Q&A: What is the strangest customer complaint or request you have ever received?
From concrete rabbits to submerged mowers, here is some comic relief as dealers share quirky stories about what customers have asked of them.
A: “A customer had a young kid running a zero-turn mower. He ran it into a pond that was filled with snapping turtles and wanted me to go swimming to get the mower out. All you could see was the top of the steering levers below the murky water.”
— Dave Blersch, Chainsaws Unlimited, Southbury, Conn.
A: “We have a customer who kept having water-in-fuel related problems with a pair of new tractors we sold him a couple years ago. Our service manager told him several times that he obviously had water in his bulk fuel tanks, but he was 100% convinced that the tractors we sold him were ‘making water.’ He was so certain his tractors were making water that he traded them for a pair of tractors — a very expensive brand that doesn’t have dealer representation in our area — and a year later, he sold the two tractors he bought to replace the tractors we sold him.
“Long and short of it — he spent a ton of money that he could have saved if he had cleaned out his bulk fuel tanks and maybe found a new fuel vendor.”
— Mike McCrate, Tulsa New Holland, Tulsa, Okla.
A: “We were doing a repair for TSC. The customer had a Husqvarna riding mower and ran over a concrete rabbit. He absolutely demolished the deck shell and the blades and spindles. The customer was positively livid that we could not cover the repair under warranty. He swore he would never come back. Six years later, he was back and bought some parts. He didn't remember me, but he did remember the concrete rabbit. Still sore about it too!”
— Tim Berman, Big Red’s Equipment, Granbury, Texas
A: “A customer stated that she came to our facility to purchase equipment and was looking outside on the lot. She said nobody came out to talk to her, so she left and wouldn’t be buying from us. She said she had cash in hand and was going to buy a package deal, then went on to say that the lady behind the counter was rude. If nobody talked to her, then how could have the lady been rude?”
— Jerry Beretz, Lay of the Land, Concord, N.C.
A: “Lawn equipment sold by box stores are brought here to ACM for warranty work. Customers complain about the fact that Lowe’s doesn’t have parts or service. I wonder why that question wasn’t asked at the point of sale?
“Another crazy complaint we encounter with warranty customers is when they purchase out of territory to save $300 on a $20,000 tractor package and then bring them here and want us to drop everything that belongs to our customers and repair theirs first. Then, they give us bad reviews on the internet.”
— Allen Berry, ACM Body & Frame, San Marcos, Texas
A: “Just last week, we delivered a walk-mower and a rider back to a customer’s home. Richard, the service manager, receives a call from the driver that the customer is unhappy about the bill. The customer gets on the phone and says that the prices were too high. Richard grabs the service tickets and looks for problems while listening to the woman on the line.
“After reviewing the numbers, Richard says, ‘Ma'am, the amount is exactly what you approved for each of the units in for repairs and service.’ She retorts that the estimates are never as high as what they agreed on and that the bill should be lower. Richard told her she approved the estimates, and we did the repairs as estimated. She said it is not acceptable and hung up on him.
“I can't give you just one… A woman with a Toro walk-behind mower this spring asked us, ‘Why doesn't Toro make a mower that will run on bad gas or at least cover it with the warranty?’”
— David Wood, Smitty’s Lawn & Garden Equipment, Olathe, Kan.
The following dealer comments were submitted through an online poll and contact information is not available.
A: “A customer called and asked me how much oil it took to fill the transmission on his tractor. When I told him the capacity of his unit, he told me that it wasn't empty and he wanted to know how much it would take to bring the level to full.”
A: “Time being charged on service work orders — customers always think it shouldn't have taken the amount of time charged.”
A: “I always think it’s strange when a customer comes to our store and complains about a bill from a competitor and asks what we can do about it or if we can help them out.”
A: “Fingerprints on the hood. One customer bought a tractor and was super particular about it, especially about it not getting scratches. Okay, that's understandable, though a tractor is not a BMW.
“One time, after a repair, he absolutely flipped out because he had a couple of fingerprints on it. We're not talking about oil or grease smudges, but the kind of fingerprints you could only see in the light.
“You would have thought he had a 3-point hitch and a loader mounted onto his Porsche Cayenne!”
A: “Customer had a flat front tire and demanded a new tractor.”
A: “We received a phone call for service, asking ‘Do you know anything about a 2 cylinder B John Deere?’ My reply, ‘Well, a little, what can we help you with?’ They asked, ‘What is the ﬁring order on this 2 cylinder tractor?’ After a slight pause I hesitatingly said ‘Uh, 1, 2.’ They thanked us and hung up!”
A: “I arranged a date for a customer with the waitress at the café in town, after he bought a windrower from me. He was probably 65, as was she!”
A: “We repaired a rare old magneto on an old 1-cylinder engine that the customer brought in. As a courtesy, we did the job at the cost of a novelty and wrote the rest of the charges off on 'training.' Our true cost on the bill was $175.00. The customer took the mag, installed it and then brought it back stating, ‘You fixed it too good, now my motor runs away.’
“After an explanation that the voltage to the plug has little or no effect on the engine speed, the customer demanded his money back as we ‘were too stupid to deal with.’
“We gave him his money back plus $5 and then removed the new parts — at which time he exploded that we had the audacity to remove 'his new parts' he had paid for from his magneto. In our 40 years, we think this was the worst case of the 'customer is not always right.’”
A: "I was told that a customer thought his plow could move through rock without being damaged."
A: “A customer requested that I throw in a free couch for his wife in order for him to commit to the new tractor purchase.”
A: “I pulled in the driveway with customer's new zero-turn mower as they were pulling out. They said they would be right back and to just wait. They came back a bit later with a fast food bag and proceeded to feed their dog a hamburger. They said that he (the dog) prefers cheeseburgers and it was lunchtime.”
A: “The biggest problem with today's rural lifestyle customer is that 95% of them know absolutely nothing about equipment or what they are buying or using. Yes, it's our job to educate them and ‘hold’ their hand, but many of the problems they have are user-induced, operator error or they do not understand what the equipment can and cannot do or how it behaves.
“For example, hydraulics leaking down on a loader after being left up for a few days. It's going to happen, but customers think it’s the equipment. So, you replace 3 loader valves, and it’s still doing it. In customer's eyes, it still has a problem. They just don't understand hydraulics or the general nature of equipment. It's a constant battle with rural lifestylers, not with farmers who are around equipment.”
A: “A customer said, ‘My manual says to mow at full speed, but my tractor wants to tip over and tears up the grass when I am turning.’ I told him, ‘No, sir, the manual says the engine should be at full speed, and you control your tractor speed with the transmission.”
A: “A customer called who had recently purchased a lawn tractor from us. He said he looked down through the screen on the flywheel and saw rust on it. He insisted that we send a technician out to his house to make sure that the mower was OK.”
A: “A customer wanted us to paint a Gehl skid steer Kubota orange in order to match their tractor and lawn mower.”
A: “I had a customer ask the dealership to install a pendulum on his Massey Ferguson garden compact tractor, so he would know how steep of ground he could go on before it would overturn.”
A: “My service manager appeared at my door with a strange look on his face. He said, ‘The guy on line 1 wants to complain to the manager because we sharpened his lawn mower blades too sharp.’ It wasn't long after that when I exited the business.”
A: “A customer bought a zero-turn mower at an auction. It had transaxle issues and he disassembled it himself. He couldn't figure out how to repair it, so he put the parts into a bushel basket and brought them to us and demanded we repair it for free under warranty. We politely declined.”