|The 2018 Kia Stinger GT.|
I’ve called out shitty corporations and branches for not only their shoddy work, but also their terrible customer service (still flipping you the finger, Camping World) and that’s all well and good because believe you me, if you’d read the Yelp! and other reviews posted on the internet, you’d see they deserved it.
But what about the good businesses? The ones that go above and beyond to make your experience a great one? Who have all the power to really ruin your day, but instead make you actually look forward to dealing with them even under not so great circumstances? Do these guys ever really get credit? If they do, I’m thinking it’s not nearly enough, so I want to change that in my little corner of the world.
Two years ago, I bought a car from my local Kia (Carriage) dealership. I was really dreading the process because not only is it long and drawn out, but once you put the first of twenty thousand signatures down on those sales papers, that salesperson is off quicker than a high school girl’s prom dress. They no longer remember your name, your face or anything about you. So I was kinda surprised at the way our sales guy handled us. Yeah, he was definitely professional, but he was also kind as well as friendly in a genuine way that you don’t often find in the car business. I figured we must have lucked up and got the one salesperson that wasn’t more concerned about the sale than the person they’re saddling with a payment over the next three to five years. He actually talked to us and not just about the car we were looking at.
I don’t know if you know it or not, but buying a Kia comes with an amazing incentive package. It’s pretty sweet deal and MOST of the reason why I went with that brand, but I'd be lying if I said the people working there didn't factor largely in my decision also.
Anyway… I took the car in for its first scheduled maintenance about three or so months (I don’t really remember) after I bought it. Right away, the man who sold us the car recognized me and came up to chat for a bit, which I thought was pretty cool. But it was the service department that really got my attention.
*Side note: since I’ve been driving and out on my own, we’ve always done the maintenance on our own cars, mainly because we never owned anything new and working on them ourselves was a hell of a lot cheaper than paying mechanics. *End Side Note
So, they get done with my car and the dude comes out of the service bay and I was blown away at how nice he was. My one experience with a mechanic was the guy in my old hometown in NC who checked out my ’78 Firebird because I couldn’t figure out why one of the sparkplugs kept fouling out and after changing it a gazillion times myself, I took it up to him. He charged me $300 for an anti-foul plug and a rotor button I hadn’t even asked for and could have changed myself, plus labor. The plug did not fix the issue, either. Not to mention he had the car for two weeks before it was ready to be picked up. Hence my wariness.
I was a lot poorer back then than I am now, but still, the idea of paying someone to work on my vehicle makes me twitch a little. I mean, that old mechanic couldn’t even manage to be decent when he had his hand out asking for money I really didn’t have and kept my only vehicle for half a month for a thirty-minute fix that ended up not being a fix at all. Is it too much to ask for a little romance beforehand?
And here this Kia guy just performed all my services for free and afterwards, he set about explaining to me what was done and what needed to be done next trip. He didn’t ‘mansplain’ anything, he didn’t talk down or try to talk in circles, and I liked that. A lot. Because, I do know a thing or six about cars but usually any knowledge I might have gets discounted by anyone with a penis, cause you know… I’m a chick. We’re supposed to know about chick stuff like clothing, which apparently that gene was skipped in my DNA, because half the time I look homeless. When I don’t, it’s because my mama bought my clothes. Remember, I suck at adulting (re: I’m Notoriously Bad at Adulting).
Back to cars. I have singlehandedly reattached a fuel line while I had a toddler on my hip, in the middle of the night, in the ghetto of the town I lived in, complete with gangs and drive-by’s on the next street over. I rebuilt a 4-barrel carburetor on a television tray in my living room earlier the same evening. I’ve done plugs and wires, changed out coils, brakes, distributors, ignitions, solenoids, alternators, belts, and radiators, as well as dropped pans on transmissions and fixed air conditioners in vehicles I’ve owned.
Why? Let me say this again…. I WAS POOR. I had no choice but to learn, even though there were times, I did enjoy it. Like when it wasn’t a necessity for me to use the vehicle to get back and forth to work but that was rare.
Thankfully, I had a dad who let me help do things like work on brakes or change out valve cover gaskets and the like. Thankfully also, I married someone with big hands who needed my much smaller ones to get into those hard to reach engine areas. I learned how to change a harmonic balancer, set timing, reattach the transmission to the engine (that was an education). The rub is most everything I’ve ever worked on was pre-1984. You know, before they put chips and computers in cars as a regular practice. When it comes to the newer stuff, I’m pretty lost, though I did my share of work on my old Chevy Corsica, my old Ford Taurus and my much beloved Ford F-150 (I still miss that truck), but it was simple stuff; just regular every day maintenance and wear items like the MAF sensor or EGR, until suddenly, it wasn’t and it was beyond my capability to fix the issues. That’s where the Kia came in. The truck had had enough. It was twenty years old, I’d owned it for twelve of those years and there was no more fixing it. Not within my financial ability anyway.
But Kia not only afforded me a car that I could financially wrap my head around paying for, it also provided a really great service package with it, so it was kind of a win/win for me.
There was even an instance in that first year when I took the car up for service and I was so sick I could barely hold my head up. Those guys came into that customer lobby periodically while my car was being worked on, just to check on me and to make sure I had everything I needed. That was going above and beyond in my book. Most people would have treated me like I had Ebola rather than the mother of all colds.
I’ve had the car for two years now. Two years worth of oil changes and standard maintenance has been done at the dealership where the car was purchased and each time, I’m so damn pleased with the quality of customer service I get. I don’t think they know just how rare it is to have a business treat its customers that way.
These guys are seriously so great that I’ve had to take the car up twice in last few days because the check engine light keeps coming on, (turned out to be bad fuel related) and I didn’t mind.
The service prices are also so affordable that I kinda scratch my head at how other shops can get away with charging so much for just oil changes or tune-ups. I don’t get it, but then, I guess I don’t have to, just like I don’t have to work on my own car anymore.
Carriage Kia has made me a fan of both the brand and their name. They've also ensured I’ll keep doing business with them when it comes to scheduled or non-scheduled maintenance or when it’s time to trade up to that Stinger I’ve got my eye on. ;)
Honestly, thanks guys for being so great; especially this past week when the Georgia heat was being a bitch and so was my car.
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