Thursday, October 1, 2009

The value of telling the truth

I believe I rambled about my issues with getting this new car. Perhaps I mentioned the big dent that appeared between the time when we said we'd take it and when we came to sign the papers and pick it up? Russ, the guy who was selling us the car had insisted that the dent must have been there, because *he* drove the car from the K-mart parking lot back to the dealership.

I know 2 things: 1) A dent can happen to a car when no one is inside it. 2) My dad has the eagle-eye when it comes to car exteriors. I wouldn't have even noticed something on my car, and when I pull up into his driveway, he'd yell out the window: HEY! What'd'ya hit?

So, to appease my family, Russ said that we could make an appointment with the "dent doctor" and at that time they'd also re-detail my car (it hadn't been done well at all). So when I finally called to make the appointment, I talked to the receptionist (who asked how she may direct my call): "Yes, I recently purchased a car from your dealership. I worked with Russell Frost. When I picked it up, there was a new dent and Russell Frost told me to call and make an appointment with the dent doctor. Russell Frost."

She decided to redirect my call to the body shop, who didn't answer, so I left a message: "Hi, yes, Russell Frost told me to call and make this appointment yaddah yaddah Russell Frost."

About an hour later, I get an angry call from Russell Frost, who essentially conveys to me that he thinks I'm an idiot.

"You need to call ME for that. I'M the one that sold you the car."

Dude, like I know how a dealership works. I shouldn't even need to be doing this. GAH.

"How's 2 on Wednesday?" he inquires. Did he ask me when I was available? No.

" about 4," I reply, and he agrees.

When he first told me about this, he said it would take about 2 hours. I decided that since I was going right after work I would just bring a book and sit in the waiting room for that time. It wasn't really enough time to try and get someplace else. Also, the weather was crappy. At 4, when I walked into the dealership and handed him my keys, he says: "ok, you're dropping this off?"
"Nope, I'm staying here." He repeats this in a slightly-concerned manner. He tells me he'll be back soon.

I settle into the waiting area and it isn't even 20 minutes before he calls me over to a desk. "Alright, so they've taken a look at your car, and now we just need to make an appointment for the dent doctor."

"WHAT? This WAS my appointment with the dent doctor!!" Can you feel my tension rising? This would have been two whole wasted hours had I dropped it off!!!

"Yea, but the dent is too big to do in-house and it's too late to get the professional today. When are you available next week?"
He asks this as he dials the phone. I scowl. ", anytime after 4, but just not Tuesday.."

As he speaks to someone on the phone, he turns to me and says: "How about 3?"

"No, absolutely not. I can't do that." What the heck dude? SERIOUSLY? Are you trying to make it so I can't ever work, so I can't pay for this damn thing?

"Can't you drop it off before work and pick it up after?" By this point, he has told the person on the phone that he will call her(?) back.

"How'm I supposed to get to work?"

"Can't someone bring you?"

"No! I live in Troy, I work in Troy or Schenectady, my parents live in Saratoga, they work full time, they've got their own thing going on. No."

Then he mentions that they're going to need the car for two full days.

"You said this was going to take TWO HOURS!"

At this point he tells me to calm down, that we're going to figure this out.

"I'm sorry, this has just become a huge hassle."

"But it's got to get done, so when can you do it?"

"Can you please just acknowledge the fact that this has become a huge hassle?"

"Fine. Yes. It has."

He is being very short with me, and is clearly annoyed with the exchange. I have resented this guy since he wrote down the trade-in value for my saturn ($100). I hate him.

"How'm I going to get to work those days?" He does not offer any sort of help on this. Saturn of Albany always drove me where I needed to be when they were working on my car. "Well, maybe I can drive my Saturn. It's a good thing I didn't trade it in He starts telling me that this is impossible, as it doesn't have plates. This notion is false. My Saturn is sitting in my parents driveway in Saratoga, just as drivable as it was two weeks ago. Then he remembers putting new plates on the suzuki. Also, he does not understand why my parents can't just drive down and drop off a car, yadda yadda. I'm not just going to make plans and ASSUME my parents are going to be available and willing to follow through, and I REALLY don't appreciate someone else making plans for me with that same set of assumptions.

