So here’s a “Shit Customers Do” story for you. It’s kind of long, so here’s a Mustang for your time:
I work for an aftermarket interior company and deal with a lot of new car salespeople and service folks. A few weeks ago, the service advisor in charge of accessories for a Honda dealer nearby called me and asked if we wouldn’t mind if he sent his customer down to the shop to discuss a custom color order. This happens sometimes - more often than not it’s a customer with kids who wants a darker color than our recommended match so I grabbed my color swatches and said “send ‘em on over.”
We have a few colors to choose from
That was my first mistake. So the dude and his wife came in, and she was wearing a surgical mask. She insisted that she smell all of the vinyl and leather we use so she could be sure that it wasn’t poisoning her.
Now, we all know that outgassing occurs in our cars. It’s an effect of making products out of volatile chemicals. Most of these gases are generally safe and don’t cause illness. However, she’s decided that the plastics in the cars are poisoning her.
They have a CRV LX and they wanted to put our 083 “Titanium” leather in it. That’s fine, and in small swatches, it doesn’t look that far off from the 092 Stone that’s recommended. But I warned him repeatedly that it wouldn’t match.
The leather came in and it wasn’t sewn up properly. It wasn’t noticeable at the time, but it was going to get bad. Our production facility explained that the sewing machine was set 2-3 mm off its proper setting, so when 10-12 panels were sewn up like that it was going to be pretty fucked after the interior settled. After two weeks, parts of the leather kit were turkey-waddle loose, and parts were tighter than Kenny Rogers’ newest face.
My Face is 40% Vinyl.
So with their valid concerns, I let them know what the problem was, how we were going to fix it, and got my manager involved so that he could ensure that it would be corrected. Last Friday morning, he showed up at the dealer with his wife, and lit up the service advisor who handles the DIO/accessory stuff. So we picked up the car, and saw exactly what he was talking about, and ordered a new leather kit so we would get everything corrected.
That afternoon the guy shows up at the shop, and he’s angry. Using all of my call-center customer service and bar security deescalation skills, I explained his situation, let him vent a bit, and explained what we were going do to fix his issues.
He then went on a rant about the color not matching anything in the car. Now, before he even placed the order, we explained that his interior wasn’t going to match if he chose Titanium 083 over Stone 092: It’s hard to see above, but in large swaths, the 083 has a brown undertone:
Note how brown the 083 looks compared to the 092
So, now, he is unhappy with the color of the interior, despite the fact that he signed a release, saying, basically, “I’ve seen it, and I know what’s recommended, and I reject that. It is my responsibility if it looks stupid.”
So he gets pissy and condescending with me over the fact that his color didn’t match, and the zippers on the rear of the front seats didn’t match the leather, and so on. I was starting to transition from “Customer Service,” to “Bouncer,” mode because he had gone from a customer with a problem that could be fixed to a condescending asshole. He started to complain about the color again and I asked him, “Sir, last week when you came in to choose the color, didn’t I tell you that it wouldn’t match?”
He replied, “Yes, but you never told me about this,” and pointed at the zipper, which was slightly darker because dye adheres differently to nylon fabric than it does to leather and vinyl. He then began to berate me on the condition and color of the leather, after everything was already in the works.
I bit my tongue, took a deep breath, and told him, “Mr. XXXXX, when you were here with your wife, we had a 40-minute discussion on everything about this interior. I’m sorry that it wasn’t sewn up correctly, and we are already working to get that corrected. I’ve got my manager and the production manager involved so that everything is right. As far as the color, I told you and your wife at least half a dozen times that it would clash with your current interior. I cannot, and will not, take responsibility for your decision.”
He shifted gears and started, “But you told us that your leather was better than Honda, and it isn’t. My friend asked me if I installed it myself.”
Once again, I took a deep breath and replied, “Well, Mr. XXXXX, That’s because it wasn’t sewn up properly, and we’re already working to get that corrected. I’m going to take a picture of the zipper and email it to our production manager to get a closer color match.”
At this point, I was getting perturbed. I took a picture of the zipper and went to my desk. While he was in the shop I emailed it to everyone including the sales and service at the dealer. He started complaining again and I glared at him. I was in full-bouncer-mode and I’m sure he could see it. “Sir, I’ve explained three times already how we’re fixing the issue. I’ve apologized because I wouldn’t want my interior to look like that either. I have nothing more to say about this. I’m forwarding the information up the ladder. Good day, sir.”
He complained some more and I just got up and went into the (100 degree F) installation shop just to get away from him. I was about to ask him in my kind-but-menacing bouncer voice to leave.
I told my boss about the situation and he got pissed. He called the service advisor up at the Honda dealer and they had a 30 minute conversation about how Mr. XXXXX was no longer welcome in the service department because of how he was treating everyone there.
He showed up again this morning. He complained repeatedly about things that were either, getting fixed, or, his own fault.
My boss, who tends to be the calmest customer service guy when dealing with stuff like this, wound up walking away because he was “about to punch that motherfucker.”
I told him I could 86 him, and if he resisted, choke him out in front of his family. He walked off, knowing that he couldn’t say yes, but was definitely thinking about it.