Just a Schmuck

Falling through the universe at the speed of life

By David Glenn Cox

Of all the things I miss in this Twenty-first Century of ours is honesty, candor, and credibility. As I approach the end of my sales career, I reflect on the changes and mourn them. At one time Craftsman made decent hand tools; they weren’t great but not bad. You wouldn’t get laughed out of the garage for using them because everyone knew they had a great warranty. Break it, and they will give you another. That began to change as Sears began importing more product from Asia. Then it became a carnival game; we will warranty this, but we won’t warranty that. The warranty became a joke and Craftsman tools faded away.

No price advantage, no service, and no warranty, why should I buy your tools? I bought a TV with a $50.00 mail in rebate. I filled out the required paperwork and put it in the mail. Six weeks later no rebate. I called the customer service and after twenty minutes on the phone was told my receipt was illegible and because of that ineligible for a rebate. I asked, “was the store name legible? Was the phone number for the store legible? Is the invoice number legible? Was anyone going to call me to tell me you had no intention of living up to the legal agreement you made with me?” I called the store and explained I would be returning the TV because the company had violated its contract. I bought the TV conditional on a $50.00 rebate if they won’t honor it then we have no contract.

Twelve weeks half a dozen phone calls it was the hardest $50.00 I ever earned. I told myself, no more rebates, not now, not ever. A shock absorber company was offering a 20% rebate on four shock absorbers. Being a store employee, I got the kin folk price on the shocks and sent off my receipt for my rebate. No rebate and when I called to inquire was told because I was a store employee I wasn’t eligible for the rebate. I asked where exactly in the rules it said that. It said employees of the shock absorber company were not eligible. Eventually, I got my rebate. It was less than they would have paid out for a regular retail customer but that’s not the point. The point is to scam as many people as possible and to screw them out of that to which they are entitled.

You don’t see too many mail in rebates anymore the public is wise to them. The twenty-first Century wooden nickel. I needed brakes for my car and stopped by a local chain to get an estimate. I asked, What’s your ballpark price for a brake job all the way around. “Well, that depends. We need to put her on the rack and do a twenty-two-point safety inspection.” You can’t just give me a ballpark price? I’m not going to hold you to it if they find something. Without a word he returned to his computer and printed out an estimate with every possible nut, cable and connector. Hardware kits and rotors, pads with a lifetime warranty all for $775.00. I left there vowing never to return. The company spends millions on national advertising, and the employee was following procedure. I would only return if the building was on fire to watch it burn down.

I have a car with the Tanaka defective airbag. The car’s manufacturer (Rhymes with Mord) has sent me repeated notices but due to a death in the family and the Covid 19 lockdown I finally got around to calling. The notices suggest all sorts of options are available, including a loner car. While they were quick to make the appointment when I asked about a loner car, she began to stammer. “I’ll have to let you speak with a service advisor which of course sent me to a voicemail that cut me off after ten seconds. I called the Mord complaint line and explained.

The lady was very nice, and she tried to call the dealership herself. After ten minutes she said, “Let’s try another dealership!” So, we repeated the procedure with a new dealership, and she came back, “The service advisor said the loaner cars are first come first serve and they can’t guarantee one will be available. But I can! I can guarantee there will be no loner car available with a lead pipe certainty. I didn’t ask for a loner car to be a bitch about it, they offered one! I didn’t break the car through negligence you manufactured the car with defective parts. Why is this my problem? Why am I making long-distance phone calls to factories trying to get dealerships to honor what the factory has promised? Four long-distance phone calls, two dealerships and we’re no closer to a repair than when the letter arrived.

Putting aside that over the years I’ve bought more than half a dozen cars from these people. To them, I’m just a schmuck. We don’t care what your paper says. We don’t give a shit, do you understand? We don’t care about fixing your car we don’t care if you drop off the face of the earth this is something we have to do. We don’t care that you’re a customer and we don’t care how much we’ve inconvenienced you. Do you realize were talking about $25.00? The Mord Motor Company would rather fight World War III than pony up $25.00 for a loner car to a customer with a forty-year legacy of buying their products. It is not the injury; it’s the insult.

When I first started in sales, I was taught that a credit or return was just an order in reverse. You gave the money back just as cheerfully as you took it in. If you made a customer a promise you lived up to it. The customer wasn’t always right, but they were always the customer. If the customer had a beef you made it right. You didn’t ask the customer to jump through hoops for you, you jumped through hoops for the customer.

We’ve been trying to reach you about your car warranty. Free seven-day trial. And if not satisfied in thirty days simply return it for a full refund simply put that queen-sized mattress in UPS. But wait, don’t order now! Have you heard about reverse mortgages? You used to be a customer, but now you are just a schmuck. Just another sucker on a long list of suckers to be bilked for whatever is possible.

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