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Bah Humbug & Happy New Year!


“Closed for the holidays,” must be nice. We parts guys at the bottom of the totem pole can’t afford to close for a full week like some manufacturers. Our customers need us all year round — and we’ll be there for them.

It happens every year: It’s the day after Christmas and I have a customer who needs a part and needs it fast. This year the part is an axle for a 1998 Ford Crown Vic, and just like last year, not a creature is stirring, not even a hotline tech to answer my question.

The message center is full and a recorded voice informs me that, “All offices are closed from December 25 until January 2.” Sure, my customer can wait until next week for the part, after all he has 16 other vehicles at his disposal. Yeah, right. But, I’ll be sure to “Have a happy holiday” like the cheerful recorded voice suggests. 

My only option at this point is to check the  manufacturer’s Web site for the information I’m looking for. Despite the site’s old listing for the manufacturer’s booth location at the 2007 AAPEX show, I find the part with ABS and bearings. Time to bundle up and go to the WD. The recorded voice would be happy to know that my holiday spirit is slowly lifting.

I deliver the part within the hour only to find that there’s no ABS ring. Scrooge emerges again. I check the VIN with the customer, re-check the Web site and re-check the part number on the box. Everything is correct. I’m forced to try tech support again and of course, I get the same recording. I remember that I have the president’s private number. No luck there either, but at least I can leave a message. Even though I can’t find anyone to help me I’m determined to help my customer.

I will follow New Jersey law and provide the part at the quoted price because I know the value of a customer. I have the same dictionary as the manufacturer where the 11th meaning of service is defined as, “An act of assistance or benefit to another or others.” I also have the book that discusses customer satisfaction as worthless and customer loyalty as priceless. Apparently the manufacturer doesn’t have that book. I want loyal customers. Satisfied customers will buy anywhere but loyal customers will stay with you. You build loyal customers by being on their side. Period. No one wants to know about your company policy, no one cares. No one wants to know about my problems with a manufacturer. My customer just wants to build loyalty with her customer by having the correct parts to get the customer’s car off the lift and out the door. Simple proposition? It should be. Yet, some manufacturers find this very difficult to understand.

All I want for Christmas next year is the correct information on manufacturer Web sites, correct parts in the boxes and reasonable product tech support. This is a 24/7 world, yet businesses close for a full week over the holidays. Unbelievable!

Here’s my holiday greeting for all those manufacturers that conveniently close for the holidays:
May the ski lift stall, while you and your family are at the highest point and may all the techs and rescue personal be in St. Thomas.

May your cruise ship run out of food because the head chef is visiting his favorite hometown restaurant.

May you be stuck in Denver until Spring because the snow plow guy took the keys and headed to Palm Springs to avoid the bad weather.

May your barbeque grill run out of propane every time you invite your friends over for a party and all the stores are closed.

May every appliance repair person never have the correct part to fix your busted refrigerator or air conditioner.

May your doctor keep “War and Peace” in the waiting room, allowing you the time to read it cover to cover while you wait.

May you win the lottery, and then discover your ticket is numbered wrong.

And may you give a full refund of the purchase cost to the stores that sold your products while you were closed.

Why should you profit on a non-business day while other people are providing customer service and selling your products?

If you really want us, the people on the bottom of the totem pole, to sell your stuff all the time, you won’t abandon us. You will provide tech service at least five days a week, from 9 am to 5 pm. We will accept Internet problem solving only if it is automated...we won’t wait for an e-mail reply. We need immediate support. And please, don’t tell us about costs...we didn’t price your stuff, we didn’t make the catalog, we didn’t number or box the stuff, we only tried to help our customer with your stuff.

On behalf of all hard working parts professionals everywhere, Happy New Year from us at the bottom of the totem pole. We hope life at the top is great.

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