Posted by: Diane | August 30, 2011

Grace Given

I experienced righteous anger yesterday.  (At least, I think it was righteous!)

Last Thursday, Chris and I were driving home late at night.  Suddenly, the ball joint came apart underneath the front of the car, which caused the right, front wheel to turn 90° the wrong way.  We screeched to a stop after Chris masterfully maneuvered the car safely to the side of the road.  Long story short, we  were stranded on a two way highway at midnight, waiting for CAA to tow us to the closest garage.

OK. So, we got a quote from the mechanic for $390.00 yesterday morning.  We discussed the steep and unexpected expense but eventually said yes to continue the repair.  When we went to pick up the car later in the day, we were dinged with a bill for $575.00. I was shocked and despite my husband and son telling me, “that’s just the way it goes – you can’t do anything about it”, I disagreed.

Now, you have to understand something about me before I continue – I greatly appreciate when I am treated well as a customer.  For the past 25 years of my life, I have made it a point to write letters, send emails, talk face to face and phone companies when I have experienced or witnessed excellent customer service. Ask my children…they know! More than once, they have felt the embarrassment of witnessing this kind of  “way to go” transaction!

I have a real pet peeve about employees only hearing about the mistakes they make, rather than their company focusing on and noticing when they do something well. I transferred this pet peeve into my twelve years of teaching and was always very aware of “catching students doing right”.  I also feel strongly that when people in power do not treat others well, they need to be respectively confronted.  Having explained this particular pet peeve to you, I will continue my story.

I felt that this mechanic/owner of the garage had treated me unfairly so I respectively approached him, asked for an explanation for the discrepancy in the bill.  At this point, Chris had joined me and the conversation went something like this:

Mechanic: “The quote didn’t include the price of the alignment but obviously, this repair required one.”

Diane:   I disagree.  It wasn’t obvious nor explained to me when you gave us the quote. I would have appreciated a quick phone call to give us the “heads up” about including the alignment and the significant increase in the cost of the repair so that we had the opportunity to choose whether to continue the repair.

Mechanic: We can’t be making phone calls all day.

Diane:   Well, my expectation was that the final cost would be close to the quote and because you didn’t tell us this, I think you need to take ownership for your mistake.

Mechanic:  All I can say is what’s done is done. Besides, it was your husband who was driving the car when that wheel came off.”


Neither Chris or I had any idea what this comment had to do with the conversation. We were dumbfounded and the mechanic walked away from us, got into his car and drove off.

I was absolutely furious.  I have to admit that the question, “what would Jesus do?” didn’t enter my mind.

This experience stayed with me for the rest of the day.  How do I handle this?  I can’t let this go.

This morning, I was reading Ann Voskamp’s blog and there  was my answer.  Let it go.  All is grace, Diane….all is grace.

All is Grace – Shaun Groves

You have loved us
You have loved us all
You have loved us all so
We love all ….

Thank you for Christ and cross
Through us tell the wand’ring
Thank you for making peace
Through us love our enemies …..

Thank you for daily bread
Through us fill the empty
Thank you for bodies whole
Through us mend the breaking

All is grace
All is grace
All is grace and grace enough
All is grace
All is grace
All is grace and grace enough
For all of us
- For all of us


  1. Thanks Diane for being so transparent and vulnerable. I believe that you did the right thing and the mechanic had made a mistake , being too lazy to call you didn’t even cone close to justify the change in cost of the repair. His last comment was really a slap in the face, a kick in the side while you were down for the count! However , when he drove away, you have no choice but to “let go and let God”. Definitely “God’s grace is all sufficient” for you and you now choose to forgive him. However , you learn from this and the next time will confirm the cost in writing, and you will find another mechanic to fix your car.

    God exhibits His Grace to us constantly when we repent and confess our sin but we pay the consequences and carry the scars. You can be sure that this mechanic is not a happy camper and will lose his job if he continues his sloppy work ethic.

    I am also very aware of good service from any employee and make it a practice to tell his/her boss, but I do not reward bad service especially a work ethic issue where it was deliberate. We don’t do anyone any favors by acting like a doormat for anyone to walk on!

    Maybe I’m wrong but God’s grace is conditional, I need to accept it by faith and I qualify by repentance.

    Find a new mechanic! Haha


  2. JD as a boss, often hears from clients if his staff are any less than perfec. He appreciates it and deals with it thus keeping his clients and improving service. He thinks you should write a letter and say that “you might be interested in knowing why your clients don’t return etc, you may be showing grace to this owner in helping him save his business . That’s JD’s take on it!!

    • Hi Barb…thanks for sharing J.D.’s perspective – much appreciated. The problem is that this man with whom I had this unpleasant interaction IS the boss! Diane

  3. I think it’s great that you spoke up. So often we say nothing and just pay the bill without question. Just recently Ken questionned the bill AND the shop owener said, “Wait, let me check with the company to see if they will cover this on their warranty.” Well, they did and we saved almost $200.00. Just shows to go ya that it doesn’t hurt to have clarification!!

    I still think you could write a letter to that shop owner and voice your opinion on his poor customer service. He should NEVER do work on your vehicle without your permission and then make you pay for it….that’s just plain wrong!

  4. Full agreement with all the points above – in a nice way you may want to write a letter and say that due to the aforementioned you will not be patronizing his establishment again. We don’t know where his shoes are walking – he may be handling problems and worries that make dealing with clients one of his lesser priorities. Still not right, but we should try to make allowances for people’s behaviour – it might not be poor customer service (then again, it might be) but it could be a child with a serious illness, marital issues, financial worries, etc. that are creating less than perfect business practices.

    I love the number of times I’ve written very positive letters “you might be interested in knowing my disappointment in such and such …..” and have gotten wonderful things back in return! My best one was a complaint about my white toaster oven – the dial goes to 450 degrees – which in turn nicely gives a brown toasty look to the top of the oven. Got a beautiful (and larger) black replacement oven. Only one of many stories. Complain and hold people to account – certainly. Do it with grace – absolutely.

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