Good service story

After reading this thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=780194, I thought I would tell a good service story.

I got back from a 3 week vacation on Sunday. Monday morning, my car wouldn’t start. I thought I was familiar with what a dead battery sounds like. You turn the key and nothing happens. Or you turn the key and you hear a slow grinding of the starter motor, not enough to start the engine. Or it grinds slow but does start the car. The sound I got instead sounded like a death rattle. I have never heard such a sound before. Uh oh, better get the car to a service station.

My insurance company provides up to 4 road services a year free. So I called them. They said a tow truck would be there in about 40 minutes. About 40 minutes later, a tow truck pulled up in front of my house. The driver asked what the problem was. I explained about the noise and let him try it. He went back to his truck, came with a portable batter into my garage (somewhat heated incidentally), popped the hood, attached the cables and had me start the car. It started right up. He advised me to leave it running for 20 minutes and drove off.

I pulled the car out of the garage (no way I was going to leave it running inside the attached garage for 20 minutes) and then had a thought. First, this is the first time this has happened, although I take a 3 week winter vacation every year, and second, the car and battery are getting on the 9 years old. So I drove over to my garage and told them I needed a new battery. They said they would have to order it, come back in the afternoon. I did and they replaced the battery and I drove home happy.

Since my last experience with emergency road service was an utter disaster (AAA in the US), I was extremely pleased.

I love reading stories about good service. It seems that people are quick enough to bitch about bad service online but can’t be bothered to commend good service.

Here’s mine: a few years ago I did the Oasis Zoo Run 10K at the Toronto Zoo. My boyfriend (now husband) met me after work at the hotel the night before. Turned out he had blown a tire on the way to work and was driving on the spare “donut”, and he’d either have to get the tire fixed while I was running and miss me at the finish line, or we’d have to leave right after the race and not spend the day at the zoo together. I said to go ahead and get it fixed while I was running. So I get to the finish line and texted him to say I was done and he texts back “I’m looking right at you.” Turned out he went to the Canadian Tire down the street and they said he’d have about a 45 minute wait. He said “I know this isn’t your problem, but my girlfriend is doing the 10K up at the zoo right now and it would really mean a lot to her if I was at the finish line - is there any way to speed this up?” They had him in and out in 20 minutes.

I wrote a nice thank-you email to the company and they wrote back and said they would make sure that store got a commendation.

Ivylad and I were running errands when we heard a horrible slapping sound. Turns out we had a HUGE chunk of metal in the back right tire.

Fortunately, we were close to Tire Kingdom, so we limped over. We were told it would be a 2-3 hour wait.

Ah, well. So much for running errands. We made ourselves comfy in the hard plastic chairs, tried to tune out Game Show Network blaring on the TV, and Ivylad read his book while I read my Kindle.

Two-three hours pass, and they finally call us. We asked them how much we needed to pay, and they said “Nothing,” because we were so patient.

It paid off for them. I went back a few months later to get new tires for my car, and we told them why we came back.

I think I’ve posted this before, but it bears repeating. :slight_smile:

When we bought our house, the furnace was a combined gas furnace/heat pump that sat outside and heated in winter and cooled in summer. It was somewhat finicky in operation, due to a poor installation that didn’t allow the water from the gas burner to drain properly. A heating tape wrapped around the drain line normally compensated for this.

Late one mid-winter Sunday evening we noticed that the heat wasn’t coming on and I called the emergency number for our furnace service guy, expecting to leave a voicemail and probably be first on his list for Monday morning, but no. This was an emergency, we couldn’t be without heat for the night, and he would be right out. The heating tape had failed, the drain line had frozen, and water and ice had gradually built up inside the furnace casing until it reached the control module and shorted it out. So there I was at 3AM Sunday night, in a snowstorm, holding a light for this guy as he lay on his belly in the snow chipping away at the solid block of ice in the furnace with a miniature electric jackhammer, and not only cheerful about it but cracking jokes as he worked. He dropped by one day during the summer and drilled a proper drain hole in the concrete pad to keep it from happening again - no charge.

He’s still servicing our current furnace (which he also installed), despite all the offers from the gas company to save us money with an annual service plan.

It’s not often that you’ll hear praise about the DMV but I’ve got nothing but two thumbs up for my local branch office.

They were informative, courteous, quick and efficient.

You have an outdoor furnace? That’s weird. I take it you don’t have a basement?

Wait - you live in a state where LSD is legal??? :smiley:

Good to hear it, actually.

Ours is fine - waits are usually just because there are sooooooo many people waiting to be helped.

To the OP re AAA in the US: Sorry you’ve had such bad luck. We’ve always been very fortunate when calling them; they usually come much faster than promised. The last few times I’ve had to call them for a battery jump (different cars), they’ve offered to sell me a battery on the spot. One time I declined - then priced the battery at a local shop and it cost more than AAA had quoted, so the next time (different car) I went ahead and let them install the new battery. In both cases, the existing battery was well on its way out before it happened so I wasn’t scammed into unnecessary work.

The two funny AAA stories I have:

  1. On our honeymoon back in the early 1980s, we rented a beach house. Our last day there, I managed to lock the only set of keys in the car. I walked a half mile to the nearest pay phone (this was pre-cell phones of course) and called AAA. So our joke is that AAA saved our marriage.

