Thursday, October 9, 2008

Customer Service?

I'm beginning to dislike this car intensely. I have been jump started every morning this week, and drive to school in an angst of apprehension lest I stall. I've been running on empty for 2 days, but I can't stop and fill up with petrol because it wdn't start again.

NO ONE here can recommend anyone. The previous owner used a mechanic who was German in a town 3 hrs over the mountains. He paid his bus fare and brought him to Tirana. Most people tell you they take it out of the country or they use one of the big places which REALLY, REALLY rip you off, and there's no guarantee of good mechanics or service. My husband finally tracked down a mechanic and offered to drive him to our house at the end of the day in order to look at our engine. Even tho we'd been told youcan't get a mechanic to come to your house, ever. More useful advice that has proved wrong... He said we needed a new battery. Reassuring I guess that it wasn't the head gasket. But who knows?

To cut a long story short, by today it started on its own, I even filled up with petrol. Hurrah.

Being a woman here, as well as a foreigner, doesn't help in this macho culture, in the area of cars. In the UK the 'sexism' usually worked in my favour, and I got quite a lot of free help and time from garages. I didn't milk it or ask for it, they obviously just pitied my incompetence. Here it i s absolutely taken as read that you know nothing (about cars) because you're a woman, (a fair assumption in my case, but I can bandy a few terms around, though not in Albanian, so that life skill has gone by the board here) which also means you're rich pickings for being ripped off.

However at the tyre place on Monday, getting my tyre repaired, I got chatted up by a customer, & the mechanic didn't rip me off, but was incredibly helpful. So I shouldn't make generalisations. (Though it was Albanian women who warned me of this). Anyway I was far more concerned about keeping MY eye on another customer who had come in with his moped with a flat tyre, who had a revolver stuck into his jeans, for all to see.

I was amazed, I have met loads of people out in the country carrying shotguns and rifles, & you can hear shooting at night in certain areas at times, but a civilian, in the middle of Tirana with a gun??

My husband shrugged and said:

'Well that's what it's like in America, the right to bear arms' etc. I guess I must be very naive. I had no idea you could just take your gun everywhere with you quite legitimately in America. Is that really true? One way of ensuring you get a good service at the garage I suppose.


Iota said...

I was very impressed by your casual use of the words "head gasket". I think you should learn them in Albanian, and then you'll be respected by mechanics.

As for guns and America, I've been meaning to write a post on that subject for ages. Watch this space...

Wife in Hong Kong said...

Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me? I know you say it's a macho society but this is extreme. What would prompt him to use it, one wonders?

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

That's Albania I'm afraid. It's come a LONG way since the wild west days of 1996 in particular, but it's still got a long way to go. It's one of the traits of a developing country I think, being unpredictable. It's not lawless exactly but certainly people don't take responsibility for their actions, still seem to b ereacting agst the strictures of communism that held them on a tight rein fo rso long, and of course, you can always buy your way out of trouble here.