Saturday, October 24, 2015

What Discount Tire and Barack Obama have in common.

Our family has been loyal customers of Discount Tires for several decades. I took a break from buying tires at DT during my Kansas City ad agency years in which we had Tire America and National Tire Warehouse as clients, as well as Western Auto and Sears Automotive.  I also worked on the campaign that merged Tire America and National Tire Warehouse into NTB--National Tire & Battery.

I know how do-it-for-me shops operate and I know how tire shops operate.

Discount Tire no longer operates like a tire shop. It now operates like a government co-op healthcare plan. You are promised one thing, you pay for it, then when you need it, it's explained to you that the co-op changed and now, here are the NEW rules.

You can go all the way to the top and get zilch for satisfaction. After all, Obama is the top asshat in the circus that is national healthcare.

For the same nonsense in dealing with Discount Tire, you can go all the way to to the top, which is corporate headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, and get exactly the same satisfaction and change you would when dealing with Obama.


And then there is the quality of service. . .

More zilch.

For the record, we buy Michelin tires for our vehicles. 80,000 mile Michelins. Lots and lots of Michelins. We'll scrimp on some things, but for the automobiles, we do not scrimp on tires and brakes. Ever. And for decades, we've been buying Michelin tires from Discount Tires. With the purchase comes lifetime rotation and balancing. And a warranty, of which we've never needed.

Until today.

Several days ago, my wife took her Avalon in for the annual tire rotation and balancing. We'd been experiencing a slow leak on the driver's side front tire. Not too bad, but once every five to six days, we needed to put several pounds of air in.

Both Toyota and Michelin's corporate offices recommend 32 pounds PSI for the front tires (front-wheel drive car, plus carrying the load/weight of the engine), and 31 pounds PSI for the rear. That is what we keep the pressure at. I have a rather large air compressor in my workshop and have run an air line into our garage, complete with a 50' hose reel and an air chuck so as to make it easier to keep all our tires properly inflated.

Wife comes home with freshly rotated tires. With radials, you rotate front to back and never side to side. That was with the old bias-ply tires. Radials--front to back, back to front, on the same side of the car.

The next morning, we woke up to a completely flat tire on the front PASSENGER side. The slow leak tire was on the DRIVER'S side, ostensibly now at the rear if it had been rotated properly.

I jack the car up and inflate the tire, then get to looking at the rear passenger side tire. It looked almost flat as well. Tire gauge showed it to have 14 pounds PSI. 14 pounds! Less than half of what is called for. For the record, it had 32 PSI when it went to Discount Tire. So why did they deflate it? I suspect they also deflated the front passenger side tire as well.

The driver's side tires. . . front had 44 pounds PSI and the rear had 48 pounds PSI. Again, they had 32 PSI and 31 PSI when my wife took the car in for rotation. A quick call to the Discount Tire yielded no answer.

So I fired off one helluva complaint to the Regional Office in Dallas. One week later, crickets.

Today, the same tire (front passenger) went flat again. I changed it, put on the spare and my wife headed to Discount Tire to ask some tough questions. They told her that we had put Fix-A-Flat in the tire and that it had hardened all over the inside of the tire, wheel and rim and could not form a good seal.

For the record, in all of my almost 55 years of existence on this planet, I have never used a single can of Fix-A-Flat. Ever.  I have used the green slime stuff on riding lawnmower and garden tractor tires as well as one of the tires on my big Troy-Bilt Horse Tiller. It works pretty well, by the way, but it doesn't leave this hardened gunk the way Discount Tire claims was on the wheel of the ruined tire.

Secondly, when the tire first went flat, I found a bunch of gray grease had oozed out. It was not hardened whatsoever and better yet, it hadn't even been in there long enough to begin collecting any rubber residue from the inside of the tire nor on the rim long enough to even collect road grime. Only place this stuff could've come from was Discount Tire.

My wife flat out told the DT guy that we didn't use Fix-A-Flat on the quality and grade of tires we buy--if they can't be repaired by the tire shop, we replace them with new ones, two at a time and that our by-God service records of almost three decades will prove it over and over.

So she ends up getting two new Michelin tires installed for the pro-rata warranty price. But since this problem originated over a simple rotation and balance on a FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE car, the geniuses at Discount Tire install the new tires on the REAR and rotate the old tires back up to the front--where they were just several days ago!

So much for getting your tires rotated.

And. . . hold on to your hats, when we checked the tire pressure on all four tires? Well over-inflated again.

Yet the more you try to talk to these "sales reps" and what passes for management at Discount Tire, the more they simply nod or smirk or smile or sneer and not a damn thing gets done. When you offer to call Corporate, they smile even bigger--they smile because they know the asshats in Scottsdale aren't going to do a damn thing.

Don't believe me. Check out the Consumer Affairs complains. People from all over the United States are telling basically the same stories about non-rotated tires, over-inflated or under-inflated and other instances dealing with outright dishonesty that appears suspiciously to be corporate directive driven.

In a plethora of different online consumer reporting services, the complaints about Discount Tire share some frightening and dangerous similarities:

1. Over/under-inflating tires. The end-all, be-all for tires is inflation. How can a TIRE COMPANY screw that up in so many instances in so many different locales? Most consumers pay little to no attention to tire pressure, so by over/under-inflating tires, exaggerated premature wear occurs and DT has the opportunity to sell more tires to prematurely returning customers.

However, it's also dangerous as hell.

2. Not rotating tires when they say they do. Pretty self-explanatory.

3. Moving tires eligible for redemption of warranty (read: having to replace the tire) because of road hazard causes to the opposite side of the car and claiming that the "affected tire" has nothing wrong with it. That qualifies as outright fraud.

4. While not illegal whatsoever, Discount Tire's "appointment process" is as useless as Obama's ACA enrollment websites were upon launching. Just as with the contempt and disregard POTUS shows the citizenry, likewise Discount Tires shows the same contempt to its customers.

So to Obama and the Obamacare elected officials: We can vote your ass out of office, and we've began doing just that.

To Discount Tire, we consumers have a vote and it's with our pockeboots and likewise, we can vote your ass right out of business.

Our family is doing both.


Anonymous said...

Never was it a good idea to ignore the customers. Especially in this day of social media how could a national business think they can ignore their customers?

I imagine DT just got about $80,000 worth of ill will from your blog.

I say well done to you because I am a firm believer that customers should publicly complain when the complaint is justified.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting us know about discount tires. It's always good to know who to stay away from.
deb k

Old NFO said...

I didn't know about the issues with DT, but they're off my list now. Concur on the Michelins, and I normally patronize the local folks rather than the chains...

Knucklehead said...

Been happy with many sets of Michelins from Costco.