• March 5, 2021 at 3:51 pm #116667
    Matthew Brade

    So seriously how does you shop handle THOSE cars? You know the ones I’m talking about, the vehicle that’s full of carbage (yes I said carbage) and looks like a science project run amuck. I’m curious, especially considering the present pandemic, how each of you handle these customers without coming across as rude or insulting. I mean some of these vehicles are just [email protected]#$ing disgusting and I really don’t want to even poke my head in to get mileage. I’ll give an example:  We had one customer whose previous (4 year old, low mileage) vehicle was total lossed by the insurance company because of the cost that the body shop was going to charge for hazmat fees (in excess of $8k in hazardous waste fees) and I would cringe not only for my technicians, but for any customer sitting in our lobby (he also had personal hygiene issues) any time this person would come in for service.  This person came in in his new vehicle (purchased after the insurance settlement) for the first service.  When he walked in to say that he smelled like an outhouse in August would be an understatement (we had to throw away a chair in the lobby that he sat in because we could not get the smell of urine and feces out of the upholstery), the car, OMG the car, was like walking on the set of a slasher flick. Rotten moldy food, various wrappers, incontinence pads, and such filled every available square inch, even with the windows, of the vehicle with the exception of the driver seat and floor (this on a 3 month old car). I fought the urge to vomit when I opened the door to get mileage and was assaulted by the raw stench coming from the vehicle (did I mention that this person also refuses to social distance or wear a face mask). I walked back in a politely made an excuse that we were super backed up and would call him to reschedule. It’s been 2 weeks, and I still haven’t wrapped my head around how to diplomatically tell this person that we don’t want to service his vehicle. I mean, I do feel sorry for this person, he has no family that communicates with him and it is obvious that he suffered something emotionally catastrophic to be the way he is and the he also needs help. However, especially with the pandemic, I feel like I’m putting not only my employees but customers at risk with this person.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    2 users thanked author for this post.
    March 5, 2021 at 4:49 pm #116675
    Tom Ham

    Nope. Just say it politely. It’s not like he is unaware.

    I’d be asking my local church to help (that is what they are supposed to do).

    Tom - Shop Owner since 1978

    March 7, 2021 at 11:16 am #116723
    Patrick McElroy

    Hi Matt, tough situation.  We go into business and once in a while we’re delt situations out of our normal daily routines.

    You seem to be a caring person or you would have sent this customer packing a long time ago. Either write or call this customer and be politely blunt. ( easier said than done )  “Dear customer, I can no longer ask my employees to work in an unhealthy environment.  I am asking that you take your car and get it professionally cleaned (inside and out) before we can start any service. We also will expect your personal hygean to conform with public expectations.  Should you not comply with these requests, we ask that you seek for service elsewhere.”

    Customers expect us to be honest, courteous, kind, knowledgeable, professional,  prompt, and clean. In return, we ask that our customers vehicles are reasonably clean and sanitary. We expect vehicles picked up promptly when completed and paid in full. To most of us, we call this normal.

    I have had one customer stomp off infuriated when confronted about their wretched smelling car. ( good riddance) Most are embarrassed and get the car cleaned up before their next visit. Only discuss this subject with such customers in private.

    1 user liked this post.
    March 8, 2021 at 8:31 am #116749
    Richard Zaagman

    As Tom mentioned, just a polite request.  Mr Smith, for us to safely work on your vehicle we will need it cleaned out first.  I think that’s all that’s needed.  Given what you’ve said, my guess is he’ll never clean it out and probably won’t come back to see you.

    1 user liked this post.
    March 9, 2021 at 2:37 pm #116811

    It’s never easy but as Tom related, he’s probably aware and not willing/able to change his lot in life. My OMG moment came in 1984 when the customer brought in a 1981 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser complaining about the defroster not working. Didn’t take long to figure out that Mr. Clean used his dashboard as a…….wait for it………SPITTOON. Yup, true story.

    1 user liked this post.
    March 24, 2021 at 3:55 pm #117304
    Maylan Newton

    I have experienced more than one of these types of customers. One was in F3 50 truck that the gentleman used the floor as a spittoon and it literally dripped tobacco out the door sills. The other end was an Industrial Meat Salesperson who had rotted meat in his car. the boxes of meat had swelled up to 4 or 5 times their normal size and both he and the car smelled like death.
    I took both of them aside and explained to them that we would no longer be able to work on their cars unless they came and clean sanitized and safe for my employees to work on. Both of them seem to be surprised that we are having that conversation because they were so used to the smell and condition of the vehicle they overlooked it. Many people who have disorders don’t notice what they’re living in. But I refuse to put not only my employees but also my customers at risk to service one or 2 vehicles. you’re much better off letting them go in a polite and professional manner. you can offer to get them help through the church or local agencies but in the end, they have to want help and most do not.


    Maylan Newton
    Educational Seminars Institute
    ASCCA member for 35 years
    2017 ASCCA Member of the year
    35 years of service to the automotive industry
    If it’s to be… It’s up to ME

    1 user liked this post.
    March 26, 2021 at 3:46 pm #117375
    John Burkhauser

    Ah. You folks are lucky, you had a chance to stop and talk to the customer before dealing with the vehicle issue. One day I was tagging a vehicle, which wasn’t that clean anyway but I’ve seen worse. I sat down in the driver’s seat to get a better view of the odometer and lo and behold the seat was wet. And at that moment I realized the smell of urine. Jumping out of the vehicle as fast as I humanly could, I stood there trying to avoid any skin contact with my now wet pants. Looking over to the customer I then noted that his pants were all wet on the back end but he didn’t seem to mind. I can tell you that day I was so happy that I always kept spare uniforms in my locker.

    1 user liked this post.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.