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Unknown Parts Counter Guy Installment One – An Open Memo To Customers, Auto Designers, And Everyone Else


Unknown Parts Counter Guy Installment One – An Open Memo To Customers, Auto Designers, And Everyone Else

(The axe wielding lunatic you see at the bottom of the page is an actual parts counter guy at an actual large chain parts store. For obvious reasons, he’s writing under the guise of anonymity. He’s a car guy like you. He’s also a funny bastard that has to deal with an amazing array of customers and situations on a daily basis. He hates asking if your 1969 Chevelle has air conditioning when you’re buying spark plugs, this guy gets it. We’re going to run an ongoing series, written by said axe wielding lunatic called “Unknown Parts Counter Guy”. You’ll see life through his eyes when he’s not wearing a paper bag. This should be an enlightening experience for all of us. – Brian) 

 

1. OPEN MEMORANDUM TO ALL AUTOMOTIVE DESIGNERS:

Stop putting the (expletives deleted) OBD-II port in places that require yoga to get to!

-Me.

I don’t know what these sick bastards are thinking when they do interior layout design. For the most part it’s straightforward: Seats, steering wheel, controls, gauges, outward visibility, comfort. And to varying degrees of success, they pretty much get it. But when it comes to the OBD-II port, someone dropped the damn ball. It’s not one particular car or model that is on my list. Some are better than others, but others are designed to break my back and still others are built like the port is Waldo, and I have to find his candy-striped xenophobic ass. It’s not amusing. Nobody wants to see me fold into Position 278 from the Karma Sutra to read an O2 sensor code.

 

2: A locking gas cap is a great investment, especially with gas prices creeping upwards. Prudent thinking suggests that losing the keys to said gas cap would be a major inconvenience. Even more horrifying is that to get the cap off of your car, I have to go grab two great tools: the big effin’ flathead screwdriver and the big effin’ hammer. I bet that won’t make you nervous.

 

3. Just because you know your car very well does not mean you get to berate me as I try to help you.

Yes, I completely understand how having the right wheel cylinder for a ’68 Cutlass is important. I will search high and low to find you one that will do the job. But if you are expecting date coded, perfect shade of gold-ish metal on your wheel cylinder, I’m gonna suggest that you jam the sucker so far up your ass that the only way your Olds is going to stop is by doing a kegel.

 

4. Try to get certain basic maintenance items out of the way before the weather report simply calls for “cloudy with a chance of Acts of God”. While I’m glad to help anyone in need who asks, nothing sucks worse than a downpour and flooding while I’m replacing the foglight in your Sienna. Nothing. And your thanks, while I’m sure it’s sincere at the time, sounds so sarcastic that I’m thinking of electrifying the standing water with the open socket.

 

5. For you Ford Truck owners: There is officially NO 1998 Super Duty. Due to a strike, the model year is essentially skipped as far as parts go. This is a personal pet peeve right now…do your parts guy a favor and find out what date your Super Duty was built. That will greatly aid in reducing the times you realize the damn hub bearings won’t fit.

 

6. For all that is holy…how hard is it to clean your damn car out?! I’m not bothered if you’ve got a soda in the cupholder or the mail scattered across the seat. I’m bothered when I don’t know if that’s mud, the remains of a chocolate milkshake or little Timmy’s “Uh-Oh!” on the floor. Judging by the smell, I’m picking Option #3. Petrified French fries, an ash tray that hasn’t been emptied since 1994 and spit bottles almost guarantee that I’m gonna send the semi-retarded counter girl out instead.

 

6. Speaking of…don’t hit on the counter girl at your parts store. You’re dealing with one of three types:

A: Married with children. Lots of them.

B: Special-Ed

C: She’s more of a man than you’ll ever be.

 

I got to see this recently as a young dude tried to sweet-talk his way to a date with our Special-Ed over a K&N cold air intake. So romantic…made me wanna puke. At least she didn’t go for it…I sold the guy the intake. On the box, in large Sharpie, was “Nice Try, but NO. :)”

 

7. For you truckers: find your long-term worker and make a business relationship with them. This way you’ll have an easier time getting the remainder of the workers to understand what the hell you’re asking for. Also understand that we aren’t exactly the best source of parts for you. We’ll try; some places are better than others, but just go in knowing. 10-4, good buddy.

