Thursday, June 05, 2014

The Waiting (And Waiting, And Waiting, And Waiting) Game

Fucking Freightliner.  I should contact their corporate offices and suggest they change their name.

This morning I woke up at 5:45 a.m.  The reason?  We had to "check in" at the Philadelphia Freightliner in Levittown, Pennsylvania at seven for them to take a look at a wiring issue.  

We had a little short or something in the driver side headlight which Ed tried to fix - and did, for one evening - but it really needed to be replaced because the wires were corroded and old.

Ed called them two days ago to order the wiring harness and we stopped by yesterday afternoon to make sure they had received it.  When he spoke to the guy at the service desk, he was told they'd be able to get him in between ten and eleven this morning.

Fucking liar.

In fact, when Ed went inside this morning to check in, the guy didn't even remember who he was, even though he gave Ed a number to display in the window the day before to hold his "place in line" so to speak.

So at seven, they said eleven.  At eleven, they said two.  And at two, I went inside to talk to someone.

They didn't pull the truck in until three.

This isn't uncommon.  It happens at every single Freightliner we've ever been to.  It even happened when we bought a brand new truck from them.  You'd think spending over $200,000.00 on a vehicle would come with superior customer service.

The thing is, I always know it's a lie.  For the ten years I've been out here they've been lying.  Ed has more tolerance than I do about this because he's worked for twenty years in an industry built on lies and which still exists because liars continue to do business with each other.  I came from industries where people lose jobs when they lie.

The thing I'm most unhappy about is the fact that we always have to be up early to check in when they know damn well they won't get to us until hours later.  Sometimes, the next day.

Since we technically checked in yesterday, getting our "number" and all, they knew we'd be coming in today.  They ordered parts for us that they were installing.  If they're not going to honor the time they tell us to be there, why not give just us an appointment time they're not going to honor and let us show up ten minutes before?  This way when they keep us waiting three hours from the fake appointment time, it's only three hours and not eight.

Knowing they're not going to be ready doesn't really benefit us in any way though, because it's not like we can use the time elsewhere.  You can't do anything.  You can't go anywhere.  You have to sit in their lot, with the truck, until they come and get you.  It's not as if we can hang out in the Barnes & Noble ten minutes away, or go to the Nordstrom fifteen miles away.  We can only wait.

Then, after the hours of waiting to get into the shop, we have to wait for them to work on the problem.  If they tell us it'll take three hours to fix, I double that amount of time and expect to be waiting for six.  I'm always right.  

Once we got to the driver's lounge - a small room with a dirty microwave, uncomfortable chairs covered in pet hair, two vending machines, and a TV - we were addressed by another driver sitting there who said, "I hope you're not here for something big, because you've got a looong wait."

I said, "We've been here since last night.  Checked in again this morning, and have been doing nothing but waiting since."

He said, "I've been here for two days, and that other guy over there has been here a week."

"What are you getting done?" Ed asked.

"Codes.  I was driving down the road and my oil pressure was dropping even though the oil was full, and it was causing the engine to throw off codes.  And they can't figure out why it's happening.  They looked it up yesterday and have been trying to figure it out since then."

"Greeeaaat." I said to Ed.

That meant we'd be there forever.  Especially after the fetus who came to drive our truck into the bay told Ed that he'd only been a mechanic for a year.  His on-the-job training was happening at the expense of our time.

And get this - they didn't even offer free wi-fi in the driver's lounge.  That totally pissed me off.  Ed asked the guy at the parts desk if he could get the password for the wi-fi and the guy told him no.  Seriously??  They can't even provide wi-fi in their lounge??  It's the least they could do if we have to sit there for hours.

I was so pissed, I got up and went to ask another guy at the parts desk about it.  He ignored me.  Didn't even acknowledge I was standing there.  So I went into another office, through a side door, and asked the receptionist about it.

She was a bitch.  She acted as if she had no idea what I was asking, like I was speaking another language.  When I pursued it, she got up, clearly annoyed, and walked to another desk to ask someone else about it.  The guy she asked said something about not knowing what it was, so she walked to the next office.  I followed her the entire way.  She asked the woman in that office, who was an even bigger bitch, and she just flat out cut us off, saying "Don't have it, don't know it, don't know how to get it.  Can't help you."  I wanted to smack her right in the mouth.  

Then the guy piped up and asked what I exactly I needed and I told him, "Just the password for the wi-fi.  My truck is in your shop and I can't connect to my wi-fi because the signal is too weak.  Yours is a lot stronger.  And you don't actually have to give me the password, you can just type it into my iPad."  So that's what he did.  And I went back to the skanky little lounge.

