7.19.2008

National Tire & Battery Blows

The number one reason NTB sucks as a store: They just do!

Guess where I spent the better part of my day? Was it with my newborn baby daughter? Was it at the nearest outdoor range for an IDPA match? Was it in my front yard pushing my lawnmower?

If you guessed any of these, you'd be way wrong.

I spent my hellish Saturday in 99+ degree heat watching a bunch of inept trogs screw up my truck. They went from SNAFU to FUBAR to TARFU in 3.5 seconds flat.

Here's the situation: I drove over to the NTB store by my house to get my tires balanced and rotated. I'm heading out of town early next week for work, and thought this would be a prime time to do some preventative maintenance on the truck. Fair enough. This was at 10 o'clock this morning.

Things started off pleasantly enough. The work looked like it was done properly, even though I had some small nagging suspicion that Mr. Murphy hitched a ride in my 4Runner. Right as I'm signing off on the work order, the store manager comes to me with all four of the center caps to my wheels in his hands. He says there was a terrible mistake, and the tech installed them wrong. Well, gee gosh and golly, Captain Midnight! This has never happened to me before. Ever. Sure, I've had a tech crack a couple of the hubs, but they are over 12 years old. That sort of thing was bound to happen. What actually occured was the guy, we'll call Skippy the Wonder Moron (I'll get to that in a minute), just bashed them in place and broke all the metal retaining clips that were used to hold the caps in place. All. Of. Them.

Well, this does not stand. The Dude does not abide by this at all. Manager man comes right out and says they are going to make this right. Well, apologies and promises don't put center caps back on my wheels. I work in outside sales in some high dollar neighborhoods. What is Holly Housewife going to think when I get out of a ghetto hoopty redneck fleamarket special with missing hub cap covers? She's going to make one of 11 assumptions about me, and maybe more. Chances are very good that the first impression I make will be my face hitting the door as she slams it shut.

These guys are making some calls to the Toyota dealerships around town trying to find the replacements for me. Granted, they were on the ball trying to fix that, but I was promised Monday...then "maybe Monday"...then it was "well, we don't think we can get them until later." Someone somewhere mentioned that Toyota was on backorder for those parts. I call BullShit. I know the regional distributor is closed on Saturday, and so is the regional parts supplier, too. A simple call to them on Monday AM should have the part in hand by Monday PM at the earliest. I got my truck back after hearing excuse after excuse and told them I'd be back Monday morning expecting results. I made a trip to a Toyota parts house on 59 and Westpark that was open. They had four brand new caps waiting at the counter. Unfortunately, they were for another customer. I left my name and number in case that customer didn't show. I wasn't going to be rude and demand those parts. That guy was there and had first right to them. It would have been bad form. The good news was that they would be able to come through and have a set for me by Tuesday AM.

We'll see who comes through first. If I go through the parts house, I will walk that bill right over to NTB on Wilcrest and I-10 and ask for reimbursement.

Just wait, though, it gets better. I thought I'd be coy and head over to a junkyard on 45 near Parker. Maybe I might get lucky and find a junked out 4Runner that had caps. No dice.

As I'm getting back in my truck I notice something on the wheel. I was missing a lug nut. In fact, I was missing a lug and a lock lug. Both on the left side front and rear tires respectively. Turns out, Skippy didn't torque down that side at all. I was afraid that he didn't torque anything down, and off I was back to the NTB tire and battery shop at I-10 and Wilcrest. This time, I had to drive 30 mph on surface streets because I was worried other lugs would pop off, or I would do major damage to my truck.

If anyone happens to see a lock lug or regular lug nut imbedded in their front grill, I apologize. It wasn't my fault, but some dipstick of a technician at a tire place that should not be open for business if it can't do the job right the first time.

About 45 minutes later, I returned to the NTB on I-10 at Wilcrest to point out the problem to the manager. I asked manager man to step out and look at my truck. I asked him to take a look and tell me what he saw wrong with my wheels. He bends down, and I kid you not, starts looking at the truck next to mine. I directed him to the correct vehicle and asked to point out the 'glaring deficiencies' in my vehicle. He starts examining the tires and the rim, but never once looked at the lug nuts. I had to stand over him and go, "Look at the lug nuts. Good. Now count them."

