Customer Service, The Good and The Bad


Dec 15, 2019
The Good
I have an F350 diesel dually pickup truck. It's got about 175,000 miles on it and developed a small, slow oil leak that was getting worse over the last 10,000 or so miles. It really wasn't a big deal. Diesel engines tend to weep a little oil as they get older for various reasons. A couple of months ago I noticed some noise coming from the front end and some odd tire wear. That turned out to be tie rod ends that were worn out, so I replaced them all. The tire wear stopped, but I still get some ball joint noise when flexing the front suspension, so those need to be replaced too. The oil leak finally got to the point where it was leaving a drop of oil on the ground where I parked it. I grumbled a bit and decided to take care of both issues at the same time. I looked up diesel repair shops near Cave City in Kentucky, where I was at the time. I found a place called Cave City Truck Repair & Towing and went down there to see what they could do for me. It ended up being the front main seal that just got old and gave up. Not a difficult job, but you have to remove bumper, grill, radiators, fan, and everything in front of the engine just to get to it. I've got an aftermarket Ranch Hand bumper replacement which is a few hundred pounds all by itself, and it's a modern diesel, so I expected it to be $1,000 or more for this little $50ish seal and a few ball joints. They said it would take 5 to 6 hours to get the seal replaced and everything put back together, then they'd take care of the ball joints. I expected it to take all day long.

Well, it didn't take all day long. I dropped the truck off in the morning at 8:00am and got a call from them after lunch around 2:00. The mechanic wanted to know why I wanted the ball joints changed. He said they are nice and tight and don't look like they need it. That was odd, since the tie rod ends were all in terrible condition when I replaced them. Ball joints should have been too. Nonetheless, I explained to him the symptoms and asked him to look around and see if he could figure out what the creaking was coming from. He checked over everything and gave it a clean bill of health. Said it was probably just suspension getting old and creaky. They do that over 175,000 miles. I thanked him and went in to pick up the truck. Total cost was $800. Honestly, that's not bad for 6 hours of labor on a modern diesel, plus parts. They would have made more money if they replaced the ball joints like I had already approved instead of calling me and telling me it didn't need it.

So, not only did they work quickly, but they also elected to contact me instead of doing work I already authorized because they didn't feel like it needed it. It's not often you find a nice honest mechanic in a little town who does the right thing even though he makes less money for doing it. If you ever need work in Cave City, KY, stop by Cave City Truck Repair. They are good people.

The Bad
I'm a full time RVer. I'm looking to replace the axles and springs on my RV with heavier rated ones that will let me use much better tires. I also want to flip the axles to get more ground clearance. It's a pretty common modification. To accomplish this, you just need spring seats welded on top of the axle instead of on the bottom. I found a place online that sells Dexter axles and even has axle kits that include all the small hardware items and come with wheels and tires! It's a place down in Texas that I'll just call Texas Trailers. Texas Trailer's website has some product reviews and responses from Fred that include an email address for questions. Oh perfect! I'll email Fred and ask them how much it costs and how long it takes to get one of their axle kits modified to flip. It took a few days to get an email back from Fred, and his email referred me to Barney. Fred was the director of customer relations and didn't really know the correct answers to my questions. Fair enough, I'll ask Barney. I sent him an email and waited. And waited. Then I wanted some more.

Bah, I'm tired of waiting. I used the online chat feature of Fred's website. Perfect, I was connected to Wilma who was very nice through the initial pleasantries, but then got really slow to respond and made me repeat myself a lot. As in, I'd say "Hi, I'm looking at your 5200 pound axle kit #9701 and would like to find out how much it costs to get it overslung instead of underslung", to which she's reply, "Okay, so you are interested in our 5200 pound axle kit, correct?" "Yes, that's right." Then two minutes later, "Okay, that is kit #9701, correct?" ... "Yes, that's still right." Two minute pause, "Okay, do you have questions about that kit?" OMG I wanted to stab her in the face! The information she is asking for is still in the chat window. Why is she asking me these stupid questions that she already has the answer to? Just tell me if it's $20 per axle with an additional 24 hours for processing, or $250 per axle and an additional 6 weeks. It's such a simple request for information. It shouldn't take long. Eventually, those 2 minute pauses between responses turn into 5 minute pauses and I end the chat. I don't have all day to sit around and repeat myself.

I emailed Fred again and told him very bluntly that I never heard from Barney and Wilma just stopped responding to me in their online chat, which I'm unhappy about. My questions are simple and I want some straight answers. Unfortunately, getting the runaround, very slow responses, and completely ignored leads me to believe service after the sale will be lacking if I choose to buy from them. Not long after, Fred responds apologizing for the less than ideal service and I get an email from Betty saying that I can order parts from her by calling her. I emailed her back saying that I'm not interested in ordering from her and simply want answers to my questions. Her response is basically, I can place an order with her over the phone where she can have the change made on her end before it's shipped, or I can order extra spring seats to weld on myself if I know how to weld. (Which I do, but if they'll do it for $20, I'll save myself the trouble.) In my head, I'm thinking, yea, obviously I can pay them to do it or I can do it myself. I'm trying to figure out if it's worth having them do it or not, but I need to know how much it costs and how long it takes. I email Betty back with very direct questions. How much money, and how long. I even copied Fred on the email to show him what I'm getting from them. It's simple. What impact on cost or time will my changes have? Betty's reply, copied from the email: "It has an impact because wether we do it or have it ordered that way someone has to take the time to do it..wether it be the actual manufacturer or one of our welders..welders which are already set to do there job(build trailers) which in turn backs our trailer manufacturing process up so if we have to do it we charge an adequate price for our welders time put into doing so...if we have the manufacturer do it that certain axle gets put on a list and gets done in the order the order was placed..."

Is Betty serious? All I want to know is how much, and how long, but she's going on about completely useless things. Obviously if they do it, someone will have to do the work. Nobody thinks they have an axle tree in their yard growing axles for them or anything like that. Why is Betty telling me that someone has to physically do work that I request, as if i don't already know that? I've finally had enough of that BS and send Betty a nastygram telling her in no uncertain terms to tell me how much it costs for the axles I'm asking about. Her reply took about 30 seconds and is short and perfect: "$50.00 USD per axle". Sadly, she still hasn't told me how long it takes. An extra day? And extra week? 3 to 5 weeks?

Why does it take so long to get straight answers from people? Is it just me? Am I the a**hole expecting too much here?


May 21, 2016
Ventura, CA
Some businesses get customer service, some don’t.

a few weeks ago my wife and rode up SR33 to Ventucopa, which is just a dot on the map. Our destination was the Santa Barbara Pistachio company, which was recommended to us. The trip is about an hour 1/2 from here. When we got there, they were indifferent that we traveled all that way to buy overpriced pistachios. They wouldn’t even let us use the bathroom. We ended up having breakfast at the one restaurant in town, called The Place. Exactly the opposite reception. The owners were ecstatic to have us visit, treated us like Kings/Queens and went out of their way to make our order correct when my wife ended up needing to make some spec requests.
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