After waiting for an hour and a half, with Ed checking in with service every 15 minutes or so, they still didn't have any idea what to do with the truck.  Thirty minutes later they came out to tell Ed that installing the new wiring harness would be a minimum of $1400 - 10 hours of labor at $140 per hour.  That's one of the highest labor rates we've come across, typically it's around $100 to $110 per hour.  And then it turned out one of the two wiring harnesses wasn't even assembled correctly, which would have resulted in an even higher labor charge because they would have had to rewire it before installing it.

Ed decided he didn't want them to work on it.  He told them to pull the truck out, he was leaving.  The guy wanted to charge him one hour of labor and Ed said, "I'm not paying anything.  All your guy did was open the hood and unplug the headlights."  

The service manager didn't seem happy, but he told his mechanic to get the truck and pull it outside.  They clearly weren't very competent, the staff wasn't helpful at all, and Ed knew he could do the work himself for less.  

Ed's kind of amazing that way, being able to fix anything.  Seeing him working on the wiring problem reminded me of the time years ago, with our old truck, when he fixed the entire air conditioning system on the side of the road, at night, at the port of Newark.  He changed the compressor and all the aluminum lines that ran under the truck.  When he was done, he was filthy.  So filthy I made him change out of his dirty clothes on the side of the road as I held up a towel like our mothers did when we were kids changing out of our bathing suits at the beach.  He saved us about $1500 doing it himself and the air-conditioning was ice cold.

Not everyone knows how to do repair and maintenance work on their truck.  In fact, the guy sitting at the Freightliner for two days admitted to us that he couldn't change a fuse, let alone fix anything on his truck.  Other guys will pull into a shop because a headlight is out.  Ed just takes care of it and he does it without bitching.

After we left Freightliner, we drove to a nearby parking lot where Ed popped the hood and installed the wiring harness himself.  In less than an hour.  Now that's a well-rounded trucker. All it set us back was the cost of the parts and a little elbow grease.  Oh, and the more than nine hours we wasted waiting at Freightliner.

But at least Ed still has $1400 in his pocket.  

As for Freightliner, perhaps they should consider the ramifications of treating customers the way they do.  They can start by reading this and this.  Here are a few highlights:

  • A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience. Around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people.
  • It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.
  • It costs 6 – 7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one.
  • For every customer complaint, there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent.
  • 78% of consumers have ended a transaction due to bad service.
  • Loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as their first purchase.
  • More than 60% of consumers are influenced by other consumers’ comments.

My work here is done.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: I Found A Place To Live In Montreal

2012: The Bronx Is Up And The Battery’s Down
2011: Where You Go When You Need To Buy Flowersyou’re your Ho
2010: Photo Ops Amid The Goat Poo
2009: Even The Goats Aren’t Up Early Enough To Beat The Buggy Rush
2008: Before The Locusts Come
2007: Venomous
2006: Sixty Percent Lesbian
2005: Sorry, no post for this day.


Jill said...

Excellent post. You should email it to their corp. office.

Anonymous said...

So maddening and just plain unexcusable. I was reading a trucker forum thread, where this lady had to wait forever in a Freightliner lounge, well she left infested with bed bugs from one of their lounge chairs.


The Daily Rant said...

JILL: Thank you. I think I'll Tweet it. At least if they don't respond, others will see it and maybe think twice about taking their truck in for service at this location.

DEE: I wouldn't doubt that. Some of the waiting areas are disgusting. The pet hair was bad enough, but bed bugs would send me through the roof.

Heather T said...

You're lucky Ed can fix things. I used to change the oil and grease my truck, change fuses and tires if needed. But with no way to take a shower after getting all messy and I'm not a mechanic, so many times you're just at their mercy. It's also amazing the difference in service between dealerships. Some are great and others just don't care. They know they have you and it's not costing them anything to keep you waiting. Then when done dispatch wants the load there yesterday. Trucking is the epitome of the "hurry up and wait" game. Gotta love it!

Ms Hanson said...

Both of you deserve one of my treasured Atta Girl Awards, you for patience unwarranted in the face of deliberately bad customer service, and Ed for taking matters into his own hands.

I wrenched on the first truck I ever drove, replaced lower end and wheel bearings, shift tower, trailer brakes, most of the wiring and electrical components with my 2nd-hand pair of coveralls and hair tucked under a ball cap. Drivers would saunter by to "help" but left when I explained in detail what I doing. They weren't mechanics and I wasn't as helpless as they imagined. ALWAYS I had within reach a mallet or cab jack for the insistent "helpers."

Nowadays, when I run across customer service "trainees" I put on my best smile and explain I'm a journalist and VERY interested in such matters, asking them to carefully spell their name for me and announcing I'll just look it up myself, etc.

Writers like you reach a vastly wider audience than their marketing wizards ever could, as you're not confined to trade publications.

Carry on bringing The Truth to the World. Atta Girl, both of you.