I didn't know of Pep Boy's abysmal reputation. They quoted me a price for 2 new mid-range Michelin tires on a Tues, said they'd special order them & asked me to come in for Sat. am installation. I said "Sat. am? I have no "tire emergency" whatsoever, so, I'd much rather wait for a slower weekday, so that I'll be in & out quicker". Sales rep responded: "Saturdays we have a lot more techs on staff, don't worry, you'll be out fast." HA! I expressed concern that the specially-ordered tires might not be delivered on-time for a Sat. appt. He responded: "If they're not here, I'll upgrade you to even higher performing Michelin tires, which we DO have in stock right now, at no additional charge." I asked him for the exact name, model #, original price of the higher end tire he was promising me (if the originally-ordered tire didn't arrive in-time for the Sat. am appt.). I asked him to confirm the agreed upon price was for either the original 2 Michelin tires I ordered, AND/OR for the upgraded Michelin's he was promising me- YES. I asked him to confirm the same information, 5 different times, 5 different ways... "Yes", everytime. I asked him to re-state it in his own words, which he did. I asked him to use the word "promise/guarantee" in his own rendition- He did. I said it sounds too good to be true- Just to get me as a new customer, you're willing to keep a Sat. am appt, which I've already told you I don't need at all, and you have the authorization needed to enter into this agreement with me, to install 2 much costlier tires, at no additional charge?" Again- "Yes. Come in Sat. am & we'll take care of you".
1st: They never found the lower-cost Michelin's special-ordered for me, so they installed the "costlier/higher performance" Michelin's. It took them 5 hours to install 2 tires... FIVE hours. (My car is late-model, & otherwise in perfect condition).
Upon check-out, the SA said "That'll be your 1st born, please" ($100's more than agreed upon). Thus commenced a laughable argument of bait & switch, during which I asked the SA how old he was, and whether or not he knew what "bait & switch" meant, and that it is illegal, and that he was right now participating in an illegal activity? He hemmed & hawed & tried every lame sales practice we've all heard a thousand times, then said: Ma'am, I'm going out of my way to do you a FAVOR by giving you these fantastic tires at such a discount, because I CARE about you as a person. omg, I lost it, I couldn't stop laughing! Once I regained my composure, I thanked him for the solid rotflol, & said "No deal". I again thanked him, & said I couldn't remember the last time I'd heard anything so funny! He wasn't so amused... He said "I'll have to put your old tires back on then, & we are backed up with other PAYING customers waiting, so if you want me to put your old tires back on, you'll have to WAIT YOUR TURN before we can get the old tires back on, & get you out of here (after 4 hours 45 min's already waiting). I said "Put them back on NOW, or the police will be called & you shall explain why you are holding my car hostage." He looked at me w/ a blank stare. I said "Stop glaring at me. MOVE! I want my car OUT of here in 5 minutes! 4 minutes 55 seconds, 54, 53, 52... And don't you DARE harm my car, or you will be jailed pending prosecution for not only your bait & switch attempt- To which there are 20 witnesses to right here in this waiting area, but also for anything else I can throw at you that will stick. MOVE. MOVE IT !!!" (Everyone was very attentive at this point, b/c during the nearly 5 hours I'd been waiting, I'd had the pleasure of meeting each of them- I handed my notebook to someone, & ppl. started writing their names & phone #'s). I told him that I had nothing but the utmost respect for his expertise and his job title, and although it's my normal way to treat ppl. with kindness & dignity- And perhaps I had some part of responsibility in giving him the mistaken impression that I was an "Easy mark/pushover"; However, I regretted that my patience was now at an end- And, furthermore, even if I *had* been an "Easy mark / pushover"- ***Shame on him for taking advantage !!!
Thankfully, I had taken highly detailed notes during our initial "Sales" agreement, (some sort of scribbled, but all perfectly legible), including SA's name, mgr's name, exact name & model # of tires ordered, original price quoted, price with and without discounts applied, including installation, rotate old front tires to back, alignment & balance all 4 tires, & road hazard included, total price including taxes, plus several other options such as same detailz for several other tires discussed, & the quote for FOUR tires / installed (exactly double the price of 2), & a lot of other highly specific detailz of our conversation. At the end of our sales call, I circled in red pen, around every single detail agreed upon for purchase.
After the SA said he was putting my old tires back on (so after 5 hours waiting, I'd be leaving with no new tires), I walked to the back of the store, (parts section), & very politely asked if there was a general store manager on duty? They responded very politely, saying that there are different managers for each section of the store, and did I mind letting them know which section I was inquiring about, so they could get the right manager for me to speak with? I said "Tires/Installation". One of them (She) said "We have a 24 hour customer service line, they're totally dedicated to customer satisfaction, & should be able to completely resolve all your concerns!" I said: "I've tried calling them twice already, my calls have been on hold for 24 minutes + each time. No one is answering your Dedicated customer service phone lines".
She seemed genuinely surprised to hear this (the staff drinks the corporate Kool-Aid- They have no idea that the corporate structure isn't what it purports to be- They seriously don't even understand that their routine sales practice = bait & switch, nor that it's illegal, nor that it's even the slightest bit immoral)- The parts manager very graciously escorted me right back up to the Tires desk, and summoned the tires manager on duty to speak with me (instead of the SA I'd been dealing with).
