In the world of mechanics, dealing with arrogant customers can be a challenging part of the job. However, some mechanics have found clever and satisfying ways to get back at these difficult individuals.
From subtle acts of revenge to more drastic measures, these mechanics share their most memorable stories of putting arrogant customers in their place.
Get ready for some entertaining and satisfying tales from the automotive repair world!
All content has been edited for clarity.
That’s Where Stereotyping Gets You
“Many years ago, I worked at a car dealership. The attached service garage was small and I was the only licensed mechanic.
I would occasionally have issues with male customers— they would second guess my diagnoses, watch me while I worked on their cars from the bay door, double check my work in the parking lot, etc.
I didn’t deal with customers directly and would often get my apprentice to pull cars in and out of the shop for me.
This morning in particular, we were busy. The lot jockey and apprentice were occupied helping wash cars for delivery and driving to a customer’s house.
The service advisor left a work order and keys at the parts counter, and I went out the front through service to get the car. It was in for a service campaign, which was an update done with a scan tool. It takes about 10 minutes.
The customer was planning on waiting and was sitting in service. When he saw me with his keys in my hand, he immediately stood up, alarmed. I was hustling so I walked right by him and out the door. I missed the following conversation, according to the service advisor (also female):
Customer: ‘Who is that chick? Is she going to be working on my car? I don’t want her working on my car.’
Advisor: ‘The other tech is out at the moment, so it’s going to be quite a wait until someone else can look at your car.’
C: ‘That’s fine. I’ll wait for a guy. I don’t want that chick touching my car.’
A, politely: ‘Understood.’
The advisor comes to let me know, and I pull the car out and put the work order and keys back on the counter, nonplussed.
Half an hour passes. The apprentice is still away, and I am happily working on something else, bringing other cars in and out.
The customer is now watching each and every person who comes through the door.
The high school co-op student comes in to get something signed. The customer’s keys are still sitting on the desk. It’s been about an hour now.
C: ‘Hey— why hasn’t my car gone in yet? Can’t you get this guy to do it?’
A: ‘No, sorry. He’s just a co-op student so he is not allowed to drive the cars due to liability and insurance concerns.’
C: ‘Just get someone else to bring the car in and he can do the work. This was supposed to take 10 minutes.’
A: ‘Sorry, sir. He’s just a high school student doing his co-op; he’s not approved to perform warranty work. Only licensed techs and apprentices can do the recall.’
The car jockey returns. The advisor hands the car jockey a different set of keys, and he brings yet another car into the shop for me. The customer is becoming incensed.
C: ‘I’ve been sitting here for over an hour and I’ve watched 5 cars go in before mine. My appointment was for 8am, this is getting ridiculous,’ blah blah blah.
At this point he says that he literally doesn’t care who does the recall, but that it has to be a guy.
The service advisor starts listing off the names of the men who work in the dealership, then saying why they can’t perform the recall.
‘Well there’s Herman, but he’s just the car jockey. He doesn’t know how to work on cars. Then there’s Jeet, but he’s about 17. I wouldn’t want him doing the recall, personally. I guess we could ask Mike— but Mike is the parts guy— he doesn’t know how to use the scan tool. The detailers are men, but they know NOTHING about cars…’
The customer is fuming at this point, and demands to talk to the service manager.
The manager comes out of his office, and guides the customer into the garage. He’s pretty old school… lights up a smoke standing at the end of my bay, and points at me.
‘That’s my best technician. Those guys take orders from her. You can either wait for her to finish what she’s working on, and then you can ask if she’s still willing to do your work, or you can take your car somewhere else.’
The guy was pretty shook up at this point and he took his car and left, two hours after he’d first arrived. I don’t think we ever saw him again, which was not much of a loss, all things considered.
That manager in particular ALWAYS stuck up for me and took my side. The service advisor has this very dead-pan sense of humor. She knew full well it would easily be an hour before the apprentice would return from his errand, and that no one else could do the recall. This was not the first sexist we had encountered.”
Zero Regard For Others
“Throughout my entire career as a mechanic, I’ve had some memorable experiences, and this one ranks among my favorites.
A customer came in complaining about a vibration in her vehicle. After inspecting the front end, I discovered a nearly broken tie rod and a faulty rack and pinion. In simple terms, the passenger side front wheel wasn’t securely connected to the steering system, and if left unattended, it could lead to a complete disconnect and serious danger.
I informed the customer about the necessary repairs and emphasized the unsafe condition of her car. Surprisingly, she asked me to put it back together so she could leave despite the risks involved. I refused, explaining that I couldn’t take that responsibility in case something went wrong after she left.
Her reaction was intense, and she threatened to call the police and sue me, citing connections to higher-ups. Unfazed, I called her bluff, and she eventually summoned the police. The officers inspected the vehicle and understood the safety concern. To my dismay, they advised me to let her leave, and she signed a statement declining the necessary repairs.
As she drove off with a smug grin, I couldn’t help but worry about the consequences. However, my concerns were short-lived. Moments later, she was pulled over, and her car was impounded. The police even issued her a ticket for reckless driving.
Witnessing her car getting towed away brought immense satisfaction, and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of justice served.”
She Really Should Have Listened
“I’ve been a professional mechanic for over a decade, and I’ve had my fair share of interesting encounters with customers. However, one particular incident still makes me chuckle even after five years.
It was a typical day at the shop when a lady drove her Hyundai van in for a diagnostic check. She seemed like an older version of the ‘Karen’ stereotype, and she complained about the check engine light and a loss of power in her car. I began my inspection, and as I pulled the van in, I noticed an unusual noise. Immediately, I used a scanner to check for error codes, and it revealed multiple issues pointing to timing problems.
When I opened the hood to investigate further, I was taken aback by what I found. The timing belt was almost completely disintegrated, and only a few strands held it together. Remarkably, the engine was still running, but the situation was dangerous as driving further could cause severe damage.
I explained the critical condition of her van to the customer, but she refused to believe it and demanded I put it back together. I couldn’t comply with her request as it would be irresponsible, and I could be held liable if something went wrong.
She became irate, threatening to call the police and sue me, and even boasting about connections. The police arrived, inspected the van, and understood the safety concerns. Unfortunately, they advised me to let her leave, and she signed a waiver declining the repairs.
Despite my efforts to reason with her, she insisted on driving the car, so we pushed it back to the parking lot. Predictably, moments after she left, the belt broke, damaging the engine. She returned in a fit of rage, blaming me for the damage, but we had photo evidence and a signed release of liability to defend ourselves.
Her attempts to involve lawyers, management, and corporate went nowhere, and eventually, she had to tow the van out of our lot. To make matters worse for her, we charged her lot storage fees due to the extended stay of her van.
I want to clarify that most mechanics don’t intend to take advantage of customers. We genuinely want to ensure your valuable investment remains in good condition. In this case, we did our best to warn the customer, but she refused to listen, and her actions caused the damage.”