  2. Summer 2006, we were visiting Niagara Falls with a large group of people -parents from a mailing list. We all went to a restaurant a few miles away from the hotel, and as we pulled in, our 10 year old Dodge Caravan started making very (un)funny noises - like it was halfheartedly trying to sound every chime and alarm it had. I sent the kids inside with the rest of the group, my husband started pulling and replacing every fuse in the car, while I called AAA. Fortunately for us, AAA has a deal with CAA, and they promised to send out a truck.

20-30 minutes later, I saw a CAA truck pulling into the front of the parking lot. We were near the back, and I was afraid they’d fail to find us, and leave - so I took off running to intercept the truck.

Turns out they were there on a different service call.

For another American Dodge Caravan. It was apparently a bad night to be an American minivan in that part of Ontario.

While he was working on that car, he got the call for ours.

We were lucky - he was able to get ours started by reconnecting something with the electrical system. The other family was stranded there; apparently most auto shops wouldn’t have been able to work on their car until Monday. We made it home safely before having more permanent repairs done.

Not specific, but our car guys are aces! We had an Aerostar with many, many miles on it and I had no problem dropping it off at their shop saying “Give it a once-over and let us know what it needs.” Sometimes they’d say “Just an oil change.” But when they told us other things needed to be done, we knew we could believe them. We’ve dealt with them for about 10 years thru more vehicles than I care to count (ours and our daughter’s) and they’ve never messed us over. And on the rare occasions they goof up (like a recent episode with our truck’s belt) they’ll revisit and make things right for no charge, plus they get on it right away rather than stick us at the back of the line.

Small local shop - I hope they last a long, long time!

I can say the same thing for the drivers license and registration processing here in Washington State. They don’t do the monolithic DMV with huge lines thing like they do in California. The offices are small and spread out, and I think maybe even outsourced to third party companies. I don’t think I’ve waited in line longer than two minutes. Georgia did a similar thing. I remember registering my car and getting my plates from a kiosk in a supermarket.

I was pretty happy with my last roadside assistance experience. It was a certified used car with a warranty and Acura’s roadside assistance. Called the number on my window, a guy was in the parking lot with a portable jump starter within 15 minutes. Once it was running I decided to get the battery checked out, so I drove to the nearest dealer who replaced the battery under warranty. They had a decent waiting area with internet so I could work while I waited.

So about as smooth as it could be (ignoring the “nothing goes wrong with the car in the first place” scenario).

I have never had anything but good experiences with car problems when away from home. Maybe I could think of almost a dozen, and in every case, I got good, prompt, courteous help, got quickly back on the road, and never got ripped off. Basically, I drive junkers and beaters, so I’ve exposed myself to plenty of unpalatable opportunities, but never had one materialize.

Bad start, but at least a good finish. I had a custom shop install a remote starter in my car. They botched the job in some way that entirely discharged the battery that night.

The next day they came to my work and got my keys, went to my house and got the car started, brought it into their shop and fixed it, then returned the car home and returned the keys to me at work.

There’s an auto repair place near me that does amazing customer service.

I first when there to diagnose a squeaking sound. Left it (they’re within walking distance of my house) and when I came back, they told me a belt was loose. I asked how much to pay and they said, “nothing.”

You can bet I went back.

Several years later, I brought in my car for a check. There was a hole in one of the pipes. He looked up the cost. Turned out the pipe was no longer manufactured alone – you had to replace the converter. It was going to cost $1000. As soon as he told me, though, he went on to say, “Look, I know a place that will cut out the bad pipe and just replace that. It’ll cost you $100.” He didn’t charge me for the diagnosis and I figured anyone who saved me $900 would have my business.

Finally, a few years ago, I brought the car in for an oil change and a state inspection. He did the oil change, then discovered the car wouldn’t pass inspection (and the cost to repair was more than the car was worth). He apologized for my having to pay for the oil change; he should have inspected first. But, hell, considering how much he saved me over the years, I had no objection.

*Used *to have an outdoor furnace (technically a bivalent heat pump). It was originally designed for use in Canadian winters and worked (mostly) quite well until it started to die from old age after about 30 years of service. We now have a mid-efficiency gas furnace in the basement and a standard outdoor A/C unit, using slightly less gas and somewhat more electricity.

Ah automotive care stories that are happy. Warms my heart.
Mine goes like this.

Mrs. Guest and I took a road trip a couple of years ago. In Wyoming we notice a huge cloud of black smoke following us. Pulled in at Little America and look under the car, tranny fluid everywhere. Spent a week in Rock Springs for repairs. Get the car back and hit the road. The car sounds different but we don’t think much of it and are eager to go after a week in a motel room going to walmart to keep us and the guestling entertained. So, after a month spent driving a loop around the rockies we get back and take the car to OUR dealer’s service dept. for a look see. Transfer case bone dry (it was a 4wd GMC suburban), exhaust broken off at catalytic converter, right rear axle broken, and the “brand new transmission” we spent a week waiting to come from the warehouse in salt lake, not brand new at all, and after some kind of checking by our local dealer, not even a factory rebuilt tranny.

Called GMC corporate (I was a little…peeved) Got refunded every penny I’d paid to the dealership in Rock Springs for the repair AND a good chunk of the repairs needed to the exhaust and axle, then after the local dealership accidentally dropped the transfer case off the lift while replacing the tranny that GMC shipped right away (gratis of course) the local guys covered the remainder of the cost for the repairs of the axle and exhaust (transfer never had any mechanical problems)