Saturday, June 03, 2023

2006 Nissan Frontier: New Starter Cost -- plus $2.01 for a bottle of water (published 6-3-2023; article #416)

 Photograph by M. Fearghail, 5/30/2023, Tuesday, 1:17 PM


Greetings, on this third day of meteorological summer, y'all! The introduction to the article of 5/27/2023 began with the following sidenote.

. . . Friday, 5/26/2023, my '06 Frontier and I hauled trash, bought Molly (our ol' puppy) edibles at the Tractor Supply, got gas, and bought groceries at the local store. With groceries in the truck bed, warming in the sun, my ol' truck would not crank! A good Samaritan, in a black Dodge Ram, and I tried to jump start my truck. The battery was fine. The good Samaritan brought the melting groceries and me to the house. Thanks, good Samaritan! The local towing service hauled my ol' truck back to the barn. The repair saga continues next Tuesday. The plan is to tow my truck to the fix-him-up shop. I'd say that he needs a new starter. Stay tuned!

This article is the “stay tuned” follow up to that sidenote -- and what a follow up it was! First, this article summarizes the new starter saga -- and the cost. Then, the reason why the above photograph is in this article will be explained. The conclusion will confirm, well, that “a dollar ain't worth much nowadays, boys” (as Dad said for many years). It will also educate folks, who need it, as to what true customer service is all about. I hope that Rusty Wallace Nissan is listening!

I hope that this 104th article on humor will draw a comment or two, give you a good laugh, or at least grant you a polite chuckle! Thanks for stopping by, to read a while, dear reader.

The New Starter Saga

The introduction mentioned how the saga started. The tow cost $100 cash. That Friday, I called Rusty Wallace Nissan and set a repair appointment for Tuesday, at 8:30 AM -- with the assumption that the repair would be that day or the next, depending on if they had a new starter in stock. The breakdown had to be on the Friday, before the long Memorial Day weekend. On Monday, good folks, in this once great nation, paused to honor those, who fought and died for our freedom. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I enjoyed a family gathering, with her folks, on Memorial Day.

The next day, Tuesday, 5/30/2023, the same local towing service hauled, at another $100 cash, my '06 Frontier and me, to Rusty Wallace Nissan, about fourteen miles away, for the appointment that I'd scheduled the Friday before. As I'd predicted, my ol' truck needed a new starter. Of course, the shop didn't have one in stock, as I'd suspected. The polite service department lady estimated that -- in hope -- the new starter would arrive the next day, be installed, and my truck would be ready for pick up. I walked to the business next door, Enterprise, and rented a 2022 Toyota Corolla. My purchase of a $2.01 bottle of water, including tax, was on the way to the monthly chiropractor appointment, in the rental.

The next day, Wednesday, was day two of the starter saga. After a couple of phone conversations with the polite service department lady, I had assumed that my truck would be ready late that afternoon. The new starter was in. It's a two-hour job. The rental got me to Rusty Wallace Nissan, about 4:30 PM. The polite lady in the service department, ironically, had left voicemail on my cell phone, at 4:27 PM. I saw my truck, at least. He was still waiting his turn! Amazing! Apparently, the technician that had diagnosed the bad starter, the day before, had to do the work. He was busy on a transmission, for another vehicle. What? Can't someone else replace the starter? The wasted trip was my “shame on me,” for assuming that the service would be done promptly.

Thursday was day three of the starter saga. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman drove the rental to and from her last day of work, before summer break. It was a half day, and I didn't expect a call, to say that my truck was ready, until late in the afternoon. With no call from Rusty Wallace Nissan yet, I called the polite service department lady, about 5:10 PM. Well, she really hoped that my truck would be ready the next day! The technician assigned to service my truck was still elbow deep in the transmission, for another vehicle. Again, what? Can't someone else replace the starter?

Yesterday, Friday, was day four of the starter saga. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman answered the polite service lady's call, at 10:48 AM. (I'd predicted that she would call, while I was in the outhouse.) My truck was ready! So, I returned the rental to Enterprise ($220.97 total cost). Then, I walked next door to Rusty Wallace Nissan, to get my truck. The polite service department lady was at lunch. The General Manager was also at lunch. I really wanted to speak with the General Manager. “Go straight to the top” is my motto.

The service department manager -- with whom I'd wanted to speak, since the General Manager was out -- handled my payment. Please notice that I am not calling the service department manager a “polite lady,” as I've called the polite service department lady.

Taking three full days (Tuesday morning to Friday morning) to replace one started was too long! It's a two-hour job! I expressed that thought -- politely -- to the service department manager, hoping for her apology and assurances. If our roles were reversed, I would have been far more cordial, polite, and understanding -- with assurances that Rusty Wallace Nissan was working to improve service timeliness and customer satisfaction. After all, the “Service & Parts” section on Rusty Wallace Nissan states, rather excitedly, in part:

We know how difficult it can be to try and go about your day without your usual mode of transportation. . . . [O]ur team can work efficiently to get your vehicle out of our shop and back on the road.

Notice the word “efficiently,” in the above quotation. The service department manager, however, took a rather combative stand. She kept emphasizing that all repair shops, not just that one, were backlogged, causing repairs that should take a day to take several days. It's, apparently, the “new normal.” The unpleasant service department manager needs to improve her style of so-called “customer service!”

