WHAT’S THE POINT — Before I was a divorce and child custody lawyer, I worked my way through law school doing small business turnarounds – companies that were in trouble called on my company to come in and fix them. Most of the time we dealt with restaurants, since they have the highest failure rate, but occasionally we helped other types of retail businesses.

I was trained to evaluate good service and loyalty programs. I learned how to breakdown cost accounting, develop marketing plans, and loads of information on the food and beverage industry. One area that I did not learn a great deal was dealing with automobile mechanics.

The car repair industry suffers from a bad reputation, and oftentimes it is deserved. I have had many of my own nightmare stories dealing with BMW repair shops. I had one tell me to use a certain radiator repair fluid, only to then have the car overheat and blow a head gasket. That was a $3,000 experience.

Needless to say I’m highly skeptical when it comes to mechanics about their motives and abilities; which is why I am happy to report the following tale of not only good service but a mechanic that stands behind their work.

In early 2014 my car’s power steering pump started to leak and needed to be replaced. I went to Santa Monica Autoworks since they are directly across the street from my office. I’ve known Mike and Brian for over a decade now and they’ve serviced my cars throughout that time. They promptly replaced the pump and I was off to the races.

For a few months.

In October, the new pump started to fail. I took my car in to them and they had it replaced without any fight. A pleasant experience in and of itself, they stood behind their work and I was appreciative.

And then the replacement pump started to fail.

Back I went, and this was now getting comical. Seriously, this would have been funny but for the time it took all of us to deal with this.

I write about this to give credit where it is due. Santa Monica Autoworks stood behind their parts and labor, and they deserve to be recognized for that. In an industry that is rife with those who take advantage – it is a pleasure to be able to shine a light on the good guys.

Contrast that with my experience this past week with AT&T, of whom I have been a loyal customer for 20 years.

In May I went to Mexico to give a speech. As I have done for the past three years I call AT&T and ask for a one month international plan. Normally when I set up the plan, there is an expiration date put on the plan. This time it didn’t happen.

I didn’t catch the extra charges until this month, because I have an autopay on my phone bill. I called AT&T, and asked them to remove the charges. They offered two months credit. I explained to the young woman that if she would review my billing she would see that I use the plan for a month that it was supposed to be cancelled like it has been the six or eight previous times I’ve had the service. She refused “It’s company policy” and then transferred me to Michael somewhere in the south.

I told Michael that I felt his company was abusing me. I felt powerless in this situation, and that it would be clear, if he would review the 20 year history I have with them, and the previous six times I’ve done this, that I am deserving of a credit back to June. He said I had the power to go online and stop it; that it is not their fault and then took offense at my language. I told him he can’t blame the victim, and should be more understanding. In his vocal defense of the AT&T policy he told me he was offended since his fianc√© was an actual victim and that I was overreaching.

In the end I accepted their offer of a three month credit, and I had to eat the cost for the four months that I should not have been charged. I still feel abused by a corporation that I have been loyal to for years.

So to the good guys like Mike and Brian at Santa Monica Autoworks – Good Job! And to AT&T – not so much.

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