I'd rather buy a kitten
Recently we had a young couple come into our shop requesting an oil change and maybe an alignment. I proceeded to ask some of the basic questions --how long has this been occurring, any impacts or bumps in particular stand out recently, have you noticed any other symptoms, etc--and asked them to complete our questionnaire. Nothing abnormal or major about any of their responses. And they requested our free PAC Courtesy Check.
We perform the oil change and complete the PAC Courtesy Check. I sent them the results. They would like to wait on all the items and would like us to proceed with the recommended alignment. Sure thing, we'll have it taken care of and I'll give you a call with an update once we have it on the rack. Mostly maintenance items on the estimate, so no problem. I put them in priority and spoke with her boyfriend about things he could take care of for her.
Once the vehicle was on the rack it was evident there was a serious problem. The ball joint was loose. I called and spoke with them immediately and was informed at this point they had jumped a curb into a median a few weeks ago. I had given them an estimate of the most economical way to remedy this serious safety concern and I was told I can't repair the car. We are buying a kitten right now and I'm not sure how much everything is going to be for it (the kitten).
I was in complete shock to the response, it inspired me to make a video explaining what a ball joint is, what its responsibilities include and why they are so important. [See below]
Although, I could not help the client understand the severity and safety concerns of this issue I have written some takeaways from this experience:
Always tell your shop if you hit something, ran over a curb, or anything else--our job is take care of you and your car. Safety is the top priority. Do not ever feel like the shop is going to judge you. We are human too and occasionally will curb check. If you feel a shop is judging you, you need to find a new place who will give you the respect you deserve--as it would go with any other industry.
Some sort of effort needs to be instilled about basic car care. Empowering people (especially young women) is key so we do not rely on others to make important financial and safety decisions for us and so we feel confident enough to ask questions of the professional. So ask questions to help you understand and make the right decision for your family. Being a woman in this industry I know exactly what it feels like to be belittled--probably on a weekly basis. (And probably then some because of my age). However, never once has it stopped me from standing my ground or simply saying--I don't understand can you please explain it again.
Empowerment can affect other areas of life too. Our air conditioning went out on our home and an air conditioning technician scared me telling me the house was going to catch on fire because of the state of the air conditioning. The technician could not explain to me why exactly my house was going to catch on fire or why exactly the air conditioning was not working... Regardless, I turned off the air conditioning and had fans going for all the animals as I waited for a second opinion. Empowerment has taught me to look for solutions instead of ignoring the signs and/or be forced into making a decision.