When people and businesses do me wrong to a level that they have ensured that I will never go there again, I put them on my list. It’s not forever, because I won’t live forever, but it’s for as long as I live or as long as they do. There are just too many choices in the world to ever go near these people or companies again. The people list is short and has no meaning for the blog, so I will keep that one private.
For businesses the list is not that long either and I hope it doesn’t get longer as it takes a pretty bad experience to “make the list”.
Midas. I have no trust in auto repair companies that give their mechanics commissions for pushing work and parts. That leads to bad advice, unnecessary repairs, and even criminal behavior. My experience… I went in to the local Midas to have brake work done on my family car in Hawaii. I was a Marine Staff Sergeant with 4 kids, on a tight budget. I needed to keep the car working, but did not need to be cheated. They recommended replacing some of the brake parts and I agreed to that work, it caused the repair to be much more expensive that I originally expected. Based on the final outcome and my loss of trust in this mechanic, I believe some of that work was unnecessary. After they completed the brake work and the care passed the driving test, they called me to pick it up. When I got there the car it was on a lift and the mechanic wanted to show me something. There was a small hole in the front wheel drive boot, barely visible, and there was some more visible splatter of the grease on the cowling around the tire. The problem I had with what he was showing me was there were only about a dozen or so very fresh splatters of grease on the cowling. It was obvious that the only splattering happened when the mechanic put a small hole in the boot and did the test drive. I’ll never know if it was accidental or intentional. I told the mechanic what I thought and that I was not going to pay for the work, but that they could fix the obviously new damage. They refused to fix it for free. The next day I got under the car and noticed that the entire boot was split open. I replaced it myself and have never, and will never go to Midas again. I also ask repair shops if they pay their mechanics a commission on parts and will not use any shop that does.
Minolta. I had a terrific Minolta SLR camera with auto-focus, the X-700. It took fantastic family pictures for years. When we got orders to Hawaii in 1989 I knew I would be snorkeling and would want a good underwater camera. I looked at several options before we left Minnesota, and got a Minolta 35MM camera (Minolta Weathermatic Dual 35 DL AF 35mm Waterproof Underwater Camera which is still available used on E-Bay) that was rated for up to 5 meters of water depth. I figured this was fine as I would only be snorkeling. I used it soon after getting to Hawaii at Hunauma Bay. I loaded the batteries and the film before I left home. I made sure it was closed tightly. The camera failed with a “flash failure” after the first time I took the camera into the water. The next week I took the camera to an Authorized Minolta repair shop. They said that the flash needed to be replaced and that it was not covered by the warranty. I asked how that could be. They said they put it in a chamber and sprayed a mist at it and it did not leak, so it was not covered. I asked if they had put it under 5 meters of water as the camera documentation claimed it was fine to that depth. Then they blamed the camera failure on human error. I had to have done something wrong, got sand in the gasket, or something. To make a long story short, they would not budge and said they had to follow the manufacturers guidelines. I wrote to Minolta and the reply was not good. I put Minolta on my list, but they went out of business before before I bought another camera. I have noticed an increasing number of digital cameras making claims to be OK underwater lately. Not going to take that chance again. I no longer believe these claims and won’t spend a bunch of money on these cameras. I use disposable cameras underwater and the pictures turn out good enough. Here’s a picture of me holding my daughter with the camera over my shoulder… not sure about that expression, more grimace than smile… maybe I knew what was coming.
There are a few more, but they are more obscure and not such horror stories. I had a tune up place in North Carolina smear grease and pepper bugs onto my air filter to get an extra $20 out of me. I drove out of there with no air filter and never went back. I also bad mouthed the place as much as you could before Yelp (1985)! And there are a couple places that I won’t buy blue jeans from anymore – Burlington Coat Factory and Old Navy. Every pair of jeans I’ve bought from there has torn out in the seat… right below the pocket seam. I do (very jokingly) warn my wife not to hurt her hand on my “rock hard” rear (when she gives me a pat) but come on, jeans were designed for hard working dudes to do heavy work in. When did stores start selling wimpy jeans?
As I said, my list isn’t really all that long. Have any horror stories? Anyone I should add to my list based on your experiences?
Update 12/31/2013: This post gives an example of how a company can get added to My List: Designed to Fail?