Images by John 'K'

Life as seen through my lens…

Don’t get “The Midas Touch”…

It’s been a while since I’ve had something  to have a good moan about, but take the followig rant as a lesson to always be sure that 1) instructions given are clearly understood by all concerned, 2) that you make sure that everyone concerned knows to not be afraid to tell you if something unexpected happens, and 3) that if you pay to have something done at a shop, check it while at the shop – don’t just take for granted that it’s done right.
 
So on to the story. My youngest daughter learned to drive last year and got her license. We brought a relatively cheep car for her to use – a little 1999 Saturn SL2. We knew it’d need some exhaust work doing when we got it but as a temporary measure we patched it until such time as it would need replacing. That time came this week, so I took it into the local Midas shop in Dublin (CA) for them to check it out with a view to replacing the exhaust. They got it up on the ramp, examined the exhaust, and then called me over to view. Sure enough, the area previously patched was beyond patching and so the whole of the rear exhaust system (middle and rear muffler, and pipes) would need replacing as it’s an all-in-one unti. In addition, the catalytic converter will need replacing sometime soon, but as I wasn’t expecting to pay for that at that time I deferred that for later.
 
As the part to be replaced was not something they stock locally, they took the details to place a special order, which meant I had to pay then. I did the necessary paperwork then left the stop, and 45 minutes later while I was driving around I had a call from the service rep who told me it should be in the next day. Initially I wasn’t sure of my schedule so I suggested that the day after would be better. On getting home and checking things out I found I could to the next day so phoned them back and was told that it would be OK. – bring it in any time.
 
The next day came, and things got a bit busy in the morning, so I didn’t get the car to Midas until around midday. I arrived and identified myself, to be faced with "we were expecting you tomorrow" so when I explained about the subsequent call I had made, they said "oh – OK – well if the service manager said it is OK, we’ll do it now". I explained that I would wait for the car (I had no other way of getting anywhere), so they took the keys and started working while I sat in the waiting area with my laptop and phone doing some work.
 
About an hour later, they drove the car to the front door, I was handed the completion paperwork by the service manager, and was told it was all done – he even explained that as I was waiting they had 2 guys work on it so they could get it done quickly. I thanked him, and as I could hear the car wasn’t anywhere near as noisy as it was I assumed they’d done what was needed and duly drove off.
 
As I drove home, the overall level of noise from the car sounded odd. It was like the rear of the car was more noisy than before, so I pulled over and looked underneath. That is when things took an interesting turn, as what I saw was that rather than having a new exhaust system with new pipes, and new center and rear muffler, they’d simply removed the old center muffler and about 2 inches of piping each side, and welded in place a section of pipe. I was livid – I got straight on the phone and spoke to the service manager who said I should bring it straight back. Needless to day I turned around and was back at their desk in about 5 minutes, and in front of 3 other waiting customers started to very vocally complain about that they had done vs what was the "agreed" work I was paying for. The manager was most apologetic, and went off to the work area. I heard loud voiced (mostly his) and a minute later he came back with a senior engineer who then took the car, and put it back up on a ramp so we could all see the bodged job they had done.
 
After I explained the conversations from the previous day and again expressed my dissatisfaction in no uncertain terms, I was told to leave it with them, that they’d sort it all out and make it right, and that they’d hire a car for me so I could get around while this was sorted. As I sat in the reception area waiting for the hire car company to come pick me up I heard the manager making frantic calls trying to find someone with the right part. After 3 attempts, he found one, and sent one of the mechanics off in a truck to go get it.
 
The hire car duly arrived, so I after making sure they’d call me when completed, I headed off home to do some work – I’d already lost 2 hours to this – wasn’t going to waste the whole afternoon. A couple of hours passed and we got close to the time that they had said it’d be done by and there had been no phone call. Conscious that they’d be closing in less than an hour, I called them to be told "it’ll be done before we close". Well not wanting to chance things (I couldn’t let this lapse into another day), I hopped in the hire car (actually a Dodge RAM truck!!) and drove back to the hire car place – finished off the paperwork there, and asked them to run me back to Midas, which they happily did (the local Enterprise car hire office in Dublin – VERY HELPFUL and I can’t recommend them enough BTW).
 
As we pulled up at the Midas shop, I could see my daughters car parked up at the back of the lot. There hadn’t been a call to my phone telling me they were done, so I assumed the worse. I walked up to the desk and asked how things were going with the car. It was done. I proceeded to launch into a rant about them not contacting me as agreed (more apologies), and sorted out with them a refund on the car hire fees (as Midas don’t have a direct bill contract with Enterprise – something they by the looks of things should consider). They got the car and popped it back up on a ramp so I could see that they’d done the job properly this time.
 
It transpired that they’d ordered the part on the previous day as was told to me, and it was due to arrive that morning however didn’t show. So rather than when I arrived them tell me that they didn’t have the part, they’d taken it on their heads to do what they did. This sparked another interesting and very loud conversation in front of other customers in the waiting area about appropriate responses when faced with this sort of situation.
 
So at the end of the day the exhaust was sorted on the day promised, but whereas I would have been OK re-scheduling for another day when they had the part, the exercise in miscommunication ended up costing me a couple of wasted hours and a lot of frustration, and cost Midas 2 mechanics time for an hour on a bodged repair that was then removed later that afternoon, cost them another mechanics time for an hour to go collect the right part, cost them a day’s hire of a truck so I could use it for a couple of hours, and cost them a lot of embarrassment in front of other customers (who were clearly sitting there re-thinking their decision to use Midas as things unfolded in front of them). They also now have another Saturn SL2 exhaust sat around as the originally ordered part arrived shortly after the mechanic returned back to Midas with the one they went to pick up.
 
"The Midas Touch"… I won’t be touching them with any of my cars again.
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