Article > Opinion

Mitch's World: Inconceivable

By Mitch Schneider

Mitch Schneider

One of my all-time favorite movies is The Princess Bride. I watch it all the time, often enough to drive my wife nuts. She can’t see watching a movie often enough to memorize the dialogue. Go figure!

One of my favorite parts of the movie is the interchange that occurs between two of the characters regarding the use of the word “inconceivable.” One of the characters uses it so often as an exclamation that the other suggests he doesn’t really know what it means. I can identify with that; there are times I use that word more often than I’d like.

There are times that no other word will suffice. How else would you describe ordering just about every part you need for a 37-hour job, only to discover that the majority of the parts are wrong upon delivery. It’s inconceivable!

The vehicle in question was identified in our software as a ’95 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The system offered three choices: Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Wagoneer. As it turns out, the vehicle is a Cherokee Sport, not a Grand Cherokee.

Because the technician’s copy of the work order “lied” to us, we “lied” to the counterman, who had the misfortune of taking the order. Because the information he had was wrong, the parts he looked up were wrong, and because the parts look-up was wrong, the parts that were delivered were wrong. Inconceivable!

My tech was going crazy, but all he had to do to avoid the ocean of wrong parts he was currently drowning in was take a few seconds to confirm the information on his copy of the work order. He made one of my office people crazy and she in turn, made me crazy. I called the parts store and asked for the manager, realizing that something bad had just happened, but also realizing that until we did some checking I had no idea what that “bad” was. Consequently, I decided not to make the manager crazy… at least, not yet. I figured there would always be time for that later.

I went over what we had ordered and told him which parts were wrong. There was a long pause, a deep sigh, the sound of fingers banging away on a keyboard and then just the faintest, almost inaudible whisper: “Inconceivable!”

He called me back about a half-hour later and asked for the fifth character of the VIN, the character that identifies “line.” That’s when we all learned that the difference between a Cherokee Sport and a Grand Cherokee could be found in all the wrong parts that were both ordered and then delivered.

Someone entered the right VIN and then entered the wrong model, something we failed to catch at the front counter. Our technician failed to catch it in the service bay and to a large degree that responsibility is ultimately mine because my name is the same name that appears on the front of the building. I can accept that responsibility, along with the responsibility to do something about it too: I can train and educate everyone here to ensure it never happens again.

However, the problem was compounded when the parts house asked only two questions: “What’s the engine size and is it a 4X4?”

Such costly problems, such simple solutions. It’s so hard to believe, it’s, well… inconceivable!

  Previous Comments
avatar   matt   star   1/10/2010   3:22 PM

only u would reach for things that are handed to you

avatar   Ryan C   star   10/24/2009   10:59 AM

Only a great fool would reach for what he is given.

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