Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Courteous mechanics -- oxymoron, right?

I’m grateful for the mechanics my husband and I use. I really am. They’re trustworthy, they do the work on our cars for a fair price, and did I mention we trust them? Do you hear the “but” coming?

Here’s the “but”: I really like them, but why can’t they call me when the work isn’t going to be done when they said it was going to be done? I won’t be mad. I won’t be nasty. I know things happen, and I know they’re keeping the car because they still have work to do. Why can’t they just pick up the phone and call to tell me that?

Those of you who know me know that I’m self-employed. I’m a freelance editor who works out of her home. Lots of people trust me with things that are important to them—books, articles for the websites, white papers, etc. They pay me money to make these things better, and I promise to have them done on a certain day.

Even when I’m on track for delivery, I still communicate regularly with my clients to let them know how the work is progressing and that they can still expect the work to be delivered on the day we agreed. They appreciate hearing from me. On the rare occasion when I need an extra day or two, I message them early, explain the circumstances, and ask if they can afford the extra day or two. If they can’t, then I bust my hump to get it done on the scheduled day.

Why do I do this? Because they have trusted me with something that’s valuable to them, because they’re paying me to work on it, and because we had an agreed-upon delivery date. It’s common courtesy to communicate with your clients.

So why is this so hard for mechanics to understand? Why do they get indignant if you call because your car wasn’t done when it was supposed to be done? When I talked to them today, it was made very clear to me that I should not call again. They will call me when the car is done. Hmmm.

I’m not inclined to cut my nose off to spite my face, so I won’t be discontinuing my patronage of this mechanic. Like I said, they do good work and I trust them. But right now, I’m not liking them very much. Courtesy doesn’t take that much effort or that much time, and it goes such a long, long way.

I wish more mechanics were inclined to feel the same way. (And I made that blanket statement on purpose—most mechanics I’ve ever had to deal with have this same attitude.)

I don’t get it.