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Customer Service Kerfuffle

Kerfuffle is a word (I promise!) and a fun one to say at that. I’m trying to bring it back into everyday conversation.. but that’s neither here nor there. After the mess I went through last week with my car, ‘kerfuffle’ seemed like the appropriate choice!

Let me lay the background (trust me, it adds to the dramatic flair of the craziness!) Back in November of 2008, I sold my Jetta and bought my IS 250 from a family friend, Amy. Buying my first car, it was a big day for me! Here she is on the day I bought her::

Lexus - Side

Then last August (August of 2010) she had a rough day… her battery died when I stopped to get gas on my way to work. After spending a few harrowing moments with a stranger going to Home Depot for jumper cables, I took her into Sears to get the battery replaced. While she was there, the sales guy said I was dire need of new tires. He said he couldn’t “in good conscience” let me drive off the premises in the tires I had on the car because they were so bald and worn thin. I had been saving up to replace them, but at the time I was about a month away from actually wanting to pull the trigger on that. But if the tires were that bad and it needed to be done that day ok fine. No reason to knowingly endanger myself, right? …. $1,100 and 4 Goodyear Eagle GT tires and a battery later I was safely on my way.

Or so I thought.

Fast forward to last week… 13 months after the new tires were purchased… She spent last Monday and Tuesday at the Lexus dealership getting one of her windows replaced after she got broken into the previous Thursday night. (And yes, my car is a ‘she’, she’s pretty Smile!! Jenna went so far as to name her Belle, to which I agree with!) While at the dealer, they noticed the inspection was out and offered to get that taken care of. Score!

I get a phone call later that afternoon telling me that my car won’t pass state inspection because the back two tires don’t have enough tread on them. The dealer asked if I wanted to replace the tires and quoted me on two new Eagle GT tires… What? I barely put 15,000 miles on the car, how on Earth did I burn through a pair of tires so quickly?! I told them no, I just replaced the tires, and I was going to take it back to Sears to find out what was going on. I collected my car Tuesday after work and went on my merry way.

Wednesday morning while driving to work, my rear driver-side tire blew out. I was able to safely pull off the highway and into a loading dock (thank goodness!) While waiting for my dad to come help me change the tire I snapped a few pictures…

       P9250013   P9250014

(Side note- Yes I do know how to change a tire, but not having changed a tire on this car I wasn’t sure where to put the jack and it made me nervous. In the past I’d also had some problems torqueing the lug nuts tight enough. Luckily my parents live less than 10 minutes from where I was, so no big deal!)

From the front side they didn’t look too bad, although I knew they were most definitely toast at that point. The inside of the tire was completely shredded though!! Bad news bears. Dad got there, we put the donut spare tire on the car, and I was on my way. I headed to Sears after work, showed them the flat and started asking about the warranty on the tires. The sales guy says he can give me $50 off the damaged tire, but that’s it. He also tells me the other rear tire is about to go and should be replaced also. I tell him I just replaced them a year ago and he says I must not have kept my car “balanced” and they wore through. Then came the kicker…. he asks me whether I want to order 2 Eagle GT tires or 2 Dunlops… I looked at him like he’s an alien. What Dunlops?! He pointed out my rear tires were Dunlops. I told him I purchased Eagle GTs. We go check the system and sure enough, plain as day, the receipt says Eagle GTs and the tires on the car are Dunlops. He asks if the car has been into the dealership lately, I say it has, and he tells me it’s common mistake for the wrong tires to end up on a car after it’s been worked on. …ok… I head back to the dealer. This is still Wednesday night.

I pull in, explain what’s happened, and that I’m trying to figure out what happened to the two tires I’d bought. They’re at a loss and after about an hour of looking through their system they send me home with a loaner car and tell me they’re going to figure it out the next day. On Thursday they call and tell me they pulled the DOT numbers off of both rear tires as well as all my old service records. It seems in April of 2008 Amy had had the rear passenger tire replaced. Other than that, there had never been any kind of tire service performed on my car. The DOT numbers (essentially a manufacturing month and year of the tire itself) were what sealed Sears’ fate. The tire that blew had a DOT number consistent with what would have been on the car when Amy bought it originally. The other rear tire had a DOT number exactly two years younger than the other tire. It was the tire they replaced for Amy. Sears never gave me the two rear tires I’d bought and paid for the year before.

I head back to Sears. It’s about 6:30 pm on Thursday night. Of course, when I get there the manager isn’t there so there’s no one that can do anything about my problem. All this time, I’m still driving on the donut spare tire and I’m starting to get concerned about the safety of that. I’m told the manager will be in the office at 8:00 am the next morning. Fine. I’ll be back then.

I get there Friday morning with all my paperwork. I show them the flat, the other rear tire, and the receipt that shows I paid for 4 Eagle GT tires. The manager walks around my car, measures the tread depth on all four tires and appears to jot down a bunch of notes. After making me wait about 10-15 minutes he reappears and says, “Ordinarily after a year and a half you’d have to file a loss claims report with Sears corporate, but it just so happens that we have 2 Eagle GT tires in stock, and I’m going to take your word that no one else has serviced your tires. We’ll get the new tires on the car and you should be out of here in the next 30-45 minutes.” His tone of voice was one that he was going through a lot of work to pull this off for me. Uhuh. Yeah. Lay it on thick. You all screwed up!

While I waited I noticed this….


Clearly… this is wrong. As they charged me for two tires I never got.

Yes, it all worked out. Yes, I ended up not having to pay for new tires.. I’d bought them last year! But how do you do that?? Luckily it all ended ok and the worst part of all of this was inconvenience. Luckily no one (myself included) got hurt in the thirteen months I was driving around on “unsafe” tires. What. A. Mess. … or rather, a kerfuffle. Lessons learned: I’ll always double check others’ work and I’ll never go back to Sears.

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