Saturday, September 23, 2017

Mower Shop Sanford – Small Motor Repair Shop in Sanford FL the Worst?



I guess I should have read the reviews 1st. Looks like this guy had the same problem as me. The company is fine until something goes wrong, then...I think you are on your own...




Ever run into one of those mower repair companies where customer service and fairness seems to be an alien concept? Where the counter staff’s arrogant attitude seems to say “We’re doing you a favor by taking your money?” Where they look you in the eye and flat out lie in your face? I did in Sanford Florida, and at the worst time; just a few days before Hurricane Irma.

Here’s how the it all started.



THURSDAY


I took my electrical generator to Sanford Mower Shop in the Spring of 2017 to have the oil and air filter changed and the carburetor cleaned in preparation for the Fall hurricane season. I’ve had this lawn mower shop service my generator in the past, as well as a Stihl chain saw I purchased from them. I’d never found them particularly friendly but that's OK. I wasn’t looking for friends, just an honest mower repair company. I was satisfied with their service, until this last time. You don’t really know a company until something goes wrong and you see how they react to the problem. It did not go well.

Hurricane Irma is scheduled to roar through Sanford FL in the early hours of Sunday, September 11th. Thursday I pull out my generator to fire it up because we always lose power in hurricanes and I need to double check that we are ready. I put in just a little gas, enough to run for a few minutes, and as I get ready to pull the starter cord, I see gas pouring off of the carburetor and puddling on the garage floor.

Now, the reason that I know for sure that the generator did not leak gas before giving it to the mower repair shop is that I debated on whether or not to run it dry of gasoline before taking it down there. So back in the Spring before I took it to them, I started it up and let it run for around a half an hour before deciding it had too much gas in it to run out and I’ll just let them drain it.

This is a very important point:

My generator did not leak and ran just fine before taking it to Sanford Mower.


I started looking for the cause of the leak. I noticed that the gas line clamps were out of place, so obviously someone had been working on it and forgot to put the clamps back in the correct place. However that was not the leak. Further inspection revealed that a gasket was missing between the carb and the air filter. I went to Ace hardware and they didn’t have one, so I made the 30 minute drive back to the mower shop.

I told Carsten, who works the counter (the key figure in this drama), that when they worked on my generator 6 months ago they forgot to install the gasket. I showed him a phone photo of where the gasket should go. He went and found me a gasket, brought it to me and just said “here.” No apology for the screw up, just a grim faced “here” and he turned away.

I left there thinking if that is all the responsibility and civility this company can muster then I’ll be taking my business elsewhere.

But wait, it gets worse...

I get home, install the gasket, put everything back together and put in some gas. Again, fuel is leaking out of the machine, so the gasket didn’t fix the problem. I decided I’ll try and start it anyway, I just wont let it get too hot. I pull the cord, it runs for 15 - 20 seconds and dies. I pull the cord again, same thing; runs 15 - 20 seconds and dies.

I put the generator in my truck (lifted it by myself because I was now in a panic and it hurt my back for a week) and got it down to the shop just before closing on Thursday. I explain that they had serviced and prepared the machine to be “storage ready” and that now it leaks fuel and won’t keep running. AJ says “oh, you put bad gas in it.” I explain the gas was fresh. He says “doesn’t matter, it can still be bad.” I ask what about the leak? Carsten says “We’ll look at it and call you tomorrow.” I ask will it be ready before Sunday? He says “We’ll try, but we got 50 generators ahead of you.” I calmly reiterate that this work was already paid for and should have been correct 6 months ago. They said they would “see what they could do.”

Once again no apology and they acted like this was just my problem and not theirs as well. They were decidedly unfriendly and I was losing confidence in them with the largest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded bearing down on Sanford FL and no generators can be bought now for love or money. Everybody is sold out of everything. Gas, ice, batteries and generators.

Keep reading, it gets even worse...

FRIDAY

 


Friday morning comes and goes and I’ve heard nothing from them. I call around noon, Carsten answers and I ask if they have had time to look at my generator yet. In a nasty tone of voice Carsten says “Look, we got a lot of equipment ahead of you. Just wait for our call.” Once again I felt the need to explain that I had already paid them to service my machine 6 months ago precisely to avoid having “50 generators ahead of me” and that since this is work that was paid for and not done (in reality it’s much worse than that, work paid for and machine is now damaged.) I said I think my repair should be a priority and not left until the very last. Carsten says “I didn’t say you were last, wait for us to call you” and he hangs up on me.

Later in the day, given the attitude I’ve been dealing with from this shop (Carsten and AJ specifically), I decide I better just go get the generator and maybe I can get it working myself before the storm comes. I’m not the worlds best mechanic, but neither was the guy at Sanford Mower who last worked on it (and broke it.)