 

8. Ford Focus owners…oh, do I have some bad news for you. To replace your cabin air filter system requires (wait for it…) $197. This number might vary slightly from store to store, but the gist of it is that you have to replace the entire housing assembly in order to replace the filter. Insert your other names for the Focus here…

 

9. Adult temper tantrums. Look, I’m sorry the warranty on your battery is finally up. It sucks. I get it. So will you quit bitching at me like I have the power to do something? I don’t give a flying rat’s ass if your Camaro won’t start. Nor do I care that you hand-sewed the leather into your seats or changed your dash lighting to blue LED’s on a red car. All I know is that your history shows that you’ve bought alternators and batteries at such a pace that I’m shocked you didn’t get a Christmas card from ACDelco this year. Stomp your feet, yell “I’m never shopping here again!” You wanna know what it sounds like to me? “I HATE YOU! I WANT TRANSFORMER!” I HATE YOU!” Give me a break.

 

10. I’m fine if you are unsure of what you need. I know that 99% of the population doesn’t have the near-neurotic automotive focus that I have. But give me something! The old lady who had a steering noise in her Sebring could at least tell me when the noise was happening and offered to repeat it in person. The woman who followed her with the RAV4 with the wiper arms tangled (no kidding…) just shrugged and said that the wiper blades she had bought the night prior must’ve been defective. (Loose mounting nut on the driver’s side arm caused that.)

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73 thoughts on “Unknown Parts Counter Guy Installment One – An Open Memo To Customers, Auto Designers, And Everyone Else

  1. craig b blue

    Response to #6 ‘Hitting on parts counter girl’ : You need to add a “D”: We have a beautiful lesbian manager @ one of our AutoZones and she is more knowledgeable than the guys

    1. Jaime

      I’m pretty sure C is just code for lesbian and not necessarily an unattractive lesbian. I’m somewhere in between these myself. No kids (can’t stand them,) intelligent and I like boy parts.

  2. gfish

    Countermans creed

    life would be a pleasure and i would grin from ear to ear if customer would only tell me make,model, and year

    from 25+ years in Automotive aftermarket

  3. dinkerson

    My favorite line is “oh they are all the same” If they were all the same we wouldn’t have more than one part number!

    1. Matt Cramer

      I’ve heard a couple counter guys, who if you ask for a small block Chevy part, don’t give the year, and say, “They’re all the same,” will hand you the LT1 version.

  4. 75Duster

    You should add for #11 :
    If you don.t know anything about cars, take your car to a garage to be fixed, we sell parts, we don’t fix your car.
    #12
    A auto parts store doesn’t have a drive thru service, or a pit stop, if it is raining outside and you need new wiper blades don’t call the parts store asking them to bring some wiper blades out for you and replace them,then bitch about the price on the phone when you are right outside the store. Poor planning on your part doesn’t constitute a emergency on my part.

  5. CudaDan

    Here is an analogy for all the optimistic customers that want something for nothing… a doctor is to a mechanic what a parts counter guy is to a pharmacist. My point is you wouldnt ask the pharmacist to check you for a hernia, so please dont ask the counter guy to fix your car. for free no less

  6. Shagg77

    Once upon a time, I worked the parts counter. It’s an eye-opening experience that will change the way you talk to anybody who works in the service industry. Favorite two customers of all time:
    1) Young kid who needed transmission fluid for his stick shift Cavalier. Car wouldn’t move and his buddies told him it just needed fluid. I suggested a clutch kit and a good repair shop. I was wrong, apparently. He told me that several times, so I sold him the ATF. He did come back for the clutch kit…
    2) Wife came in to buy her hubby a gift… said she needed some ‘strap-on tools for his birthday’. I suggested she try the adult bookstore down the street. After several confusing minutes, I ended up selling her some nice Snap-On tools.

  7. tigeraid

    Fellow parts counter guy here. OE and Performance. Good post, sir.

    I’ll add the following. It’s not true of ALL parts jobbers, but generally any that service garages apply (NAPA, Carquest, etc)… The customers on the phone ARE our priority. So yes, when there’s a line-up at the counter and the phones are ringing, the phones come first. Sorry about your luck, but the guy on the phone who spends $100,000 a year with me takes priority over the guy who spends $100.

    I WILL try our best to take a message or get the phone calls done as quick as possible, and once I DO, I WILL give you 110% effort for your situation.