"Also, it has been very difficult to work with you. You've been treating me like you don't respect me at all."

Somehow, this personal attack was biting enough to change his demeanor. He takes out a business card and writes "Maria" on it in sharpie. He apologizes and says he didn't realize that I'd felt that way, and if I wanted to just call her and not have to deal with him anymore, then that would be fine. I tell him I just need some time to talk to my parents and discuss what will work for us. I call my mom. Her schedule is certainly not wide open. My uncle is coming to visit from Utah next week. I think they usually let him use one of their cars. She says she'll help me drop off the car on Sunday night so they can work on it Monday. I go back into the dealership to tell him this. All of a sudden, he is offering to have me pick him up, drive him to Saratoga, and he will drive one of the cars back to Albany.

"That's OK, but thanks." We make the appointment, and I bring him outside to show him the place in my car where it looked like much soda was spilled and never cleaned up. The problem with fold out armrest cup holders is that they can be hidden and left a mess. I tell him that the bit of dirt not vacuumed up didn't work me up much, but that armrest thing was completely disgusting and unacceptable. He agrees. "It certainly is disgusting." He explains that at these sales, they sell such a quantity of cars in such a short amount of time that some quality, especially in their already-crappy detail department, declines. I share my year experience as "detail technician" at Hoffman's Carwash. "This would have gotten me fired," I say.

This is a hyperbole. It would have gotten my hours cut down so I was forced to quit.

He asks what he could have done differently to do right by me, and where he went wrong. I try to be vague when answering him, but he pries for specifics.

I recount the phone call where he was mad at me for not calling him directly. He does what you shouldn't do when apologizing: tries to defend himself. He starts explaining that he was the one who sold me the car so why would I talk to anyone else yadda yadda. (Back me up here. If he was the one fixing the dent, then I would understand his frustration. But he is just the middle man.) I explain to him that though I mentioned his name a million times, I was connected to the body shop. "Ohh, so it was a receptionist..." he ponders. As though someone else typically answers the phone? I tell him that quite frankly, even as early as that Monday, when-I-absolutely-couldn't-spend-time-doing-anything-but-my-school-work and yet I was made to go to the dealership, I was pissed. He explained that he had remembered about my paper but my father had told him it was OK.

"It was conveyed to my parents that the car absolutely had to be picked up by Tuesday, and Tuesday I had a doctors appointment and Literacy Volunteers training and we couldn't do it earlier."

Though I stated that in that way to not blame him for anything, he starts rambling that he was the only one who ever talked to my parents, and that picking it up Wednesday would have been fine, it was only important that it was out by the end of the month. Now he is calling my parents liars. Smooth move.

He explains to me that most of the sales reps only last for three months, and he has been there for three years, and he doesn't want me to think he's a sleazy sales guy (he's a different kind of sleaze...he had his sleeves pulled up during this interaction and I could see his painful tattoo). I told him that he'd remedied the situation, and that I'd drop the car off on Sunday.

I called my mom on the way home. "He said WHAT? There's no way! Wednesday would have been better for us too!!

So even if he is some sort of a sleaze or an idiot, I'm no longer so angry at him. Instead of violence or screaming, it is really effective to directly state the truth. I find this also works with students. Some people need to hear that their actions truly do effect others, and watching someone's face drop (in this situation) is really really satisfying.


Fraggle said...

I have generally found that the truth works. I've gotten out of tickets by just stating that I was wrong and stupid and I won't do it again.

That sounds like a very trying experience. I hate when people try and smooth over their mistakes like that! just listen and admit you were wrong!

Picked Off said...

holy shit dude