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Old 06-07-2010, 09:27 PM   #1
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Is Business Attitudes Changing Against Us?

Since being retired the only contact I have with businesses is when I buy something, have something repaired or call for information, but I've noticed a trend regarding their profit model. I'll give you an example of what I mean that happened a couple of days ago but I can site many more examples, in fact one occurred as recently as today.

A week ago I took my RV to Cummins Mid-South to have an oil leak evaluated and have both transmission filters changed in the Allison. The oil leak involved an extensive repair of the front crank seal and was covered under warranty plus $100.00. So when I got the bill I was looking at the cost associated with the transmission filters change. The bill showed I was over charged for some items, charged for items I didn't need(engine oil filter) and subjective charges like misc. and Hazardous waste removal. It was obvious to me that the bill was being padded. I argued to have all charges removed that didn't reflect a fair charge for the work I requested, to the point of demanding to see the manager. At that point there was a turn around and the bill was adjusted for “Customer good Will”.

The point I'm trying to make and the trend that I see is are business's seeing us as an easy target because we won't challenge unfair charges or shabby workmanship? Have we succumbed to cliches like, “I'm getting to old to argue.”, “Life is too short.” “It's only money”. “It's not worth the hassle”. “It's not my money, It's my kids”. Over the years I have heard all of these said by people telling stories about situations similar to what I've just described. If businesses can get half the customers to pay these inflated bills won't that impact the profit model? And won't business's think they are justified to continue these practices? Just something to think about.
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Old 06-08-2010, 07:30 AM   #2
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I think business attitudes ARE changing, but not just in regards to "us," though. I think most prudent business know the proverbial stuff is surely going to hit the fan . . . the bills will become due!

All of these extra fees and obscure extra charges are just an attempt by these businesses to move closer to the edge of a sinking ship. Makes it easier to jump into a life boat, if there are any. Just read a report yesterday about doctors adding more and more charges for "extras" which haven't been seen before.

Might as well move closer to the edge on the backs of "us." It's getting a bit crowded on my back --- politicians and businesses --- yikes.

YeeHaw . . . like a rocket sled on rails!!

Just my $.02.
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Old 06-08-2010, 08:01 AM   #3
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Some of the charges that you outlined are the result of new regulations. The hazardous waste removal, for example, is common across all of the places that I've had service performed. Either they are all conspiring to collect extra fees with the same descriptions or they are simply doing what every business ends up doing and that is passing on additional costs to the consumer. The more regulations that we get, the more we are going to pay. I hired a dumpster to haul away the debris from tearing down an old pole barn. In addition to a very high base cost, there was a 5% franchise fee from my Town and an 18% environmental impact fee and an 8.25% sales tax. In case you weren't keeping track, the total governmental imposed fees for the dumpster were over 25% of the cost of it because each of them was imposed on the subtotal of what the removal company charged. BTW, it was the only removal company that I could use since competition is not allowed. And this was after I had negotiated them down from the standard fees that they wanted to charge me. It was almost more expensive to tear down the old building than to build a new one.

