Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Big-O debacle

My car eats tires for breakfast...and then snacks on them again later in the day...and then feasts on them for dinner. The funny thing is that my alignment is fine and always has been. Mechanics are frequently surprised to see the condition of my tires after the see that the alignment is cool. Yeah, me too. Anyways, recently DJC convinced me that I needed at least two new tires. So, I high-tailed it over to the Alameda Big-O. Upon walking in the door, things immediately went south.

The first person to talk to me was Brian. He informed me that the computer said that there were two tires in my size in stock, but upon trying to verify that, he was able to actually locate only one. He said that he would have to order one from the Fremont store and that it wouldn't be delivered until the next day. OK, I thought, I'll just come back. But Brian said, "WHOAAA. We have to ask you to pay for them know, to reserve them." Ummm, OK. So I coughed up $120 for nothing and went home.

The next day, I returned only to find that my tires, you know, the ones I had paid for to "reserve" had been put on another car. This might have been the closest I've been to really hauling off and punching someone in a long time. To rectify the situation, Brian upgraded my tires to the next ones up for free. Whatever, I thought. Just as long as they were round, and would allow my car to move forward and back, I didn't really care. I was steaming mad.

Well, between the "technicians" taking countless cigarette and cell phone breaks, the tires somehow got mounted onto my car. I drove away two hours later. This is where things really went to hell in a handbag, though.

At speeds over 50mph my car shook violently. My freaking teeth rattled in my head. I vowed to take the car back the next day and have this whole shaking thing sorted.

The "technician" I spoke with during my second visit told me, in no uncertain terms, that they had done everything correctly the first time and that if there was a problem now, it was my fault. My car sure as hell didn't shake like that before the tires were replaced, dude! Clearly, it was my fault. Ass. Anyway, he said they'd take the tires off, re-balance them and all would be well. Two hours later, I drove off, steaming mad again.

Everything worked out this time, right? Except not so much. If anything, after the second round of balancing, the shaking and rattling and vibrations at high speeds were WORSE. I was livid. There was no way I was going to take my car back to the Alameda Big-O, so I decided to drive all the way out to Danville to have the guys there take a look. I'd had good luck with service there before and the Alameda ass-clowns were clearly entirely too busy to properly assess what was causing the shaking. Too busy or too lazy...I can't tell which.

Here's what the Danville folks found: During the first trip in to the Alamdea store, the new tires had been put on the rear (pretty standard), and the rear tires moved to the front. Well, those tires had not worn evenly and were wobbling all over the place. Apparently, a bracket had been broken during the process of the installation as well (nice). The Danville guys took the new back tires and swapped them to the front, putting the old ones back on the rear axles. And here's the cool part....they test drove it to make sure that everything was fine. Well, it wasn't. The car still shook and wobbled. They then took a look at the new tires themselves and found that one wasn't completely round (?!?!). Mind you, these are the tires I purchased less than a week ago!

The Danville guys agreed to provide a new, perfectly round tire to me at no cost, which is what is being installed currently. So, here I sit at the local Chargebucks, killing time. I'm just glad they were able to figure out what was wrong. They put in the extra effort that Alameda wasn't willing to do. Eff those turkeys. Never going back there again. Danville Big-O FO' EVA!

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