Miss Manners: I hate it when the mechanic changes my car settings

Dear Miss Manners: It happened AGAIN last week for the umpteenth time: I took my car in for a service at the dealership, which prides itself on customer service. I waited in the very comfortable lounge while the work was completed, paid the bill, walked out and got into a sparkling clean car that had just been washed as part of the service.

I had walked less than a block when I realized the seat was out of adjustment. At the first turn, I looked in the outside mirror, only to find that the mirror had been knocked out of its mount and was giving me a view of the blue sky.

When I glanced at the dash to see how much gas I had left, the display had changed from “fuel range” to “odometer.” Most frustrating of all was that the radio, which I had left on a classic station, was now playing hard rock.

This is MY car and MY personal space. I share a house with others; I share a workspace with others; when I go to the cinema, I share that space with others (and sometimes they are very rude). My car is my personal sanctuary.

This almost always happens every time I take my car for any type of service, whether it’s at the dealership, a service garage, or even a car wash. It makes me feel the same as when I came home to find a home invasion in progress. These people are violating my space, and I blame myself.

It should be possible for a mechanic to test drive the car around the block without changing all the settings to suit their needs, as they will be behind the wheel for less than 10 minutes. If they want to listen to the radio while they are working, I have no problem with that, as long as it is sent back to the original station before it is sent back to me.

If I’m not completely off the mark, how can I approach this in a civil and respectable way?

One is always free talk to management, a principle defended by Miss Manners even if the explosion of online customer reviews has tested its limits.

As this dealership prides itself on their customer service, point out that you wouldn’t be the only one who noticed, with gratitude, if they made sure to put the car’s settings back as they found them, so that no other service center does.

Dear Miss Manners: Please tell me the right way to get noticed when standing at the counter of an office, waiting for service. I don’t want to be rude and clear my throat or wait 15-20 minutes while the staff visit.

The way to get noticed is by being in motion: Look around, lean over the counter to see if you’ve missed anything, walk to one side and then the other.

Miss Manners advises doing it politely, with the most innocent and curious expression – not rudely, with stomping, gruntling and constant checking of your watch.

New Miss Manners columns are published Monday to Saturday at washingtonpost.com/board. You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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