I don’t think many garages are as female-friendly as they would like to think they are. It takes a lot more than merely employing a female member in the reception. Based on my own research, nearly a third of female motorists believe that a garage has overcharged them for work done to their car purely because they are women. Taking a car to a garage for service is a daunting prospect for many female motorists. The fear of rogue mechanics ripping them off is a real one, particularly as majority of them know very little about what goes on under the bonnet.
Therefore, the last thing you want to hear as a female motorist is that your car has a mechanical breakdown. There is always a high chance that you will find a rogue mechanic at the garage and dealing with them is an absolute nightmare. They will exaggerate everything and leave you confused. They will charge you for things not replaced. At the end of the day, you will pay big money for poor service or no service done at all. Some end up exchanging your car parts with the bad ones! Why can’t they just be genuine to us female species just as they are to our male counterparts? I keep asking them this question full of rage! We demand for value for money and satisfactory service. Right?
They should not take advantage of our cluelessness! There this one mechanic at T-Mall area that a friend of mine Ms. Redempta referred me to. He serviced my car and he did not replace most of the things I told him to check simply because they were still in good condition and functioning. I asked him “are you sure?” I doubted him at first. Why? Because of the nasty experiences, I have gone through previously with rogue mechanics.
Last year around October, I woke up in upbeat mood with my clan and proceeded to church. I was full of energy since I had not woken up at 3am to do my usual studies. I rested well the previous night. I decided to switch off my creepy alarm for once and enjoy my sleep. Life is not that serious…..you can break the rules sometimes. After all, it was a weekend!
I have this friend and colleague of mine called Ms. Amor or just call her Love, who is a good cook. She can cook anything and the outcome will be lip smacking! I think some people like her and my cousin sister Ms. Mercy Ong’injo were born in the kitchen and never left the kitchen since then! I envy them. Their world is all about good food and eating is a whole ceremony. I wish I had their patience for cooking. For me, cooking and eating is just for survival.
As I write this…..to be sincere, I can’t remember the last time I was in my kitchen cooking a great meal. Am not a good cook but at least I can mix and match something for you if you visit me not unannounced. Yes I mean it…..you have to give me an appointment so that I can figure out and prepare myself psychologically to spend time in the kitchen.
I don’t like surprise visitors. Especially if you are not the type who doesn’t mind the regular Kenyan chai na mkate ya wageni. Otherwise, you will be surprised to find yourself in the kitchen. In my kitchen, there is all you need; but, you will have to cook for yourself. At least, now you know if you are planning to visit…..
Someone once said…..”Those who know how to cook ain’t successful in life because they spend most of their time in the wrong place”. Hahahaha! Do you agree? For me a big YES!
Back to church…..
The sermon was great. We renewed our faith and trust in God. You can imagine the looks on our faces. We were all like angels, very innocent indeed. This is where you display the best of you. You become so holy in Bethel. God here we come….. I wish we could all maintain that 24/7 piety in our daily lives, including Omosh my regular mechanic!
After church, we went straight to our host’s place. Lunch was just awesome. My clan really enjoyed the foreign delicacy and when we left, they asked if we could move in next door so that our host would be cooking for us! I did not answer that of course. You can imagine the look on my face! My eyes gave them sufficient response!
We got into the car with full bellies nearly not breathing and ready to dose off including the driver (myself). The car was scattered with things all over that I do not want to mention. We got lazy to organize it. When everyone belted, we drove off!
On my way, I realized the break was becoming loose whenever I tried to engage! I panicked and slowed down! My clan noticed and they got tense. I checked the dashboard for any red light sign, there was none. Then I noticed a shawl covering the hand break. I removed it, and the first thing I noticed was that the hand break was on! I concluded this could be the problem. I pulled off the road slowly. The first thing a clueless female motorist does is to open the car bonnet. Don’t ask me what I was checking. I just stared at it, it stared back at me, and I grinned!
Being a Sunday, most of mechanics that I know were not available. The city dwellers like me are either relaxing with their families after a date with their creator probably or nursing hangover somewhere..… I drove around the leafy suburb of Gigiri/Runda and there was no garage in site. Residents of this place are mostly likely subscribers of AA Rescue Team!
The only option I had was to try getting home safe then sort the rest later. I got inside the car and drove off slowly with hazards on! With my entire faculty alert. I kept reminding myself if I make any stupid move, my clan would curse me! I could see everyone flinching; they probably thought I was on the verge of ruining their lives forever! They kept reminding me to slow down. They didn’t want to go to heaven prematurely. I reassured them the driver was in control. Keep cool!
We got home safely, thank God. I called my Chief of Party and explained to him what had happened and he said, “XYZ most likely are damaged. Don’t drive that car for now until it is checked and repaired”. The car was parked until Friday!
