Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Welcome to Russia

Exactly how long Swifty had been leaking oil is unclear, but when we checked her before leaving Galati she was almost empty. We sheepishly replenished her a couple of times before finally crawling around on the ground yesterday morning to discover the second best of all possible scenarios - the oil was leaking steadily from a small hole in Swifty’s oil filter. An attempt to patch the hole with aluminum tape proved futile, so to Rostov-na-Donau (RnD) it was. The border crossing wasn’t bad; after a little sympathetic instruction on form filling by the customs agents we were through in under three hours. Mother Russia! At last! Mike’s alter ego, Boris, was overjoyed at coming home. 
There’s a Ford dealership on the outskirts of RnD that has decided to become a Harvard Business Review case study in customer service. Picture this, two rather stinky, unshaven, Americans in shorts, driving a Suzuki, and speaking only English walk into the gleaming showroom and ask for help, on a Sunday. The very professional receptionist walked over to the service manager who sent out one of his supervisors, who in turn asked us if he could be of help. After quickly giving us and Swifty the once over he explained that he’d have to check with his supervisor and see if there was something he could do - because after all this is a Ford dealership and he wasn’t sure if they had a filter that would fit. He came back after a couple of minutes with a proposal (all of this in far better English than we had any right to expect): Ok, we take car into shop and see if the filter works, if it does, good, if not, then we’ll replace the old one and you’re on your own. Excellent! We said. 
Our mechanic was extraordinarily careful, even to the point of cleaning the oil off Swifty’s undercarriage. We started her up, watched for leaks and tested her oil level. Like vintners at a barrel tasting, the supervisor and mechanic conferred with each other. Then for the princely sum of 300 roubles it was done. That’s about $10. It was an incredible piece of generous good fortune and we can’t thank the team at Rostov Ford enough for going so far out of their way to help us on ours. Bravo Ford Russia for showing the rest of the world what outstanding customer service means. 

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