In Defense Of My Friends Behind The Parts Counter

Published on: 21:07PM Nov 15, 2013

 Today while getting parts for a job I was working on, I had reason to listen as a parts man got royally chewed out before the customer hung up on him. I wasn't eavesdropping--I could hear the guy yelling over the phone from 6 feet away.

The parts guy had asked the customer for the exact model number and if possible, the serial number, of the machine in question. The customer began his rant with the traditional, "It don't matter, they're all the same (bearings, gears, belt--you name the part)." When the parts man explained that they AREN'T all the same, and that it was necessary to have at least the model number to get the correct part, the customer then switched to, "Well, don't you have all my equipment listed in your computer? You can look it up faster than I can walk out there and write it down."

In some cases, the dealership DOES have the model and serial numbers for customers' machines, but that list is often out-of-date and therefore inaccurate. Farmers have traded a lot of machinery in the past five years, and updating customer equipment inventories isn't a high-priority job at dealerships.

Eventually the customer grew tired of the parts man's basic questions necessary to gve the customer the parts he needed. He called the parts man several colorful names, and said he was going to call our competitor 30 miles away to get his parts. The parts man apologized for not being able to help, but I don't think the customer heard it because I heard a loud "CLICK" from the phone before the parts man could complete his apology.

The parts man hung his head for a minute, took a deep breath, then turned to me and asked, "So, what can I do for you today?"

I said I needed a fan belt. When he asked, "For what machine?" I said, "It don't matter, they're all the same. Just gimme a doggone belt."

He paused, then grinned as he stood up and reached for my neck with both hands. "The guy on the phone? I can't do anything about him," he said.  "But you, I can offer hands-on assistance for your problem..."