Resolved Firestone Auto Care — ethics and overcharging
My son-in-law and I worked on his Nissan Frontier, putting on a new alternator and battery that we purchased from Checker Auto. Everything worked great for about a week, when the same symptoms re-appeared, (dead battery & guages going haywire). After taking the alternator and battery back off and taking them to Checker for testing, Checker says their parts are fine (wrong).
So now, since Checker denies bad parts, we take the truck to Firestone, believing that professional diagnostics is needed to trace down a grounding problem or something else.
Firestone calls back an hour later and tells my daughter, "You have a bad cell in the battery, and you need a new alternator." My daughter tells the guy that both of these parts were still under warranty at Checkers, being that we just bought them last week.
The mechanic then says, "Well, we do a lot of business with Checkers, and I know the guys at the store you went to, so I'll just get those exchanged for you. Having said that, my daughter authorizes the repairs, thinking they'll simply exchange the parts and charge us the labor for replacement.
When we go to pick up the vehicle, they hand us a "Checker" alternator box, with our "new - bad one" in it and tell us we'll have to take that one back to Checkers for a refund. That alternator was $149.00, but Firestone put the identical alternator from Checkers back on the vehicle and charged $258.00, then gave us the empty box from the new one, to put our "new - bad one" in to take back to Checkers.
I believe this to be unethical, because we had "free replacement parts" available to us through the warranty with Checkers. Firestone couldn't rest on the fact that they would only make money for labor, so they took it upon themselves to cancel the benefits we had with Checker. Sure, we got our money back from Checker on the parts we bought a week ago, but then Firestone over-charged $100.00 on the identical Checker alternator and $50.00 on the identical Checker battery.
Firestone's weak explanation to this was "The computer adds the parts markup and we can't override any charges, then he says and besides, your daughter authorized the repairs".
When I told him that she authorized the repairs because your mechanic said he knew the guys at Checker and would exchange the parts, he said that's not how we do business and that mechanic really is not authorized to do that.
That's great!! Confusion abounds!!! Ten guys at Firestone can say anything over the phone to get you to commit to authorizing repairs, but none of them are accountable for what they say to get you to commit. So really, there is only ONE party responsible for their committments...the consumer! And after being a long-time Firestone customer for tires and maintanence, this consumer will not be using them any longer!!!
Wait, let me rephrase that using Firestone tactics...
"Whenever any of my vehicles has a problem in the future, I'm coming directly to you and Firestone because you have award winning ethics and great customer service and I know you care about me...that's my committment to you!!!"
Don't worry Firestone, common people with average intelligence love having lies told to them by arrogant mechanics that hide behind a franchise tag name! That's what makes it great...no one person is ever responsible for making things right, not Firestone- because they'll tell you that was a franchise shop and they're independant...and not the local shop- because they just say they're doing things like Corporate wants us to and that they have no control over policies.
It is my best guess that Firestone mechanics are not hired based on their mechanical prowness, but rather their ability to cram 2 lbs. of crap into a 1 lb. box! It seems all of their "I'm authorized for repair/Not authorized for complaint" mechanics possess that honed skill. The side-stepping and elusive loophole tactics used in their business leaves no doubt as to why no-one trusts anyone in the car repair business. Is there an organizational problem flow-chart of excuses Firestone gives to employees to weasle out of quality car repairs they've been paid a lot of money for?
On my personal truck, a Ford Ranger, I had Firestone do a "lifetime" front end alignment right after getting a new set of Firestone tires. The drivers side tire was leaning (camber) more than I thought it should after the alignment, just by looking from the front of the truck and comparing it to the passenger side tire, but the arrogant tech says, "I've been a tire guy for 15 years and you can't just look at a tire and say it's out of camber". So, even though I was dissatisfied, they wouldn't do anything else with it. So I brought the truck back 3, 000 miles later to get the tires rotated and we both SEE uneven wear, isolated on the inside of the drivers side front. He still argued with me that camber wasn't a problem, we just needed to rotate the tires. I said "If only one tire is worn on the inside, putting a freshly rotated tire in that position will only wear that one out on the inside too, right?" This is where his demeanor changed and he started packing the boxes full of crap. He became angry and I was given ANY possiblity other than the camber being adjusted. Naturally, to check all the things he suggested being wrong with it was going to cost me $400-$500 to check. Even when you know your right and the physical properties of your problem is manifested in front of your own two eyes, they resort to humiliating you because your not a mechanic and as a last resort, they turn to anger. This is a great ploy too, because now they have made it so you can't be on professional terms with the people whom you've paid to fix a problem you still have. They've stated their position and aren't going to do anything else. So now with your back up against the wall, you feel like your only option is to have to go pay someone else to fix the same problem you've already paid to have fixed. This is a great operational technique...have people pay you to fix a problem, don't fix the problem...make the customer mad by saying he doesn't have a problem...customer goes somewhere else to get problem fixed...you made money for nothing!!!
Firestone, if your listening...
Profits seem to be your only concern...but HAPPY "new & repeat" customers BRING YOU THAT PROFIT! If no-one wants to do business with you after being taken advantage of, you'll only get "new" business, which over time, will diminish too when the word gets around from us "experienced" consumers, telling "nonexperienced" consumers where NOT to take their car to get fixed.!!
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