The five dollar fuse story is the second conflict I have had with a client (the first was my father in law as previously blogged about) and like all conflicts we learnt how to protect ourselves in the future.
First of all this story requires a little bit of background knowledge. In all modern vehicles when an electrical and sometimes a mechanical fault occurs one of many warning lights will illuminate on the dash board. Your mechanic then uses a diagnostic Scan tool to extract the fault codes from the system to inform him or her what the fault is and where to start making repairs. The Scan tool we own to do this costs in excess of ten thousand Australian dollars so naturally whenever fault codes are checked a fee of sixty dollars is charged to the client to recuperate the costs of such an expensive piece of equipment.
Enter client. A young man who up front informed me that he was in a financial tight spot and someone I knew for many years, he required a registration inspection (if the car is not road worthy faults need to be rectified before it can be passed and registered) As part of this the airbag warning light was on. I felt sympathy for the bloke as I understood his situation so I helped him out.
I cleared the airbag warning light free of charge and arranged for a friend of mine to pass the rego inspection when the car should not have passed. Something that both my friend an I could loose our mechanical licence for doing.
A week later the client called saying he had now got a different warning light coming on. This time it was the ABS (Active Braking System) light. I drove to the clients work, swapped cars and returned to the workshop. I scanned the vehicle using the scan tool and went about diagnosing the issue.
It turns out the vehicle had a averagely installed set of subwoofers in the boot and poor wring was blowing the fuse for the sound system, so my client in all his wisdom took the fuse from his brakes to make his subwoofers work. I replaced the fuse, cleared the fault codes and returned to the client.
I charged him $5 or the fuse. I need to point out here $5 is a lot for one fuse yet my client received a rego pass when it should have failed, I put my licence in jeopardy to help the bloke out, I picked his car up from work for him and he received two code scans valued at sixty dollars each all free of charge.
Not only did the client complain and carry on about the expensive fuse and told me he would not do business with me anymore. Two years on he still complains to others that he socialises with about it. I suspect he neglects to tell them how much I did to help him out and didn’t charge.
From that day on I give fuses away for free but I have never ever done a code scan for free since.