    @75Duster – you’re too right. Everyone wants me to be their mechanic. If it’s a pretty obvious answer I’ll help them out, or give a few possible suggestions, but I always make it clear I used to be a tech, I’m not an expert, and I’m not a mechanic, so take it with a grain of salt.

    @dinkerson – Whenever someone tells me “they’re all the same” I make the effort to find the most rare, least likely version of the part they want and give it to them. Then watch them start to rant and rave, then ask again for more details.

    Car guys who think they can jerk around the “stupid parts guy” need to understand: arguing with us is like mud-wrestling with a pig… eventually, you realize the pig likes it.

    1. Olde Phart

      When I need something from NAPA for one of my vintage rides, I call ahead or order it online to pickup later. I always think about the folks behind the counter and try to NOT give them any more grief than they already have to deal with.

  8. cyclone03

    #1 should’nt even be your job as parts guy,you say over and over you just sell parts,if so why are you accessing the diagnostic port to begin with?

    After my 3rd “it’s an O2 sensor acourding to the code” I learned it’s not,it’s a vacuum leak.

    Sell me the part I ask for without Model,Make and Year if I give you the part number!
    Ever try to buy spark plugs for a 64 Mercury Comet,351w with Aluminum Heads ?
    “AHHHH they dont show a 351w option….”

  9. tigeraid

    @cyclone03 – In my case, I don’t work on the cars AT ALL. We are required to help little old ladies with wipers, and that’s about it. I’m in Canada, but I suspect our original poster works for something like an Autozone, where they have to do a bit more hands on. Which includes pulling trouble codes.

    I have nothing against parts guys pulling trouble codes. And providing them to a customer. That’s still not DIAGNOSING or fixing anything, that’s just providing the service of giving a trouble code.

    I hope…

    And yes, I will absolutely work on nothing but a part number if you give it to me. And if the part number doesn’t work, even on the manufacturer’s own website, you’ll still bitch at me. 😉

    1. cyclone03

      tigeraid,the P/N thing that burns me up the most,dont worry I’m not going to cut my wrist over it,is how EVERYTHING is loaded in the computer look up and several of the “including xxxx” are wroung. Even counter what is in the printed catalog if you can find one.

      I know I’m the only guy that goes into my local O Rielly looking for FE valve cover gaskets but please stop trying to sell me gaskets for a 429….

        1. FalconRacer

          Walked into a local parts store with an empty header gasket package. Told them I wanted another of these. They proceeded to ask me for what.. Told them 63 Ford Falcon with a 460.. UMMMM we can’t find that in the computer.. I said “No kidding.. That’s why I kept the package!!” Had to have the manager come out and special order the gaskets and pre-pay because it might be the “wrong part” since it couldn’t be looked up.

  10. James Boos

    I was born in the automotive parts business and still work in it at our same family owned store, to say this article rings true would be an understatement. Unfortunately, from my experience, every time a national chain moves into town the customer base gets one step dumber. On the flip side though, Autozone has done a pretty good job at making me look good and sends me a lot of unfulfilled customers every day.

    1. 440 6Pac

      I wouldn’t by parts at Autozone even in an emergency. I’ve never got a part that works and the counter guys are all retards.

      1. CudaDan

        Every body sells the same parts nowadays. Whatever you think you are buying is probably not made by who you think. As far as the “retards” they dont pay any better than McDonalds

  11. threedoor

    my wife is C in number six. I hear these stories almost every day, she matches paint too, I think she may kill the next guy who wants a factory “Candy apple red for my Chev truck”

  12. Dutch

    I went to Advance Auto Parts for a fuel filter for my ’66 F100 with a 352.
    The kid behind the counter (with a Mustang tattoo on his arm) says ” You mean a 351!”
    I say, “No son, I mean 352.”
    He says, “Never heard of that.”

    Now, I’ve been a dealership counterman for almost 30 years, my pet peeve is these kids at the jobbers that WON”T LISTEN! We’re all busy people, don’t make me repeat myself 2 or 3 times because Facebook is more important than your job.

    1. Jerry H.

      Hey Dutch, did you remind him to stay off your damn lawn, too? lmao The younger they are, the more they think they know, bro. My own ears didn’t work right in that regard until I was twenty-something.

