Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


The Miracle on Fenton Street

Whenever I have to deal with getting my car repaired, I feel like I'm wearing a T-shirt that says:

"Hi!  I'm Pat, and today I'm a license to print money!"

When I got back from Hawaii, my trusty old Lexus would not turn over.  So it was AAA to the rescue.  My battery was not just in a coma.  After eight years of excellent health, it died during the December blizzard.  When the AAA guy put in the new one, he ran a diagnotic test to make sure it was working properly, and it showed my might have an issue with the alternator.

The car has been running well, but AAA guy promised me that it would only do so for a short period of time before conking out on me again.  So today, I decided that rather than push my luck, I'd get it checked out.

As the warranty just ran out, I called my old friends at Murray's Auto Clinic in Silver Spring.   They'd worked on my old cars and were terrific - they never took advantage of the many opportunities they had to cheat me.  But they were fully booked until Friday.  When I asked if they could suggest anyone else, the guy told me that Fenton Citgo (8333 Fenton St in Silver Spring, MD) was the only place anywhere near as good as they were.

So I called.

The mechanic spoke to me and asked a few key questions.  Is the battery light on?  Are any other lights on?  How did AAA guy check it out?  And he took pity on me, saying to come by in half an hour and he'd look at it.

He ran the same diagnostic test that AAA guy did, and the car seemed to be doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing.  He did his incantations and all and then said he detected no alternator issues at all.  He suggested that the AAA guy installed the battery properly, it looked perfect, and that AAA's tester might have been off. 

Now, here's the good part.  As he prepared to send me on my way, I asked him how much I owned him.  And he didn't want to charge me!  I had to force a $20 bill into his hands!

So here is one local business that has one loyal new customer!  Like the mechanic who recommended Fenton Citgo, they passed on an opportunity to make money on this silly woman who knows zilch about her car.  And the guy was totally honest with me.

What a great example for all small business people!

Comment balloon 29 commentsPatricia Kennedy • January 19 2010 07:28PM


AR needs a like button. That was my first instinct.

Posted by Julia Odom, Chattanooga Homes for Sale (Select Realty Professionals) almost 11 years ago

WOW good to know in this economy somebody still know what customer service is. I will keep their information for future reference.

Posted by Ritu Desai, Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949 (Samson Properties) almost 11 years ago

Pat, my mechanic is like that. They are few and far between I am thinking! I had a mechanic for years and years, he was wonderful. Never took advantage, and I have the funniest story, which you just reminded me is a good blog... but I digress. He sold his business. I was mechanic-less for months. I felt like I had been through a divorce. I saw him at the store and he told me where to go, and I followed his advice. Great place, and now.... he works there! Life is really great.

Congratulations on finding a good mechanic. Hold on to the guy!

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) almost 11 years ago

But if your car konks out on you, you're not going to be a hampy capper (Happy camper).

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 11 years ago

Isn't it nice when you find these honest people. And it makes perfect business sense for them.  You will be back to them and, look your recommended them.  You should write a recommendation for both of them on Yelp!.

Posted by Jane Peters, Los Angeles real estate concierge services (Home Jane Realty) almost 11 years ago

Patricia - It's refreshing to know there are mechanics out there like Fenton Citgo.

Posted by Michelle Gibson, REALTOR (Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. ) almost 11 years ago

There are still great honest people in this world.  Glad to see you found a great business.

Posted by Kay Van Kampen, Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate (RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX) almost 11 years ago


Great post about an honest, local business.


Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 11 years ago

Pat - I lived in that area a long time ago. The people are just fantastic...unless you weren't a Redskins fan. If you were a Philly fan back then...get your mamma to push the car.....

Maybe times change. Cheers to a bad car day

Posted by Claude Cross, Charlotte NC Homes For Sale (Homes By Cross, Inc. ) almost 11 years ago

What a great story!  I've had some good luck with car repairman as well and it's always nice to hear a good story!  Thanks for sharing it!!  And I'm so glad that it turned out well!  

Posted by Susan Mangigian, Chester & Delaware County Homes, Delaware and Ches (RE/MAX Preferred, West Chester, PA, RS152252A) almost 11 years ago

Pat..That is a wonderful story about good people in the community...thanks for sharing..:0)


Posted by Hannah Williams, Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376 (Re/Max Eastern inc.) almost 11 years ago

Pat - good to know there are stiull some folks who understand customer service and loyalty...and who are not out to gouge the consumer. That would earn my repeat business in a heart beat, adn I would be sure to tell others.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Hi Pat... I love stories like this.  I have no doubt that even if he had not taken the $20, you would have found a way to pay him back in future business and recommendations.

