Sunday, November 16, 2008

Advance Auto is a Savior for Women

This is going to be a little off-topic, but I know there are a lot of single women Realtors, and probably plenty of mechanically "challenged" males as well. I wanted to tell you all about a national company that everyone has heard of, but many people don't realize what a godsend they can be - Advance Auto Parts Store.

Most people think of Advance Auto as a vague place to go buy a headlight or a carburator if you want to save a bit of money and not shop at the car dealer. But this store and these people are SO MUCH MORE.

I've been using AAP since I first moved to Myrtle Beach about 17 years ago. For several years I was living on practically minimum wage, driving a 10 year old Pontiac Fiero, and eating bologna sandwiches more often than I like to think about.

North Myrtle Beach in many ways is like the usual small town. Back in those days, more so than now, if you lived here, you eventually met the business owners, the police, the restaurant waittresses and others that seemed to help each other as much as the residents of Mayberry. One of the earliest things I learned from men that I met along the way (men LOVE to advise single women about car stuff) was that AAP was the place to buy things like windshield wipers, antennas (antennae?) and lights for the car.

There is a local garage in Cherry Grove that was so kind to me as to let me buy parts from AAP and bring them up there to install and repair my car. Now this is not something most garages will do, but in "North Mayberry Beach", so many people go out of their way to help people who work at hotels and restaurants. Most grew up here and worked at these jobs as teenagers, so they know what it's like to get by on $5.00 an hour.

Anyway, I've always known you could save money by shopping at AAP. And I quickly learned that when you buy windshield wipers from them, THEY will come out of the store and put them on for you - FREE! Now it's customary to tip the boy who does this. He's probably living on $8-9 an hour himself. But if any of you women have ever tried to put wipers on yourself, you know that it's worth every bit of $3-5 to let somebody else get their hands black.

I suppose many women have boyfriends or husbands that do this for you. But for those of us who don't, little things like this mean so much. Is your car running funny? Before you go drop it off to the GM dealership and spend a fortune, run it by AAP and let them hook you up to their diagnostic machine that might just save you a bundle. Buy a new battery there for about as much as you'd pay at Walmart...and these guys will install it for you, right in the parking lot. Got a headlight out? In most cases they will put it in for you at no charge and with no wait. Where else in the world can you expect service like that? Granted, they probably do more for a woman than they'd be inclined to do for a man, but I don't really know this for a fact either. They may well do it for every customer that walks in the door.

But today, this company amazed me beyond anything that's happened since I moved here.

Last night I must have left something on in the car from the day before. I still haven't figured it out, but when I went to go grab a burger for dinner, my car was as dead as a doornail. No horn, no lights, remote doesn't work...just dead. And I'm thinking, CRAP. It's Saturday night. Tomorrow is Sunday. Will I have to call a tow-truck or maybe I can find a neighbor to jump me off....which I hate to ask. People are funny about giving you a jump with today's new cars. I'm thinking on Sunday everything will be closed...what if I have to buy a battery? I went to bed just beside myself worrying about it. I can't stand to be without transportation.

This morning about 8am I decide to call AAP and ask if (A) they are open, which I doubt...and (B) will they loan me one of those battery chargers if I can find a ride up there.

First amazement, they answered the phone. The LADY manager (that's pretty amazing too) explains to me that they don't open until 9am, but yes, they are open. And yes, if I want to leave them a charge card or something as a deposit, they will give me a battery jumper.

BUT...she says, why not just let me send my guy to your house to help you and jump the car? I ask her how much that will cost and she tells me NOTHING. "It's our customer service", she says.

Can you imagine in this day and time (and gas prices) that any company would do this? I might add that this is a new Advance Auto that just recently opened about 3 miles from me in Little River. I've always dealt with the one in North Myrtle Beach before. These people did not know me, nor did she ask my name.

She goes on to say that since it's Sunday, they won't be busy, so as soon as they open, she'll send one of the boys to help me. And if I want to tip him something, that's up to me, but there is no charge for the service.

About an hour later, a very nice older man rides up in a yellow truck, jumps me off, and then because I'm smart, I follow him back to the store to have the diagnostic done. It shows my alternator is fine, and the battery is just low but good, and advises to recharge. This has taken about 6 miles of driving, maybe an hour of their time, and they don't charge me a dime or sell me a thing. AND ARE HAPPY TO DO IT!

Yes, I tipped the man...and well. I saved a tow-truck fee, possibly being sold a battery I didn't need, and received the kind of service most people just dream of. So girls, (and guys too!) the next time you have a car problem, remember there is a company out there that wrote the book on customer service. Advance Auto Parts is the BOMB. I can't brag on them enough.

And to the home office AAP, I hope you give the manager and all the employees at 1661 Highway 17, Little River, SC a RAISE. They do more to brand your store as a winner than all the advertising in the world.
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