Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Teach Me How to Bone

A lot of people have asked me how I always seem to get my way when there's something I want. I don't say that in an I'm-a-spoiled-brat kind of way; I say that in an I-fight-for-what-I-want-and-I-usually-win kind of way. Which probably sounds just as bad as being a spoiled brat (or worse) but the facts don't lie: more often than not, I get my way.

I'm here to tell you that you don't have to be a raging bitch to get what you want. You don't even have to fight for what you want, but there are a few tricks I've learned over the years about how to do this, especially when it comes to businesses. I'll use my recent experience with Big-O Tires as an example. Judge me all you want, but this is just how I roll.

1. Boobs have nothing to do with it; neither does being female. In fact, these things usually work against you.
Let's just get this out of the way up front, because it's always the first reaction I get when I recount my latest victory. "Oh it's just because you have boobs." "Oh it's just because you're a girl." No, it's not, because these are the things that people instantly use as an opportunity to take advantage of you. Guys, think what you want, but my experience has been that as soon as I walk into a car dealership, mechanic, or any other predominantly-male environment, I'm viewed as an easy target - until I open my mouth. I do not rely on my chest or gender to get me what I want. Which brings me to point number two.

2. Go in prepared, or at least act like you are.
Knowledge and confidence are the most important things that will work in your favor, especially when dealing with places like mechanics. They are banking on the fact that they know more than you, and that they are the expert. You need to be the expert. Knowing as much as you can about the matter will always give you the upper hand. Wait, scratch that, you don't even need to really know that much, but if you act like you do, it's almost as good. This is where the confidence comes in, because if you act like you know what you're talking about, and if you assert yourself and speak with confidence, it goes a long way.

But it definitely helps to be prepared. Know thy enemy, right? Like when Big-O told me my alignment was off, I jumped on my phone to brush up on the differences between the caster, camber, and toe; because when they threw these big words at me, they were counting on me to be clueless. I quickly became an expert on all things alignment, and I was ready when they came at me.

Let me preface this by saying the only reason I went to a chain like Big-O is because I got a good hook-up when I bought new wheels and tires, and at the time I was told that everything was covered under a full warranty. And they gave me four free snow tires, but that's a whole different story. I don't like to deal with chains - the only reason I go to the Ford dealership is because everything is still under warranty. Otherwise, I avoid the big name shops and prefer to stick to the one-man-bands.

So when I noticed that my right front tire was low, I reluctantly took it to the nearest Big-O, figuring they'd do a standard patch job and I'd be on my way. Boy was I wrong. I'll try my best to make a long story short, so here are the facts as they were presented to me by the manager:

Him: "There's a screw in your tire, but the whole tire needs to be replaced because the tire has separated from the wheel in this one spot, and that's because there's something wrong with your alignment that's causing the tire to wear unevenly. See how your tire is completely bald just on the inside edge just in this four inch strip? So we can order you a new tire, but it's not covered under warranty, and you'll have to pay a prorated amount for the wear you've already put on the tire."

Me: "These tires are supposed to have a full warranty for the life of the tire."

Him: "Yeeeeeeeeeeah, I don't know who told you that, but they were misinformed."

Me, pointing at my warranty documentation: "Well, see, it says right here, there's a full manufacturer's warranty for the life of the tire."

Him: "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah, but that's only if there's a defect in the tire itself, not if there's a defect with your car."

Me, fighting the urge to respond to the 'your car has a defect' comment: "Well, based on what you're telling me, the tire is wearing only in that one spot because my alignment is off, right? I haven't noticed any pulling in the steering..."

Him: "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah, um, if the alignment isn't noticeably off, the tire has probably worn down so much because significant mileage has been put on it in while it's been in that position, and you haven't rotated it enough."

Me: "So any tire in that position (the right front) would wear the same way, right?"

Him: "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah."

Me: "Well that's interesting, because none of my other tires have worn like that, and I just had them rotated 2,000 miles ago, so if the alignment was off by that much, wouldn't the other tires have worn the same way when they were in that position? And based on what you said, the alignment would have to be significantly off for the tire to have become BALD in one FOUR INCH SECTION after less than 2,000 miles right? If the alignment was the problem, wouldn't you have noticed when you rotated my tires? Wouldn't you have noticed if another tire was wearing like that?"

Him: "Ummmmmmmmm..."