  13. Mike

    Oh my what memories…. I worked a Chevrolet Parts counter for 11 years in Wisconsin late 80’s into the 90’s. Worst time of the year was the week before deer hunting, seemed every 1979 Chevrolet Pick up was fixed that week, and the later mid eighties trucks when they would break the big orange thermal vacuum switch, fun times.

  14. scott

    I went from the racecar guy frustrated to a part time parts counter guy. What an eye opener!! Its amazing all the different parts out there for the same vehicles. Car guys when coming in looking in for a part at least know the year of your motor if you don’t have a part number. It makes it alot easier starting point to find the right part for you.

  15. Jeff Georges

    There are some really good parts-guys out there. I keep one particular person’s phone number in my speed dial because he’s not only a friend, but the only parts person I trust looking up parts for my stuff. With that said the VAST majority of parts people are idiots! Their results are on-par with a monkey slapping keys on a computer (I’m more than willing to put that theory to the test if we can find a monkey)! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to tell the parts guy to move over and show him to look up the correct part on their computer system, and heaven forbid you ask for a spark plug (by number) instead of letting him look it up by application. What’s so hard about “I’d like 6 Champion QL77JC4 spark plugs”, NO I don’t want the NGK or Nippondenso spark plugs they aren’t the same spark plug. Although this particular parts-person might have some knowledge about cars, he needs to understand the majority of interaction between the public and parts people is like a visit to the zoo!

  16. Michael S.

    I love this and nice idea on the mask
    much needed in so places in the real world and online
    23 years doing this . one time heard an old manager tell some hot shot part swapper to come on up and work a week and he would have paid him top wage for for it
    He wussed out ………………..

  17. Jeff

    I own a store between an Autozone and Advance. I have known people who have worked at both places. According to them, the biggest problems come from people who don’t work in the stores. They will hire anyone who can basically operate a computer. The ideology is everything the employees need is in the computer so they don’t need to hire people with experience, thereby avoiding having to pay experienced people more money. Some of the people they hire do have experience and knowledge in the parts business, but they tend not to stay long because of the low wages. One person I know has worked for Advance for 7 years, he makes 10.25 per hour. I have been told by both places that I have to match their prices when they don’t have the part. 7 out of 10 times, I am already cheaper. The worst think is when you help a customer figure out what is wrong with their car, perhaps spending an hour on it, and they go down the street to buy the part for 5 dollars less, it has happened.

    1. tigeraid

      I certainly can’t speak for American auto parts stores, but up here, Canadian Tire is very similar. 30 years ago, CT was essentially an auto parts store, and the staff reflected that. These days, CT is basically a department store, that happens to have a parts counter and garage attached to the side of it.

      So instead of a dedicated parts counter staff, you have one old guy who’s around sometimes that knows what he’s doing, and the rest are young, minimum-wage workers who were hired to WORK IN A DEPARTMENT STORE. That’s where the “just pick from the computer” mentality comes from. I often pity those kids, and get angry at the company instead.

      In Canada, at least, that seems to be the minority in the auto parts business. We still have auto parts stores staffed with intelligent, experienced parts guys who are PAID WELL up here, whether it be NAPA, Carquest, APC, Mazlak, or whatever else. I’m one of them.

      1. Geoff

        I grew up in the family parts store and then in later years worked for a big chain here in Aus. They used to do parts, engines, machine work and even developed F1 engines. They now sell Chinese tools and air fresheners. They certainly work on the theory that it’s all in their computer system, and the system is good (I helped develop it) but it is no substitute for experience and an actual interest in what you are doing and the industry you are in.
        I now refuse to deal with their “checkout chicks”. Nice girls but low earning, low interest and often no care factor.

      2. Tkerjker

        I left the bay and went to the dark side as a parts guy for a few years after a shoulder injury made wrenching pretty much impossible. Parts counter pays well in Canada? Not in my experience. I worked for Lordco and my wage sucked. I did learn a lot doing it though. Much happier being back in service. As I type this my least favorite time as a parts guy is starting. The dreaded long weekend with the holiday on a Monday. I don’t know why but with holiday Mondays it seemed customers got dumber. A few questions for my other parts brethern out there. 1) the 3/4 race cam. Wtf is this? Who makes it ? I looked high and low and never found one though I had several customers that had one. 2) why does every 350 Chevy have 500 hp? And where is this magical uncle that builds them? 3) who else hated working on Sundays because of power block…….. Products that aren’t even listed in catalogues are on tv and I should be ashamed of myself because I have no idea what the customer is talking about. Pluses of that time of my life was some really great customers that became and still are great friends. I got some screaming deals on parts for my race car from rep’s and I got to go to lots of cool trade shows and product schools. Funny part was after I left several of my customers offered to make up the difference in wages so I’d go back.

