Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tires for the van aka I hate Toyota or Toyota sucks

I took the van to the dealer for service on Friday. It was time for an oil change and the struts needed to be replaced. When I made the appointment I had the service advisor check our history because I thought the technician had also mentioned replacing the tires in the past. She said there was a note about the tires and it wasn't quite time then but they will check the tread. She also offered me a free rental car because of the amount of time needed for the service.

At this dealership (is that the right word) you are assigned a service advisor and they sit you down and figure out what you need then take you into the waiting room. They are also the ones who come to you when there is something to discuss about your vehicle (like additional work) or when you are finished they take you to the register to check out. When we were in the office I asked the advisor about the Tires for Life program that we were told about when we bought the van. (We bought our van new in June of 06.) She said that program was eliminated in early 08. (March? April? May? I can't remember what she said.) I asked if people were really upset about that. She said some but the service manager works with someone individually who has an issue. Little did I know that I would soon be one of those people.

I got my rental and headed home. Later that afternoon I got a call and my advisor said the tires needed to be replaced. I asked about the Tires for Life program. I said that we went to only that dealer for our service because of that program and we have never gotten a free tire. In the history she showed we replaced two tires in the fall of 08. (I knew at that time the tire was damaged so that didn't qualify for the free tires because it had to be because of wear) and we replaced two more in 09. I'm not sure why I didn't ask about it in 09 (my guess is that I took the van in for something else and at that time they said I needed tires so it wasn't something I planned on.) Regardless, no one ever mentioned free tires to me and I believe they should have. My advisor said she would have the manager call me.

The manager called me back and explained that after the program was eliminated they were allowing people one more set of tires. (Of course) I didn't qualify for that one more free set because the tires that were on my van were not the ones that were registered with the program. I explained that I always replaced the tires with the ones recommended by Toyota. He said well, the numbers didn't match up so there was nothing he could do about that but he would give me a good deal on tires. He'd sell them to me at cost and he would take care of me. He had the advisor call me back with the prices.

Stupidly, I had them go ahead and replace the tires. I wish I hadn't but what was I going to do? I scheduled the service for that day because I was only going to have one extra kid. My son didn't have preschool so I didn't have to be home early for him (when I called to make the appointment I didn't know they were going to give me a rental.) It was going to be a huge hassle for me to find another place and time to have my tires replaced. I still wish I would have done that and not had the dealer do it. I feel like there was no consequence for their bad behavior.

The next day (Saturday) I returned the rental and picked up the van. After I checked out I noticed there was a sample of a survey stapled to my receipt with all the answers "excellent." At the bottom it said, "If for any reason you can't fill out the survey like this one, please call me immediately" and it was signed by my service advisor. I saw her on the way out so I knocked on her door. I told her I would not be filling my survey out like that and that I was very upset. I felt like I did everything I was supposed to do and I got no benefit from the program. I didn't get one free tire even though I had all of my service done there. I said I believed that's why they eliminated the program. People were doing what they thought they were supposed to do and still being denied tires. It was causing bad feelings and that wasn't the original purpose of the program. I told her I planned on writing the owner and Toyota. I said this is something that would keep us from coming back to that dealership. I said we would like to get a hybrid as our next vehicle but we would definitely look at non-Toyota hybrids first and if we still decided on a Toyota we would not be coming to this dealer.

I am really mad. This is the reason car dealers have reputations for being shady and untrustworthy. What they did was shady. They sold us a vehicle and told us we could have free tires for life and then ended the program. That's not tires for life. Plus, I'm pretty sure we never got any notification about the program ending. In addition to contacting Toyota I also plan on contacting the Better Business Bureau and my state's attorney general. I'm also annoyed because all this is going to take a lot of time. Time I would rather spend doing something else. Time I need to spend doing something else.

I'll let you know what happens.


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