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Unknown Parts Counter Guy: That Ain’t New, Chief.

Unknown Parts Counter Guy: That Ain’t New, Chief.

As a general rule, when you finally break down, drive to the parts house, and break out your wallet for it’s next fleecing, you at least want a new (or properly re-conditioned) part in return that will get the old bucket of bolts up and moving once again. I’m not wrong in that statement, am I? No matter which side of the counter you view it from, that’s the right way of thinking. As a customer, you have a problem and you want this trip to solve it. As a clerk, you want to be helpful to the customer because that reflects well upon the store, the brand, and most importantly, upon yourself. When this goes well, both sides are happy. When it doesn’t, anger ensues. At least, it did me, because this is my story.

One vehicle is in the middle of major suspension renovations. We’re talking well over $800 in parts alone, plus downtime, plus the fun of dealing with an owner who is quickly losing patience regarding their baby not being drivable. During teardown, it became evident that the front shocks had never been replaced. Not once, not ever. Well, there’s no time like the present, and the expense was easily justified and approved, so a run down to the nearest store coughed up a set of Monroes that would do the job just fine. And I believed that right up until I got back to the shop, and realized that one end of each box was stealthily taped over….

The first box opened produced a shock that had already been installed on something. Maybe it was bolted on and taken right back off or maybe it’d been on a week before they decided they didn’t want it anymore. Either way, there is no doubt it wasn’t the new part that was requested. The grease application didn’t help, either. So, already incensed, I opened the second box. The shock looked installed as well, and just like the first one, the hardware kit was broken into. Unlike the first box, however, some of the hardware was missing.

You ever heart the phrase that sounds like, “…or live long enough to become the enemy”? Yeah, that was me when I was driving back to the shop, soaked to the bone thanks to torrential downpours, in a borrowed vehicle that smells of dead ladybugs and has a leaking windshield. That was me when I laid everything bare on the counter without saying a word, waiting for the clerks to draw a conclusion. How did this happen? Usually, it’s an unscrupulous customer trying to pull a fast one on a new kid in the hopes of getting a full refund that they wouldn’t normally be entitled to. This is why returns are supposed to be inspected before being accepted. I was the sap that got somebody’s oversight.

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5 thoughts on “Unknown Parts Counter Guy: That Ain’t New, Chief.

  1. Scott Liggett

    On more than one occasion, I have bought a starter or alternator, and got someone else’s core return instead of a new part. This has happened whenever I am in a hurry and don’t check the parts before leaving the store. Of course, the store doesn’t have another one on the shelf.

    1. CMBendig

      They won’t have a second one. The inventory shows one in stock, so another unit was not ordered. The counter person should check every unit with you. As for only having one of something: Unless it’s a hub or warehouse store, having 2 of evert alternator and starter stocked per store would exceed the storage space. Most parts stores are packed tight with little expansion room in the non public areas.

    2. Brad

      This happened to me when replacing the starter on a 5.9 Cummins in my motorhome. I took both starters to NAPA just to quash any doubts..

  2. Ron

    I’ve had crap like that happen to me more than once at a major parts chain and in more than one of their stores. I don’t go to them anymore.

  3. CMBendig

    When I was at O’wrongly’s: one part timer with 2 years at the company started taking cores back as New returns putting them back on shelfs. Then sold some core brake calipers to a customer. Tok over a month to get the inventory, core supply right. Never mind the financial loses.

    A number of people try to rent parts. If this didn’t fix it, back to the store it goes. Other people want to return used parts like struts to use the money for other things. Don’t get me started on shops that try to warranty not yer parts because they once bought one 6 tears ago. Never mind it’s a OEM part installed on the assembly line.

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