On Saturday, a lady brought in a 2002 Ford Escape. Her issue was the driver window would not go up. She said it would go down, but not up. No crunching was heard when she tried. I was tasked to drive her down to the outlet mall a block away with our dealerships shuttle van. Along the way, she confided in me that she'd stopped going to a certain dealership because they had “screwed” her and she wanted to try us because we were close to where she worked. I told her it was my belief that our service advisors and technicians were honest and they won't try to find the most expensive repairs possible for her window. I dropped her off with a promise to return when we finished with her repair.
An hour and a half of so passed, and I learned from the service advisor that it was a switch and not an entire window regulator that was needed, as I suspected. I repeatedly told her I was NOT a technician when I dropped her off, and that I didn't think her repair was as bad as it could have been. I was proud of my guys for not suggesting the more expensive (and in this case worthless) repair and happy that when I picked her up, I could do a , “...see? We are honest people!” self-back patting.
She was very happy it would be cheaper than possible though a little peeved that we didn't have the part in stock so we could not fix it till Monday. When we arrived back at the dealership, she asked if there was anyway to cover the window hole. She was concerned about tape and plastic, not only because of looks, but because of getting tape glue on her paint. I repeated that I am not a technician, but I think I can get the window up. It is, after all, only a switch and not he regulator that was broken. So she went in to pay, and I set to work on the window.
I went inside and retrieved the shop manual. I carefully folded a paper clip. I popped the window/door lock switch assembly out of the arm rest. I located the wires that the book showed were the right color to roll up the window. I jumpered across the two wires.
Nothing happened. Hmm. Perplexed, I tried again. I tried rolling down other windows. I tried activating the door locks. They worked, but the windows, none of them, would go up or down. It was at this time that our person doing weekend dispatch called me over into the service advisor offices and I got my butt chewed royally. “You are not a technician.” “That is the tech's job.” “You can't do that.” “What if you break it?” etc. I hung my head in the most submissive, most pleading, most “I am the scum of the Earth” pose and listened to her chastise me.
In my mind, here is what I am thinking: The switch is bad. I use the paper clip to simulate the switch. The window goes up. Customer goes home happy. This person chastising me, is doing so because it is an electricity related issue. I see this phobia over and over in real life. Not just with electricity, but with other mundane problems that arise in our day to day lives. It is much like a parent to a child. Where the parent knows in some vague way that whatever the child is doing it may cause harm or break something. In certain cases, this could be absolutely the case where the parent has been there, and done that. But, specifically with electricity, I think it borders on superstition. The feeling I got from her tongue lashing was that because it was electrical related, it was taboo for anyone other than a skilled practitioner to mess with it. The awe and reverence to this one aspect of car repair was noticeably visible on her face.
If the customer had asked for me to air up her tire, the dispatcher would have had no problem. Put water in the radiator, again no problem. Install windshield wipers, you betcha. So, why the horror in trying to make the customer happy by rolling up the window?
So I apologized to the dispatcher, and went back outside to inform the customer that I would be unable to roll her window up because I am not a technician. She said she understood. I replaced the switch assembly and wished her a nice weekend. She sat down and tried the other switches. None of the windows would work. Up or Down. If the key was off in the ignition, the doors would lock and unlock, but if the key was on, nothing would happen. A cold sweat broke out along my spine. My stomach dropped. Uh oh, what did I do now. Inevitably, she exclaimed, “Now none of the windows work! When I brought my car in, the only thing broken was my driver window and now they are all broken! It wasn't like that when I brought it in!” Ok, ok, think, think. What did I do. What could I have done. Fuses! In my calmest, “there is no problem here voice” I said maybe I blew a fuse. So I went looking for the fuse panel. I couldn't find it. Driver or passenger side. Deep breath. Composure gathered. “I'm sorry, but I don't see the fuse panel. Let me get the technician that worked on your car and get this straightened out.” So off I go in search of James.
“James, I have a problem.” “Did you burn the shit out of your finger?”, he asked with a knowing nod. “No, it's worse. None of the windows work now. Door locks either. I can't find the fuses. I am at your mercy. I am begging you, pleading. I don't know what to do now. It's not making sense. I'll buy you lunch, whatever. Can you help me?” Notice how I have lost the bravado from just fifteen minutes ago when I was talking the the dispatcher?
He agrees to help and wipes his hands off on the way out the door. He got in the driver seat, turned on the key. Tried the windows. Tried to start the car. Got out. Announced the battery is dead. Fifteen seconds to do what I had no inkling of contemplating doing. I was astounded, awed, and amazed. The customer wasn't. Now not only do her windows not work, but her battery is dead. I can see in her eyes, that she thinks we are taking her for a ride. Trying to squeeze cash from a woman like the stereotypical garage our parents made jokes about. After a few tense words between her and James, he we back to the car he was working on. I was left outside with the nice lady. “Let me get the equipment to jump start your car.” I said heading off in that direction. She was on the phone do I don't know who before I took three steps.
The escape was jumped, it started fine. Once started, the windows and door locks worked like they were supposed to. Except for the driver window which was still down. As I stood waiting for her to finish her phone call and wish her a nice day, I heard some pieces of the conversation she was having. It was to Firestone. Apparently she had purchased the battery in 2007 and was arguing with them about the warranty. She knows it wasn't our fault that her battery was dead. She thanked me for trying to get her window up and left. The cold sweat subsided.
Checking yesterday with the real trim technician that has worked on electrical components of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles for over 27 years, I discovered several things. 1)It would have taken two paper clips to roll the window up. 2)The action I was attempting on her window switch was completely worthless. In simplest terms, what I was doing was connecting ground to ground. I might as well have poked her bumper.
I was completely wrong on her window switch. I could have blown a fuse. I am not a technician. I can admit when I am wrong and learn from the experience. Oh boy did I learn from this one. Yet, looking back, I think it turned out for the best for her. If I had done absolutely nothing to her window switch, she would have sat down in her car and it would not have started. She would have been unhappy about that, and I am guessing not so happy about us not trying to get her window up. Just speculation on my part, of course.