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Thursday 2nd June 2005

I had to get up at 8am to get the car to the garage. I arrived bleary eyed and grumpy to find the reception office again undermanned and was asked to wait again. I had enough time to read the Daily Express that was on offer on the table (I could have chosen the Daily Mail instead – both had stickers on them reminding patrons that these papers were the property of the garage, as if there is anybody in the world who would want to steal such items) before they could deal with me. It doesn’t take me long to get all the entertainment I am going to get out of the Daily Express, but it was at least a 10 minute wait.
This time I was seen by a young lady.
“So your engine has been overheating,” she told me.
I looked at the note on the file made by the man yesterday. This is indeed what it said.
“Noooo,” I started, “I’ve just been getting a warning light about my coolant level and then I was forced to top up the coolant with water as no VW garages were open over the weekend, so I need that replaced and I need you to check that there isn’t a leak in the tank.”
She looked at me blankly. “Sorry,” she replied.
It took a little while for me to make her understand the problem, but finally she seemed to have got it.
“And just a couple of other little things,” I added, “My key needs a new battery in it,” (Doesn’t that sound delightfully space-age? Imagine a key that needs batteries. It’s like something fabulous and unnecessary from the future), “Plus I got this year’s service done at another garage and they didn’t reset the little service based computer, so every time I start the car there is a beep and a message flashes up saying “Service Now”. So can you reset that please?”
She looked through her notes.
“When did you get your car serviced?”
“About three months ago.”
“There’s nothing in the notes”
“No, I didn’t get it serviced here. Another garage did it. But they didn’t reset the display, so it would be great if you could…”
“Sorry, if you didn’t get it serviced here then we can’t change that.”
“Oh come on, don’t be ridiculous…”
“No, it’s company policy. You’ll have to take the car back to wherever you got it serviced and get them to reset it.”
I am afraid this is where my patience with the VW garage finally completely left me.
“That is…” I wanted to say fucking, but I managed to just do it under my breath this time, as it would be rude to swear at a lady and lose my cool, so just made a guttural throat noise that might or might not have been a swear word, “…stupid” I spluttered, “I am sorry if you didn’t get it serviced here then we can’t change that for you,” she told me stone-faced, refusing to accept that this was a petty and vindictive way to behave merely because someone has chosen to service their car elsewhere (I wish I hadn’t as well – the other garage did a terrible job, failing to replace a badly damaged brake disc or find out what was wrong with my coolant which had been running low at that point too).
“Come on, it’s not that big a deal. It won’t take you a second.”
“It’s company policy”
I am afraid this time, due to fatigue and a slow wearing down of my patience I was unable to stop myself swearing as I expressed my displeasure. “Well if you’re going to take that kind of attitude I won’t use this fucking garage any more.” I know it was wrong, and I know that by losing my cool I had lost the moral high ground, but come on, that is a stupid and childish policy.
“That is your prerogative,” she coolly replied, though she was obviously shaken by my burgeoning aggression.
“I have used VW garages for all my other services and repairs and I’ve bought an expensive car from you. This is just stupidly precious.” I informed her. I couldn’t help thinking of the nice man at Kwik Fit in York, whose helpful attitude had made me think that I would always use that company in future, juxtaposed against this jobsworth attitude that was making me consider not only never using a VW garage again, but also not buying a Volkswagen car next time round (even though I have been very happy with the car itself), just because of this cold faced intransigence.
“Come on, help me out just this once. I’m not asking that much,” I said, abruptly in a strained voice.
“I can’t.”
“Well can you tell me how to make the beeping and the message stop.”
“No, only a trained mechanic can do that.”
“But not one of yours because I had my service elsewhere.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Thanks, you’ve been very helpful,” I said. But I said this in a sarcastic way so as to show her that in fact she hadn’t been.
Had she only known that I was going to get my revenge by writing about the incident on my website, she might have said, “To be honest I think you come out of this just as badly as us. You shouldn’t swear at people who are only trying to do their job.”
To which I would have replied, “I don’t care, part of the joy of my weblog is that I am prepared to be critical of my own actions, and although in hindsight I will realise my behaviour has been as inappropriate as your policy, this will only serve to make the entry funnier. Also if my plans to turn my blog into a radio and/or TV series come to anything, then VW’s stupid policy will be broadcast to unbelieving millions and make you look even more stupid. Though realistically it is unlikely to be on before about the fourth or fifth series of such a programme, which seems an impossibly high number of series for a show that hasn’t got anywhere near being green-lighted yet, so it probably won’t happen. But if it does I am going to find the ugliest and most unpleasant actress in the world to play you.”
To which the woman might have replied, “Though presumably you will have to have that actress deliver these lines and listen to your dialogue and she will probably be upset to know she has been cast because she is ugly, so the whole thing will just make you look bad instead. Because you are bad. And on top of that you can bet your bottom dollar that we won’t be rushing to get your car ready after this outburst.”
“But I need my car to get to my gig in Lincoln tonight.”
“Maybe you should have thought about that before you started behaving like a pompous prig.”
“I think if you understood the back story of my frustrating relationship with this overpriced garage you might appreciate why I flew off the handle.”
“Yes, but I don’t.”

Obviously none of that stuff happened. I made some empty threats to complain to someone about the poor service I had received over the rest of this issue and huffed off to get my hair cut. And it was me who ended up feeling guilty for giving the woman a hard time. After all she was only doing her job and it’s not her fault the company has such a stupid policy. Ironically the beep and the flashing message are not that much of an inconvenience to me, it’d just be nice if they weren’t there. Plus by not readjusting the warning VW might well be doing themselves out of some business, as if they did then I would be more likely to bring my car in in time for the next service.
They rang me later to tell me that my car would not be ready today as there was a leak in something that sounded like “the flange valve”. This is clearly a made up thing. I have had my punishment. I will need to find another way to get to Lincoln. I am sorry for swearing. I am a bad person.

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