Monday, July 16, 2007

Honest Mechanic

One of the hard things about moving to a new area is finding a trustworthy mechanic. There are the usual suspects, that place in particular that everyone suggests by the church, but my experience with them has been costly and not all that I had hoped.

There was the time I asked for the a/c to be charged on the van, only to find that I had a serious enough of a leak in the condenser that it leaked the refrigerant immediately. They put a dye in to help spot the leak, but it was such an obvious gash that no dye was needed. Yes, it was reasonable to charge me for the work, but nothing "stuck." So I was charged for the dye, the refrigerant, and the fee to set everything up with no compassion for not stopping to charge the a/c even though he said he could hear it leaking from the beginning. They offered to replace/repair the condenser for $700. After a little research I found some one else to do the work for $500. It pays to make a few phone calls.

But the guy who did the work, though he did good work, was all the way on the south side of town, complete opposite side. So I had to find someone else.

That's when I found Parrish's. I don't remember the exact circumstance, but I know I needed some muffler work done. Right away, they showed me what the problem was, what the factory replacement would be, what the after market would be, and "Oh, I have some pipe here I can cut and use for this piece so you'll only have to buy this shorter one." Saved me a lot of money.

I've continued to go back ever since. The latest adventure that kinda sealed the deal for me as a permanent customer was when I realized that our van was past the time of needing a timing belt change. Did the previous owner do it? Was there any way to find out?

I asked them if they could check.

First diagnosis was that it was too hard to tell, until they got into it, that is, and by that time, I might as well go ahead and replace it. Well, I thought, it's got to be done, better go ahead and do it. This was going to cost $900.

The next day I got a call around noon from Robert saying that he hadn't gotten that far into it but was able to check the belt and see that it had already recently been changed. Relief!

I got to thinking about what some unscrupulous mechanic might do--and what he could have easily done himslef. I had already given permission to change it, he could have done the work, collected the labor--or worse yet, NOT do the work, claim that he had, and I never would have known the difference. But in his honesty, he saved us a ton of money and didn't even charge for the labor to get as far as he did!

My sister in law has been threatening for some time to write a book about customer service. (Her experiences warrant a whole new post--maybe even a blog!) These guys need to be the subject of the preface, or the how-to-do-it-right section. A humble, unpretentious hole-in-the-wall auto shop with great service, honesty and one very happy and returning customer.