On Friday morning, the weather was just too ugly! It was wet and cold! I knew it was a bad day for me. Spending time at the garage is not fun. I drove in to this particular garage in the afternoon after work! I explained the whole story to the mechanic, who was so attentive, and immediately he got his tools of work and started unscrewing the nuts for the tyres.
I was a faithful watch woman! I was told to be vigilant until the car is completely done. When I saw him loosening the bolts, I bawled from where I was seated and told him hold on there…. “the tyres don’t have any problem”. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “I want to check the brake pads, the brake drum and XYZ and they are right here”. I smiled back at him sheepishly and let him do his work. For me every car problem is checked and fixed under the bonnet. Period!
The faulty things were removed and I was shown the damages. The brakes needed to be replaced. I took pictures and forwarded to my Chief of Party to validate and give his opinion since I was not sure. He agreed and authorized the car to be worked on.
At this point, I sat down confidently, now with the attitude of an independent woman who knows everything and doesn’t need a man to figure out things for her! Have you seen some women who drive big cars with big attitude? I was close to them…..
I was there for about 2 hours in the cold. I imagined how I would have been somewhere else warm swirling my scotch whisky! Friday is not the best day having a date with the garage!
It was late; they could not finish fixing the car. It was safe to drive it home and bring it back early morning the following day. That night it continued raining so heavily I knew Karura would be a no go zone the next day! When I was about to switch off to slumber-land, I got a text from my running mate saying “Hey since Karura is wet and muddy tomorrow, si we do Kileleshwa circuit! Let’s meet at Jeffery’s at 6:15” What a great plan B! I sighed, but I couldn’t make it as I was going back to the garage the following morning! My friend just wished me good luck with the garage! She knows exactly what happens there…..
The following day I went back, and after a few hours the car was fully fixed and they assured me everything was now okay. Still I could not trust them. I had my doubts. Perhaps they did a shoddy job as usual! I don’t trust most mechanics these days!
When my bill was presented to me, I almost fainted. I asked them if they had changed the engine of the car! The price was ridiculously colossal! They tried to explain it but it could not sink! We haggled and agreed on some reasonable amount. I paid but feebly, and drove off.
Am sure if it was a man the price would been less than what I was charged. I blame myself for not asking the total cost in advance!
I know most female drivers have gone through the same ordeal. How can we help each other?
What female motorists should look for in a garage?
- Are the service staff friendly, attentive, respectful? First impressions are important; a bad initial experience will make us turn around.
- Are the mechanics honest and courteous? When it comes to car repairs, female drivers often have more questions than men do because they are so clueless. Therefore, we appreciate a mechanic who will patiently explain in terms that we can understand. This explanation is not necessary simply because we are female but more so because we are not mechanics.
- There are a lot of great diagnosis software that many fancy garages are using. They show diagrams and pictures that allow someone to get a detailed description of what work needs to be done on a vehicle. Therefore, there is no excuse for not getting satisfactory answers to our questions.
- Does the mechanic get approval before starting repairs? You should be given a written estimate explaining what they are doing and why they are doing it, and then get your approval before beginning any work. If additional repairs are needed, they should let you know before proceeding. They might think that you won’t question the extra charges, but you should.
- Does the garage have a clean, attractive waiting area? This is very important, especially if you are going to be waiting around for more hours. A garage that wants to appeal to female should focus on making the lounge comfortable, tasteful, and relaxing. Things like Wi-Fi, comfortable chairs, televisions, or snacks and beverages are just some of those little things that can really impress female customers. Moreover, since many of us also come with children, a kid friendly environment is especially appreciated.
- Are the restrooms clean? Let’s be honest as female, the restrooms are often a deal breaker, right? If I know that I’m going to be waiting around for a while, they are one of the first things I check. I don’t need granite vanities and gold plated faucets, but they should at least be clean and smell good too!
I don’t expect my mechanic’s garage to look like a spa. However, come on; is a fresh cup of coffee, a comfortable chair, and a friendly smile too much to ask for? Am I being unreasonable to expect that the restrooms are cleaned daily rather than monthly?
Our male counterparts will overlook at lot of things. Dirty restrooms, grumpy employees, and tiny, cramped waiting areas furnished with hard wooden chairs and outdated magazines if fluky to find one or few. They really don’t matter as long as their vehicles are fixed. Nevertheless, as female, we want a little bit more.
Male species might roll their eyes at us, but that’s all right. We are paying customers so we deserve to be selective in our choice.
Garages are still largely males’ domain, but more and more garages are realizing a sizeable number of their customers are female. They can work to make their business a trusted place where females feel comfortable and welcome because they care about a lot more than just money.
So, don’t be afraid to shop around and find an auto garage that appreciates your business and treats you with respect as a queen!