I one time had clients (a married couple) who I had under contract to buy a new home and sell their existing home.  After the contract was written, but before it closed, they decided to get divorced.  I had to get them out of both contracts and lost 2 commissions in the process.  They offered to pay me, but in the face of their life changing decision and it impact on their lives I refused any compensation.  The relationship that was formed has subsequently led to my most loyal client, a good friend and 2 subsequent sales, going on 3.  I do believe in karma!

Posted by Steve Shatsky almost 11 years ago

So nice to see a business that gets customer service. We all need to spread the good word about good companies.

Posted by Terry & Bonnie Westbrook, Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re (Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner) almost 11 years ago

Hi Pat, If I ever have car trouble when I am in Silver Spring, I know where to go!  Gret example on how to build customer loyalty! ~jen

Posted by Jen Anderson (Exit By the Bay Realty) almost 11 years ago

Pat, if only that guy was closer!  What a find...isn't it terrible when we get so excited because we found an honest business operator?

Posted by Laura Giannotta, Your Realtor Down the Shore! (Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore ) almost 11 years ago

Darn wish they weren't so far away from my side of town.  Congratulations to both businesses.  The first one for giving you a recommendation to a competitor and the second one for being honest.  A rare combination.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) almost 11 years ago

Patricia, I have a client that looks my car over before I get repairs. He keeps me out of trouble and sometimes fixes my car for free. I also force some money on him but what a relief to have someone help me figure out what I've got to deal with. I've been taken to the cleaners before. So glad this worked out for you. It makes one feel good when we find people that have the same values we have in our work!

Posted by Jeanean Gendron, Specializing in Selling Unique Properties (The Address Realty) almost 11 years ago


I am wondering if Fenton Citgo has thought of opening a sister shop in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. It's great that there are such amazing people out there that will help someone and it is not all about a buck. These guys should be on the front page of US today.

Posted by Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459, Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD! (Coldwell Banker) almost 11 years ago

Pat, Don't you wish ALL businesses were that way?  I had AAA here too not long ago and my battery was less then 3 years old.  He told me I needed a new one (which he had with him) and I purchased it.  Now I'm wondering.........

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) almost 11 years ago

Pat:  Good and honest mechanics are hard to come by.  It's always a nice feeling when you find someone you can trust.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) almost 11 years ago

Now THAT is awesome to hear, Pat!  I have some great mechanics here that I trust completely and they sound a lit like your friends at Muray's Auto Clinic.  Isn't it great to have a trusted mechanic?  As for the recommended guy - he was super too!  Bet you'll never forget him!

Posted by Leesa Finley, RED Properties - Raleigh NC Real Estate (RED Properties) almost 11 years ago


Depending on how it turns out, I may be writing the opposite story about a local dealership and what seems to be really unethical practices.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Pat- I was waiting for the punch line- glad it worked out. Did you wrap that $20 around your business card?

Posted by Ellie McIntire, Luxury service in Central Maryland (Ellicott City Clarksville Howard County Maryland Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

So great to know there are still honest and more than fair mechanics out there.  I have a favorite place too for tires and brakes. They never steer me wrong and often don't charge for little services. It's no wonder they have just a HUGE loyal client base. I recommend them all the time. Now if we could just get all businesses to operate the same, they wouldn't have any issues in retaining business or acquring new business.

Posted by Michele Reneau, Realtor, GRI ~ Charleston, SC Relocation Experts Team (Certified Staging Professional (CSP) Elite Instructor) almost 11 years ago

Pat - it is always nice to know that places like this still exist!!! What a wonderful post!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) almost 11 years ago

Pat, a trustworthy car mechanic is almost as valuable as a trustworthy real estate agent.

Posted by Bill Carroll, IN REAL ESTATE, REPRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING (Corcoran Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

I sincerely think it's YOU!  You attract what you are.  It's about carrying yourself with high expectations... it happens with me ALL the time!  I'm amazed.... We are blessed!  Enjoyed your story very much... i know there will be more.

Posted by Diane Rice, SFR, SRES, CNC ( Rice Prprty Mgmnt & Rlty, LLC, South Holland, IL) almost 11 years ago

...and by doing the right thing he got a plug on your blog and future customers.  

Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) almost 11 years ago