When the lightbulb started to flicker on (and it barely flickered), he went into apologetic manager man mode. He grabbed the service manager and made an "urgent emergency request" to get new lug nuts, new locking lugs, and get my car in a bay as soon as possible. While this is going down, Skippy is walking through the showroom in some sort of "don't know, don't care" stupor. Every time he walked by me, I got this look like "what dis' fool doing back here? what did I do wrong now?"

They pulled someone else, whom I'll call Ramjet the Rookie, to work on my truck now. By this time, the manager is telling me they will make this right, and they will do anything it takes to fix this. Okay, redo the whole balance sequence. I made this request and the manager looked at me with a "HUH?" look. I could have brained him with a 2x4 and got the same response. I figured, heck, if they broke my center caps, forgot to tighten the lug nuts, and nearly caused me to lose two wheels while at highway speeds, then they could go through and double check Skippy's work to make sure he didn't screw anything else up.

It was Ramjet's job and he dropped the ball...or should I say lug nut. He gets my truck up on the lift after about twenty minutes of grab ass with his close second cousin, Mr. Skippy. I actually sat out there and timed them while standing in the entry to the bay where my truck was. Giving a really smelly stink-eye kinda helped matters along, too. Ramjet was busy pulling lugs off the wheels and setting them aside. For some wild reason, he got a bug up his bum and tossed a lock lug at this tray five feet behind him. I watched as the lug sailed past the tray and out into the parking lot. Talk about your airball! Hell, even Shaq could have hit that shot. So, Ramjet is standing there staring intently at the lock lug. I am watching Ramjet. Ramjet looks at me when he realizes his Jedi powers aren't going to magically kick in and levitate the lock lug back to the tray and turns to walk away.

Call up Donkey Kong, cuz it was on. As Ramjet reunites with his grab arse buddies, I walk over the paltry five feet, pick up said item and walk back into the showroom. Manager man is on the phone with another unsuspecting rube when I slam the lock lug on the counter. He looks at it like it was a radioactive turd. He looks at me and asks if there is something I need. I inform him before being interrupted by the phone call that I witnessed Ramjet toss my lock lug into the parking lot and walk away. I demanded that he find someone else competent and respectful enough to complete the work. He goes back to the phone call with the promise that it will be done right this minute, but if you wouldn't mind letting me finish this call. I was having none of it. I grabbed the first employee that I saw who had half a brain and asked her...scratch that, I demanded that she tell whoever was working on my car to stop what they were doing right this second. She obviously knew fecal matter was about to fly and got Ramjet and Skippy away from the power tools before they hurt themselves.

That was the high point of the whole deal. Ramjet and Skippy were relegated to observer status while I got to eyeball manager man do a complete balance on my tires. He must have done something to appease whatever dieties command the roads because the 4Runner is still on all four wheels.

There was a complete breakdown from the start in all of this. Obviously, Ramjet and Skippy don't take pride in their work. They don't even take pride in themselves with their pants around their butt, shirts pulled out, and that lackadaisical "I'm too lazy to do nuthin'" strut n' shuffle they had around the shop floor. Manager man just did not get the picture. He kept pouring on the platitudes and promises when he failed to get the promise of 100% satisfaction guaranteed right the first time. That starts with the caliber of employees you have. Obviously, his was a small caliber. There was no respect for me as a customer. My property was tossed around and disregarded. I paid over $18,000 new for that truck. That includes those lock lugs. That includes the center caps for my wheels, too. I paid for it, I expect it to be returned to me in the condition it was sent out for work in. You break it, you repair it at your expense.

Hell, I'm too tired to argue this anymore.

I will be looking for a new tire place in the morning. No longer will I do business with National Tire & Battery. They have lost my business permanently.

1 comment:

Hammer said...

Damn that is frigging awful. thanks for the heads up.