Miss Manners: I hate when the mechanic changes my car settings

Miss Manners: I hate when the mechanic changes my car settings

Dear Miss Manners: It happened AGAIN last week for the umpteenth time: I took my car in for maintenance at the dealership, which prides itself on customer service. I waited in the very comfortable lounge while the work was completed, paid the invoice, walked out and got into a sparkling-clean car that had just been washed as part of the service.

I had driven less than a block when I realized that the seat was out of adjustment. At the first corner, I looked in the exterior rearview mirror, only to find that the mirror had been knocked out of its cradle and was giving me a view of blue sky.

When I, down at the dash to see how much gas I had left, the readout had been changed from “fuel range” to “odometer.” The most frustrating of all was that the radio, which I had left on a classical station, was now blaring hard rock.

This is MY car and MY personal space. I share a home with others; I share a workspace with others; when I go to a movie, I share that space with others (and sometimes they are very rude). My car is my personal sanctuary.

This almost always happens whenever I take my car for any kind of service, whether it is the dealership, a service garage or even a carwash. It makes me feel the same way I felt when I came home to discover a home invasion in progress. These people are violating my space, and I resent it.

It should be possible for a mechanic to test-drive the car around the block without changing every setting to fit their needs, since they will be behind the wheel for less than 10 minutes. If they wish to listen to the radio while working, I don’t object to that, as long as it is returned to the original station before it is returned to me.

If I am not totally off-base, how do I approach this in a civil and respectable manner?

One is always free to speak to management, a principle Miss Manners upholds even if the explosion of online customer reviews has tested its limits.

As this dealership prides itself on customer service, point out that you would not be the only one who noticed, with gratitude, if they made sure to return the car’s settings to the way they found them — when no other service centers do.

Dear Miss Manners: Please tell me the proper way to get noticed when standing at an office counter, waiting for service. I do not wish to be rude and clear my throat, nor do I want to wait for 15 to 20 minutes while the staff visits.

The way to get noticed is by being in motion: Look around, lean over the counter to see if you missed something, walk to one side and then the other.

Miss Manners advises doing this politely, with the most innocent, inquisitive expression — not rudely, with stomping of feet, grunts and constant checks of your watch.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

Comments are closed.