Location: Minnesota, United States
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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

These Are Not Dolphins

Eryn and I were on our way to the MN Zoo for the 12:00 dolphin show. We had just gone through a Burger King drive through (I had promised both chicken tenders and a dolphin show) when someone in a van next to me gestured wildly at me. It wasn't an obscene gesture, so I lowered my window. The news was a flat tire. Okay, how far can I drive on this? I can't feel any difference in the way my car is handling--it's not even pulling to that side. Not seeing anything nearby, I chanced the two miles back to the new GoodYear at Diffley Square that is about half a mile from my house. (Remember that name: Goodyear, Diffley Square.) I figured if they told me it would take them forever to look at my car, worst case scenario was that I could walk home with Eryn--even if I had to carry her part of the way.

I walk into a nearly empty showroom (one man was there waiting for his wheels to be mounted on his truck) and tell the man behind the counter that I've got a flat tire and a toddler who's been promised the zoo, and can they look at my car in a reasonable amount of time? He says it'll be a while before they can look at it--maybe a whole half hour. Fine, I say. I have juice, Nemo snacks, and a book for Eryn. I'll be bored, but she'll be busy. Half an hour sounds fine, and believable. This is an eight-bay garage with only one vehicle in it, and I can see at least six guys in coveralls out in the shop. An hour and fifteen minutes later, they finally pull my car into the garage. They've got the tire off in no time, and then nothing happens. Well, except this:

Then nothing happens some more. Why don't I ask what's going on? I'll tell you why: because car guys mess with me. So far, they've got my tire off, and they've done nothing else to my car, so there's no way they can come back to me and say that it needed a completely new undercarriage plus Extreme Climate Rustproofing, which it just happens is on special right now, and they've gone ahead and done all that for the low price of $856.42 plus my spleen and Eryn's firstborn child. I let on I'm getting annoyed, and they might mess with me. All they've done is be s-l-o-w. Then, finally, I see a coveralled man putting my tire back on, lowering the car back to ground level, and pulling it out. So I put on Eryn's coat. It's been two hours, and she's read all the letters on all the display tires half a dozen times each, gotten a new diaper, colored an entire issue of HighLights, and watched the news on Headline News rotate through eight times.

But, no. I wait politely for a few minutes for them to tell me my car is ready, but they don't, even though no one else is at the counter. (Several other customers have come and gone in all this time.) Truck Guy, who was saying something 90 minutes earlier to Counter Guy about "Those Illegals are always doing it, I don't get it," is long gone. So I ask. Here's my conversation with Counter Girl:

Me: So, it must just have needed a patch?
CG: He didn't go over it with you?
Me: No one has said anything to me for two hours.
CG: Well, the rim was bent.

[Was bent? Does that mean it's fixed now? No one told me. What's this going to cost?]

Me: Oh. So, what did they do?
CG: I don't know. He knows. [indicating Counter Guy, who is older and male, so he must know what they did]
Me: [Wait. Counter Guy isn't doing anything, but he's not talking to me, either. Then he makes a phone call. ]
CGuy: Jennifer? Your car is done.
Me: Yes. Can you tell me what you did with it, please? [A bit of an edge in my voice now. They've already printed the invoice. I can see it's for only $20.10. That's good, but what the hell?]
CGuy: Well, the rim is bent. [Now it is bent. Not was. Crap. Well, that explains the amount of the bill.]
Me: Yes.
CGuy: So he put some sealant on the tire so it would seal well.
Me: Okay...
CGuy: The rim is bent. [waits] See, so if you look at it, there's this big inward--
Me: I understood "The rim is bent."
CGuy: So he put sealant on it, so it should stay sealed.
Me: But...
CGuy: You must have hit a major pothole really hard.
Me: Um, no.
CGuy: The rim is really bent.
Me: So, all you did was but the tire back on with some sealant?
CGuy: We can't bend the rim back because it's a special kind of metal--aluminum--and it will break or crack.
Me: Okay.
CGuy: We could get you in...[checks schedule]
Me: Wait, what does it need, exactly?
CGuy: We'd have to order the part from Ford.
Me: OR, I could take it to the dealer.
CGuy: Yeah, they could do it. You really hit something. You should have them check the alignment after they replace it.
Me: Just the rim, right?
CGuy: Yeah, you're rim's bent. Maybe you should talk to your insurance company.
Me: You realize no one said anything to me about what they were doing?
CGuy: We can't fix it right now.

Enlightening. I guess my rim is bent.

One would think they'd have come to me after discovering the bent rim and said "Your rim is bent. We can't fix it now, but it needs to be replaced. Would you like us to order you a part?" That would be normal behavior. Instead, they took off the tire, checked it for a leak, noticed the rim, smeared crap on my tire, refit it, and handed me a bill.

So I get Eryn outside, and this is what I find:

Does that tire look properly inflated to you? Okay, it's hard to tell in the photo, but it was almost as flat as when I walked into GoodYear. Trust me: I drove to the gas station across the big parking lot and inflated the tire myself. And why is there crap all over my hubcap now? Here, look:

It wasn't there before. Is that the sealant? Why is it smeared all over the hubcap? I understand why it's on the tire. It's on my tire because my rim is bent.

I'm not going to a Ford dealer. I'm going to Larson's just off Highway 13 in Eagan, because they've never screwed around with me, they charge fair prices, they don't assume I'm stupid because I'm female, and they're so interested in making their customers happy that they charge for 3/4 of an hour's worth of labor for a job that The Book says should take an hour, but that took them, in reality, 3/4 of an hour.

Larson Automotive Service
3955 Cedarview Drive
(651) 454-2020

They're by the Cedarvale Mall with the Grand Slam sports center in it. Use them, they're great.

Oh: I had the camera with me because Eryn and I were going to the zoo--remember? To see dolphins. She was so close to needing a nap by the time I knew my rim was bent that we had to come home. We got inside, and she asked for dolphins. Sigh. I had to find her a picture online and promise we'd go see the real live dolphins tomorrow.

(Look! Dolphins!)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recommended Larsen to Scott. They are good, honest and don't screw around.


March 02, 2005 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may be Grandpa's falt that Eryn missed the Dolphins'. Jen let me use her car for two weeks while I visited. I do not recall finding a pot hole, but that does not mean I didn't find one. Sorry Eryn that you missed the Zoo. Eryn enjoy your vehicle when the weather cooperates. See you again in 4 months.

March 02, 2005 10:04 PM  

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