August 28, 2007

What Would You Do?

Read this when you have a few minutes.
I've spent the better part of the last two days at the car shop getting routine work done, and getting the run-around worse than a shark chasing a dolphin!
Monday I stopped Firestone for an oil change. (161/Sunbury Road) Also, I asked them to check on a rubbing sound coming from the back drivers-side tire, and a rattle sound coming from under the car. And to rotate the tires. I also brought my lunch to eat while I waited.
After 45 minutes, they said I needed an air filter (what's new?). I asked about the rattle and rubbing sound. "Oh yes, we still have to check that out." I also asked them to look in their computer and tell me when the last time they put an air filter on the car. (Jim always says "no".) According to their files, we haven't ever had a new air filter so I said ok to the $35 additional cost on that.
Another half-hour later, he says it will cost $24 to rotate the tires because they are not Firestone tires. (Hey, Floyd, we listened to your advice.) The new price tag is $76 dollars for oil change, filter and tire rotation! I order them to delete the tire rotation, and I call Jim to ask where he got the tires. "Sears".
They finally get started on the oil change and 45-minutes later he says the car is done, but they inform me that the brake pads are 95% gone and we could use rotors too since we need brake pads. That will be $325 for both.
"So, what was the rattle and rub?" I ask.
"Oh, he didn't check that. Let me tell him to do that."
30-minutes later he says the rub is from bad tires and we need new tires and they are having real good sale on tires this weekend.."See the big signs outside?"
By now it's been so long that I'm hungry again! I tell them we'll think about the pads and the tires. I pay $69.40 (for the oil change and air filter) and hurry out before rush-hour traffic stalls my trip home.
Later that night, Jim asks what they found about the rattle.
Today (Tuesday), I take the car to Sears - early - so I don't waste the whole day again. By 11 a.m., I'm telling the man at Sears that we want the tires rotated (free) and that we need brake pads, possibly two new tires and to check the rattle. He says it will be about an hour before they can get started, but (thank-goodness) I'm near Polaris Mall!
Of course, I can't spend much money shopping because it's going to cost at least $400 to fix the car! (The shopping experience is another story I'm going to tell you about later.)
Anyway, an hour later "Dave" calls to tell me the good news and bad news. #1, we don't need brake pads! #2, we don't need tires. #3 the rattle is a broken spray can.
The "spray can" would cost about #120 to repair, but they had to order the part so it might be about an hour before they got the part.
Great! We don't need pads or tires. I can do a little shopping for my birthday!!!!!
SIX (6) hours later, the car is ready. Yep it's 4 p.m. and I'm really going to be in rush hour traffic from start to finish. We didn't need tires or pads, but I still paid them $121.44. (That included $15 to check the brakes which didn't need any work, and they were rotating the tires anyway!)
Driving home (with plenty of time to think) I said to myself, "Hey, something is wrong with this picture! If Firestone said the brake pads were 95% gone yesterday, what happened overnight?"
On a whim, (as I am prone to do), I drove to Firestone and said (in a slightly louder voice than is normal for me). "Is the manager here?" When the response was "No." I said, "Should we go into the office because I have a complaint with Firestone." I had the immediate attention of every 'manager' who 'wasn't on duty', and customers too.
I reminded them that I was in yesterday. ("I was the lady who ate my lunch right over at that table.") They remembered me. I told them what they said, and what Sears said. I added, "I know you don't care that we will never come back here, but you might want to know that we are going to report Firestone for this false report."
While several employees slunk away, one did not. Jason came over started pulling the piles of paperwork from under the counter. He found ours from yesterday and became genuinely concerned. He asked if I would mind if he took a look at the brake pads. "Someone is wrong and I hope no one here would say you needed work that you don't need."
I gave him the car keys and pulled out my cell phone to call Jim to let him know I was going to be late. Later, Jason took me to the work area and helped me stand on a tire as he pointed out the almost nil brake pads and gave me a "Brake Pads for Dummies" lesson. He said the pads are at least 95% gone, and they do need to be replaced. Also, rotors while we're at it.
He apologized for the "miscommunication" about the "rattle complaint" and not finding the broken Sway Bar. (Sounds like "spray bottle", doesn't it?)
I have to say that Jason was very nice about it. But, I told him that "fair was fair" and I needed to go back and talk to Sears before I did anything more.
After supper, I called "Dave" at Sears. "Remember me? You worked on my car for 5 hours today". He said he did remember me but if there were any problems he wasn't "the one who worked on the car...."
I told him about the two different reports, and I asked why they would put my car back on the road in an unsafe condition. That got his attention. I heard papers rattling and then he asked if he could put me on hold. Then I heard a 'click' and, a few seconds later, the dial tone and famous operator saying, "If you'd like to make a call, please hang up..." (Honest! I'm not making this up.)
I called Sears right back and another guy answered. I asked for Dave who took a pretty long time to pick up the phone. He stuttered and made excuses and got to talking louder and louder while I just listened. Finally, he said if I could possibly come in tomorrow afternoon the assistant manager, Don, would be in and he would "make it right if they made a mistake".
So, (if you're still reading this). What would you do? Would you go back to Sears where "they will make it right"? Or, go back to Firestone, where at this moment I have slightly more confidence in Jason. But, very little confidence in either one!
In the meantime, after they told me we didn't need all that work done, I splurged on some birthday presents "from Sheba" of course.

Comments below..

Take Care on the Journey,


Juanita said...

What did you end up doing? After reading your story twice I still was not sure what I would do?! I hate car repairs! And they always try to rip off women in those places!!!! I can not for the life of me figure out why Sears would not have replaced the brake pads if they were bad (did they even look at them?!?!) It would have been more money for them.
I probably would have compared who was going to “make it up to me” by charging me the least amount of money, or sent my husband in who would have ripped them a new one!

Clay Feet said...

I have serious doubts about both places. If Firestone takes all day to accomplish nearly nothing they have a real personnel problem. If Sears is obviously covering up a misdiagnosis and even charging you for it I would ask for a refund and then start asking every one you know who they would recommend as an honest mechanic. I know that is almost an oxymoron, but I recently was referred to just such a person in Michigan which I have since given a great deal of business to and recommended to anyone around here. He also charges about half of what most other mechanics are charging.
It is very hard to find an honest, open, trustworthy mechanic shop, but the best way is to ask a lot of people. They are more likely to give you unbiased opinions and sooner or later you might run into someone who will put you onto what you are looking for.