Tech Stuff

Customers don’t always know what’s best

In the “old days,” when an automotive component was reclaimed instead of being sold for scrap, the part was “rebuilt,” which simply involved fixing whatever went wrong. The end result, depending on the shop doing the work, could be good or bad.

As time progressed, a few extremely high-quality-minded operations began offering remanufacturing services.

Basically, the original manufacturing program is revisited, with one distinct advantage: whatever the problem was that led to failure is either corrected or re-engineered to improve the product.

I mention this because of a recent encounter I had at a local parts store. I observed a customer arguing with the counterman as a result of his recommendation for a remanufactured water pump. He ranted about how the store’s “new” item was over-priced, and that the store was trying to talk him into buying a “rebuilt piece of c--p,” for less dough, just to pry money out of his wallet.

I remained quiet until I could no longer tolerate the abuse he was giving to the well-intentioned guy behind the counter. I proceeded to inform the customer of my own experience with quality reman parts.

During a five-year period in the late 1980s and early 1990s, my endurance road race team was sponsored by a prominent national parts remanufacturer. The goal of the program was to employ the company’s entire line of reman parts (in this case for Ford Mustangs) in a series of 12-hour and 24-hour endurance races in order to demonstrate the quality and durability of the remanufactured components.

We ran the company’s reman crankshafts, starters, alternators, brake calipers, master cylinders, brake boosters, distributors, water pumps, fan clutches, rack & pinion assemblies, clutch packages and power steering pumps.

In the two 12-hour races and the eight 24-hour races, we exposed these components to non-stop, gut-wrenching and brutally abusive conditions without a single reman parts failure.

After about 20 minutes of “education,” the customer calmed down and made his reman purchase. About six months later, I happened to bump into the same guy, at which time he thanked me for “talking him into” the reman part.

This is simply yet another reminder that customers don’t always know what they’re talking about, especially after gleaning often misguided information from the Internet. 

The same applies to customers who “know” what’s wrong with their vehicles, based on their Internet forum findings (where any yahoo can offer his or her opinions). When a “self-taught” customer starts telling you how to solve their drivability issues, because they read (and blindly believe) Internet posts, instead of tossing the guy out of your shop, it’s important to remain calm and try to educate the customer. It’s not always easy, but with so many people placing blind faith in what they see on the Net, it’s a hurdle we all need to face.   ●

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