I have spent the past 3 weeks dealing with a car repair situation that has really shed some light on how a business should not treat its customers.

Answerfirst Customer ServiceBoth of my family vehicles’ transmissions decided to fail within 2 days of one another and, after renting a vehicle to get everyone from point A to point B, I made the decision to repair the transmission on the newer vehicle. I was told by a local car dealer that he would have his mechanic look at the car and give me an estimate of what it would cost to repair the transmission.

So far so good right?

I was very clear with the dealer that I needed my car repaired as soon as possible because my rental car was costing me daily. We agreed on a price and then he sent my car to a transmission repair shop that he uses.  The dealer told me that the repairs would be done in 3 days which would mean that I could pick up my repaired car on Monday. So, I extended my rental car contract to Monday.

3 days went by, and Monday arrived.  On my way to return my rental car I called the dealer to verify that my car was repaired and ready to be picked up.  I was told that they needed an additional 2 days to complete the repair.  Alright, the expense of my rental car was really adding up, but I extended my rental contract to Wednesday.

Fast forward 2 days to Wednesday…

I called the dealership to see what time I could pick up my car. No one answered so I left a message letting them know that I would not have transportation once I turned in the rental car at the noon deadline.  No one called me back, so I figured everything was okay and that my car was repaired and ready for pick-up.  However, on my way to return the rental car I received a text that my car “should be ready” by close of business that day.

At this point, I was out of my $1,000 deposit for service and $860 in rental fees. I called the dealership at 4pm to ask if the car was ready because I would need to take a cab to pick it up. No one answered so I had to leave a message.  No one returned my call.

I had to ask my wife to get a ride home from work and also ask my parents if they could help because I was out of additional funds to spend on a rental and I needed transportation. Luckily, my father was able to loan me his vehicle. So now it’s Thursday morning, 7 days since I agreed to the repair that was only supposed to take 3 days, and no one has contacted me about the car since they sent me a text message to say it would be done the previous evening. I called the dealership again; they told me that there had been some “complications” and now the car would not be ready until Friday close of business.

So, I waited another day and went to the dealership on Friday to pick up my car.  It still wasn’t ready!  I was told to come back at noon on Saturday.  I returned at noon on Saturday and my car still wasn’t ready.  I finally picked up my vehicle at the close of business on Monday… 12 days after I had dropped it off for a repair that was supposed to take 3 days!

When setting client expectations businesses need to make an effort to be accurate and deliver the agreed service or product within the expectation that they’ve set.”

If they cannot meet the expectations that they’ve set, then proactive communication can salvage a client relationship, but failing to return calls while also making and breaking additional promises completely destroys any chance of earning a client’s loyalty.  I will never use this company again because they did a very poor job of setting my expectations properly, only to make additional agreements that they went on to break and, all the while, they were difficult to communicate with.