Monday, March 7, 2016

Unethical Corporate Greed and Lies

When I was at UT I took a marketing class from a very popular professor who used Discount Tire as a model for how to do good business. For years I respected them and went to them to buy new tires as needed. I have sent many of my friends there and told them what I learned at UT about how they do business. I told people how they always greet you the moment you walk in the door and make you feel important. No matter how many people are ahead of you, you don’t mind waiting because you can tell they value each person’s time and presence. I told people how quick and efficient their service is. I told people how they give sound recommendations that meet your needs adequately and appropriately. I told people how they will change a flat tire for free in order to generate good will and customer loyalty. I have bought many a tire at Discount Tire. But not any more.

Friday morning a light on my dash board told me that the air in one of my tires was low. I pulled over and sure enough there was a dry wall nail in the center of my tire causing a slow leak. Within ten miles of noticing that I had a problem a very nice gentleman offered to help me change the flat. The tire wasn’t even completely out of air yet. I then drove to Discount Tire on my funky little spare to let them fix the flat. Much to my surprise they said it couldn't be repaired and proceeded to bombard me with a high pressure sales pitch and tell me how bad all of my tires were. They recommended that I buy an entire set of new tires. They even offered to finance them and let me make payments.

First of all, I did not believe my flat tire could not be repaired and I am not going to buy a bag of beans from a liar. Second of all, my set of tires doesn't even have 28K miles on them yet. And they are Michelins. The remaining tires on my car should be good for quite a while longer, even if Discount Tire was right about the flat not being repairable. To me it made a whole lot more sense to buy a used tire with the same amount of tread as the other three. Eventually I got fed up with the high pressure sales tactics and had a stomping yelling hissy fit to make the guy back off. He kept coming after me over and over with the intention of wearing me down until I finally yelled at him. “What is it about NO that you can’t understand? I am NOT going to buy a set of new tires from you! I don't even believe the flat I brought in can't be fixed! Now give me back my tire so I can leave!” I said this in the showroom in front of the other customers and they all took note. When he finally realized that he wasn't going to get anywhere with me, he stopped hounding me and gave me my flat tire back. The intense high pressure sales tactic reminded me of the way some men bulldoze women for sex. It was disgusting.

I put my flat tire and rim back in the trunk and drove to a used tire store. I told them I had a flat and Discount Tire told me it couldn't be fixed and I'd like to have a second opinion. The used tire technician took a look at the tire and told me he could definitely fix it. I asked him if he thought it might be dangerous, and whether I could possibly have a blow out. He didn't think there was any reason for me to be concerned about that. He ran his fingers inside the tire and we both had a good look at it. Since he didn't think there was anything to worry about, I decided to drive slow and take my chances instead of buying a new used tire. I got my flat fixed for $15 and tipped him $5. On my way home I drove very slowly at first and had no problems. After driving for a few more miles I finally had the courage to go 65 MPH. Still no blow out. If I ever do have a blow out on this tire you will all be the first to know, and I will apologize to Discount Tire. But as it stands, I am inclined to think corporate greed has infiltrated their ethics and they are scamming to sell tires to people who don’t really need them.

Even if my flat tire had really been ruined and unfixable, Discount Tire could have let me make my own fully-informed legitimate decision instead of trying to cram their opinion of what I should do down my throat. They could have said there are three ways to handle a situation like that. 1) I could go buy a used tired with about the same amount of tread on it as the other three, 2) I could just buy one new tire, with a whole lot more tread on it than the other three, which could result in the need for frequent balancing and rotation, or 3) I could invest in a whole new set of tires and save myself the time and trouble of having to come back and replace the other three when they are finally worn out. But to claim that a tire cannot be fixed, and that I also need to get three more, and put high pressure on me to go into debt to buy them seems a little unethical to me.

Gone are the days when you could count on companies like Discount Tire to let you know what all your options are and make your own decision about whether saving money or time is the most important to you. Gone are the days when you can just get a flat tire fixed at a place that sells new tires. Gone are the days when customers had a choice and the right to know the truth. These days people have to fight for fairness, fight for justice, and fight to make sure the people charging money are not just scamming you. Corporate America doesn't even remember how to deal with someone who isn't a willing member of the walking talking tell me what to do zombie tribe. If you think for yourself they are shocked and offended. Even the lower echelons will resent you because their bosses will whip them for failing to respect the wishes of supply side economics.
It has now been nearly six months since Discount Tire told me the flat could not be fixed and I took it to the used tire store to get it fixed. And it is still working just fine. I have been driving daily ever since.

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