More Paint, Please!

More Paint, Please!

Read this month's letters to the editor.

Counterman is a fantastic magazine and I look forward to receiving it each month. The October, 2006 issue covered the ASE test aspects perfectly, even though I would like to see more paint and paint product issues in the future.

Jim Durham
Brooks Auto Parts
Albany, GA

Jim, right now we’re working on the 2007 ASE P2 test guide and it will appear, as always, in the October issue. As for your other comment, we’re listening! In this month’s issue, you’ll find an in-depth article on waterborne paint, which is becoming required in California, and very likely could become a requirement in other parts of the country. We appreciate the suggestion. Look for more PBE articles in future issues. — Ed.

One thing that almost always rings true with Counterman columnist Mitch Schneider is his negative attitude when it comes to the automotive aftermarket. I took issue with his column Getting Hosed. Someone in his position must realize that if a dealer is selling a part for $8.89 and an aftermarket parts store sells the same part for $38.89, something is wrong. Either the jobber’s price is wrong, or the manufacturer’s price wrong. Or maybe the dealer is wrong. Or maybe the dealer knew it had lost the sale, delivered the part anyway, and marked the part down to make the jobber look bad. Who knows, maybe Mitch’s negative column every month will keep all of us in the “suspicious aftermarket” more honest.

Salmon, ID

I just finished reading Bob Balderston’s Counter Point article in a recent issue of Counterman. Let me just say it’s about time! Someone finally has the guts to come out and refute the antiquated notion that “the customer is always right.” And all this time I thought it was just me.

Speaking as someone who has worked for three different major auto parts retailers over the past six years, I couldn’t agree more. I completely agree that we should come up with solutions to customers’ problems. Putting your foot down on returns may be effective in the world of the privately owned parts store, but as I am sure many of you know, when you work for one of the “big box” parts guys, you are a slave to their ideas on customer satisfaction, which usually boils down to “how many times can we keep them coming back to spend a buck?” And keeping the customer happy enough to return usually involves giving them whatever they want. Retail customers have been trained that if they make a big enough stink in front of other customers, one of two things will happen: Either the manager on duty at the time will just cave in and give them what they want just to shut them up, or they can just go right up the ladder and keep griping. Some corporate official, fearing that they will go out in the world and badmouth their precious company, will cave. This is the main factor that drove me away from the business once and for all. I ended up recently getting another full-time job and staying at the parts counter just part-time. I got tired of having to give customers, who were obviously in the wrong, anything they wanted just for the sake of “customer satisfaction.” One of my co-workers put it well. He said, “I would like this job if it were actually about helping people fix their vehicles, but it’s not.”

Like Bob wrote in his article, “We’ve become caretakers of a computer screen.” I commend your magazine and Mr. Balderston for finally expressing so well what thousands of us counterpeople have been struggling with for a long time. The customer in not always right.

Stefani Thomas
ASE P2 Certified Parts Specialist

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