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Integrity is a word which a lot of businesses and organizations as well as individuals like to throw around. We may talk about the importance of having it. We may even talk about having it but integrity is more than just a word, it demands action.
I was reminded of this today when I took my car in for an oil change today. In 2009, I purchased a 2000 Saturn from a Saturn dealership. My husband had been very happy with the Saturn hed bought two years earlier. Although I was a bit hesitant about buying a nine year old vehicle, I learned the car had been sold by that dealership and only had one owner who had all the servicing done there. It had been trade-in and was in excellent condition. I decided to take a risk and I have not regretted it. Any repairs done to this vehicle have been very minor. The most expensive thing Ive done with it was buy tires. It was a good buy.
At the time I purchased my vehicle, I was told I could get free oil changes at the dealership for three years. As most of you know, Saturn is no more but the Volkswagon dealership which moved in agreed to honor the oil change agreements made with Saturn customers.
After a little while, I was approached by an employee. Uh-oh. There was a problem when they tried to put in a new oil filter. Im not mechanical and Im not going to even try to explain it but I understood enough to know that a part had to be replaced or I could be in big trouble. In fact... my car could catch on fire or worse so I could not be allowed to drive it off the lot.
There was another problem. They didnt have the part in stock and there was no loaner car available. Theyd located a part but it was 45 minutes away. They sent someone for it but... it would be a while before the work could be completed. Since my husband was still working as well as everyone else I knew, I settled in for a long stay.
Car repairs. That was not a word I wanted to hear at the moment. Were trying to eliminate debt, not accumulate more. Gloomily I asked how much and was told about $100.00. There was a pause and the man said, "About $85.00 actually." I let out a sign of relief. I still was not overjoyed but I could do that now and just trim a bit here and there this month to make it up. Besides, my husband had a couple of upcoming free-lance jobs. It would be fine.
Three hours later (and after my husband showed up just in case I would end up needing a ride home), my car was done. I walked over to the cashier and the guy from the service department handed me the bill. I looked at it and noticed it was for $99.00. Now, $14.00 more was not that big of a deal. I just figured perhaps they had a bit more trouble with it than they anticipated and the guy had said it would be less than $100.00 which it was.
However, I just happened to mention to my husband that it was a bit more than what I had been told. The paper was suddenly snatched out of my hand by the man who had given it to me.
"What were you told?" he asked.
"Well, when I asked, I was first told it would be less than $100.00. Then I was told it would be around $85.00."
"Just a moment." he said.
A few minutes later, I was handed an adjusted bill for $79.00.
I had no written estimate saying that I was told it would be $85.00. It would have been very easy for the employee to say, "You were told it would be less than $100.00. It is and besides, you werent told it would be $85.00. That was just an estimated cost. It isnt much more than that."
Thats not what happened. Instead, the attitude was if Id been told it would be $85.00 than I should not be charged $99.00. In fact, they went a bit further, they charged me a bit less.
Integrity. It is more than just words; it is action. Does the world see integrity in us?