Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Canadian Ire

Last year a mechanic guy said I had one more year of life in my tires. He wasn't kidding. As of a couple days ago they were very bald. This is the story of getting new tires.

I went to Goodyear and said I needed new tires. The guy asked me the standard questions, year, model, make of car. He asked if it was a 4 door or hatchback, he asked if I had air conditioning. When the questions were done he said my car has two sizes of tires, and he asked if I knew what size I had on my car. Well, I certainly didn't know, so he walked outside and took a look. He said to me, "195/60/15". I didn't really pay attention to the number, and we went back to the computer and he gave me a quote on new tires.

I went to a few more places and everytime it was the same conversation. They would look up my car in the computer and ask which of two sizes of tires I had. I would just produce the quote from Goodyear and they'd read it off. They'd all say "195/60/15" in an informative way, as if I might want to know. I really had no reason to think I'd ever want to know, so I would just smile and nod without giving the tire size much thought.

Next I went to Canadian Tire. There were at least 10 people in line ahead of me, and they didn't have many staff on to help us. I was ready to leave several times, but they had a poster on the wall for buy a tire, get the second half price - and that seemed like a good deal to me.

When I finally got to the counter I was greeted by Leo, who seemed like an older version of Jm J. Bullock. I told Leo I needed some tires, and instead of guiding me through that set of questions he just asked what tires I wanted. I told him I didn't know anything about tires and that I needed his help. He listed off names of tires and their qualities and ratings. He was quite keen to sell me the tires rated for speeds of up to 220kph with the warranty and the extended coverage, the chrome air valves, etc etc. He was especially happy to tell me that for only 8 bucks per tire, instead of filling them with crumby old air, I could have them filled with nitrogen! He was getting quite excited but I had to interrupt to say that I just wanted average tires for an average car, and that if it saved me money I wanted to get the buy-one get-one-half-off tires. I basically told him to go cheap. Well, that totally took the nitrogen out of his sails. He sighed and moved to the computer and asked what size my tires were.

Well, I had left the quotes in my car, but I had heard the size a number of times already, so I said "hmm... I think they are 195/60/15." I should have paid more attention to those other guys who kept telling me.

He said "You think?" and started shaking his head for wasting his time. I started to explain that I was pretty sure that was correct, and if we could just look up my car I am sure we'd see that 195/60/15 was one of the ones listed and we could move on from there. He shook his head again and handed me a pen and a turned-over business card to write on. "No honey, we need to know exactly what tire. Go find out and come back."

On one hand I like being called 'honey', on the other hand it sounds quite condescending. It is safe to say I didn't like being called 'honey' by a geriatric version of the neighbour on 'Too Close for Comfort'. I looked behind me at the ten people in line and realized I really didn't want to leave my spot at the front. I said "I am 95% certain he said 195/60/15, can't we just look up my car and..."

He interrupted with "No, we need to be 100% certain..." and he was already looking past me to make eye contact with the person behind me. I got angry, picked up the pen and the business card and turned around. As I was leaving he was saying "...otherwise I'll end up selling you the wrong tires." If he said anything else, I didn't hear it. I was already out the door.

I went to my car and got the Goodyear quote that said 195/60/15 and I headed back in. Leo was still helping the woman who was behind me in line. Luckily he was just finishing up with her, so as she stepped out of line, I slid into her place. I could feel angry glares on my back, but I didn't mind because it beat having to wait another half hour in line.

Leo started to ask if I found out the tire size, but I interrupted with "195/60/15." I am sure Leo could tell I was irritated, yet he pressed the subject a bit further by explaining that it was possible that I might have mistakenly remembered the tire size with a set of dimensions that exactly matched a different size of tire available for my car, making us think we had the right number when actually we didn't. I said "There are only two sizes of tire though, what are the odds of picking the wrong number?"

He said "Stranger things have happened". I was dying to say "You're a stranger thing", but I didn't.

In no less than fifteen minutes we had picked out some tires and he quoted me a price that was over $100 less than the lowest quote I had so far. I asked him to print me out a copy of the quote and he said that wouldn't be a problem. He took another business card, flipped it over and wrote the price on the back and handed it to me. I said "No, can you print out that whole quote?"

He said "Sure. This is it."

I said "No, I want the entire quote, specifically listing the tires I want and the price you quoted me including labour and installation so when I bring the car in we don't have to spend forever picking out tires again"

"This is the price right here though. I mean I can print this out if you like, but won't this do?"

"I just want to come back in, hand them the quote and my keys and say 'I want this' and then go."

Leo reluctantly gave up on the business card idea and started the print procedure. From what I could tell, printing seemed really difficult. He was typing and typing and typing. He walked to the printer twice and came back empty-handed. He wiped some sweat off his brow and started typing some more. I finally said "Is there a problem?"

I guess I said it at the perfect moment because someone walking behind Leo heard me and stopped. "Is there a problem?" he echoed. Leo explained he was trying to print a quote and the guy said "Press 'Print Screen'." The next few moments I hesitate to include because they were excrutiating to witness and are no doubt worse to read, but it went a little something like this:

Leo said "I thought it was F11."
The guy said "No, print screen."
Leo said "I was told it was F11."
The guy said "No just press print screen."
Leo said "I am sure they said F11."
The guy said "No, not for a quote. Just press print screen."

I could tell Leo considered mentioning the F11 thing one more time, but reconsidered and pressed 'print screen'. To Leo's surprise it printed, and to my surprise I finally had my quote in my hands and was leaving.

The next morning I went in at 8:00 and nobody was manning the service center. All sorts of employees were there, but none were helping the people at the desk. After fifteen minutes my mom came in. She was there to pick me up and got impatient waiting for me. I asked her to stand in line for me and I went to find somebody. I found a manager of some type and asked him where his service guys were.

The manager eventually came to the service desk and brought along the shuttle driver to help out. When it was my turn I showed the quote to the shuttle driver and he kept asking questions about what kind of tires I wanted, and I said it was all on the quote. The shuttle driver read the quote and spent about 1 minute on the computer. Then he said he was done and took my keys and the quote. It seemed getting that quote yesterday paid off today.

Two hours later I got a call from Canadian Tire. I was expecting to hear my car was done, and I was excited to see the new tires, but I was disappointed. The guy on the phone was just calling to find out what kind of tires I wanted. I said that I gave a quote that said it all with my keys, but he said he didn't have it. I can only guess the shuttle driver didn't write down anything that quote said, or give it to the mechanic.

The guy on the phone asked me the standard questions, year, model, make of car. He asked if it was a 4 door or hatchback, he asked if I had air conditioning. When the questions were done he said my car has two sizes of tires, and he asked if I knew what size I had on my car. Without hesitation I said "195/60/15" and I must say the guy on the phone sounded quite impressed with me. He typed for a bit and said they had some buy-one-get-one-half-off tires in that size. I said "Really? I'll take those."


Ariia said...

I seem to think 'Murphy's Law" was in full force here...

have I mentioned that I think you're an awesome story teller Sarah?

Ariia said...

I seem to think 'Murphy's Law" was in full force here...

have I mentioned that I think you're an awesome story teller Sarah?

Sarah J M said...

Actually you just mentioned it a moment earlier