I show up 5 minutes before closing and I tell Carsten I want my machine back. He looks me right in the eye and says ”The mechanic has it up on the bench right now and he’s working on it. We are open until 2pm tomorrow (Saturday). We’ll call you when it is ready.”

I hesitate for a moment because I got a lot riding on this decision. Do I trust them and leave it or take it myself and try to fix it? Where would I get parts on a Saturday when stores are already boarding up for the storm? These guys already stock parts...   I decide to leave it.

Bad decision.



SATURDAY


By 12:30 pm Saturday I still haven’t received a call from the shop. I decide to just go get the generator and see if I can fix it. I show up at 1:15 pm.

The shop is closed, no one is there and their answering machine states they are now closed and will re-open Tuesday morning. My generator is inside.

I don’t know why, all the warning signs were there, but still can’t believe it. They didn’t call me and they closed early. I stand in shock looking at the closed store in disbelief.

I regret the phone message I left them that at that point as it contained quite a bit of cursing. However, as I had been double crossed in my time of need, I felt that calling them “doo doo heads” would not convey the true depth of my emotions. Replace “doo doo” with your favorite 4 letters.

Carsten had looked me in the eye and lied to my face, knowing that the biggest storm in recorded Florida hurricane history was 48 hours away.

Not only about being open until 2 pm, but also about them having my generator “up on the bench” and getting it repaired (more on that later.)

It is a crime to over charge extra for water or gas before a hurricane.  Shouldn’t it also be a crime to take someones generator before a storm and give them no option to retrieve it?

SUNDAY|MONDAY

 


No power. We are on a well so no water for washing. We live in the country and our cells phones need an ATT mini tower to work, so no phone service. I didn’t stock up on ice early in the week because “we have a generator.” By Thursday evening when it dawned on me that we might not have a generator for this storm, every store was already out of everything. My family is sweating and suffering. I assumed we would have electric fans and ice because “we have a generator.” If the Sanford Mower guys lost power I bet their generators were humming along just fine. I do have 20 gallons of gas but I wish I had a generator to pour it into.

TUESDAY



I don’t believe that Carsten just forgot about me and the generator problem, and here is why:


When I go up to the counter Tuesday morning and say only “I want my generator back fixed or not.” I said no hello or hey howzit goin’, and Carsten (still Mister GrumpyFace) says to me “name?” But, he’s already pulling my paperwork out with my name on it at the same time he is asking that. He knew exactly who I was.

Fact of the matter is he just didn’t give a damn at all about lying to me.

I go around the side of the building along South Oak Avenue to pick up my machine. I see that it has not been worked on and had never been “on the bench.”

Interestingly, as I was starting to roll my broken machine away, a mechanic comes running out of the shop saying “Hey man, I just want you to know that it wasn’t me that worked on your machine. It was not me! It was this other guy, and he got fired a while back.” So, is the mechanic saying he (they) knew they gave me the machine back in damaged condition the Spring?

It doesn’t matter, there is nothing I can do about it. I didn’t keep the repair paperwork from the Spring time. Sanford Mower would just ask the small claims court judge “what generator?” I paid in cash.

Here is my theory about situation

After I got it home and put it “on the bench” myself I found the leak. What had happened is the petcock under the tank was broken off and just “shoved” back into place. Meaning a new tank would be necessary to repair the machine, also meaning that even if I had taken it back from them on Friday there would have been no way to fix it before the storm.

My theory is the bad mechanic was in the middle of working on it when he broke the tank. So he hastily put it back together (hence the missing gasket and out of place gas hose clamps) and then told the boss “it’s ready.”

As it was being prepared for storage ready, neither I nor the boss would see it run before giving it to me (well, maybe the boss should have. ) There is an element of trust in that type of service. Mine was misplaced.

Now, going on that premise, Sanford Mower probably did not consciously give me back a damaged machine, because the mechanic probably told them it was ready. But that is not where I find them at fault.

They are at fault for not taking responsibility and for not trying to quickly rectify the mistake.

And for lying to me twice;

1. First lie that it was “on the bench” Friday and being looked at
2. Second lie that they would be open until 2 pm Saturday

And as well I guess for trying to immediately shift the blame to me on Thursday for saying I put “bad gas” in the tank.

We found and bought a generator four days after the storm (nobody had any until then) and I put in the exact same gas from the exact same can they said “was bad” in the new generator. The new machine started right up first pull without a stutter and ran like a dream.

So no AJ, the problem was not bad gas.


The problem was bad workmanship and even worse business ethics.

The only guy there with any class was the mechanic. He offered to help me load the ruined machine in my truck. As I was leaving he said “Hey, sorry man.”

I think they need to move him into management.



Mower Shop Sanford – Small Motor Repair Shop in Sanford FL the Worst?

I guess I should have read the reviews 1st. Looks like this guy had the same problem as me. The company is fine until something go...