Frustrations with a mechanic

(I’m putting this in GQ since I’d actually like to know how this stuff works. But it’s borderline BBQ, and a bit IMHO.)

Last Thursday, while parked on the street near a friend’s house, a jerkwad hit-n-run doofus knocked the driver’s side mirror clean off my car. I found the remains strewn along the street when it was time to leave. Grrrrr.

Friday morning I call my typically-reliable local mechanic and explain exactly what happened. Can he order a new mirror and do the repairs? Sure, he says. He should get the part by Monday morning at the latest, and do the repairs Monday. Great!

Monday morning I call to see if the part is there. Yes, but no. They ordered an interior rear-view mirror instead of the side mirror. That’s what they thought I meant. (I wondered out loud how they could have gotten that impression after I described how another car had knocked it off. They had no good answer to that.)

So, Monday morning (yesterday) they say they’ll order the right part, but this time they have no idea how long it will take to arrive. What? They can’t call the parts place and ask “when will you be shipping it out?” How did they know about the first mirror’s delivery to within a half-day, but for the actual mirror I need, they can’t even guess the week?

It’s the week before Christmas, and here I am without a car that’s safe to drive, and they can’t even begin to guess when they might get a simple part that I could order over the internet for next-day delivery? What the heck? Is that normal? (I offered to buy the part myself and bring it in the next day. They were offended by the suggestion, since apparently they also make money on the part itself, and likened my suggestion to bringing a steak to a restaurant. Fair enough, I said. How about I bring you the part and pay you the markup? No dice: “That’s not how they do things.”

I’m willing to do pretty much anything to expedite this process, but they give me a bunch of semi-evasive answers and in the end tell me flat out: “There’s nothing you, or we, can do to either make this go faster, or (worse, really) to even find out for you how long it’s likely to take. We’ll call you when the part gets in.”

Is this normal mechanic behavior? Would their part-supplier really have no idea how long it would take to ship the part 5 miles down the road? Given that side-mirrors for Honda Civics (not exactly an exotic auto) seem to be lying thick on the ground in Internet-land, why is this all so hard?

I readily admit that I don’t know how their business models work. Maybe this is perfectly normal, and I should just wait patiently with my hands folded. But still. Grrrr.


Doesn’t make sense to me. Some parts are on back-order status, not readily available and often with no concrete time frame as to when they will be available. But if you’re finding the right part on the internet, it seems unlikely that would apply here.

As to their refusing to use a part you supply even with your covering their markup, it sounds like they’re stubbornly sticking to policy even when the reason for said policy isn’t there. Cutting off their nose to spite their face, I would say. Jeez, they’re in business to serve customers, not to enforce policies.

So in sum, not being able to tell when to expect the part is something that I’ve only seen in back-order situations, and in those cases I always explicitly tell the customer it’s on back-order (which I assume you were not told since you didn’t mention it). And while there are reasons shops are reluctant to use customer-supplied parts, I can’t think of any good ones in this particular case. Neither of these is normal behavior in well-run shops.

Right, how different would it be if the mirror fell off and you handed it to them and asked them to re-attach it? (in reference to buying your own part and bringing it in)
Many places won’t buy stuff on line. They have to stick to established suppliers for everything because the accounts are already set up and paperwork has been done long ago. You may be able to buy it off the net and have it there tomorrow, but the shop isn’t set up to do that and won’t do that.
If you didn’t like the answer from that particular shop you could have called around. There’s gotta be someone in town that could take care of you stat.

Is the front side of the mirror assembly body colored or is it black? If it is body colored, the mirror may be suplied already painted, or it may have to go to the body shop to be painted.
It is possible that the mechanic did not know how the dealer supplies the part, and has to make a call. Also does the local dealer have the part on the shelf, and if not, how long does it take them to get it?
It does seem like they are not helping.

If you can get the part faster yourself and can find another mechanic to do the work I say go for it. Just call the other guy up, tell him you no longer need the part, and if he asks why tell him you found a quicker way to get the work done.

I understand your frustration, but it’s just a mirror. With Christmas coming up, everybody from the suppliers to the mechanic might be consciously or subconsciously prioritizing things. The supplier could be shipping out higher-priced items first and the mechanic might be prioritizing to get people back on the road first. It’s a passenger side mirror, does it really prevent you from driving your car? To me it’s practically cosmetic - it makes the car look symmetrical. Is it required by law where you live? My first car, a 1985 Honda Civic did not come with one installed by default and was an extra option which the original owner chose not to pay for.

Grr, I’m having reading comprehension difficulties today. I didn’t see you said driver’s side, and for some reason assumed passenger side (We here… we … as a culture… erm… we don’t park well… or legally…) :slight_smile:

You should get one of these while you wait:<>prd_id=845524442281243&FOLDER<>folder_id=2534374302693017&bmUID=1166584608873

Better yet, why don’t you just knock off the other mirror but buy two of the above? :smiley: