I’ve worked in and been a customer of the car industry.
Over the years, I’ve found that positive experiences in this field are rare.
So I had to report this one immediately, that we may distil its lessons for our own use.
When I phoned my Ford dealer’s service department last week, I got Neil^.
I said my Fiesta was due for its 10,000 km service.
Neil politely begged to differ, saying that my model’s next scheduled service was 15,000 km.
He added that he hated it when car places over serviced their customers.
This certainly got my attention.
He then consulted the manual and worked out that the service I needed was time-based (1 year) not distance-based.
I was worried that being a month overdue would void my warranty.
He assured me that I was, and would remain, completely covered.
I asked Neil if his staff could collect and return my car.
He said yes.
I asked how soon.
He said Thursday.
I felt even better.
With my decision to book imminent, I told Neil about a problem I’d been having with the car.
Not being technical, I used words like ‘surge’, ‘gurgle’ and ‘gasp’.
Rather than laugh at me, Neil encouraged me to keep talking.
So I dredged teen memories of servicing my ’67 VW Beetle with my dad.
There I found terms like ‘points’, ‘hunting’, ‘timing’, ‘dirty plug’ and ‘spark advancement’.
Neil paused to compose his next sentence carefully:
‘I may be wrong, Paul, but my guess is that – like me – you’re aged over 40.’
‘Yes’, I said. ‘How did you know?’
‘Those words you’re using don’t apply to today’s vehicles. There is no spark advancement. And plugs get replaced at 105,000 km, not dirty every 5,000 km. These days, we just connect your engine to our computer and let diagnostics sort everything out.’
I marvelled at Neil’s tact. (A trait for which automotive professionals are not renowned.) He’d corrected me twice, yet I was still on the line.
It was time to see if he could perform a hat trick and secure my booking.
Before we commit, do you have a car sector experience to relate?
With our service histories shared, I can steer this tale to your maximum utility and pleasure.
That we may finish with flying colours!
* Photo by me. My other (actual) car is here.
^ His real name.