I recently went to have my car inspected at a local Nissan dealership that I’ve been a loyal patron of for over 15 years. Although ownership changed three times, there is a closer dealership to my house, and many more mechanics on the way to the dealership, they always made me fell like a VIP….until recently.

I brought the car in on a Thursday with a tire that was losing air. “No problem,” said Jo the newest service person. “Have a seat and we will take care of it.” So I waited all of 15 minutes, she came out said that there was a nail in the tire, it could be plugged, and that it is under the dealership’s new “Customer Appreciation Program”. BTW, this was the third one of these programs that I’ve been through. “Thanks,” I said, and made an appointment to bring in the other car.

The next day, our daughter takes the car to work and returns at 10PM without it. “The tire is flat.” Note to self, teach your children how to fix a flat tire. As a kid I thought I was part of the Mario Andretti racing team for as many tires as I changed. Anyway, the following day, my wife and I go to get the car and bring it back to the dealership.

When I get there, behind the counter is this guy. No name tag, no name plate, no introduction. Disheveled, dirty and sloppy looking. “I just had this in on Thursday for a flat tire and it happened again.” His response, “When do you want it back?”

In case you missed it, there was no good morning, sorry about that, we’ll take care of it, have a nice day, or any other words that resembled customer care and appreciation. Three hours later I go back as I had said, no one is at the counter. I try to find “Mr. Personality” and can’t. I eventually make my way to the cashier who said, “I don’t have it here.” Once again, in case you missed it, no I’ll find out, I’ll page him, let me get someone to help you.

Now she decides to take a closer look at the paperwork and sees it there. Now to be fair, I was ready for a fight about paying for the tire  a second time with my “customer points,”  but didn’t have to.

I called Jo during the week to make an appointment for the other car and to confirm that the courtesy shuttle could take me to my destination. I also told her about my bad experience. She was empathetic and thanked me for sharing the information.

That brings us to Monday. I walk to the counter and there is Jo, pleasant, smiling and polite as always. “Good morning” she says and continues with her current customer. The guy walks in, looking very much like he slept in his clothes, hair not combed, unshaven. “Next.” The customer in front of me says, “I’ll wait for her.” Dopey me,I  hand him my keys.

“Name.” I give it to him.

“Car.” I give it to him.

“What do you want done?” “When I made the appointment I went through it with Jo.”

“Registration and insurance card?” “It’s in the glove box.”

He then takes a pad, leaves the counter without a word and walks outside. Jo turns to me and says, “Bad move.”

“Don’t you manage him?” She doesn’t respond. Always sensitive to commission structure, I say, “Are you all in it together or do you get compensated for what you do individually?”

Jo looks a little horrified and shakes her head. I say, “OK, when he comes in I’ll tell him I’ll wait for you.”

Again looking horrified, she shakes her head no. “OK, is that the manager in there?”

She says yes and I ask the manager if it is OK to come into his office. I’m standing and I  introduce myself and shake his hand. He never got up from his chair.

I’m explaining that I’m a loyal customer, wasn’t feeling the service from the guy and I didn’t want to deal with him. At this point I now sit down. I also tell him what a great job Jo is doing. He looks at me and says, “I don’t understand.”

In case you missed it, there was no sorry you had a bad experience, I can understand, I know how you feel, thanks for letting me know and most importantly, no problem, I’ll take care of it. I got, “I don’t understand” with a bit of an attitude.

I explain my experience in some detail. Meanwhile the guy is standing in the doorway. I finish and the manager says nothing.

At that point I knew it was time to go. I cancelled the order, much to Jo’s surprise, take my car and leave. Later on that day I send an email to five of our friends asking who they use and are they satisfied with their mechanic. I received glowing recommendations about their mechanics and how they helped them in a pinch.

I googled each of them to see where they are and what other people think about them. You see, their reputation is important and the reviews their clients gave them is a great sign of the kind of company they are. Too often we don’t realize that fact.

BTW, I haven’t heard from the Nissan dealership at all. It’s not surprising.