As a Corporate Executive myself, it's my habit to interact with all levels of employee's with nothing but the utmost respect, admiration, courtesy, and appreciation for their hard work. I was a little embarrassed that I'd laughed so hard at the SA, but I really just burst out laughing, when he said "Because I care about you as a person"! After very briefly introducing myself to the manager, I said "I see that you are very busy on this Sat. am, and I'm sorry to trouble you. Are you aware of the situation specific to my special-ordered Michelin tires?" He responded that he was vaguely aware that there was some mix-up, but he was so busy, he didn't really know what was happening, & asked me to explain. I firstly apologized & was embarrassed that I'd lost my cool upon the SA's "Care about you as a person" comment, but that I'd hoped perhaps he could relate, that after 5 hours waiting, bait & switch, & all manner of sales nonsense, I was just really at the end of my patience, & it just seemed so hysterical for this gentleman at the counter to confess his "care & concern for me as a person"- I did say that up until then, the SA had been respectful and seemed competent. I summarized the bait & switch issue, including producing my actual notepad for his review (where I'd made all that detailed documentation of the Sales call 5 days earlier). I said "After a detailed sales call, and 5 hours here this am, I'm now leaving with no new tires, a scathing impression of Pep Boys, and I will follow up with Corporate offices on Monday-Friday by phone, email, fax, in writing, and via smoke signals, if necessary, to let your corporate offices know of my very first and last ever abysmal customer experience here. As an executive myself, I understand that unless a client/customer personally notifies me of a problem, chances are, I'll never even know a problem existed. I don't want to leave without you, as the manager on duty, knowing of this problem. I've had a tire replaced before, including balancing & alignment, & it took 25 minutes. If there is any reason it took 5 hours, pls advise me of what that reason is, so that I can relay that to Corporate, in fairness to you. (He conceded that it shouldn't have taken more than 1/2 hour, even during busiest times). I've now been here 5 hours, to have 2 tires NOT replaced, and your tech is trying to hold me captive here even longer. I want you to be aware, before I walk out the door and never return, that this problem exists, and it looks very, very bad for Pep Boys, as a car care center dealing with a single professional woman. I promise you that I am very irritated now, and I know I'm speaking less than concisely, but be assured, when I regain my composure, & summarize my complaint to Pep Boys HQ, it will be much briefer than this speech, & a well-written, concise, to-the-point, scathing review of my experience here, & I shall copy it to every member of Executive Management, all major shareholders, + all board members. Make no mistake, this information is publicly available, and my assistant will have this information prepped & ready to copy to every Corporate member as mentioned- Phone calls will be placed a week after, to confirm receipt of each correspondence. Once I've calmed down, it will take me 5 minutes to write, & it will take my asst. 1 hour to email, fax, IM, PM, & write a snail-mail letter, & I'm going to pay out of my own pocket for certified mailings to all persons mentioned. This will be done this upcoming business week. I feel it is only fair to let you know in advance, of the hailstorm that is coming, under your watch. I will advise Corporate that I have spoken with you. Thank you for hearing my concerns so patiently. I'm ready to leave now. Please see that my old tires are re-installed immediately."
Wha? Hallelujah! Suddenly a miracle occurred. The manager immediately dropped everything else, & took charge of 100% remedying all problems: The new, upgraded Michelin tires were put back on my car, I paid ONLY the originally-agreed-upon (lowest) price, & I was OTD in 3 minutes, w/ my 2 new upgraded tires, at the lower cost originally quoted.
My suggestion: It's crystal clear that Corporate HQ is covertly driving these unethical, illegal sales practices. The staff are only doing what they must to survive in a Corporate culture of goals that are only possible with illegal customer tactics, even though Corp. Kool-Aid says "We care about customers blah blah". Buy your tires anywhere else. If for some reason you do choose to do business with Pep Boys, print this review, & bring it with you to show them. If you do nothing else, at the very least, write down *every!* *single!* *detail!* discussed, including the before-discount full MSRP, what is included or not included in the price, (remember- Installation, discard fee for old tires, Rotating tires, balancing, alignment, road hazard insurance, any promotions, final price including all labor & sales tax, also known as "out the door price"- And, knowing what I do now about their sales practices, I'd also advise to have the sales associate initial & sign every detail of every note you take, during your sales agreement conversation- AND also insist that the manager review & sign it. (If you can't get into the store for signatures, no problem- At the very least, scan & email it to the SA, with a note saying "Thank you for talking with me. I look forward to tires installation as mutually agreed upon during our phone call at this total price, including all labor, charges, taxes, for this final out the door price, detailed in this email: (list detailz)"- AND keep your PROOF that you sent it/he received your email!). Again- My best suggestion, is just go somewhere else... Pep Boys is geared toward servicing fleets, & makes a fortune on individual customer tire sales. Vote w/ your consumer $$: Buy elsewhere.
Product or Service Mentioned: Pep Boys Tire Rotation.
Reason of review: For realz? Routine practice of bait & switch is illegal..
Monetary Loss: $1000.
Preferred solution: I would like my 5 hours re-imbursed. I am a Master's level Counselor, my consulting rate is $200/hourly..
Pep Boys Cons: Illegal actions, Staff complicit in illegal act, Staff unaware of illegal act, 5 hours to install 2 new tires.