April 13, 2018

Not the only game in town

Over the last few months my pet’s vehicles have undergone a series of problems, and try as we might, we have had only a moderate amount of success in correcting them. Recently, I was again reminded that when you think you have but one option in terms of vehicle repair, it’s not always the best choice.

I will warn those reading though, that I’m in NO way faulting my girl for how she reacted, what she did previous to Wednesday’s escapades. She did what she did because if she did it a different way, she had a pretty good idea what would happen.  Involving me tends to mean a different thing instead of handling it on her own.  It’s just the way I am.

I might as well come right out and say it.  I’m no fan of Wal-Mart.  I honestly believe the company as it was in the beginning, (when Sam Walton was alive) wasn’t out to be the biggest conglomerate in the world.  Or the worst corporative neighbor you could expect to have.  It just ended up that way.  Considering their corporate narrative, they want to eliminate all competition in any area they operate in.  Being the only game in town doesn’t always help your customers.  Especially when you offer shoddy service and products as their only option.

Case in point:  This past Wednesday my girl informed me that she’s been having problems with her primary vehicle.  The front end had been wobbling and she wasn’t sure that one of the front tires might not fall off.  While this is distressing to hear in and of itself, I was aware that less than a month ago, she’d had the vehicle serviced at the local Wal-Mart Auto Center.  And they managed to screw it up.  So she went back.  And supposedly they fixed the problem. Except they didn’t.  They actually made it worse.  Now I’m 6 hours away by car, so there’s no way I can look at the vehicle myself, I have to rely on her to take it somewhere else to be looked at.  Fortunately, she had recently talked to a neighbor in her apartment complex who recommended a tire place nearby that did good service.

Upon going there, she’s informed that not only did Wal-Mart screw up the rotation the second time, they did it so badly that all FOUR tires on the vehicle now have bubbles and might not last another 2 months, even with a proper and balanced rotation.  Holy expletive!  At this point my girl is about at the end of her rope.  She doesn’t have the emergency funds available to buy four new tires, the fellow that owns the tire place said he -could- get used tires, but it probably would only (at best, which I agreed) a stop-gap measure.  So in the near future she’d have to get new tires.  To his credit, the owner of the shop did give her a free rotation, which isn’t exactly inexpensive.  I talked to him on the phone several times during the whole ordeal and I got the impression that he’s a good and responsible business owner.  He definitely understands the need to do a good job if you want to have repeat customers, and he reinforced my own understanding (after 30 years of my own in retail) that repeat (and satisfied) customers are your bread and butter.  Only after getting off the phone was I able to look up his business online and he does have pretty stellar reviews.  You don’t get that by screwing your customers.  Or doing shoddy work.

At a certain point I made a decision in my own mind.  I don’t like the idea of my girl being in a bad situation, and she needed to have these tires.  She was going to get them.  For me, basically a ‘damn the cost, it’s going to happen‘ mindset.  Granted I don’t have enough cash on hand to splurge on four new tires, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to fix a situation.  So I went ahead and got them for her.  I talked to the fellow again and was reassured he was going to get it taken care of that day, instead of making her wait for an interminable amount of time.  Unfortunately he wasn’t able to do it the next day due to a personal issue (his shop had recently been burglarized and he was due in court so he had couldn’t be in 2 places at once) so he was going to get it done that day.

After making sure the transaction was accepted, I hung up with my girl and she contacted me a bit later to let me know the owner called and had the tires to put on her vehicle.  Surprisingly, he managed to get it done in about an hour (4 new tires, taking the old ones off the vehicle, removing them from the rims, putting the new tires on, balancing and making sure everything was ok with them takes a bit of time I know for a fact) and he disposed of the old tires for no fee.  So we definitely made out pretty well for this, though I’m still in many ways upset with Wal-Mart for screwing my girl not once but twice.  I impressed on her that she might want to contact their corporate office and file a complaint, due to the imposition that the put her in, not to mention the cost.  They really shouldn’t get off a scot-free.  Too, I highly recommended that she post a positive review on the tire place’s website/Facebook page, so others can see that they did good work and can rely on them for good work.

Wal-Mart says they pride themselves on being good neighbors.  Good neighbors don’t treat you like that.  At least in my experience.