Which brings me to my next tactic:

3. Question, question, question until you fully understand.
I was trying to get him to explain it to me like I'm a four-year-old, and so I could then throw it back in his face.

4. Throw it back in their face.
Me: "It sounds to me like this is a defect in the actual tire, not the car, so it should be covered under the manufacturer's warranty."

Him: "Um, you'll have to pay for the wear you've already put on it."

Me: "Yeeeeeeeeah, I'm not going to pay for anything, because it clearly says here that there is a full manufacturer's warranty for the life of the tire."

5. Rinse, restate, rephrase and repeat as long as necessary.
This is when most people give up because they're just tired of dealing with the problem or the person. You have to be willing to either go the distance, or be okay with not getting what you want. Honestly, this is the principle at the heart of Boning someone - I'm never willing to give up and be okay with getting less than what I feel I deserve (or paid for). I will question, debate, repeat and rephrase until I'm blue in the face. This is how I got my car for thousands below MSRP, along with a custom paint job, two custom grilles, an extended warranty, and free oil changes for a year. Not because I yelled and kicked and screamed (that didn't come until later, when they tried to back out of their promises) but because I was willing to sit there and go fifteen rounds with them. And up until this point, I don't even have to raise my voice, bob my head, or jab my finger. However...

#6. When all else fails, don't be afraid to cause a scene.
It doesn't usually come to this, but I have no shame. Because here's the thing: I am fiercely loyal when I'm treated well. I've followed the same one guy from shop to shop for the last ten years because I like the way he deals with me. Wherever he goes, they get my business because he treats me right. But I'm also fiercely vindictive, because if you cross me, I won't just quietly take my business elsewhere. I'll obnoxiously badmouth you as I make a production of taking my business elsewhere.

No place of business, especially a crowded place of business, wants negative attention drawn to them. And Big-O, on a Saturday afternoon with a sitting area full of people is the perfect place to throw a fit if steps #1-#5 didn't get the job done. And no, I'm not above raising my voice, bobbing my head, slamming my hand on the counter, drawing attention to myself - whatever it takes if reason and logic didn't get through the manager's thick skull.

This is how I ended up getting what I wanted, which is two brand new tires (because it's kind of pointless to replace only one). This after I demanded that they test the alignment on my car, which proved to be absolutely fine, which led to him admitting that it was a defect in the tire, and would thus be covered under the manufacturer's warranty. This in turn led me to "suggest" that they adjust my alignment from the preferred manufacturer's settings (normal) to a performance alignment, which will give me better tire tread life as the 'Stang corners like it's on rails. The look on his face was priceless when I explained that I wanted maximum negative camber, maximum positive caster, and preferred toe settings, and that I wanted it for free because of the hour-long hassle they'd put me through. Because then he really knew that I knew what I was talking about, and I meant business.

So, the best advice I can give you when fighting for your cause is to remember G.I. Joe: Knowing is half the battle. The rest is not giving up, and not being afraid to draw a little attention to the situation.

And that's how Bone does it.


Deidra said...

Thank you for the lesson in boning. I don't know if I could do it because I have a phobia of causing a scene, but it is really good to remember in case I ever get over that!

I love your stories and you are fabulous!

Emily said...

You are my inspiration. Strong, confident, independant & HOT!

andi said...

Maybe if you worked where I did, something would get accomplished. And I suggest hidden cameras the next time :)

$teve said...

Got it... Thank u for the explanation. :)

Josh and Gloriana said...

love this. love you.

Emilee said...

Totally AWESOME! Next time I am going to hire you to do all my dirty work. Like recently when we moved and had to transfer our DIRECTV (never deal with this horrible company) they wanted a $300 transfer fee. Pretty quickly they knocked it down to $95 for me but I had to escalate the issue to the manager to get it knocked down to $50. $50????? Nobody charges for you to transfer your utilities and services. It IS a joke. So I argued on the phone for an entire hour and couldn’t get them down any farther. They would even quickly put me on hold to make me think we had got disconnected but I just sat there and after 10 minutes they would get back on “Um Hello… are you still there?” Eventually I had to eat the fee. Where were you when I needed you.

Toots said...

I am so impressed and awed. I am way too non-aggressive (let alone non-assertive)to do that. I seriously want you to come with me the next time I have to deal with anything like that! You're my hero!