Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Snake Oil Sales

I was a bit overdue for an oil change, so I drove up to Firestone.  I chose it because, a) it's close to my house and b) I had a gift card for $15 dollars off my next purchase that I recently got in the mail.
Who cares if they're convenient and have a lot of store locations, honestly?
When I walked in, they told me it would take be about 30 minutes to get the oil changed.  That was their first of several lies.

An hour or more later, I went to the counter to check on my Beetle.  I was told  they were working on it, and it wouldn't be long. About 15 minutes after that,  one of the snake oil salesmen, who I'll call Tim, because that's his name and there's no anonymity here today, called me over to discuss the problems with my car.

Tim told me I had an oil leak, but said it's not clear where it's coming from so they'd have to run a diagnostic test that would cost $45.  I asked why I hadn't seen any oil stains where I park and he explained that it was because it's only when my car is running that it leaks.  I said, "Well, it must be a pretty slow leak..." (because I hadn't had the oil changed in about a year).

He then told me that all 4 of my tires were very low on tread, and the back two in particular were dangerously low.  Funny, because one of the tires was bought less than 6 months ago and I put very little mileage on my car.  I told him I'd check with Discount Tire, because that's who I go to for tires.  He said it looked like they were selling me used tires, (they're not) and that Discount Tire buys tires from Firestone, so their prices would be lower (they're not).  I asked him to check the price of the tire for me, and he quoted me $545 for 4 tires, since he had recommended I replace them all. Today. Yay, Tim!

He rattled off a few other problems with my car, but I stopped listening.  I told him I was just getting the oil changed today.  He told me to go sit down and he'd call me back when they were finished.  (Yep, nearly one and a half hours for an oil change and they still weren't quite done.)

When it came time to pay, I presented my credit card, and my $15 gift card.  He told me I couldn't use the gift card because  it had to be for a purchase over $30, before tax, and he said mine was only $29.99.  I sorta rolled my eyes and said, "Really?"  But assuming he knew exactly the rules of the gift card, I believed him and paid.  (Which, by the way, my bill was over $30 dollars, even before tax!)

I went across the street to Discount Tire and they checked my tires, which were all fine.  While they were doing that, I looked again at my rejected gift card.  Nowhere on the card did it say anything about having to spend $30 for it to apply.
This picture has nothing to do with my post today, but I thought I needed to try to keep my rant light, and this picture totally cracks me up every time I see it! 
By the time I left the tire store, smoke was coming out of my ears and I was looking for a fight. Or at least $15 back onto my American Express card.  So I went back to Firestone, and made my demands.  Since there were other customers around, I think the manager just wanted to give me my money and get me out of there.   But before I left,  I also brought up the tire issue.  Tim piped in and said  he was just doing his job to recommend a new tire since it looked like mine would only last another 4 or 5 months.  It went from dangerous to good for another 4 to 5 months so quickly!  And hello?  He quoted me a price for 4 tires anyway-- to replace 3 perfectly good tires, and one decent tire.  Tim, you make my skin crawl.
 
The happy ending I am telling myself is that after I walked out the door, Tim got reamed for being such a bad snake oil salesman.  But the truth is, they probably couldn't care less that they lost one customer today.

But justice was (sort of) served.  I got my $15 dollars back.  And I learned a good lesson about Firestone.

21 comments:

Kim Henkel said...

Hello Kerri
First of all I enjoyed reading your post - I am glad you managed to get some of your money back. YEAH! Also I really enjoyed listening to you sing - very lovely, I am so glad I stopped by. I stopped by because you visited my blog and asked me how I used tea bags in my creations. I added a post to explain it, as it is easier to do with pics. If you have time stop back to have a look. khenkel.blogspot.com

Thanks and keep on telling your great stories, and singing your beautiful songs!

Kim

mindy said...

holy moly! doncha just love men who think women don't know better? geesh!

love your story! i totally remember having this exact thing happen at the firestone in bozeman montana. it must be a common theme...