        Fear not though, my new go to parts guy has two youngins working under him and there is hope. They are both very helpful, willing to take advice and pointers and suprisingly eager to learn. Now if only I could find an apprentice like that.

        1. miles

          yes, lordco sucks. iskenderian grinds 3/4 and full race cams…. for flat head fords. the expression for a “hot cam” is as old as an intake manifold being called a “battle ship”. and generally means the guy with the “3/4 race cam” probably doesn’t know jack

        2. tigeraid

          Heh. Maybe good pay is an Ontario thing then… Then again, comparing it to a GOOD mechanic’s rate isn’t fair.

          I will say that I am VERY satisfied with my pay rate, and there’s lots of upward movement within the company too.

          I read a study a couple of years ago that said something to the effect of “automotive parts counter is one of the highest paying jobs in Canada that does not require a post-secondary education.”

    2. James Boos

      I’ve fired two parts runners that went to become computer jockys at the national chains. I know exactly what they are capable of and know it can not be going well.

  18. Johnny

    Wow, this hit a nerve with some people. Too funny. Love the article AND the comments.

    One thing I agree, some young people at certain stores know nothing, how they got the job baffles me. I will NOT shop at those parts stores EVER again, not even for washer fluid. I’ll drive farther, pay more, wait for parts and be much happier! My rant over, thanks.

  19. Adam o"Reilly

    The reason the vast majority of the parts counter guys are semi-retarded is the pay. The people who actually know what they’re doing wont stay very long in a place that only pays them $9.30 an hour. I’ve been in the parts business for a decade now, and am the go-to guy for anything older than 1987. The only reason I’m still working for the company I’m with is the insurance. The hours suck, the pay is a joke, and about 80% of the customers are helpless, ignorant assholes.

    1. tigeraid

      For what it’s worth I get paid much, much, much more than that and I’ve only been in the business for 7 years. That’s in Canada mind you. Minimum wage is $10.50.

  20. Nitromike

    As a professional technician, when I need something looked up by the counterman, I pretty much exclusively use NAPA for my “hard parts” but will use Autozone or O’Reilly’s for the things I can just go in and buy off the shelf, oil, brake clean, light bulbs etc…

  21. Scott Liggett

    I worked parts counter way way back at a Big A. Remember those? I started when the computers were just coming into play, but still had to look many parts in the rack of catalogs.

    My pet peeve was the customer who wanted a starter or alternator, or a gasket set for their car, but they didn’t know what kind of car it is. Not the year, not the model, not even the brand. If I was lucky, they drove said car to the store and I could go out to find out myself. “Congratuations, sir. You own a ’86 Toyota Corolla.”

    Same type of genius would bring the greasy part they want. An alternator with Nippendenso on it is not going to tell me what it is for. Nor, will have the parts store’s part number on it.

  22. Scarletalvin

    True on all accounts!! I to used to work a parts counter it is beyond frustrating to a real car guy! I would like to add my two cents . There’s three types who work on their cars , 1 the real car guy know what he needs and knows his car 2 the guy who thinks he knows something but really doesn’t know anything 3 the chick who knows she doesn’t know nothing and needs help. Just sayin

  23. FDHRC

    As a former parts counter manager, technician, and general manager of a busy repair shop I have to agree with the article at hand. I understand that the ones that actually know what they are doing get frustrated with the moron customers that come in or call. This brings me to my point. I am on the other side of the counter now and for every 10 times I am at a parts store I get 1 person that actually knows what the hell they are doing. What is going on with the parts industry? Have they started recruiting in special needs classes or at McDonalds? Just because the kid shows up and is willing to work for a penny over minimum wage doesn’t mean you should hire him. I will usually do my homework, bring part number and pictures if I have to, but that is your job. I want to walk in and talk to someone that knows what I am talking about and didn’t start yesterday. How about some training. Not just automotive training, but customer service training too. I always enjoy when the meathead can’t find what I am looking for so he tells me they don’t carry it and then I pull out my phone and find it on their website and it is in stock in their store. Long live the Car Guys that do a great job and know “how” to help. General Auto Supply in Quincy and Marshfield hires true professionals to work their counters. Only place I will buy parts if I can help it. BANGSHIFT.COM RULES!!!!!!!

