Author Topic: Would you go back inside to tell a business owner about an unpleasant odor?  (Read 2346 times)

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snappylt

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I recently had minor work done on my car at a small, family owned car repair business in a small town near our home.  While I was waiting, the husband of the couple who own the business (wearing a dress shirt and tie) came through the waiting room and made pleasant conversation with the customers.

After the work was finished I paid the bill, got my receipt and car key back, and went out to drive my car away.

There was an unpleasant odor in my car when I got into it, an odor that was not there when I brought the car in for service.  Honestly, it smelled like the stale smell of being sick to one's stomach. (I suspect that whoever got inside to drive my car in and out of the service bay may have walked through some "old throw-up" and then tracked it into my car, although none was visible.)

I thought about going back inside to just let the owner know that one of his employees was somehow leaving an unpleasant odor behind - but then I decided that that was just too embarrassing and time-consuming (for me and for the employee) and too much effort for such a minor problem.

I drove home with my window down (and the heat on) and then left my window rolled down all night. By the next morning the offensive odor was gone and everything was fine.

When I thought to mention all this to my wife a few days later, she remarked that if she were the business owner she would have wanted to know about the problem, because she thinks that there would be some customers who would be so offended at the smell that they would not return to that business.

So... here's my question. I am curious to know if others would have gone back inside to mention the odor like my wife said, or if others would have gone on home with the window open, like I did.

jaxsue

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I've had that experience. In my case it was the smell of cig smoke. Not that the employee smoked in my car, but perhaps he had smoked right before getting into it. No one smokes in my car, so it couldn't have been any other source. I didn't mention it, but if it happened more than once I would tell the manager.

doodlemor

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I would have gotten right back out of my car at the dealership, and told them about the problem.  I would not like the odor, but I would have also been very concerned about the possibility of germs in the car.

If the car hadn't lost the smell by the next day, it would have been much harder to go back and complain that the dealership was the source of the odor.

I bet that I'm not the only person who read this who thought of the Seinfield episode with the BO car.


Zizi-K

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Walking through vomit just seems so unlikely...could it have been that the worker, erm, passed gas in your car and that's what was lingering?

gramma dishes

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...   I bet that I'm not the only person who read this who thought of the Seinfield episode with the BO car.

You'd win the bet.  You aren't the only person who had the BO episode come to mind immediately!   :)

Outdoor Girl

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I would have gone in and asked the manager to come have a seat in my car so he was aware.  I am super sensitive to smells and something like that would really bother me.  I wouldn't want them to do anything about it unless they had a odour neutralizer, as opposed to something that would add another smell to the air, but I would still want them to know so they could have a little chat with the mechanic who'd been in my car.

And if it happened again?  I'd find a new mechanic.
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Mary Lennox

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If it was the smell of something illegal, I would let them know straight away, and if it was a smell that lingered for more than a day or two, I might mention it on my next visit.

sweetonsno

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I agree with Mary… I probably wouldn't mention it right away unless it was something illegal (or I found something gross that was the source). I would probably also mention it if it lasted more than a day or two, or didn't go away with an airing-out.

That said, is there any possibility that it wasn't vomit but some sort of chemical that they used? I find that some plastics have that weird sour smell to them, especially when they are new.

Fliss

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I've been the person being complained about. I've said before, but I have strong body odour. Bad enough that I have to change my socks and shirts because I can be smelt. Sometimes, I have to change 3 times a day. It gets better. Because I have escalating thyroid disease, I have no control over internal body temperature, so I often wear a fleecy jacket. Naturally I sweat in it. I've purchased new jackets twice in the last year.

What's this got to do with the topic? Because everywhere I've worked, no matter how clean I am or how many showers I have, people have complained about the smell, usually late in the day. And there is no cure, it just has to be managed and controlled. Most bosses have been good about it and understanding that I know about it and do what I can, but I have had one or two that think I'm doing it deliberately.

