My Roommate is very into offroading. He has brought a k5 Blazer from the brink of death into a go anywhere machine on a very limited budget. He usually buys all parts he needs from a junkyard and modifies them, or buys new parts online.
However; when he is on the run and needs some spare parts or some parts for a quick fix he usually runs into the local auto parts shop which happens to be either Shucks or O’Reilley Auto Parts. He has had numerous bad experiences there in which he asks for a part, and even gives the person behind the counter a part number, and they still will not give it to him because that person believes it is not the right part. We understand that they may be thinking they are helping the customer, but when the customer knows the exact part he needs the ego of the clerk should not get in the way of delivering it.
Last week before a weekend trip he ran down to O’Reillys to get a spare U-joint. U-Joint sizes are constant, although one truck may have a different U-joint than the exact same year and model of a similar truck. Here is an example of a size comparison of a 1310 to a 1350.
All stock front-driveline Chevy u-joint’s were 1310’s. He asked for a Blazer front driveline 1310 U-joint yet was confronted with 1330 and 1350s. When he explained the exact size (1310) the clerk was still unable to figure it out. The problem is the computer was giving the wrong U-joint for the application, and the clerk had no idea how to figure out the size of U-joints in the back, she only knew how to look up U-joints for applications. She began to get frustrated then snapped and told him that usually customers know exactly what they want when they come in. He also was frustrated and told her exactly what he wanted, a 1310 U-joint. He asked her how long she had been in the industry, which she replied that she had been in retail for 8 years.
He gave me the analogy that it was like she was working in a shoe store, but only knew that shoes had different brands and colors, and fit certain applications such as boys or girls, yet had no idea that there were different shoe sizes.
Its understandable that these retailers are generally referred to as discount parts stores, and therefore try to keep their costs low to pass low prices on to the customers. The quality of employees they hire sometimes is just horrendous, and their attitudes are despicable. In my roommates situation a different employee eventually came into the picture to help my roommate and eventually found the correct U-joint, but every time he goes into the store it seems it is the same story. These experiences accumulate, get spread by word of mouth, and eventually reduce the companies market share. These companies need to realize the customer is always right, and if the customer isn’t and had requested the wrong part then the company did the right thing.
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