Going the Extra Mile: Merchant's Tire and Auto Repair

In which I am confused

I am the type of person who listens to what people tell me. If you tell me you want to help me, I expect you to help me. So I am confused when someone says I will help you and then tries not to help.

Tire when it's not flat

My adventure on the highway

The whole problem started when I got a flat tire one night on my way to a convention. I was on the interstate traveling at seventy miles an hour and suddenly felt a bumping from the front passenger side of my car. I was able to slow the car and get over to the side of the road and once I had the car parked I called the auto club. After waiting by the side of the road, watching cars whiz by, a tow truck came and the engaging and professional repairman changed my tire and put the spare on the car. As he was cleaning his hands, he said, "Now listen...don't go over 50 miles an hour and don't go more than 50 miles on that thing. Fifty-fifty, get it?" I got it. He gave me a thumbs up and a wave, got back in the truck and was gone.

I drove carefully to my hotel and attended the convention. The next morning, as I was checking out I asked for the name of an auto shop where I could obtain a replacement tire. They directed me to a nearby shop, where again I found courteous and professional people who replaced my tire. I'm not sure why I did it, but I kept the old tire. When I got home, I was telling a friend what happened and she said, Doesn't your tire have a warranty? I looked on my receipt for the old tire and, sure enough, there was a warranty on the tire. I called the company and they told me to take the car to the nearest dealer, which was an hour's drive away. Two days later, I drove to Merchant's Tire and Auto. And that's when things got exciting.

Help/No Help

As I drove onto the lot at Merchant's, a workman came out of the car bay. When I got out of the car, he asked, How can I help you? I told him, I had a flat tire and my tire has a warranty. I purchased the tire out of state but the company said the warranty was good anywhere. I would like to be reimbursed or get a replacement tire. He said, I will do what I can to help you. And that was the last helpful thing he did.

He went into his office and did some typing on the computer. Then he told me I should have brought the car to them when I had the flat. I told him it was at night and I was in a different town when the flat occurred. Even if I knew where this shop was, it would have been closed. Then he told me that I should have come to them for the replacement tire in the morning. I replied that the auto club repairman was very clear that I was not to drive more than fifty miles on the spare tire. I went to the nearest shop and got a tire because I was more than fifty miles form home. Then he said I must not have been taking good care of the tire because it was all chewed up inside. I said, I think that might be because I was going seventy miles and hour and had to get over to the side of the road and come to a complete stop in a hurry on a flat tire. Wouldn't that chew it up pretty good? He agreed that it would. Finally he said that I had at least seventy-five percent of the tread still on the tire but they could not give me a refund. So I asked for a replacement tire. He said they could do that, but the tire would cost more than my original tire. I said, Are you kidding me? That doesn't make any sense. He said, that's the best I can do and if you want you can take it up with the corporate office.

I "take it up with corporate"

I left Merchant's with my flat tire and went home. I was frustrated because I had driven two hours to the auto shop and back for nothing. But when I got home I started thinking about how he kept saying, "If you have a problem you can take it up with corporate." So I decided to do just that! I researched and found the name and address of the corporate office. I wrote them a letter explaining what happened and again, I requested a replacement tire or a refund of the value of the unused tire. Two weeks later, I got a phone call from a man with a somewhat gruff, loud voice. He said, So, young lady, you want us to give you a free tire or the price of a tire? I told him, No, that's not correct. I want replacement value. That's what your warranty says. I had seventy-five percent of tread left. It seems to me I should get a seventy-five percent refund or seventy-five percent off the cost of a tire. I shouldn't have to pay more for the replacement than I did for the original tire. I want to do what is fair.

He was quiet for a few minutes, then he spoke with a little softer tone. He said, How about this? I will calculate the replacement value of the tire and we will send you a check for that amount. Will that be OK? I said, Yes. One week later, I received a check.

Lesson learned--Make the effort

What did I learn from this experience? Sometimes you have to go the extra mile. Warranties are sold on all kinds of products and most of them are never used. Some warranties are nothing more than a money making gimmick by the company. Others are really useless because the product is going to outlast the warranty period. If you travel a lot, as I do, a tire warranty is worth the money. If the tire never gives you a problem, it was still a good investment. But if you have problems with the tire, you should expect the company to honor the warranty. And you may have to persist in order for this to happen. I was tempted to give up and take the loss. Many people would do the same. But for a little more effort, simply writing a letter, I was able to have a better, more satisfying outcome.

If you ever decided to write a letter of complaint, keep these things in mind:

1. Be brief but clear

2. Ask for what you want

3. Be flexible and fair

Going the extra mile paid off in this case. What would you do in the same situation?

What to do, what to do?

Would you have gone to this length to get the refund?

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