There is no question that businesses are getting squeezed today and are looking for ways to stay in business. As upset as I am about the higher costs from businesses that I'm used to working with, the number of times that one of them no longer exists seems to be worse. I would shudder to think about the business failure rate since the Fall of 2008. Parts and service suppliers that I used to use are gone.
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Old 06-08-2010, 08:22 AM   #4
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I fought a lion something like that with Camping World when I had a Banks exhaust system put on my coach. First of all these people did not have a qualified person to do the job. They wanted to charge me for his incompetence. They wanted to charge me for broken bits and busted ''easy outs'' and a lot of other miscellaneous charges that they thought I would allow. NO WAY ..... I had been a mechanic in my past life and I knew how to ''bend a wrench''. I told them where to ''stick it'' and I would be down with the sheriff and a ''claim and delivery'' order and a wrecker and get my coach and they could ''see me in court'' for their money. They worked out a compromise and I finally got my coach two weeks later. My point is this ...
STAND UP FOR YOURSELF ...... Dont let anyone step on your toes and take advantage of you just because they think you are ''old'' and ''easy''...... Look them straight in the eye and say ;''YOU KNOW PAL,,,,,,,,, I DONT MIND GOING BACK TO PRISON AND YOU ARE GETTING ON MY LAST NERVE.'' Trust me, no one wants to mess with a ''MAD, OLD PERSON'' ....... If you raise a ''stink'' out in public they will do most anything to simply ''get rid of you''. been there and done that and it works every time for me. Get loud, Get mean and Get results pronto. i did the same thing over at Best Buys once concerning the ''repair cost'' for a video camera. The work order said one total price and they tried to ''tack on'' more charges for the job done. They said the guy that wrote the ''work order'' messed up and I would have to PAY EXTRA for the services rendered. I was at the counter and when they handed me the increased billing I told them to ''stick it''. They told me that I would not get my camera and the longer I talked the LOUDER I got. In about five minutes there was a crowd of about 40 people standing around watching and you could hear me in the back of the store. The counter guy made a phone call and they simply gave me my camera for the original agreement price just to get rid of me.
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Old 06-08-2010, 09:21 AM   #5
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I think it depends on where you go to get the work done. I just took my "new to me" 1995 Itasca to LaMesa RV in Tucson,AZ for a new radiator. They were upfront about the cost involved and kept me posted on the progress of the work just like they said they would. When I picked up my coach last Friday the work that was done was impecable and the price was exactly as agreed upon. They even checked the air in my tires and front airbags before I left. I was prepaired to argue over extra charges added to the bill because it has happened to me before, but ther were none to be found.
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:08 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by chasfm11 View Post
Some of the charges that you outlined are the result of new regulations. The hazardous waste removal, for example, is common across all of the places that I've had service performed. Either they are all conspiring to collect extra fees with the same descriptions or they are simply doing what every business ends up doing and that is passing on additional costs to the consumer. The more regulations that we get, the more we are going to pay. I hired a dumpster to haul away the debris from tearing down an old pole barn. In addition to a very high base cost, there was a 5% franchise fee from my Town and an 18% environmental impact fee and an 8.25% sales tax. In case you weren't keeping track, the total governmental imposed fees for the dumpster were over 25% of the cost of it because each of them was imposed on the subtotal of what the removal company charged. BTW, it was the only removal company that I could use since competition is not allowed. And this was after I had negotiated them down from the standard fees that they wanted to charge me. It was almost more expensive to tear down the old building than to build a new one.

There is no question that businesses are getting squeezed today and are looking for ways to stay in business. As upset as I am about the higher costs from businesses that I'm used to working with, the number of times that one of them no longer exists seems to be worse. I would shudder to think about the business failure rate since the Fall of 2008. Parts and service suppliers that I used to use are gone.
I realize there may be extra charges because of changes in regulations but the hazardous waste charge could have been applied to the warranty work since they had to drain the eingine oil but the $100.00 they were charging me was over the line. And extra charges should be explained before the work is done when the order is being written. It's possible that it could be what others have said, that it is the particular business, but Cummins is nationwide.
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Old 06-08-2010, 12:06 PM   #7
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Word is going around about some of the Cummins shops in particular, i.e. you can get a standard job quoted at one of them and get the job for half that at another. The Cummins shops are not owned or operated by Cummins, but by a franchisee, and word is some of them are crooks who will pad the bill w/overcharges & egregious nonsense. I was regaled w/this exact story about 2 months ago- same job quoted from $2500 to $5500 between Cummins shops under different management (4 or 5 quotes, one of the low & one of the high were by different shops owned by the same franchisee). I'd post the shop names but don't recall other than the advice to shop the costs if going Cummins. Sad that Cummins doesn't police this.

