From the I Couldn’t Make This Up dept. comes this true story today . . . But first, some background info to set it up.
A few years ago, I bought a secondhand 2013 Jeep Patriot from the Honda dealer in St. Jérôme, Quebec. It only had 56,000 kilometres on it. The Honda dealer put new all-season (summer) tires on it, and talked me into buying winter tires on separate rims.
All good. I had the vehicle serviced at the Honda garage until last September when I had the winter tires installed and was informed that it needed a lot of routine maintenance along with a brake change and some other work. So, hoping to save some money, I took the Jeep to the local Canadian Tire auto centre in St. Jérôme, where the service was excellent and I saved a fair bit of cash. To make it even sweeter, they gave me 24 months to pay the bill ($2,300) interest-free using one of their credit cards, along with $200 worth of Canadian Tire money.
They won me over. I decided they would do all the future work on the Jeep. And I sang the garage’s praises to colleagues and friends.
This past spring after the virus lockdown was lifted, I took it back there to have the tires changed again, and they did a brake-cleaning job at the same time.
And then today happened.
I figured I would have the winter tires put on early because of the potential of a second coronavirus wave putting us all in lockdown mode again. I had made an appointment by phone, wrestled with the tires to get them into the Jeep and arrived at the garage in time for my appointment.
They took the Jeep in, and about 20 minutes later informed me that they wouldn’t put the winter tires on.
No, not because it’s too early — lots of people didn’t even remove their winter tires last spring when everyone was confined.
The problem, a service counter guy told me, is that the winter tires and rims are too big for the vehicle.
Say what, I asked him, explaining I’ve used them for three winters so far and that a qualified garage had installed them. Like, what do I know about tires? I trusted the garage that sold them to me.
No matter, he said. That Canadian Tire auto centre won’t install tires that are more than 3 percent larger than what the automaker recommends, and my tires are 5 percent larger, he claimed.
I pleaded with him. I’m the customer. Please, just put them on. I mean, their garage service reps never mentioned they were too big to me before, and they had removed them last year when they did all the major work on the vehicle and put them back on.
He shrugged. He didn’t care. He wouldn’t allow them to install the tires now.
I asked him if they might cause any problems for the Jeep.
He answered: They could damage the transmission or drive train, he said, oblivious to the fact that if they actually did cause damage, Canadian Tire would have repaired it and made more money from me — which I didn’t mention to him.
I told him the store — not just the garage — would lose my business and that of my partner, and that I would complain to management.
He was not kind. He wouldn’t budge. And he practically threw me out of the place.
So, I immediately took the Jeep to the Honda dealer, and they changed the tires for me. The service rep there, a former mechanic now working behind the counter, told me there was no problem with those tires on the Jeep. Yes, they are a little bigger than the summer tires, but that’s typical for this kind of vehicle in the winter, when you want more clearance from the snow. It’s a truck, after all. People put much larger tires on those vehicles.
And I haven’t had any transmission or drive train issues with it since I bought it.
When I got home, I contacted Canadian Tire’s head office in Toronto and filed a complaint. The woman on the other end of the phone said she had never heard such a thing, and that she would pass the complaint on to the owner of the outlet in St. Jérôme. She agreed that it seemed odd they had never mentioned the tire issue to me in previous visits.
Regardless of whether the store contacts me to discuss this or not, I won’t be going back. I won’t be buying the generator I was eyeing in the store today — something I’ve been planning to purchase for quite a while given I live in a remote area and the power goes out fairly often here.
And I won’t be buying a snowblower there, or anything else. They lost thousands of dollars in potential sales to me and my partner today over two percentage points in tire size, and they got a bad one-star review on google to boot.
I’m not entirely sure there wasn’t something else at play in my encounter with this particular service rep. He wasn’t nice to me, and he upset me. I felt like he was on some sort of power trip or worse.
I dunno. Maybe he was just having a bad day.
But he left me sad and disappointed.
I’ll get over it, of course. Honda will service the Jeep going forward, and for any major work, I’ll take it to the Jeep dealer.
It might cost me a little more, but the service reps at both of those garages are more professional. And that’s worth paying a little extra for, I figure.