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TinotopiaLog → Unpredictability At Work (12 May 2005)
Thursday 12 May 2005

Unpredictability At Work

The other day, a part literally fell off my car. Unfortunately, this car was manufactured by General Motors, so this in itself wasn’t particularly unpredictable. ‘Like a rock’, my ass: some particularly crumbly rock, perhaps.

Today, I called the Chevy dealer and asked if they had the part, a license-plate light housing, in stock. They said they did, and that it was only $11.52. So many of them fall off, you see, that they can pass the savings on to me. How do they do it? Volume.

Anyway, I checked the hours on the dealer’s website:


But when I got there at 5:30, the parts department was closed. It appears that the parts department closes at 5:00, and has always done so.

The service guy who was there was nice, and he even apologized to me after checking that the website indeed had the wrong hours on it. He couldn’t do anything for me, though. Since the parts department of any car dealer has a lot of valuable, easily-fenced goods in it, they don’t give the keys to everyone.

The apology is how you know that this takes place in a small town. In the suburbs or the city, I’d have been made to feel that I was in the wrong.

The other way you know that this takes place in a small town is that, an hour later, they have actually updated the website:


Though this doesn’t explain what the service guy was doing there with the door unlocked at 5:30. And, of course, it doesn’t explain why it fell to me, a customer, to expose this problem for them.

This isn’t the first time I’ve run in to a problem like this, particularly when dealing with websites of non-technical people. It’s better to give out no information at all than to give out inaccurate information, but a lot of people — and most car dealers would definitely fall into this category — aren’t particularly aware of their web presence from day to day, and it never occurs to them to make sure that they’re not spreading disinformation.

Posted by tino at 18:35 12.05.05
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