boys. I sat there and thought about how much do I NEED air conditioning. I kept going back to check with her. Nothing. Little Jeffrey started to complain and then, knowing that his mother is queen of the wimps, he decided to go into the service area to see if our car was there and check with the service guy himself. No car, no service guy. A couple more checks with the girl, and the Jeffrey decided we should go looking for our car, and so we did and found it it the done car area, clean and DRY. So we went back to the girl and I told her that I knew my car was done and it had now been an HOUR since the guy talked to me. An HOUR that I could have been doing...well anything else but THIS. At that moment the service guy materialized. He looked at the girl. "What's going on? Why didn't you give her the keys? She's coming back, there's no paperwork." And then she blinked her dopey eyes and reached under the counter that I was leaning on and produced...MY KEYS!!!! The service guy apologized, he said he had been in a meeting. He said that he would take a little more off of my bill. I just shot the checkout girl my dagger eyes look and got the heck out of there so we could go and sit in the rush hour traffic that was starting to form. Tomorrow I find out exactly how much $$ one hour of my time is worth. I'll let you know what it is.


OK so I got there this morning and they had to search all around for my paperwork and then a service lady hands it to me and asks me to sign it. But it said $557 on it and I wasn't signing THAT. So as I questioned the paperwork (my Dad taught me to do that) yesterday's service guy came up and said that they weren't charging me for the part, just the labor, which is $225, and then he wrote down $200 on the paper. So that's it, $25 for my hour of waiting. Then they had some other lady drive me home (was I supposed to tip her?) It's funny that they have a sign up with their mission statement, something about exceeding expectations. And now since I expect them to mess up...mission accomplished?

OK so now I've got my car back blowing out nice cold air. When I went to pay the bill it was $198 which is LESS than the $200 he had said. AND I got this nifty coupon book with discounts for car services from them and things like donuts and dry cleaning at local businesses. I just might have to give them a good grade on the customer satisfaction survey after all.


~Amy said...

I LOOOVE that picture !! How did you do it? I am also pretty non-confrontational so I feel your
pain! ~A

Heather Leigh said...

OMG - I would have been kicking up a fuss after 10 minutes...uh, just how LONG does a car wash take?

Aunt Kathy said...

Terrific picture of you! After reading the story, I said "Thank God I married a mechanic!"

Anonymous said...

Hi, Mindy- Not only do I sign my name Anon. so I don't have to register on your blog, but I do get treated that way as a big invisible, anonymous wimp in these type situations. But I don't use the F word at the end of a dissertation on it (you must be getting ready for office life with its street slang). The dagger picture was a shock to see. I think I would have parked myself in front of her after a while and asked her to call someone to ask about the keys. Or ask if her manager/boss would check what happened to the keys. The $25 bonus sounded reasonable. Everyone older has plenty of stories about auto dealership service people- they HAVE tried to improve some of the time. No- you didn't have to tip the driver taking you home. I could write a blog on service people on the phone. That is my big dagger eye time. It reminds me that I was advised that the kids in this area who were the first ones born on crack are now in their early 20's. Can't see their dopey eyes over the phone. love. Aunt Chris

Mindy said...

I got some help with the picture from our in-house computer expert. (Timmy) Heather, I am certain that you would have waited no more than 10 minutes, and if it was Sharon she probably would have gotten the whole thing for free, maybe even with a Sky convertible thrown in for her troubles. Maybe when I get back to work I will sign up for some assertiveness training.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mindy it's Sharon. Thanks for the kind words in your blog. Maybe I should start a training class on "how to take your car in for repair". As you know, I work part-time for Jakes Automotive repair so I try to go into the dealership armed with a little bit of knowledge.

I would like to share with you one of my favorite dealership stories. Back when we had our full size Bronco, the key got stuck in the ignition. I was 8 months pregnant with Dominic at the time (raging hormones!). I took it to the Ford dealer in Lake Orion. When I explained to the Service Manager what was going on, he just looked at me like I had two heads and said "I'LL TAKE A LOOK AT IT." Two minutes later he came back in and said they need to replace the ignition, then they had to replace the door lock to match the new ignition key. I think it was the same visit that I asked them to replace the rusted bolts that hold down the driver seat. They told me they were rusty because of getting in and out of the truck during the rain and winter. I told them to take a look at me (I'm 5'1"). I don't drive with the seat all the way back. They replaced the bolts!

I agree with Aunt Chris, the dealerships have been trying to improve. They have to. They are in direct competition with each other. Keep this in mind when shopping for a new car My suggestion is to shop for a dealership. They can always get the car you want from another dealer. You want to make sure that they will give you good service. You can always squeeze a free oil change out of just about anyone.


Mindy said...

Great story Sharon! I do agree that the dealerships have improved since the old days when they could be MEAN. At this Saturn dealership they were unorganized but everyone was NICE and that makes a huge difference. When they saw the dagger eyes they tried to make them go away instead of shooting back with swords.

MomForThree said...

LOVE the picture, it really cracked me up! BTW, I love my car. I love my dealership. I drive a Honda.