We have the best auto mechanic in the world. Jeff Sexton in Fairborn, Ohio is the most honest repairman there ever was. He will not hesitate to look you in the eye and tell you, ‘Please don’t bring this hunk of crap to me and expect me to duct tape it together, because I won’t. It’s not worth fixing.’ We’ve hobbled into his shop numerous times, and he’s never done us wrong. There’s only one problem. He’s not a diesel mechanic.
We’re home this week because the truck had to go into the shop (again). George takes it to the Freightliner dealership closest to us, and frankly, I’m completely unimpressed with these people. The first time we took it to them, they lost the truck. You read that right. They LOST a humongous beast of a truck. I can understand losing a nickle or a receipt, but losing something as big as a Freightliner Cascadia is completely unacceptable. George called to check on the status (because they’re not only able to lose a big truck, they can’t seem to get the phone call thing down, either) and was told, ‘Uh, we can’t find it.’ Needless to say, we were at the dealership in record time, and not only was the truck parked on the lot, it was finished and had been sitting for an entire day waiting for us to use our mind reading powers to know it was done. Strike one for the Freightliner dealership.
Don’t get me wrong here. We love our Freightliner truck and could probably call one of our friends from the company and get this all taken care of really quick. The point is, we shouldn’t have to. And what happens to the people who don’t have friends at Freightliner? This isn’t the company itself, it’s the independent dealership (which will remain un-named, but I will tell you there are six of them in Ohio owned by the same people and one of them is in Huber Heights).
B-service was due on the truck three weeks ago and it was taken back to the same dealership because B-service is pretty straight forward and George didn’t think they could possibly screw that up. He was also scheduled for a week off, so even if they lost it again, we had time to find it before he had to go back on the road. He asked them to look at the radiator, because he thought he had a leak, and to replace a screw on one of the light thingies above the windshield. (I’m pretty sure he didn’t say ‘light thingie’ to the mechanic, but I can’t remember what the stupid things are called and you know what I’m talking about.)
Seven hundred dollars and four days later, they were able to use their thumbs like humans and call us to tell us everything was ship shape and ready to go. I’m not sure what they said the problem was, but I know they charged us a hundred bucks an hour to LOOK at it and some obscene amount to actually fix what was wrong. Or so they said.
Two days later, driving through the Rockies, George noticed the leak again. Pulling freight through the Rocky Mountains is no place to have a radiator leak. Seven hundred dollars is no amount of money to be screwed out of for an imaginary repair, either. He limped back home, pouring antifreeze into the radiator at every stop and praying to make it. Strike two for the Freightliner dealership.
The only reason he took it back to the same place is because he’d already paid seven hundred bucks to have it fixed and he was either going to get his money back or the truck fixed. He explained (again) to the service manager, that the antifreeze was coming back up out of the reservoir. Four hundred people reading this just said, ‘It’s the thermostat!’ because my damn grandmother would know it’s the thermostat, just like every other human being with any sense does. It doesn’t take a hundred bucks an hour to figure it out.
The truck was dropped off Monday. On Wednesday, the service manager called (shocking, I know) and told George he couldn’t get the truck to leak and was going to have a mechanic look at it. Excuse me? Who the hell has been looking at it for a hundred bucks an hour? Apparently, they send the secretary out there to look at the truck and if she can’t decide what’s wrong they call in the mechanics. I was waiting for the ‘KABOOM’, but George never ‘KABOOMS’ like I do. He patiently explained to the guy (for the THIRD time) that he thought it might be the thermostat. Of course, the guy acted like he’s just an idiot truck driver and told him he’d let the professionals make the decision. So I guess the service manager isn’t a professional. I also guess my husband is one of the most patient people on this earth, because I would have threatened bodily harm to the jerk if he’d talked to me like that. Strike three and you’re OOOOUUUTT!!
Long story short (too late, I know) we’re looking for a reliable diesel mechanic. We don’t want special treatment, we don’t expect miracle, we just want what we pay for. Is that too much to ask?
***Addendum to Notes on Repairs***
This post ran on The George and Wendy Show on Overdrive Magazine online version for about four minutes before they pulled it. The fear was that Freightliner was portrayed in a less than positive manner, and Freightliner happens to be a big advertiser and supporter of Overdrive, so even though I made it pretty clear we love our Freightliner and don’t fault the company itself but this particular dealership, they felt it would be in everyone’s best interest for them to pull it. That’s fine, I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me, but they can’t make me pull it from our personal blog, and I think it’s important information for people who may consider using this dealership to have.
I emailed a link to the article to the manager of the dealership. This was after I had tried to contact someone at the dealership prior to running the article, and never got any response. The manager got back with me immediately after the post ran, and he was pretty huffy and puffy. I explained to him I had not only tried to contact him before the article ran, in the interest of all fairness, I was willing to run a follow-up about positive experiences people had at his place. I reminded him that I never directly named the dealership and that it was kind of my job to write about experiences I have regarding the trucking industry. That was the experience I had and if he’d been half as shit hot to get in touch with us when our truck was sitting on their lot finished, it would have been a different story entirely. I also pointed out their Google search page contained eight negative reviews – and it was directly connected to the web page, my vague references to his dealership were the least of his worries.
In the end, he told me he was going to get in touch with Freightliner corporate and see if they wanted him to respond and have me run a follow-up post, or if they just wanted to forget about it. I spoke with him on Saturday and he told me he’d get back in touch with me on Monday. I never heard from him again. This is completely indicative of the way business has been handled for us thus far with this dealership. They have an absolute aversion to calling anyone back about anything.
Again, to be fair, the manager told me he had more than 1,200 customer comment cards with positive comments on them in his office. I’m sure there have been many happy customers. I’m also sure that the eight quasi-slanderous reviews they have on Google far outweigh any customer comment cards he has in his office, where no one can see them but him. Even dumb old truckers get their information from the web these days.
I am still absolutely open to printing anything positive I can find about this dealership, but I will continue to refer to it vaguely and without actually naming it. Obviously, you don’t have to be a genius to figure it out if you want to.