    1. William Robinson

      Yes this is how it often plays out at my local Canadian Tire store. Which we only use if we need a part after the regular place is closed. Brake parts for a late model 1500 chev, ball joints for a sixth gen accord, you say you don’t have em I stock, really well the website says there are 60 in your store…

  24. tigeraid

    Oh, and another parts guy pet peeve?

    Old people asking for wiper refills! WE DON’T HAVE THOSE ANYMORE. I can either special order you that $10 wiper refill, or I can sell you this $11 complete wiper blade!

    Wiper refills are pointless. If the wiper is old enough to be worn out, it’s old enough for the springs to have also worn out, so it still won’t clear your windshield worth a damn! Stop being so cheap!

    1. cyclone03

      the wipers on my Mustang require refills,the frame doesn’t come off the arm.
      I tear the new assemblys apart.

    2. TheSilverBuick

      I prefer the re-fill. Used to get a pair for $5 instead of a single whole assembly for $5. If you live in the desert or some place hot, the rubber fails long before the springs.

  25. 440 6Pac

    Tale of two parts counter persons.
    1. Very competent, courteous, and helpful.
    2. None of the above.
    I’ve seen both in the same person. It all depends on the attitude of the nut on the other side of the counter.
    She’s my go to for all my parts.

  26. 38P

    In my experience at a parts/service manager, tire specialist and parts counterperson years ago, The best employees all had four traits:

    1. Humility (including the ability to allow the customer to be “right” and to be gracious hosts to even the most prickly of customers)
    2. Patience (including the ability to listen and professionally shrug off the bad the attitude of the nut on the other side of the counter.”)
    3. Empathy for others (caring about helping people more than being “right”; anticipating what customers needed)
    4. A thirst for product knowledge.

    No “axe wielding” necessary for any of that . . . .

    1. tigeraid

      #4 is too true. I’m a car parts nerd, nothing I love more than diving into a catalogue to see what crosses to what and what fits multiple platforms. I go to every free seminar a product rep puts on, because you never know what info you’re going to pick up for YOURSELF, not just the customers.

  27. miles

    great stuff! after 20 plus years on the counter, this all rings so true. quality of service and customer price are directly proportional to customer attitude. here’s a couple from my counter. i need rear wheel bearings and seals for my 3/4 ton chev. does the truck have full or semi floating diff? well, no, it’s hanging from the springs. i need tune up parts for our grain truck, points condenser, cap, rotor, plugs, wires and filters. sure. what kind of truck is it? it’s a grain truck. no, i mean is it a ford or gm or ihc? it’s red. oh one more. how’d ya like to quote me a price on a set of them plastigages.

    1. Dutch

      I had a guy ask for a “brake fluid cooler” for the front of the late model Challenger he bought wrecked and was rebuilding.
      I’ll bet the quality of that repair will be amazing!!!

  28. sdwarf36

    I worked at NAPA for 5 years (in the machine shop). It was one of a group of 14 owned by NAPA itself. The corprates would do something weird–it liked moving people around from store to store over its 75 mile area. There was this one counter guy-had 30 years with the company. Good Pro counterman. Well he put his foot down years ago-if he was going to have to move-he was going to take his whole catolog rack with him. He said every time he’d get to a different store, he could never find anything-so screw it I’m making my own rack and keeping it in order. Rulers in pages-old catologs that didn’t have updates-notes in the margins. It would be a couple day ordeal-taking things apart enough to moved them-making sure the other store had room for him to set up etc. A pain to deal with for sure.But all the other good counter men knew that if there a tough problem that they couldn’t solve, they could call him to find that odd number.
    I read something years ago that rings true even more now-it explains how the “chain” stores survive: You sell 10% of the parts 90% of the time.”

  29. 69 AMX

    I’ve been on both sides of the parts counter and stupid runs in both directions. there are a lot of woman parts people that know more about cars and parts than any guy in the place at both parts stores and dealerships. And the pay does suck, no doubt about it.

