Thursday, January 10, 2008

OT: Discount Tire & Customer Service Or Lack ThereOf

Sorry for going OT here but I needed to vent some.

The other day I went to have my tires rotated & balanced at the local Discount Tire store. Typical time for this is 45 minutes, no biggie, me and wife went to Wal-mart.

I’ve gone to this Discount Tire store plenty of times, outcome hasn't always been as good as I’d have liked, but this does not surprise me. Could be the combo of my wheels and tires, I don't know.

Having previously been in the tire biz for a few years, I've heard my share of Discount Tire stories. Also had many a customer come to the shop I worked at to ‘re-do’ what they had done.

Anyway, I get the car back, start driving home and almost immediately I'm getting steering wheel vibes at about 45-50 mph. Then body vibes as well. The first thing anyone in the tire sales biz asks, if a customer complains about any vibration is;"Does the steering steering wheel shake or do you feel it in the seat of the pants”. Steering wheel generally means front tire out of whack, balance or bent. Seat of pants means it’s a rear while\tire problem.

So having no time to turn around I called the following day about 11:55 to tell them of the problem. The guy says no problem, we'll have you out in 45 minutes. I'm like, umm….no....I need to be taken care of sooner rather than just fitting into the regular rotation of other customers. I’m a returning customer of a complaint of about a job perhaps done incorrectly.

When I ran my own biz and worked in the tire shop, whenever someone came in to complain or to have something looked at which was done wrong previous, he got pushed to the head of the line, no matter what. Customer service is many things, one of those things is perception. If a customer thinks he being treated in what he thinks is quickly and fairly, even tho that may not exactly be the case, that's really an impression worth making.

So he says out the door maybe 30. I'm fine with that. At least I got the impression he was gonna try. And I know how busy those guys can be on any given hour.

I show up @ 12:33 or so. I pay attention cuz I hate being later than I say. By the time I get to the counter it’s another couple minutes as I'm 3rd in line. I explain my story, he’s very congenial we joke about the vibrations, me saying if I was a woman I may not mind it too much, wife smacks me, we continue. He says 45 minutes I say that’s not good enough. No I didn't mention that the other guy said 30 minutes. He says under 45. I accept that.

He writes me up, slips the ticket into a plastic sleeved jacket, which I notice is the only one in this type of packet. I can only surmise this means 'rush' or similar and then he slides said jacket into a box with slots in it. Obviously, the techs grab their next work slips here. I look at my watch, 12:45. (I come to find out later the ticket says 12:39) more on this below.

I look in the bay and I see 3 empty bays out of about 7. I'm thinking, if these guys are on the ball, my car gets in next. Even if they don't begin working on it right away, at least it shows an effort to start it.

Overall activity is very relaxed, several of the techs are moving at what I’d consider fuckin’ off speed. Almost like the manager was gone or something. Ok, I give em a while.Those bays over the next 10 minutes (I check time) get filled with cars. Two of which got checked in after me, one perhaps lady before me. Now I'm beginning to wonder if I'm gonna get out in the time period the guy said, cuz I know it takes at least 20 minutes to get a car redone. Minimal.

Mind you, if it’s just a re-balance then it’s easy. But if there is something else, then we're looking at more time and I'm fully aware that any time frame previously given is out the window. At that point if it is something that requires more time I can then decide if I have the time to fix it. After all, I drove the car in, I could drive it out if time was a factor.

By 1:05 my car is still outside and I'm not seeing any flurry of activity or the like. Now there are still 3 empty bays mind you. I'm beginning to get annoyed because I know I'm not gonna get my car in the time they said.

By 1:10 as I see that another car has been pulled in and no one has even picked up my ticket, I go and ask for the keys. I tell the guy “Hey, it’s not getting done, I’ve wasted 35 minutes of my day and not gotten this fixed in the time you said”. The guy of course says your car is next car up. I explain that it isn't in the time I was promised and other cars have been brought into the bays which were written up after me and they’re being worked on. Where is the priority for a customer with a complaint?

I start to leave, decide to talk to a manager. I ask the tech and he says “Well, we're all managers”, but then calls in another tech. I explain that I was told I’d get the car in and out in 45 minutes or less. This is obviously not gonna happen. The guy proceeds to tell me that they can get cars in an out on an average of 11-13 minutes, I say “So what”. I explain about other cars written up after me that were brought and were being worked on. He continues to say that they can get the car done. I try to explain that I should have gotten priority over anyone that was before me as I was a customer who was having to return to have something they did incorrectly remedied. He counters with stats about the 175 cars a day they do there, once again, I say “So what”.

He tries to explain that if I didn't continue to yak or try to walk out the car could be done, by now it’s already 1:15-18. There’s no way it gets done in their 11-13 minute window and keep within that 45 minutes or under time table I was promised. Mind you I'm going off of my time of 12:45, not the ticket time of 12:39. That’s totally blown. This of course excludes any time for the 'unforeseeable'. And by now the guy brings up the 'unforeseeable' and I say, “I understand that, I'm talking about the time it took to just get my car in the bay”. Again I point out that other cars got in before me that were written up after mine and being worked on, he again begins to explains that if we stop yammering (my words, not his) the car can get done. I guess he thought time stopped and he could still somehow get the car done.I say “No thanks, I want a phone number where I can call to complain”. Then he says “…that would be a waste of time...yada-yada-yada-…” more about gettin the car in instead of complaining. He still don’t get it.

As I'm walking out the door he’s saying “Sir come back!”, and I'm like no fuckin way, you'll never see me here again.

All they had to do was give me the impression that I was a priority as I should have been. Even if it took longer than I had been told, had I at least FELT like I was gettin some sort of preferential treatment I’d have been annoyed but not nearly as pissed off as I was.

Needless to say ill never buy another set of tires from Discount Tires again.

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