I’d been through the automatic car wash many times with my small car; however, I was aghast, as say, Jessica on Murder She Wrote might be, when I saw parts fly and the hood swing in the wind. The operators shut the fan off and I checked the damage with the workers.
Not long afterward the owner appeared and said that the hood was broken to begin with and refused to take responsibility for the damage. He swore that it would cost upwards of $1000 and that he didn’t need to do that.
Holding my service dog close, I told him he should do it “because it is the right thing to do.” He hawed. He said that no one else required payment of damages. He sited a Hummer that was damaged and another vehicle, too. I again said it was the right thing to do. After his saying that the car shouldn’t have gone through the car wash at all; I reminded him that I had been through this one and many carwashes and never had a problem. Finally he said, he didn’t feel he should pay for it because it was already broken.
I told him he should because I frequent Caton’s and they never mentioned anything was amiss. I added that I write articles for the paper when he raised his voice and said that he would send me to his brother who owns a mechanic’s shop to fix it. His supposition was wrong, I told him, because I had been to Caton’s for oil changes and they never found that. He said angrily, “I’ll have my brother fix it, but I don’t want you or your car ever back here again.”
On my way, I stopped by Caton’s. As I pulled into Caton’s service aisle, tears were welling up; but the mechanic assured me that the hood had never been broken before; he assured me that Jess himself would have let me know if there had been damage. Although Jess Caton wasn’t available, his mechanic assured me that if I had any trouble at the other mechanic’s shop, to come back and they would help me.
A few minutes later, I appeared at the brother’s shop, and waited to be addressed. I said, “Your brother sent me to have you fix the hood levers broken in the car wash.” The owner responded: “I’ll be with you when I can.”
His tone suggested that I had to wait a while. Finally he took down my information and said he would have the piece Friday. (Note: I acknowledge that he did remember I had been a long time customer back in early 2000’s.) So I was ready to wait.
The part did not come in until the next week because of a shipping mix-up. He pulled the car into the bay. No service document was provided at the completion, so I didn’t know whether or not the brother had fixed both sides.
The next week, I went into Caton’s for an oil change when they discovered that only the passenger side lever of the hood had been fixed and that they had not fixed the driver’s side at all. As Caton’s has long guaranteed their work, I trust them. I asked them if it had been fixed at all and they said no. After consideration, I decided that I couldn’t go back to either of the businesses because I was uncomfortable with them. Thankfully, Caton’s was able to fix the problem; and did not charge me for their kindness.
That week, two other cars went through the same car wash and drove into Caton’s hoping for an affordable repair since the car-wash owner refused to repair the damage. One of the compact cars was washed but the rear-view mirror was dislodged during the detailing; and again the owner wouldn’t repair the damage. So that driver came to Caton’s where she was only charged $5 to re-glue the mirror. Another driver took a small car through the wash and also had damage that Caton’s team repaired.
So, the lesson I learned is that the best customer service in car care is trustworthy Caton’s! Never fear, Caton’s is near.
--Nelda Curtiss is a retired college professor who enjoys writing and fine arts. Contact her with ideas for her next column at [email protected]