Despite the service department manager's combative style of “customer service,” I still thanked her, since my truck had a new starter -- finally. In common sense, I suggested to her that, when a person calls, to set a service appointment, and if the shop can't get to it for a few days, then set the appointment a few days out! Please! My truck could have rested in the “barn” (i.e., garage) at the house, instead of “basking in the sun” in a parking lot, at Rusty Wallace Nissan, awaiting his turn.

Let's see what this starter saga cost in total! Calculators ready? Let's punch buttons! The two tows cost $200 total. Rusty Wallace Nissan's total cost was $1,218.10. (That was for all labor, supplies, sales tax, the new starter, an oil change, and a tire rotation. I'd asked for the oil change and tire rotation. With labor and parts, the starter cost $1,079.26 -- if you can believe it.) The Enterprise rental car total cost was $220.97. Did you get $1,639.07 total? That's what I got. I guess that Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I will eat soup beans and “taters” a while.

$2.01 for a Bottle of Water

You ask, “What do the high-dollar costs of the tows, the rental, and the new starter have to do with the price of a water bottle?” Well, I'll answer, from the “for what it's worth” department.

As I'd stated before, on Tuesday, while going to my monthly chiropractic appointment, in the rental, I stopped at a Shell station, to buy a bottle of water. (Yes, I know. I should have carried a bottle of filtered tap water from home.)

Of the numerous selections, I picked “Niagara: Natural Spring Water.” It's a 16.9-ounce bottle of spring water. The company is Niagara Bottling, LLC, in Diamond Bar, California. The water comes from “protected springs” in either Roaring Gap, North Carolina, or Blue Ridge, Georgia. Well, that was good. (Yes, I read labels.)

The price, without tax, for that bottled spring water was $1.84. (It was the least expensive option.) Adding the sales tax, the cashier rang up $2.01! (Yes, I should have asked for a cup of ice! It may have cost only a dollar.) I had three one-dollar bills and no change. I asked if the cashier had a penny, and she did. So, thanking her, I walked out with my bottle of water. It tasted like spring water.

The cashier, a bit older than me, had started the conversation, as I was buying that high-dollar bottle of spring water. She complained about the outrageous cost of that bottled water, and she bemoaned the future of this once great nation, with concern for her children and grandchildren. The cost of everything is outrageous, as we both agreed. Growing up, store-bought bottled water didn't exist! We had spring water and well water. Once I started driving, I filled an empty soda bottle with tap water and carried it with me.

My final comment to the cashier was, “Well, a dollar ain't worth much nowadays.” She understood and smiled. I think that Dad must have laughed.


First, yes, Dad (Earl Ferrell, 9/17/1927 - 1/25/2008) was right: “a dollar ain't worth much nowadays!” It's worth way less now than when he was still living. The inflationary rush toward “Socialist Utopian Oblivion,” in this once great nation, is “progressing” rather quickly.

Viewer analytics for this website indicate that at least three of my seven articles on inflation are viewed almost daily -- despite the few comments that they are drawing. Those articles are:

An Invitation to the First President of the USSA to “Show Me the Money” Tree (published 5-22-2021)

President Biden's Reply to My Letter – Over a Year Late (published 7-27-2022; article #341)

Raise the Debt Ceiling, Increase Income, or Lower Spending? (published 1-23-2023; article #386)

The recent raise the debt ceiling ruckus, at the federal level, has convinced me, once again, that the majority know that “the house is full of garbage spending.” Instead of “hauling off some garbage spending,” they want to “raise the roof, to add more garbage debt.”

Finally, on true customer support, the two ladies at Enterprise were both excellent -- at the Tuesday rental and Friday return. They were professional, personable, very polite, and understanding -- especially when the rental required three days, not just one. When we need or wish to rent another vehicle, then they will have our return business!

Rusty Wallace Nissan, however, is a different story. The polite service department lady was doing her best, to ensure that my truck was serviced as quickly as possible. She was friendly, polite, and understanding. She admitted that Rusty Wallace needed to improve its “efficiency” and speed of service.

The service department manager, however, needs to improve her attitude. Her combative style was coming from her personality. You can't train true customer service into a person, who has a combative, defensive, and negative personality -- as she does.

Early next week, I plan, Lord willing, to communicate with the General Manager of Rusty Wallace Nissan. The content of this article will be explained. I will suggest highly that the business become “efficient” in the service department, as their website says that it is. I will also suggest that the service department manager receive remedial training, to understand true customer service. Rusty Wallace Nissan will no longer get my return business.

Well, I'm done with this little “life, such as it was,” article. Yes, the new starter saga was aggravating, but it's over! It's even a little funny today. Life has its “good, bad, and ugly,” with apology to Clint Eastwood. The temporal aggravation, involving the delays and the cost for the new starter, are behind me. What's coming up next? Will it be good? I hope so. Eventually, everlasting life at Home will be perfectly wonderful. Once I join Dad, and so many others, at Home, I wonder if he will laugh, when I tell him about this little temporal triviality? I figure that he will.

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