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SA mechanic woes: Top 10 crazy, funny customer questions

2016-02-26 07:00

OH DEAR: Fazlin Kasker says you need hair on your teeth when answering phone calls in a mechanical workshop. Image: Paul Kasker

Janine Van der Post

Cape Town - Paul and Fazlin Kasker have been in the motoring industry for more than 20 years. The couple owns Maitland Auto Clinic in the Western Cape, and are experts in vehicle repairs.

While work can be stressful there's always a good laugh from one or two silly customer phone calls who have bizarre car questions and absurd arguments.

For the love of cars

The pair have had to develop a pretty thick skin to deal with irate and often ignorant customers.

Fazlin Kasker might not work on the cars herself, but she runs the workshop. She handles customer calls and operates the front desk; while she's head of operations, finance, human resources and administration. She is a true petrolhead and has as much knowledge and experience with cars as her mechanic husband.

Fazlin drives a 2002 E46 BMW M3 and the pair own his-and-her matching Skylines: a 1992 white (Mines) Skyline R32 and a 1994 black R32, as well as a 1995 Nissan Skyline GTR R33. That alone should speak volumes...

MATCHING CARS: Paul and Fazlin Kasker's his-and-her matching Nissan Skyline GT R32s. Image: Junaid Hamid

Sure, most car owners at some point in their motoring lives will deal with dodgy mechanics but it's easy to forget there are silly customers out there.

Kasker has compiled her top 10 silliest conversations with customers and calls it her 'daily dose of amazing'. 

Top 10 customer moments

1 Erm, all cars have batteries...
Customer: My car has been having starting problems. Please can you check my alternator?.  
Kasker: “Does your car swing?
Customer: (long PAUSE)... “where?”
Kasker: “Umm, ok, we will check your starter, alternator as well as battery.
Customer: “Battery? My car doesn’t have a battery!”
Kasker: “Yes, you do have a battery. All cars have batteries."
Customer (very irate, directing me to his bonnet. Opens, looks at me with a smirk, hands folded) ”Well? Can you explain this to me?”
Kasker: “Your battery is in your boot.
Customer: (starting to get really agitated at my very passive ‘intelligence’) “Whaaaat? I am telling you I do not have a battery!”
(He rushes to the boot, opens it and shows there's no battery. I proceed to un-clip the cover inside the boot, and voila, there it was, all snug as a bug.)
Customer: “Whoa!”

Have you had a strange and/or frustrating experience with a mechanic? Or, are you a mechanic who has dealt with weird queries from a customer? Email us and we'll publish your thoughts.

2 Anyone seen my aircon?
Customer: “Please check my aircon its doesn’t seem to be working lately."
Kakser: "Your model isn't fitted with aircon. Did you have an aftermarket Aircon fitted?"
Customer: "No, I bought the car with an aircon unit. I normally take it to have the aircon regassed!”  
Kasker: *some time passes* We checked, your vehicle doesn’t have aircon.
Customer: "Well, you must have removed it when you serviced my car!"

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ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Fazlin Kasker (right) says she is often frustrated by ridiculous questions and arguments and has to remain composed. She says she can't believe the kind of questions customers ask her. Image: Paul Kasker

3 Half a set of brake pads
Kasker: "Your drivers-side brake pads are running very low, lower than the left side however both need to be replaced."
Customer: "Ok, go ahead and only replace the right-side pads. I want to wear down the left side first then replace."
Kasker: "Firstly, we do not recommend that plan of action. Secondly, brake pads are sold in sets." 
Customer: "That’s ok, just bill me for half of the set."

4 Filter query
Customer: "Why does a 1.9TDi have a fuel filter?"
Kasker (sarcastically): "Because of water restrictions, we no longer use water..."
Wheels24: All cars have fuel filters, even if it's a diesel model.

5 Car parts
Kasker: "Are we using generic or genuine service parts for your vehicle?"
Customer: "Generic, if you can find second-hand parts, that would be super awesome!”

6 Oil quantity (for an oil change)
Customer: Why do I need 5.5 litres of oil in my car? Are you trying to rip me off? When I go to the garage every so often, I only use a pint, maybe two!
Wheels24: 5.5 litres is the amount of oil used when servicing a car or changing the oil. A pint (500ml) or two is usually used at a petrol station when topping up your oil in your car - usually older model cars.

TRIO OF SKYLINES: Paul and Fazlin have two children but these three beauts are also part of the family. Image: Fazlin Kasker

7 Contact details, please?
Customer: "Why do you need my contact number? Also, why do you need my address? I don’t like sharing my confidential information.” 
Kasker: "We need your information so that we can contact you when you come to collect your vehicle or if we experience any issues. But, more importantly, so that, if you die, we know where to go to give your car back. Don’t worry, we are all happily married – no stalkers. 
Customer: "Ah ok, that makes sense."  

8 Lights on, but nobody home?
Customer: “My brake lights aren’t working. Please check”. 
Kasker: Ok, please can you get into your car and put your foot on the pedal for me to check. 
Customer: “No need, I’ll do it quickly.” Customer jumps into drivers seat, puts foot on brake, climbs out, points at rear of car and says, “See, told you!”

9 I'm no Knight Rider
Customer: “I would like to have my car *tuned (timing belt adjusted).”
Kasker: "I could take your money and tell you I tuned it, but your car is self-tuning."
Customer: “Self tuning? The car can't tune itself. How would it know what to do?”
*Tuning is used to optimise a vehicle's performance and efficiency by playing around with settings (obviously on cars that can be tuned, unless a management is fitted i.e. Diktator). These are more appropriate for vehicles which have no standard management systems and in cases where they have replaced their onboard-computer.

10 No guarantee?
Customer: “I will supply my own parts."
Kasker: "Great, no problem."
Customer: "What is your guarantee?”
Kakser: "We guarantee our workmanship."
Customer: “And the parts?”
Kakser: "You supplied the parts, I cannot guarantee something I did not supply."
Customer: “Why not? You are fitting it, you should guarantee the parts.”
Kasker: "Do you have still have the receipt? The guarantee is between yourself and the supplier from which you purchased the parts."
Customer: “Well, if you cannot guarantee the parts then you have just lost a customer!”

FOR THE LOVE OF CARS: Kasker loves high heels and glamour just as much as she loves taking her Skyline for a thrilling ride, as seen here when she was featured in 'Speed and Sound' magazine as one of SA's top female petrolheads. Image: SpeednSound Magazine / Riyaad Daniels

Users respond

Sibusiso Mathebula: Hahahaha... the battery story made my Friday. It reminds me of this guy I asked to change a starter on my BMW 325i. He managed to change it but then, the car had problems when starting and the engine would stall. I bought lot of parts that he said were broken but I realised it was human error. When he was done and tired, he admitted that he never worked on engines and other components: "I do oil and brakes servicing " he said. The problem was that, he broke a crankshaft sensor wire-connection without noticing...

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