Doesn't matter where you go for service (in RV'ing or otherwise), if you do a quick sanity check on the bill when done you will either see good treatment of a valued customer, or somebody running a business like you owe them a retirement on this single job. Likely the split between the two is noticeably greater now that demand on businesses to support the non-working public is so high. This is a good time to make notes on where to shop & where not to, because business owners that run a conservative, well capitalized business and are in biz to stay will have the cushion & biz model to provide good service w/out flim-flam.
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Old 06-08-2010, 12:31 PM   #8
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service is lousy everywhere except maybe wally world
i dropped my comcast in favour of dish returned all equiptment on june 2 was told sevice would terminate on june 11 . i said that was unacceptable and i would adjust my bill with my calculations when final bill arrives. i was made to wait 5 min while she finished the account closing,although i could not see her screen i could tell by her mouse movements she was playing solitaire.i told her to mark my account that if i ever attempt to be a returning customer please have me committed somewhere . shaft me once your fault shaft me twice MY FAULT
there i vented and now i feel better
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Old 06-08-2010, 01:31 PM   #9
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service is lousy everywhere except maybe wally world
i dropped my comcast in favour of dish returned all equiptment on june 2 was told sevice would terminate on june 11 . i said that was unacceptable and i would adjust my bill with my calculations when final bill arrives. i was made to wait 5 min while she finished the account closing,although i could not see her screen i could tell by her mouse movements she was playing solitaire.i told her to mark my account that if i ever attempt to be a returning customer please have me committed somewhere . shaft me once your fault shaft me twice MY FAULT
there i vented and now i feel better
brianj
Gotta tell you I just had a completely positive experience at the Freightliner Chassis Service Center (FCSC) in Gaffney, SC. I was a walk-in standby for a 15.0k service. Their quote was almost to the penny what the final bill was. They could have charged me for several items that they reviewed and explained we did not need. Thier CSR , Pat, was super professional and made the wait very acceptable to us. I plan on going back there for service every chance I get even though it is croos country from us. Additionally, we used thier campground and hookups for four days at no additional charge. Well done Freightliner.
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Old 06-08-2010, 02:32 PM   #10
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. And extra charges should be explained before the work is done when the order is being written. It's possible that it could be what others have said, that it is the particular business, but Cummins is nationwide.
I agree with you on both counts - that the extra charges should be explained in advance and that a nationwide chain should have reasonably consistent pricing, allowing for some variation in locations for real estate differences, etc.

The fact is that neither of those happen very often in the RV industry. Let's take Freightliner. I can go to my local Freightliner dealer and order parts. If I call Gaffney and order those same parts and pay shipping on top if it, I'm still usually in the 10-15% savings range - and they are getting the same parts out of the same Freightliner warehouse. I called both local Dallas area Freightliner dealers with a specific part number and got two very different answers. I priced all of the local Michelin dealers on tires for our RV and again got a broad range of answers. Wanna buy Transyd for an Allison transmission? More than 1/2 of the Dallas area dealers wanted double what I paid at one of the Dallas area truck chains that handle Allisons.

When I was still dumb and taking our RV to Freightliner, I carefully went over what the charges would be with the service writer in advance. When the actual bill came it was very different. I went back to him and his response was "if you don't like it, don't bring your RV here." I took him at his word and have never returned. They don't need or want my business and are "doing me a favor" by working on the RV, even though they are an Oasis network dealer who is supposed to have special RV training and be considerate of RV owners. This post isn't long enough to describe the problems that I had with them when I asked them to fix the speedometer. I ended up fixing it myself. - after $1,000 worth of Freighliner attempts to do it.