Jean said...

Aren't you proud that you stood up for yourself? I have a hard time doing that. Good for you!

getting stuff done said...

Hey Kerri. Great post. OOH that sort of thing would make me SO CROSS! Mind you. it also got me thinking how Southern Electric managed to get me to switch to their service yesterday. I hope I haven't been totally conned! Still they promised they would be cheaper and gave me figures. So I can change back. Apparently. but they are such conmen these sales people. they sometimes will just say anything.

shari @ little blue deer said...

Man, what is it with mechanics? That totally sucks, how obnoxious. But yet, unsurprising. I have one guy in town that I trust because I've brought my car to him a couple times and he told me that there was actually nothing wrong with it (hence, he got no money, hence, he must have been honest). But for the most part, this is exactly what I expect from the mechanic industry, to try to rip me off. What a shame!

Nat said...

Great job in using your power. I get my oil changed at a place that only changes oil, all they have managed to sell me are wiper blades, which I will pay top dollar for. Thanks for stopping by my blog. oh and you tell a great story.

Noël said...

Kerri, That is so frustrating! I have only recently found a mechanic that I feel like I can trust... and it was a LONG search. Good for you that you stood up for yourself. Now you can do something fun with the $15! :)

Jadyn said...

Oh wow, good for you for going back! I probably would have talked myself out of doing that. But it makes for such a satisfying end to the story!

getting stuff done said...

ooh and just listened to some of your songs - they are LOVELY!

Valerie said...

Wow. You handled it perfectly!

jasperandblue said...

Good job, you told them. I'm glad you went back. Sometimes in the moment we talk ourselves out of making a scene. You go girl!
Thanks for visiting my blog... I love visitors.

Jo said...

Well done for having the courage to go back and complain. What an imspiration you are! Its so infuriating when some male mechanics treat women so appallingly, endeavouring to belittle, intimidate and deceive us with their seeming 'superior' knowledge. A pity for the company too... you went there in all good faith, encouraged by a 'special offer', but because of the misguided antics of one of their employees they have now lost a customer.
Thankyou for sharing, Kerri
Hugs :0)

Mar said...

and i thought i was the only one who got the 'tims' salespitch..mmph
on to brighter moments

thanks for cruising by my blog!
and participating in my question...i appreciate all the helpful guidance i received!

no racing around on those 'bald tires' now..until you 'let' ol timmy put some news ones on
LOL
i KNOW you made another appointment...

Heartfire At Home said...

Hi Kerri, thanks so much for stopping by my blog and entering the giveaway! What a yuck experience, but SO great you stood up for yourself (something I have to get heaps better at). I think some of those guys think that just because we're women they can pull the wool over our eyes where car stuff is concerned. Bleh.

Linda. :)

Nikki said...

I was about to tell you to report them to your state attorney general, but then you went back and got your money. Good job! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm looking forward to listening to more of your music - I like what I'm hearing so far!

Suzi @ u2rblessed said...

Although it is a little more expensive, I now just take my car to the dealership for oil changes. They don't try to up sell me for other services and they wash my car for free. Nothing is worst than a slimy sales person!!!

Kerri said...

wow, ladies! i love how so many of you piped in here to support me on this!! thank u so much everybody! :)

Gina Lento said...

Kerri, why is it that mechanics think that women are idiots when it comes to cars? Remember 'My cousin Vinny?"

Good job kicking butt.

Gina

John said...

I would like to share a tip I just found about a discount gift card exchange called abcgiftcards.com . You can buy sell and trade gift cards at discounted prices from all National retailers.

Kerri said...

so good to know! thank u john-
AND i am so glad to get a comment from a man on this one. ;)

Kelly Warren said...

love this post. i've had many a rant like this! stuff like this happens to me every time i got to a certain texaco express lube. i try not to go there anymore. love that funny picture too. thanks for popping in to my blog!