The other day I was looking out my office window and something unusual flashed by on the road. I didn't get a good look at it but I could tell it wasn't an ordinary car. I wanted a better look, just out of idle curiosity, so I did what anyone would do in that situation: I reached for the remote control so I could rewind and play it back.

The only problem, as I soon realized, is that windows don't have a rewind feature. It was frustrating. It's not the first time I have reflexively reached for the rewind button. Sometimes I miss bits of conversation and I think for a brief moment I'll rewind and listen to that again. If you have a DVR at home, you might be having the same frustration.

Watching television still isn't as good as real life, at least on average, but that gap is narrowing from both sides. Real life is getting worse while the quality of television continues to improve. Case in point, have you taken your car to the dealer for servicing during the current economic downturn? If so, I pity you. You already found out that the dealership is struggling on the sales side and they are trying to make up the difference on the service side. These days the sales staff has no function other than to hold your arms and legs while the service staff screws you.

Try taking your car in for some minor service, such as an oil change. You'll end up paying for fixes that never actually happened, on car components that don't actually exist. For example, your service agent might tell you that if you don't get your flumerjib aligned, your kragwalter will oomulated and corrode the maxinflap. In a situation such as that, you know exactly two things:

1. If you take it somewhere for a second opinion, the second guy will screw you too, albeit in a new way.

2. If you try to service your car yourself, you will die in a fireball that will be visible from the International Space Station.

So you loosen your sphincter muscles, take a deep breath, and agree to let the suspicious stranger service your brains out. Your only solace comes from the knowledge that sooner or later an investigative reporter will bust your dealership.

I consider this to be one of the downsides of understanding economics. I know in advance, almost like ESP, that none of you have heard this from a car dealership's service department in the past two months:

Service Guy: "I fixed your ping by removing a twig that was caught under the fender. There's no charge of course, and your car is otherwise perfect. So I will just default on my mortgage and kill stray dogs to feed my family this week. Have a nice weekend!"

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Mar 10, 2011
Our CEO at Applied Materials wants to see our revenues grow past historical levels, so he's got a new initiative about achieving "escape velocity" (complete with a cartoon rocket). His profound damage to our way of working leaves us wondering whether "escape velocity" refers to running from the building after work or "escaping" to a better company. This seems like the kind of thing the PHB could get behind.
Oct 4, 2010
Absolutely stunning! Definite inspiration...
thanks for sharing. The images on your blog always inspire me.

Jul 12, 2009
Being a teen and not having a car yet, a bunch of this I don't understand. BUT, I'm always hearing my dad gripe about stuff like that.
Apr 5, 2009
Wow! I think you really struck a chord with your readers, Scott! I had no idea there was so much pent up anger at car dealerships and car repairmen!
Mar 22, 2009
Sitting in your office looking out the window.... awaiting inspiration maybe ...... or waiting for some workmate to come in & disturb your reverie. Tell me Scott, you must run a creative little team. I say run because you produce so much more than than you did 1n 1989. But it's still under your artistic control. That would seem to make you in charge like a boss. Are you boss? Are you in the past or now or in the future going to be a PHB??
Jan 28, 2009
I don't miss the rewind button when looking out the window, but I do sometimes reach for Ctrl F while I'm reading the newspaper and want to get to the good bit. And sometimes when I can't find my keys, I think "I'll just google them" before I remember that google doesn't know the contents of my house.

Jan 27, 2009
Funny...truly. I feel your pain.

I worked at a very ethical dealership where we didn't do that to people. We tried to cooperate, taking PAY CUTS to survive.

That dealership went out of business on Jan. 9, 2009.

I am now unemployed with very few job prospects in my area.

I love all you wonderful people who love to bash on those that took the time to understand and master the rolling monstrosities that you depend on to get you places every day. Yeah, auto techs are a bunch of crooks. Is it our fault you know lots about pro sports or the latest celebrity gossip but can't even change your own oil??

Think fixing cars is easy?? Go ahead, fix your cars yourself. We don't get paid squat to fix them under warranty for you anyway.

I was a tech for 20 years. I FIXED CARS FOR PEOPLE! My best year? $40,000.

Were there crooks in my business making a lot more? Sure... there are in any business.

Y'all act like we ALL get rich off what we do. Not likely.

I hate to see what happens when all the paper-pushing jobs dry up and the whiners have to do something useful to make a living.

I take that back. I won't hate to see that at all.

Good luck to all.