It isn't just the big chains. There is an independent who also has an Allison franchise in Ft. Worth. They charged me $500 to change the engine coolant. Based on the parts costs, that was over 4 hours labor. I've never gone back there either.
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Old 06-09-2010, 08:09 PM   #11
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RJAY,
I don't know if your experiences are indicative of anything negative going on in the general economy but it sure feels like it. The problem is that many people are now thinking twice about spending their hard earned money on things they do not really need like a diesel pusher. I'd like to upgrade but my gasser works just fine and I don't want to deal with things I know little about. I see many making those same types of decisions on many things like upgrading their CRT TV to a new flatscreen but choosing to make due with what they got and keep their money. My elderly parents don't fly any more because Dad has an artificial hip and has to get specially searched and treated like a terrorist so they just don't fly anymore. I think this just makes it harder for our economy to recover. You might also be an unwitting recipient of an attitude caused by downsizing. Most people who are still working have had to deal with pay reductions and hour reductions. Our costs don't go down just the money we have to spend on them. There might be a growing negative attitude that will be hard to turn around. Just My opinion.
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Old 06-09-2010, 10:32 PM   #12
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RJAY,
I don't know if your experiences are indicative of anything negative going on in the general economy but it sure feels like it. The problem is that many people are now thinking twice about spending their hard earned money on things they do not really need like a diesel pusher. I'd like to upgrade but my gasser works just fine and I don't want to deal with things I know little about. I see many making those same types of decisions on many things like upgrading their CRT TV to a new flatscreen but choosing to make due with what they got and keep their money. My elderly parents don't fly any more because Dad has an artificial hip and has to get specially searched and treated like a terrorist so they just don't fly anymore. I think this just makes it harder for our economy to recover. You might also be an unwitting recipient of an attitude caused by downsizing. Most people who are still working have had to deal with pay reductions and hour reductions. Our costs don't go down just the money we have to spend on them. There might be a growing negative attitude that will be hard to turn around. Just My opinion.

It used to be that when the economy went bad companies would cut prices to attract more business. This would reduce the profit margin but still keep the company in business and the additional volume of business would keep the workforce employed. What I'm seeing are companies resorting to sordid business practices that damage their reputations by trying to basically rip off their customers. That is a profit model that will doom a business model every time.
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Old 06-10-2010, 07:15 AM   #13
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Kind of on the same topic if I may explain the best I can.

I began working for a company that had moved into our state about 4 years ago now. They were in the process of opening 8 new locations and ours being on of them. I was the branch manager and have been in the trade now for 42 years. In seeking our customer base a trust needed to be built so a customer could rely on us not just for the material we were supplying but the cost of it as well. Competition is stiff. Well, as time went on we had our good and bad months as far as sales. Alot having to do with the economy. After all people don't buy what they don't need.

Then the phone calls began to come in. Hey, what are you trying to charge me for this item or these items?? I had to ask WHAT are you talking about?? I would go and pull a priced packing slip that the customer would leave our location with for the items purchased and sure enough when he would get his invoice in the mail the prices would be different. Well a call to the group manager and he would say that he had the power to change the pricing to reflect a better profit margin. Now what sense does this make?? I just gave the customer his pricing and WHO would know my customer better than myself and where we had to be in regards to our competition? We have two big box stores and four wholesalers within a 10 mile radius after the same customers business. Another hidden effect were credits. If a customer returned an item and rec'd his credit, it would show on his statement BUT if he didn't subtract that credit from his statement it just remained there until it dissapeared off the statement oh lets say withing 180 days. I would always remind my customers of the credits they had coming and once the boss found out about this I got another good talking to.

Well to make an already long story shorter after 3 1/2 years of the store being open and tracking our sales against our other 7 locations we were fourth out of the eight stores. Well last Sept. they closed three locations ours being one of them and two of the locations that remain open today were leagues behind our sales. I took this quite personally in the fact that my crew had to lose their jobs. I took them aside and appologized for maybe my mistakes in operating the branch. Alot of the customers we had told me not to take this personally as it was a business decision way up the chain but is this how some businesses keep there customer base by well you know the word?? I always tried to treat my customer the way I wanted to be treated. I only think that is fair.

Advice is, always check your bills as the OP stated you NEVER know who may be trying to cheat you. JMHO
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:30 PM   #14
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Steve,
Thank you for your eloquent testimony to what is businesse's new approach to achieving profit. Obviously the non performing stores that were allowed to remain open have mastered this new profit model. The casualties however are businessmen, such as yourself, who conduct their business with honesty and integrity and a genuine concern for customer relations. I shudder to think of how many times I may have paid for an item I have returned or payed twice for an item I exchanged. In the future I will check my CC statements and keep my slips for proof.
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