Ticking off the person who’s about to work on your car is one of the worst things in the world that you can do. If you’re the kind of person people don’t like going to dinner with because they’re afraid of what the waiter is going to do to their food in an attempt to get back at you, listen up: it’s time to begin editing yourself severely.
There are many things you should never say to a mechanic. Here are the top 3 things we recommend you never say to a mechanic:
1) “How long is this going to take?” Okay, let’s get a few things clear right off the bat. Nobody likes to wait. For anything. Least of all, for their car to be repaired or serviced. But working on a car isn’t like making a hamburger. There are about a thousand things that even the most skillfully trained auto mechanic can inadvertently do wrong if they’re rushed or pressured to finish a job early. If time is an issue (and when is it not, really?) then find a diplomatic way of asking the question. Instead of just barking “This isn’t gonna take all day, is it?” try saying something like “No rush, but can you tell me when I should expect everything to be wrapped up? I can come back.” Even if you’re planning on sitting in the waiting room. At least this way you’ll know how long the wait will be and you can plan your time-killing misadventure appropriately.
2) “This better not cost me an arm and a leg.” Of all things to say to an auto mechanic, this could just be the most important thing to never say to a mechanic (although in all honesty we can think of a few additional choice sentences that would probably put this sucker to shame, but that aren’t suitable for all ages). But seriously, this particular sentence comes off like a combination threat and warning. You’re pretty much telling the auto mechanic that a) You fully intend to contest every single penny you’re charged, b) you don’t have enough money to pay for the services, and c) you don’t trust him to be a straight shooter with you. If all of this isn’t enough to make any auto mechanic hand you your keys and kindly tell you to take your car elsewhere, then you’re probably dealing with a real sweetheart – or someone who’s had plenty of experience dealing with rude customers. Don’t be a rude customer. Instead, ask in advance to get an estimate for repair before any work is done so that you can dig through your pockets and see if you’ve got enough to cover the damage.
3) “I was going to take my car somewhere else, but you’re the closest shop.” Really? These are what some might consider fightin’ words. Of the ten million ways there are to offend someone and their business, this is awfully close to the top of that list. You don’t have to shower the mechanic with compliments to try to win his favor so he’ll give you a discount or bump you to the front of the line, but don’t come right out and offend him by telling him that if you had your choice, he wouldn’t be the person working on your car. Nine out of ten mechanics would let a comment like that roll off their backs… but heaven help you if you offend the wrong shop owner. You just might find yourself receiving “by the book” customer service.
If you’re reading this article and nodding your head and saying “Yeah, that sounds a lot like me” then keep these bits of advice in mind next time you’re at the auto mechanic. Being nice to the person who holds the fate of your car’s health in his hands makes an awful lot of sense. This doesn’t mean you can’t complain if things go haywire or if you find yourself waiting an hour past the time you were told your car would be ready … just practice tact, as always! Auto mechanics are only human, after all.