  30. Wink-Dinkler

    Been in the business 35 years and worked for them all. All I know is that Auto Zone has made me Very Very Happy. The stock was 20.00 when I started and is 500.00 per share today. I have been buying as much stock as i can and I will sell this year. See you on the beach!

  31. Crewchief

    Quote from a sign we had hanging behind the counter
    “We do NOT sell parts for you to try out, if the part you bought was not the problem, you now have a spare”.

    1. tigeraid

      Electrical components especially. I have a big sign behind me that says ALL sensors, switches, relays, fuses, pigtails and bulbs are FINAL SALE the moment you plug them in. We are not in the business of losing money because YOU can’t use a multi-meter to test a sensor before replacing it.

  32. Dan Sallia

    My dad bought his first parts store when I was 8 years old. When I started in the business my dad taught me how to deal with the problem customer. He showed me the price sheets. A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H, The nasty customer got the “A” full pop retail price. The better the customer the lower the price. A customer once sued us because the rebuilt carb we sold him caught fire. When dad sent me over to see what happened I pointed to the 3″ piece of rubber hose still in the box and told him he was on his own as the instructions clearly said to change this hose to the fuel filter and even showed him the “Fire” caution warning about said hose. The judge decided we could better afford to repair the car than the poor “stupid” student who failed to follow directions. So I fixed the car and it the guy was happy. He kept coming in for another three years. One day as he walked out my dad turned to me and said “we finally got it back”. When I asked what we had gotten back he told me all the money it took to fix the guys car after the fire including my labor. Dad had been using the “D” price on this guy instead of the “B” for three years and finally “got it all back”. He taught me that day that you act like the customer is always right even when wrong and then just smile and take their money. Much easier to put up with them when you are making extra a few extra cents per part to cover your hassles. No wonder dad ran the most profitable and successful stores in Southern California.

  33. total auto supply

    After working as a parts counter guy twice.. I tend to order online and pick up in store.. As it takes the b/s out of it.. and I’m in and out.. As most parts counter employees today are just data entry robots.. And it’s not their fault, I blame the silly computer systems. they are forced to use.. that are set up for the dullest tool in the shed.
    my one beef is the receipts.. you know most of the parts you sell have a warranty, but still use the thermal paper that turns into a useless piece of paper.. And that be fine, if the info was in the “chains system” and not only the store you bought it from..
    Then you have the Shop accounts, that think they can walk all over you because they buy from you.. SUNOCO ON BELMONT, YES YOU.. Then wonder why some drivers opps and send down the wrong part…
    I’ve had to tell some shops that the drivers don’t want to even go to you anymore.. They want the parts ASAP then make the driver wait 15 minutes for them to sign the slip or put the cores in the boxes that they haven’t removed yet.. news flash you are not the only account the driver has in the vehicle to deliver..
    Then you have the know it all that brings in the PART#.. and gets pissed because I still want year/make/model. because the part # you brought in that was good 2 years ago has now been superseded 4 times now..
    And to the counter help. if you don’t know how to use the system, and the customer does, just turn the screen and let them look it up.

  34. gfish

    My pet peeve the catalogue and pc people would ask for errors found but would not give any comp or even thanks change my catalogue only

  35. BRIAN

    I work in parts on the opposite side of the local chain guys at a gm dealership, what annoys me the most is people who have no flippin clue what they drive none whatsoever, like the lady today arguing with me that she had an suv, now i didnt doubt that but getting what kind out of her was like pulling teeth or the guys who tell me they have an 02 03 04 05 somethin like that truck who look at me like im a complete idiot when i cant just magically pull what fits out of a hat. That all said i do loathe going to the local chain parts store for something i forgot when i left work say a tube nut for a 5/16 line lemme tell ya that was fun to try to explain to the guy there especially when he tried to look it up by application which i gladly let him do because well i was bored lets just say theres no listing for trans lines for an 86 Cutlass with a chevy 350 and a 350 trans with a B&M supercooler on it. I also enjoy the daily calls i get asking me what an evaporative emissions systems costs because thats what autozone told them was wrong. Ok rant over. By the way it sure doesnt hurt to find a good parts guy and make friends with him or her and be a regular customer you are much more likely to get the right stuff first time and maybe a better price the general public would be shocked to know that im a car guy too heck tell me about your project show some pics if i can excited about it im gonna be alot more likely to drag out all my resources to help you out,

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