+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 25, 2009
I thought BMW's came with a couple of years of free maintenance? If that's expired it must be time for a new M3, mister.
Jan 23, 2009
I have had a number of occasions where I'd really like an Undo button (Ctrl-Z).
Usually it's just after I've injured myself (stubbed toe) or, sometimes, while I'm in the process of injuring myself (i.e. skiing, see a rock, hit the rock, wipe-out... Undo! Undo!)
Jan 23, 2009
My dealership experiences haven't been nearly as bad as yours. But my remote button urge may be worse. I really wish I had a RaiVo (Radio TiVo) so I could hear the zany morning DJ clip I missed while evading a semi.
Jan 23, 2009
Obviously, you are going to the wrong car dealership. I have a Saturn and have had nothing but enjoyable experiences at the dealership. A few months ago, I had my rear windshield wiper ripped off at a (cheap) car wash, and I took it to the dealer to have it replaced. They replaced it for free, saying they'd consider it a warranty item. While I was waiting, I had complementary coffee and fresh popped popcorn. They brough my car around, just washed and gave me a coupon for $ off my next oil change. Yeah, I think I'll go there again.
Jan 23, 2009
The technology is here. But the need isn't (yet). When the day will come when you fear that will be taken to court on anything you said or heard. You will start walking around with a mp3 recorder on. When you will have similar fears on what you saw or should have seen. You'll do the same with a packet video cam (better do front and back). The funny thing is an entire life doesn't take that much disk space.

I've already been waiting for something like this even for that last 10 minutes to be implemented by law in cars.

Anyone out there marketing such a product ?

Jan 23, 2009
The technology is here. But the need isn't (yet). When the day will come when you fear that will be taken to court on anything you said or heard. You will start walking around with a mp3 recorder on. When you will have similar fears on what you saw or should have seen. You'll do the same with a packet video cam (better do front and back). The funny thing is an entire life doesn't take that much disk space.

I've already been waiting for something like this even for that last 10 minutes to be implemented by law in cars.

Anyone out there marketing such a product ?

Jan 23, 2009
What's funny is that the attitude behind everything described by both Scott and readers is what has gotten our economy in this mess in the first place. Awhile back, Scott wrote that the great thing about recessions is that they get rid of things that shouldn't have been there in the first place. Maybe this kind of attitude will fall by the wayside as people begin to shop around more and refuse to pay someone to screw them or treat them like dirt.

The only way we will survive is both average citizens and corporations experience a profound cultual shift. We've become somewhat apathetic and lazy when it comes to this stuff (it's too much of a hassle to take it somewhere else). The companies that survive will be the ones that offer something others haven't for years: good customer service. And that not only includes retailers and car people, but also banks, doctors, everyone.
Jan 23, 2009
using the strip to advertise your new business, and reusing old jokes, tutut scott!
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 23, 2009
sometimes when i crash my car i wish there was a rewind button too. Google Rewind would be perfect. Or Apple Rewind. Unfortunately there's no such services around yet. I'm sure there will be in the future. Avoid Windows Rewind though.

Best regards,
Jan 23, 2009

Since you know hypnotising, couldn't you just hypnotise yourself and retrieve your memory and regurgitate on it?

It reminds me of me trying to tap the screen of my cell phone whcih doesn't have touch screen feature.

It also reminded me that I'd feel frustrated when I need to look for information from a large chunk of printed text, because I couldn't jump straight to the part I need with search function.

I fear that as technology advance we'd be more apt to interact with gadgets and instruments but becoming less competent in other things. Personally I feel that I can no longer write with a decent handwriting (not that it was any good to begin with)
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 22, 2009
I haven't tried doing rewind before, but I've instinctively wanted to "Ctrl-F" every time I can't find my keys, mobile phone or purse.

And yeah, reality bites.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 22, 2009
In American Fork there is a place called "Lumpy's." I learned about Lumpy's from the guys at Expert Automotive in West Jordan. I was moving and asked them to recommend someone like them - honest and competent.

I learned about the EA guys from my sister. She had three estimates ranging from $250 to $550 for her electrical problem. She went in EA and the owner said "Let's check the fuses." There was a blown fuse. So he said "Let's see if there's a loose wire." There was. He tightened it. The whole thing took five minutes. My sister asked how much and he said "The fuse is seventeen cents and the invoice form is fifty cents. What if you just come back when you have a real repair." All of us do.

Lumpy's is like that too.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 22, 2009
I also think the car dealers and petrol companies are in colusion too... well Duh, you all say!

I bought a new car with hi performance engine and the recomendation in the owners manual, and from the friendly sales guy, was to use the premium hi octane fuel (which in Australia costs on average 10 to 12 cents more per litre) on the basis it keeps the fuel system components clean and healthy.

I do this. It makes sense to me and I see consistently great mileage and performance.

Yet everytime I take it in to the dealer for regular servicing they invariably advise me it needs a $200 fuel system flush and service to "keep the fuel system components clean and healthy".

I poiltely tell them to read their manual and rip-off someone else.
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