Monday, September 08, 2008

Now I have 'a guy'

I always wondered how you found 'a guy'.

You know, 'the guy' so-and-so goes to whenever something is wrong with their car. This 'guy' will do anything from oil changes to new tires to fixing that noisy rattle your car makes every time you hit the brakes. This 'guy' works at a little neighbourhood car shop in a place that's like a hole-in-the-wall restaurant -- a place you wouldn't go to unless someone tells you to. Some people have 'a guy' and other people, like me, simply take the car back to the dealer time after time because they don't know where else to go.

For years I took my now-almost nine year old Civic back to the Honda dealer everytime it needed service. And I've always been very diligent about sticking to the service schedule -- especially when the car was still under warranty.

But the warranty has long since run out and the car is creeping into middle age -- that magical car age when, if a car has been well-maintained in the early years it's now needing regular wear-and-tear replacements.

I spent years not having a clue what a Honda service representative was saying when insisting that the whatchamacallit part was in desperate need of replacement all the while I waited in a fancy showroom and my car was nowhere to be seen. I never knew if the so-called service representative was telling me the truth or trying to make a sale.

So, last fall, when I needed a new muffler, I took it to a Midas shop.

It was obvious that I needed a new muffler, because my car sounded like one of those souped-up Civics, and even a service representative couldn't have pulled a fast-0ne on me on this one.

But the guy at Midas almost went out of his way to explain the problem and give me the lay of the land -- walking me around and under my car when it was up on the hoist. Then he claimed to knock 25 per cent off the posted price of the new parts I needed.

Whether he knocked the price down or not wasn't the issue, I liked not being treated like an idiot and not being told I had to fix problems on my car that I couldn't see and didn't know existed.

So, the next time I needed a oil change, I went back to Midas. And then I needed a new timing belt. And then I needed a new driver's side mirror. Each time, no one talked down to me and, to tell it like it is, no one treated me like a girl in a car shop.

Then last month, I get a call from a guy at a shop in Scarborough. The owner of the Midas shop I had gone to sold the business and had set up his own private business. So, last week I took the car there for an oil change and maintenance checkup.

He remembered me from the Midas shop, fixed my car up in a hurry -- even taking the time to show me small areas of concern but telling me I could hold off several more months before repairs were needed -- and sent me on my way with a discount from the prices posted over his register.

I guarantee that when those repairs are needed he'll be the 'guy' that'll make them. So, after nine years and 185,000 kilometres, my car has finally found its 'guy'.

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