Customer/Mechanic Repair Etiquette
This is something not discussed much but is there such a thing as a customer-mechanic car repair etiquette or at least some unspoken rules as to where a mechanic or the customer have a tacit agreement that neither is here to mislead or beguile the other during a car repair service?
We are not talking about repair situations where a mechanic and service tech is trying to scam a customer or where a customer is trying to scam a mechanic with a damage claim; rather, we are talking about expectations of and about service from both parties.
Mechanics often deal with customers who are not totally honest about the condition of a car and what got the car to its present condition because it often can be embarrassing. For example, never having ever changed the engine oil, botching a DIY repair that needs someone else to fix the customer’s mistake, or stating “This just happened!” when in truth it was a problem progressing over months until something finally gave on the car.
Related article: Just Rolled In Car Customer Fails
In cases like this, it’s typically ok with most mechanics---this is human nature.
However, what about situations when a customer approaches a mechanic with one expected type of repair, but it looks like the intention really was just to solve a minor problem the customer could not handle and get a diagnosis without a follow-up repair?
Rainman Ray’s Repairs
What motivated these questions was a recent Raiman Ray’s Repairs YouTube episode where Ray is working on an old car with the customer car history complaint that the engine was dying in spite of having had the engine replaced.
As Ray showed at the start of the video, the engine was stalling out periodically, so that much was true.
The crux of the situation reveals itself, however, when Ray finds that the hood latch is not working and that it takes quite a bit of finagling of the latch assembly to finally get the hood open on the car in order to begin repairs. After the hood is finally raised, Ray performs a fuel pressure test and reaches the diagnosis of the fuel pump likely needs replacing.
However, after letting the customer know of the diagnosis, the customer tells Ray to stop the repairs and that he would do it himself. The owner then takes possession of his car and Ray’s services are no longer needed.
Whether the engine had been actually replaced is less believable from the appearance of the engine, but it may be true if the customer was referring to an engine replacement from several years ago. If so, then this is misleading.
Which begs the question at the end of the video: “Was Ray the mechanic wronged by a customer who really came to him to get his hood to open and then provide a diagnosis with no intention of having him provide the repairs?”
Watch the video posted below and read the comments afterward and see what you think the answer to this question is.
Customer States: Replaced Engine, still stalling!
In this case, I lean more towards the side of the mechanic about the situation. Customers do have the right to refuse any service and/or limit its scope. However, I feel that the customer should have been more forthcoming with the real problems the car has (a hood he cannot open) and that he is there only for a diagnosis and not a repair.
It may seem like splitting hairs here, but when you hire a mechanic it’s not just the tools and the physical labor, but it is also the education, the expertise, and the skills that are less tangible, but there nevertheless when work is done (or not). There’s also the matter of scheduling in an expected repair that might have served the garage better with another appointment from elsewhere for the same time slot. And there’s the matter of the potential intentional deceit.
In other words, is the mechanic just a tool for the car owner in repair situations like this?
We would like to hear from you: What are your thoughts about the video? Was the mechanic wronged or is this just a part of doing business? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
For a related article about car repair and maintenance, here is an important one titled “Do Not Fall for This Car Repair Reverse Scam.”
Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.
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