Saturday, February 05, 2011

I Did Not Curl Up Into the Fetal Position

But, I must confess, I did cry...just a little.

If you need a refresher (again) about just how well I do not handle auto maintenance and repair, you can find evidence of my infinite terror here and here.

So, when I took my car in last week for a long overdue oil change and new tires, you can imagine just what kind of mental state I was in once I heard I also needed new front brake pads...STAT. While I did not curl up into a fetal position upon hearing the news (although it was tempting, it was probably not a good idea in the middle of the Firestone sales floor), I did panic and figuring out how to resolve my problem pushed all other thoughts out of my mind.

Once I'd made arrangements with Mr. P. to fix my brakes for a most reasonable price then, I was relieved and able to function somewhat normally. Heading up to his home yesterday evening, I actually had some confidence in my adult-like abilities. I might even have been a little cocky.


Thus, it should have not surprised me when, as "we" began replacing the second brake pad, Mr. P. said, "You're leaking oil, young lady." And by me? He did not mean me literally. He meant my freshly oil changed car. He pointed out the oil puddle underneath my car - roughly 8" in diameter (an actual 8" and not that "pretend" 8" guys will sometimes tell you is 8") - and, as I looked, I saw 3 or 4 more drips drop down onto the ground.

Photo courtesy of scodpub
Crap is not a strong enough word.

Now, Mr. P. being the guy he is, was able to deduce that the problem was either a loose oil filter or a worn out oil plug. Either way, it would require another trip to Firestone, a complete oil drain, and, in essence, yet another oil change in order to fix the problem. He figured, if I yelled pretty loud, I could probably get them to do the work for half the cost of the oil.

Again with the crap not being a strong enough word.

Because it's not like I don't have a little money to put toward this minor problem - I do have some of my allowance for the week left over - at least, enough to cover an oil change. But, frankly, that was supposed to go to wine and dammit! I just paid for an oil change and clearly need my wine if I'm going to have to continue to navigate auto crises.

I have to be honest too. I've been taking my car to Firestone for the last 4 years - ever since they treated me with the utmost kindness and compassion the first time I needed new tires. And, for the most part, I've been thoroughly pleased with their service - both with repairs and with assisting me with my emotional ability to cope.

But this last time? I was pretty unhappy. Granted, I took it to a different shop than I normally do but I've now used three Firestone locations and the one in Parker (the first) and the one on Colorado Blvd. (my favorite) have always done me right. I had no reason to suspect the other would be another experience entirely.

Unfortunately, I felt jipped. I specifically stated when I went in to buy tires (after having made an appointment in advance for both the tire replacement and the oil change) that I was paying on a cash only basis and needed to be economical. So what did the guy do? Upsold me "Z" rated tires - convincing me this was the best, most economical choice I could make. Yeah. $400 later - even with the "buy 3, get 1 free" sale. I will say this, those tires sure are a nice, quiet ride. The tires are probably now worth more than the damn car.

Then, he said nothing about doing an alignment on the car. Nada. Not one singular mention of least, not up front. And it was 7 a.m. and I was late for work and discombobulated and probably ought to have eaten something and confronting my fear of all things auto maintenance related so I forgot to ask. Of course, when I went back to pick up the car, as he was giving me the bad news about my brakes - which, in all fairness, I did actually need - he mentions that I really do need to have the alignment adjusted especially with the new tires.

Now I don't know why he didn't mention this to me when I dropped off the car because it sure would have been convenient if he'd checked the alignment at the same time they were doing the oil change. And I would have readily agreed because I purchased a lifetime alignment package back in 2009 and so alignment checks and adjustments are now FREE for ME as long as I own this car. Honestly, I wonder if he would have charged me to have my alignment adjusted if I hadn't remembered about the lifetime service.

Anyway, not the point. The point is that this "little" oil leak issue a mere 7 days after having just had the work done? Pissed me off. It was the proverbial icing on the camel's back...or something.

So, Mr. P. showed me how to check my oil - I had enough to, at least, make it home and enough to drive it to the shop...probably - and then told me to go do my level best to raise a ruckus.

As a consequence, I didn't sleep very well last night. I stewed and dreamed about oil leaks and blown up engines and car fires and all manner of death, destruction, and mayhem. Thus, 7 a.m. found me on the internet looking up the phone number to my TRUSTED Firestone store - on Colorado Blvd. - and calling them to see if they would please please help me without charging me more than what my wine would cost.

Kevin answered the phone. And, after listening to my problem, he said, "This is what I want you to do. I want you to call [redacted] and tell them you've got this problem and see if they'll make it right. If they won't, well, you call me back and I'll make sure you get taken care of today."

I hung up the phone and I cried...just a little. Because I DID NOT WANT TO CALL THAT BIG FAT DOODY HEAD. But I did anyway. I do know how to do what I'm told even if I don't like it. Guess what? the B.F.D.H? Referred me to my nearest Firestone.

So I called Kevin back. He told me to check my oil before I tried to make it down to him and call him if I needed a tow but that he would do everything in his power to take care of me. TODAY.

I checked my oil. It was OK to drive. I drove the two miles to the shop. I went in and talked to both Jeff and Kevin. They had my car in the bay in under 5 minutes. They discovered the problem was, in fact, a worn out oil plug. They had to get a new one down from the auto parts store. As soon as it arrived, it was installed and my car was out of the bay in less than an hour.

I left without paying anything more (Firestone provides a full warranty on oil changes) and with the promise of a free oil change next time, an appointment next weekend to get my alignment adjusted for free as part of my lifetime service, and a renewed faith in Firestone.

At least, faith in MY Firestone. Thank you, Kevin and Jeff. I felt very well cared for and appreciated. You guys rock!

Now? Now I need a nap. I'm emotionally overspent. This grown up thing is only cool when deciding to eat cake for supper.


Geekin' Hard said...

I *hate* dealing with garages! *hate* Whoever sold you on the 'Z' rated tires should be fired - but of course if that's the kind of shop it is then dude's boss likely encourages that kind of crap.

zero hour said...

well I will go where you went, I need a change without a bunch of bullcrap just cuz they think we don't know anything cuz we're women.
I got new tires last month, and the alignment thing came up with me as Sears,along with an attempted upsell for stuff. grrrrrrr I hate car stuff too..but you dealt with it like a little trooper Miss Jane!

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, I grew up learning about cars and I know when I'm being sold a bag of bullshit. But I'm also a guy and I think auto-mechanics are less likely to try and pull one over on a guy. I have sympathy for the unarmed.


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