A Tale of Two Tune Shops

Illustration for article titled A Tale of Two Tune Shops

I've been wanting to get a remote starter on my car for some time. I thought about getting one when I first got the Mazda but at the time it was a lease, and I didn't want to make that investment on a car that I wasn't going to keep. Well, I bought the lease out a year ago and it was time. Because the car has a manual transmission that makes putting a remote starter in a little more complicated.


There are a few local tune shops in my area (3 in fact all within 5 miles of each other). One is pretty well known and always has really high end cars that they are working on. This particular shop was my "go-to" for clients that needed upgrades whether it be mechanical, electronic, cosmetic. I had heard that they were running a "Black Friday" special on remote-starters for only $18 (before installation).

So as soon as I hear about the special (about 3 days before Black Friday) I call them up and ask about my car.


"Well, your car has a manual-shift so it doesn't apply"

- "I realize that, but I figured since you were running a big discount for automatic cars maybe we can work something out for my ride. I just told 5 co-workers about your special and they will be there on Black Friday."


"We can't really give you pricing at this time you will have to come in on Black Friday, or call in the morning."

So I call in the morning

"Well, we need to see your key fob so you have to come on down. We can get you a good deal."


I drive down there and the dude plugs away on the computer for like 15 minutes, it feels like an eternity. He goes in the back...he comes back, and says, "The best we can do is $405."

-"What? 400 bucks, that is what you quoted me last year. I thought I was getting a deal?


"No way we quoted you that last year. Normally it should be $595, we are giving you a discount."

- "Yeah I called last year during the same time, and you had a discount on automatic remote starts, and that my unit would be double. Sorry $400 isn't worth it."


And I leave kind of pissed that they wasted my time. Had they told me over the phone earlier in the week what the price would be I wouldn't be angry.

I try another shop not far from this one. It's a place called Autobahn (yeah cool name) I speak to the owner, a nice guy named Reza and I explain what I want.


He shows me a really nice unit that has this super easy integration with the car's computer module, that is $300 installed. I tell him I want something a little less expensive. He says he can integrate the remote start into my key-fob but the range would not be that great and I would have to manually unlock the doors. Or he can give me a really simple one-button unit similar to what my wife has on her minivan. That will be $250 installed. I tell him I will go with that, and ask if he has any availability the next day. There was a lot of customers due to the Black Friday shopping so he would have to call me later. I give him my business card, he asks about what I do and says he will give me a ring.

Around dinner time I get a call. "Hey Tom, I'm really booked up tomorrow but if I get a cancellation I'll call you by 10:30am. Also, I got some bad news. The simple unit your wife has turns out is not compatible with the Mazda. I have a more expensive Python unit that will work it has the lock/unlock functions as well, and because I quoted you $250, I'll put it in for that. So how about we schedule you for next weekend and if I have an opening tomorrow I'll squeeze you in."


Mid-way through the week, I realize that I have a dinner party planned for that Saturday and dropping the car off and picking it up might be a challenge. I tell Reza I might have to reschedule. He tells me if I can get there at 9am he can have one of his guys take me home and I can pick the car up whenever. If it is after hours he will lock the car and I can bring my spare key.

The party wrapped-up late and I got a ride (details of that here) to the shop. I open the car and try to activate the unit, doesn't work. I figured I was doing something wrong so I consulted the manual. Reza stepped me through the process when I dropped the car off, but it's not the same. Still doesn't work. I get home and try again. He was nice enough to text me his number if I have any questions. I shoot him a text at 9 p.m. "Sorry to bother you late but I can't get the system to activate. Give me a ring tomorrow sometime."


Within 10 minutes he texts me back with more details on how to activate the system. Because he had to manually lock my keys in the car the unit got disabled. A couple of texts back and forth and success!


That is how customer service is done. The "other guys" used to be my go-to for clients and friends. Don't get me wrong they still do good work and I don't want to burn bridges that is why I haven't mentioned them by name. But they wasted my time and were way overpriced for what I wanted. Now I will be happy to send folks to Reza at Autobahn.

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