The Hellhole

Friday, June 06, 2014

What a horrible adventure with that compressor demon...

Title comes from Invader Zim.  At the start of one episode, he says to his minion, Gir, "[exhausted sigh] What a horrible adventure with that ham demon!" and it's never explained or elaborated upon, which I think makes it even funnier.  We use it a lot: what a horrible adventure with that traffic demon, what a horrible adventure with that appendix demon, etc.

On Friday, May 16, Mom and I went to the ASO (Beethoven's Eroica, among other pieces, simply lovely) and I noticed my car making a barely discernable whump-whump-whump sound.  It worried me, but in a vague sort of way because it was happening only intermittently, when the car was idling, and the actual performance of the car didn't seem to be affected in any way at all.  We got there safely and once the symphony finished, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the sound had completely ceased, my car was operating at his high-performance-sports-car best and all was well. Until we got onto I-20 from the Downtown Connector and Baby Benz went totally freaking berserk!

The dashboard computer went red with warnings:  battery has failed! contact service shop immediately!  alternator has failed! contact service shop immediately!  traction control has been disabled!  contact service shop immediately!  power steering has failed! contact service shop immediately!  I was obviously alarmed and upset, but the weird thing was, the car was still operating normally.  The headlights weren't dimming, the radio was still playing, acceleration worked - none of that adds up to failed battery or alternator (and they had just replaced my battery at a scheduled service on 02/15).  We were in a horrible, horrible neighborhood, so since I still had momentum, I decided to keep driving, hoping to make it closer to home and to a place where we'd be less likely to be robbed, raped or killed.  Or all three.

I made it several more miles when the Benz registered a new complaint:  a little red thermometer appeared on the screen and the computer said, "Coolant Warning! Stop engine immediately!"  Well, that could do disastrous things to the engine so I pulled right over and stopped.  Oh, great.  Stranded in a high-dollar sports car in absolute Thugville Central (seriously, it's a notorious, bad, crime-ridden neighborhood) at 11:30 on a Friday night with my mother. I was so scared.

Of course I couldn't stop thinking of a recent news story about two people killed on I-20 trying to help stranded friends change a tire - a drunk driver plowed into the disabled car.  Then I got even more upset:  I have free roadside assistance, but the stupid effing autobot phone system would not recognize number selections input from my iPhone - she just kept listing more options like I hadn't hit any buttons, so I started trying to speak the numbers but the speech recognition worked sometimes and not others.  As more and more time passed as I tried to call for assistance and the autobot kept not functioning, I got more and more and more upset, exacerbated every time a larger car or truck sped by fast enough to rock my car, which happened regularly.  I was SO frightened!

At one point Mom (and I don't fault her for this at all), grabbed my phone, disconnected the call, got me in a headlock and made me breathe into a big wad of tissues, b/c I was so upset I'd started hyperventilating and she was afraid I'd trigger an asthma attack.  Writing it out, I sound quite stupid, but I was seriously so frightened - my mind teemed with awful scenarios (what if someone tried to hurt my mother???  I mean, OMG, my mother?!?).

I had of course called Alan first, to rescue us, and I knew he'd have to go one exit above and turn around because we were coming from different directions.  But thanks to major highway construction, the next exit up was closed, and Alan had to drive all the way to the second one up - much further - to turn around.  So the fact that he hadn't arrived when he said he would only added to my distress.  Eventually he arrived and he'd brought my Glock, which I hadn't asked for but oh, I was so glad!!!  At least no one could hurt Mom; now I was armed.  And I'm a good shot.  At one point while we waited, I turned the ignition on without cranking the engine, which enabled me to page through the computer screen without the Catastrophic Red Warnings Of Doomâ„¢ and I saw that the coolant temperature was completely normal.  At that point I wondered if it was the car's computer system rather than a catastrophic engine failure, but wasn't sure what would be wor$e.  Finally the tow truck arrived, we got my car loaded and he took it to my dealership.

I had a bad night b/c I was so upset and adrenaline and such...drank 2 glasses of Cabernet while surfing the intarwebs, trying to calm down enough to sleep (still not making much progress on the cutting down of wine consumption) and obviously I was worried about the cost of repairs.  I checked one of my Visa cards and found I had like $9,200.00 room on it, and I was praying that would be enough.  Mom kept saying she'd help, but I didn't want to ask (or take) her help; she's a widow on a pension after all.  The next afternoon, I got the call from my service advisor and it was far, FAR less than I'd feared. Bad enough, well over a grand, but I can pay it out of cash flow and not credit cards, heavy relieved sigh.

Backing up to a couple of weeks ago, once it started getting really hot I'd noticed that my AC wasn't cooling at its usual sub-zero level, but figured it probably just needed a jolt of coolant.  I wasn't too fussed as it wasn't bothering me, b/c I'm always freezing anyway, so I thought I'd deal with it when convenient, both time- and money-wise.  But as it turns out, it wasn't low on coolant; the AC compressor had locked and so the AC clutch and pulley weren't working.  So the serpentine belt that powers everything in the whole freakin' motor couldn't turn around the AC assembly and was just dragging across, and eventually heat and friction frayed the serpentine belt (that was replaced in February).  They needed to replace the AC compressor, AC pulley, serpentine belt and all the O rings associated with the AC system.

My car was to be ready on the Tuesday, but that didn't happen.  In performing the repairs they'd quoted, even MORE things were discovered that the initial problem had destroyed:  one of the belt tensioners, a belt shock sensor, an upper idler pulley and a...something else.  Four more parts ordered and another day of labor!  My heart sank.   My car was ready on the Wednesday at 3PM but Alan had a meeting at 3:30 (so had to be in front of a computer) and by the time it was over, we'd have been in the middle of rush hour traffic (and you non-Atlantans can't imagine the extent of that horror) - SO not happening.  Especially not how we were spending our wedding anniversary, which Wednesday was.

Alan asked me after I hung up what the final tally was and I said, "I don't know. I didn't ask. I want us to have a nice evening for our anniversary, a pleasant dinner - and if I know how much it is, I'll be upset, I won't enjoy dinner, I'll fret about spending money, and I'm just not going to spend our special day that way."  He said okay and we wound up spending a whopping $50 on dinner at Whistle Post, but it was fun and relaxing, and I wasn't stressing to eleven.

Now for the jaw-droppingly great news:  after working for a while and a couple of meetings, on Thursday we went to pick up Baby Benz.  The cashier handed me my paperwork and said, "That's $[original quote]."  Hmm?  Then she paged the service department manager, who came up to give me my keys.

"You know we had to replace four more parts yesterday," he said.  I nodded.  "So that was the parts plus another 7 hours labor [gulp!] which is all detailed on your paperwork so you'll have an accurate service record [I nod], but the thing is, I told you $[original quote] so I discounted everything from yesterday off.  I mean, I'd given you my word and doing otherwise [shakes his head] that's just not the way we do business."

OMGOMGOMGOMG!  Do you believe there are still people/businesses like that in this day and age?!?  I was very nearly moved to tears.


  • You are such a talented writer! You can make even scary bad events sound funny!

    I had no idea, at the time, you were so frightened for me. Just never crossed my mind....sorry. I was scared for you...for obvious reasons.

    What a relief that all ended so well. Many thanks to my wonderful son-in-law for so promptly coming to the rescue. And how amazing your dealership is!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:17 AM  

  • I am glad things ended well! I cannot believe the customer service you received. How marvelous!

    By Blogger basil, at 8:51 AM  

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