I had been having an ongoing issue with my car and I took it into the dealership multiple times for the same issue.  I paid for a diagnostic test, where they found nothing wrong.  So I brought it in again, and they told me I needed a new battery – ok – bye-bye $500 bucks for battery and labor.  Guess what?  I still had the same issue. Agrrrrrh!!!!!!!  Women & Cars – can be so frustrating!!!!!  This is not my “thing” at all, so I am dependent on trusting someone else.  The “Wonder Woman” in me despises asking for help and feeling helpless!

I called the dealership service person three times to let him know I was still having an issue.  And I never received a  returned call.  Needless to say, I was feeling frustrated.  A woman from the dealership called me to ask how my service appointment went – they love a positive survey. Welp –  I gave her an earful.  She went to find the rep – he was “busy” with another customer…aannndddd….he never returned my call.  Again!!!!

Several days later, while I was driving out to my parent’s house, my Drivetrain Malfunction light illuminated (What on God’s Green Earth is a Drivetrain Malfunction?????)  I called my Dad and asked him to look it up on line – basically that light could mean hundreds of different issues could be wrong with the car. Great.  Warning light….absolutely NOT helpful.  I drove carefully the rest of the way to their house.  Drove on pins and needles, worrying the car would suddenly just explode into flames.

Obviously, I was even more irritated, as now my personal safety was at risk. I made another appointment with the dealership for first thing early Monday morning. I left the service rep yet, another message, saying that I wasn’t happy that he never returned my calls and now this warning light has come on. He finally returned my call to say, “we see you have an appointment.”  Great, work, Einstein.  Thanks.

So on Monday, I showed up as a Leader….for myself, for my safety, and for my sanity, at the dealership.  I made sure that I requested a loaner vehicle, so that I had transportation for as long as it takes the dealership to find the problem.  I received a brand new BMW X1, to swashbuckle around town in.  Gold Star, for me!

I met with a different rep, (not the person I dealt with previously) and walked through the issues with him. I reiterated that I had just paid $500 for a new battery, but that clearly wasn’t the issue.  I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t bitchy, but I was strong and made my points.  No one needed to hear my whole sob story.  But I did need to find a solution to the problem.

Now…if you are woman, and you’ve been to a mechanic or car dealership ever, you know, (and I’m making a sweeping generalization here!) that sometimes, the discussions can be, well, a little condescending towards women.  And sometimes, women even get ripped off.  Why? Because car mechanics are not necessarily the female area of expertise (now that isn’t to say for all women, but for a majority this may be true).

Yet – I did not show up with that expectation. I did not show up EXPECTING to be spoken to in a condescending manner.  We all do this at some point (unconsciously), to “brace” ourselves for the worst.  We have a protective shield up. So we already have bias before we even say “hello”.  So I ensured, that I showed up without any gender bias. I just knew I needed a solution to this problem.

We talked through the car  issues (past and present) and then he told me that they were going to charge me another $159 to run diagnostic tests again.  At that point, I told him how frustrated I was with the lack of returned calls from the other rep and the lack of being able to find a solution to my problem. I peppered our conversation with humor and mostly I LISTENED TO HIM. I didn’t cut him off to tell him how pissed I was, I showed up new. New day, new rep, new situation. And I stayed open to whatever came next.  I held my ground, when I didn’t agree.  And I restated the issue several times, to ensure we both were on the same page.  Was he condescending?  Perhaps. Guess, what? I didn’t notice because I had my goal in sight. To find a solution to the car’s problem.

I had my swanky loaner….  I still wanted to have the $159 diagnostic fee waived, but I knew I would have another opportunity to discuss that. I didn’t need to waste time stewing about it. Leaders know they will always have another chance to lead.

As a follow up – the new rep called me daily to let me know the progress of my car, they found several issues and did not charge me the $159 diagnostic fee, OR for fixing the issues.  Gold Stars all around!

Where did you show up as a leader in your life today?