Last Wednesday I bought snow tires.  My 2WD Toyota Highlander slides around in bad weather like a hotdog in a bun.  So last Monday I alternately called City Tires and Interstate Tires until one of the lines wasn't busy.  Mr. City Tires asked what size tires I needed.  "I drive a Toyota Highlander." "Let's see... that's a 225-70.  I just have Firestone Winterforce in that size."  "Would you recommend those?"  "Thas all I got in that size.  I'm all outta th' others."

So I decided to go for it.  $109 a tire including installation, and another $10 each for studs.  I figured I was probably getting gypped, but I didn't really know what to do about that.  On Wedensday I waited an extra half hour "the stud gun broke.  it's been a helluva day"  and finally was ready to check out.  "What'd I say, $129?"  "No, you said $119.  $109+$10 for studs."  "Oh, yeah, right, probably forgot to write it down." Umm...

 This morning in a moment of weakness I pulled out the invoice.  There's a $12 recycling fee (what did they recycle?  They put my summer tires in my trunk) and a $15.50/tire studding service.  Umm... I thought it was $10/tire.

 So, my question is, how do I interact with members of the automotive services community without getting taken advantage of?   


8 thoughts on “Tired”

  1. I don't have a good answer to how you avoid getting screwed over by car people in general. There are really only two industries that seem actively out to screw you, telecommunications (including cable and cell service) and cars. In the Upper Valley, I had a really hard time with cars, especially with the VW dealership there. At one point, I brought it in because I thought I needed new brake pads. They "put it up on the lift" and charged me $80 to say that there were no problems. Of course, when I brought it back in for an oil change 1000 miles later they told me that the brake pads were completely gone so I was braking with metal on metal. By the time I had the rotors and pads replaced it ended up being $600 for something they'd said was fine the previous month.

    I had pretty good luck with City Tire, but they're kind of a crap shoot because they don't actually write anything down, it's just those little hand-written receipts. It's one of the reasons why I liked Tire Kingdom out by exit 17, they were more formal even if it always took forever to get tires switched over there.

    The real question now though is whether it's worth it for you to go fight with City Tire over the $30 they overcharged you. I'd think about going in and just saying, "hey, we agreed on $119 a tire and you ended up charging me $x". If they say "ooh, sorry" then you know it's a decent place to go in the future. If they tell you to get lost you just say "I didn't realize that you try to cheat people here, you won't get any more of my business." And say it in a loud voice so the other customers can hear. 🙂

  2. Dood, that sucks about the VW dealership.

    A friend recently recommended Watson's in East Thetford. I think I'll take my car there this spring to have my "summer tires" (oh, man, that cracks me up. It's like having a "summer house") put back on my car. City tires charges $40. I'm out to find a better deal.

  3. You should be able to tell pretty quickly whether a place is actively adding stuff on and doing passive aggressive selling of extra stuff or whether they just made a mistake. Just ask them questions and keep bugging them about what the actually cost was for and reiterate what you were told. Also it is good to check on your one what the actual part costs (check for example autozone or a similar site), then for example you know that a person is deliberately out to get you if they recommend $80/hr to machine rotors when you can get new ones for 30K relationship. like dating really...

    I have had some really good work done at City so i would think that they just messed up and would have no problem making it right...

  4. just realized that last comment was cut in the middle...
    kind of hilariously out of place words. not really going to fix it.

  5. I've used Watson's, and they're a straightforward outfit - no reason to worry there. The only hangup is that they are pretty low-volume, so don't expect to be able to always get in when you need to. (Not anywhere near as bad as the waiting time for the Co-Op service center, but it's not immediate, either...)

    I prefer Roberts Auto, just of exit 19 on Mechanic Street in Lebanon. The folks I lived with my first two years here recommended them, and they are used by the Lebanon Police to service all the cop cars, so you know they are competitively priced and don't screw around with the charges. It also means they are pretty high-volume, so it's pretty easy to get your vehicle in there when you need it.

    I bought my snow tires (set of 4 for my 4WD, no studs) my first year here for $85/tire, installed. Just a week ago, I got an oil change, winterized fluids change, and my snow tires swapped back for a grand total of about $110.

    Oh yeah, and Joel's comment is mind-boggling.

  6. I also had some quite good experience with City Tire. There were a few times they didn't charge me anything, once checking the tires and once the brake, they fixed the small problems and asked for no money. But they do seem quite "casual".

    Last year when I had problems with the high beam light of my car, I basically tried all the car shops around. Citi Tire doesn't do electronics stuff, and Roberts was too busy and I had to wait 2 weeks just for them to look at it. Northern Motorsport at Wilder checked my car and tried to replace the light bulb but that was not the problem (they didn't charge me for this). They said I need to make a reservation but I couldn't wait that long. Many places will check it for $60 or something like that but they don't guarantee they will find the problem. The people I talked to were kind enough to tell me since they don't have much experience with Saab they probably won't find the problem, and they suggested some other car shops for me to try. In the end I called one in Springfield, and obviously the guy knew about this problem and said it's a very easy fix. The next day I went there and get the light fixed, it was from some bad connection of the relay. I paid $5.... I guess the point of my story is, we just have to shop around -_-

    Talking about tires... I got my snow tires two years ago, and they are still on my car. I was too lazy to replace them with summer tires (also want to save some money) and so I just kept using them..... @_@

  7. Well, looks like people have covered most things here, but I think my two cents is that (a) you definitely have to be careful in the Upper Valley and (b) you will often be better off if you are not mistaken for a Dartmouth undergrad. Many places/people despise undergrads and view them as easy money, since they're paying with Daddy's credit card.

    As such, know what size tires you need, and look online/look in Autozone for a rough estimate for the part you need. If you can give them that much info then you demonstrate that you know what you're doing, and they will respect that and usually give you very good service.

    Finally, while we're on the subject of snow tires, I have to say that Nokian Hakkapeliittas are the best I have ever seen/used. They're definitely not cheap but given that you get several winters out of the pair, I'd say they're worth it.

  8. Thanks for all the fabulous advice everyone. I'm almost looking forward to the next time I have car trouble (ok, not really) because I'll get to employ all these tactics, AND check out some of the other shops in the area. TKS!

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