I was born a while ago, back when your handshake was your word, your yes was a yes, and there were implied warranties in everything you purchased. There was no “built in obsolescence” and no need to put the words “built in America from American parts” on anything because that was the norm. “Made in Japan” used to be something outsourced, and therefore kind of cheap. That was 50 years ago.
With the passing of Andy Rooney, an undeniably grumpy old man, we have lost an icon. His ranting for years on 60 minutes provided a kind of benchmark, a watchdog function, which will not soon be forgotten. There have been few that have had as much impact, on me anyhow, for not sitting still for the cheapening of the American expectation.
“I’m a moron, and this is my wife. She’s frosting a cake with a paper knife. Everything we got here is American made, it’s a little bit cheesy, but nicely displayed…”
Fresh Flakes – Frank Zappa
You might think that since we have become a nation that really doesn’t make anything; at we would get the “service” part of “service industry” right. I would seriously challenge anyone who thinks we have a great track record lately to listen to the song behind the link above and maintain that they cannot relate. Our Technical support has been offloaded or outsourced, to India; our technicians cannot afford to work on a simple appliance any longer, we don’t bother to fix anything anymore, we just replace it.
This could be turning around. With the advent of the social media, and sites like yelp, we now have a chance to see someone’s track record before we interact with them. Last Saturday I was determined to install a dishwasher. It was a relatively simple operation, any five year old with a wrench can do that, right? Not so fast. The house is 60 years old and the builder put the dishwasher in with hard copper lines. The new dishwasher was just enough different (yes, it was American made) that after 45 mins of banging my knuckles under it I gave up and called a plumber. Not wanting to be a victim, again, of Mr. Zappa’s Flakes, I actually started reading reviews of local plumbers and found a reasonable one. The kid came out and did what I was trying to do in about 15 minutes. I was still charged an amount equal to some Midwesterners house payments, but at least this kid was bright, friendly, spoke English, and got the job done.
My wife has a classic old Audi TT. She likes to keep it in Bristol shape. Good for her. We have been driving 45 minutes each way to have it serviced at the dealership where she bought it. Ii think their shop rate is $135 an hour, and if you complain about how long it takes to pick your car up (after they told you it was ready) they reset the codes in your radio so you have to go through an army encryption class to reset them.
Again, on the internet, I found and researched a local mechanic that specializes in Audi’s and charges us less than half of what the big dealerships do. It has also somehow miraculously helped for me to take the car in to be serviced. I guess they don’t feel quite so free to push unnecessary repairs off on a guy. Our tune-ups and services are running in the $300 range instead of $700, and the amount of “suggested” bull has dropped down to zero.
The last time I was in for a part to be replaced, they had to order it and I had to come back. When I did come back, they put the part on and it didn’t fit. They had to do some modifications to the old car, and it took almost an hour. When they were done, I went to pay the bill – no charge for the labor, and I had already paid for the part. “Just come back to us again…” Well thank you Fred’s Garage of Redwood City California, I will.
The Prius I have needs servicing about every 5000 miles, and I go in and they drive me home. I bought the contract, so I don’t have to pay a dime.
I went into a paint store to grab some sandpaper and a couple of paint paddles the other day, and they were busy so he told me to just take them.
I don’t know if it’s just that I am becoming a bit mellower in my old age (finally) but my service karma has seemed to be improving of late. Maybe there is something to all this twitting and yelping we are doing after all.