I like to think that I'm a pretty honest salesman. That's not to say that I don't employ tactics like enthusiasm or excitement (it is genuine, by the way), it's to say that I'll never sell you something you don't need and I know you won't like. If you've ever worked with me in the store, you'll know that I often spend more time trying to talk you out of buying things, rather than into them. We don't need the extra ten bucks on a sale. What we do want is for our customers to be satisfied with whatever it is they buy and to have to best experience possible.
Nevertheless, there's a lot of skepticism that goes along with wine and whiskey sales, especially for people who know nothing about either one. How do you know I'm not just selling you some over-oaked, over-priced Cabernet that we're making a fat margin on? A similar comparison might be auto repair. If you're like me and know nothing about fixing cars, then how are you to know if a mechanic is actually fixing your car, or simply adding on additional charges to hike up the bill? It's tough to decipher if you're auto illiterate.
So you can imagine my despair when, while leaving St. George distillery in Alameda this past Tuesday, my car started overheating at the Oakland airport where I was picking up my mother on the way back to the peninsula. I was able to make it to the terminal, but after throwing mom's bags into the trunk and getting her in the front seat, we couldn't make it much further without blowing a gasket. A security guard told us about a gas station just outside the airport on 98th where we might find service. I proceeded cautiously, using as little throttle as possible, while the warning kept beeping away. After making the right turn there was no gas station in site, but I did see a sign that read, "Smog checks and oil changes" so I pulled into the driveway hoping for some help.
That driveway turned out to be North American Motors, a local garage that happened to be in the right spot at the right time. The general manager Romeo came right out to look at my car and assess the situation. Like me, Romeo drives a Volkswagen GTI (parked right next to where I was) and knew the problem could be one of many possibilities. Since I needed to get back to work and my mother needed to get to her car, Romeo immediately called the nearby Hertz Rent-a-car and got us set up for transportation. Within twenty minutes a NAM employee had given us a ride to the rental and we were back on the road towards San Mateo. Romeo said he would call me later with an update.
It turned out there were multiple issues. I needed a new water pump. I needed a new temperature module on my radiator. I might as well do the fan belt since I was paying for labor now. Within two days my car was ready to go, so I headed back over to Oakland this morning for payment and pick-up. It turns out the North American Motors had paid for my rental car, so there was no charge for two and a half days of Suburu action. My co-worker Armando, who is familiar with car repair, said the bill should have been far more than it was. How could it happen that, when breaking down in an unfamiliar part of the Bay Area, I had overheated next to one of the most honest and helpful garages in existence?
Not only was my car fixed, but it had been washed, the oil changed, and all of the fluids topped off and checked for levels. I couldn't believe it. These guys could have taken me to the cleaners and I would have paid it (unknowingly), but they didn't. You could tell that Romeo and his crew were happy that I was happy. My satisfaction was their primary goal.
So there. Karma. I make an effort to be as honest and helpful as possible with all K&L customers and the universe provided me with the same level of service. What goes around does come around, eh?
That being said, if you need help with your car I can't recommend this place highly enough:
North American Motors