So I'd suggest speaking to the person involved first, quietly and to one side. There might be nothing that they can do, and if it's after 3pm I wouldn't even bother commenting. But the last thing I'd do is speak to their boss, who may see this as an opportunity to cause problems for the employee.
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cicero

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...   I bet that I'm not the only person who read this who thought of the Seinfield episode with the BO car.

You'd win the bet.  You aren't the only person who had the BO episode come to mind immediately!   :)
me too.

to the OP - yes, you should have mentioned it to the owner because if *it* (whatever the *it* was) happened in your car, chances are you're not the only one and he could be losing business over this. It's possibly something controllable and fixable and it would be a shame if this would cause them to lose business.

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jmarvellous

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Re: Would you go back inside to tell a business owner about an unpleasant odor?
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2014, 11:30:14 AM »

I've been the person being complained about. I've said before, but I have strong body odour. Bad enough that I have to change my socks and shirts because I can be smelt. Sometimes, I have to change 3 times a day. It gets better. Because I have escalating thyroid disease, I have no control over internal body temperature, so I often wear a fleecy jacket. Naturally I sweat in it. I've purchased new jackets twice in the last year.

What's this got to do with the topic? Because everywhere I've worked, no matter how clean I am or how many showers I have, people have complained about the smell, usually late in the day. And there is no cure, it just has to be managed and controlled. Most bosses have been good about it and understanding that I know about it and do what I can, but I have had one or two that think I'm doing it deliberately.

So I'd suggest speaking to the person involved first, quietly and to one side. There might be nothing that they can do, and if it's after 3pm I wouldn't even bother commenting. But the last thing I'd do is speak to their boss, who may see this as an opportunity to cause problems for the employee.

I understand that you have a peculiar problem and are sensitive to the issue,  but vomit and BO are very different smells with very different sources and solutions.

From my own experience, there are cleansers that can suck up or remove most of the odor and all of the evidence,  but the smell might linger. I would, in the OP's shoes, ask them to do something about it. It's lucky that the smell left after just a day!

Trying to pinpoint the employee who might have caused the issue is not the customer's responsibility

jaxsue

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Re: Would you go back inside to tell a business owner about an unpleasant odor?
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2014, 11:33:26 AM »

I've been the person being complained about. I've said before, but I have strong body odour. Bad enough that I have to change my socks and shirts because I can be smelt. Sometimes, I have to change 3 times a day. It gets better. Because I have escalating thyroid disease, I have no control over internal body temperature, so I often wear a fleecy jacket. Naturally I sweat in it. I've purchased new jackets twice in the last year.

What's this got to do with the topic? Because everywhere I've worked, no matter how clean I am or how many showers I have, people have complained about the smell, usually late in the day. And there is no cure, it just has to be managed and controlled. Most bosses have been good about it and understanding that I know about it and do what I can, but I have had one or two that think I'm doing it deliberately.

So I'd suggest speaking to the person involved first, quietly and to one side. There might be nothing that they can do, and if it's after 3pm I wouldn't even bother commenting. But the last thing I'd do is speak to their boss, who may see this as an opportunity to cause problems for the employee.

I understand that you have a peculiar problem and are sensitive to the issue,  but vomit and BO are very different smells with very different sources and solutions.

From my own experience, there are cleansers that can suck up or remove most of the odor and all of the evidence,  but the smell might linger. I would, in the OP's shoes, ask them to do something about it. It's lucky that the smell left after just a day!

Trying to pinpoint the employee who might have caused the issue is not the customer's responsibility

Per the bolded: ITA. I seldom know which employee was in my car. I am waiting in the reception room, so I don't see who goes in and out of my vehicle.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Would you go back inside to tell a business owner about an unpleasant odor?
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2014, 12:08:50 PM »
If the smell was BO, I wouldn't say anything, unless I was the first appointment in the morning.  I can understand working up a sweat as the day goes on and that wouldn't bother me but if it was first thing in the morning, I would be concerned that someone who didn't pay that much attention to him/herself wouldn't be paying that much attention to my car.
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