[urq] The Trip from Hell (Firestone Con-artist Rant)

Andrew B andrew.sb at gmail.com
Mon Dec 20 17:30:31 EST 2004

Email 2:

Well, this weekend I decided to take a trip to Buffalo to visit a
friend of mine who went to school there.  The trip up was fine,
outside of some issues with my Spedo, and the car made the trip with
no sweat (lots of gas though...).  On Sunday, when it was time to
leave, I went out to start my car, and it turned over as usual, but
didn't start.  So I turned the key again, as usual, and it cranked....

and it cranked....

and slowly it stopped cranking.

I figured this was a low battery, so I tried jumping it, to no avail. 
My guess was that it was flooded as well as dead.  Regardless, I
called AAA, thinking they may have some suggestions, but mostly I just
got a tow.  Of course, I really didn't have anywhere to tow it to.  My
uncle is in the area and has a garage, which I figured would help the
car warm up, and it might be able to start.  Of course, I didn't know
how to get there.  So we towed it to the only place open on a Sunday,
Firestone.  This is where it gets interesting/bad/disappointing.

I got to firestone at about 3, since I wasn't the only one stranded in
that icy cold.  When I got there, they told me they would work on it,
and figuring that it needed a jump and some heat, I thought it would
be an easy fix.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  They didn't even
move the car in until 4:55, and they closed at 5.  I figured they
could at least tell me if they weren't going to try working on it,
then I could make other plans.  I'm very lucky I was staying with a
good friend out in Buffalo, as I had to spend another night there
while I waited for firestone to do anything.  When I left, the guy
told me they would work on it in the morning, and call me by 9 when
they figured out what it was.

So, I woke at 7 the next morning, and finally got to Firestone at
around 9 or 930.  They hadn't even touched the car yet.  Now I know
they've got other customers and everything, but it takes 30 seconds to
see if it'll turn over.  So, I hang around for a while, and about an
hour later they start working on it.  A couple hours go by (who's
counting, anyways?) and the guy tells me he's getting some price
qoutes on some parts for me.  Parts?  All I need is to get it
started...Sure enough, the guy comes back with an estimate of $570 to
replace my spark plugs and wires, and to flush the fuel system.  Might
as well throw an oil change in too, right?  I couldn't believe it,
$230 worth of labor to install plug wires...are you kidding me?

I told the guy I needed to hear it run before I paid for anything.  He
said the guy had gotten it started earlier, but it was idling high and
stumbling.  I figured it just needed to warm up, but regardless, he
wouldn't let me try it until "they put it back together."  So i go out
to take a look, and sure enough, there is one spark plug removed, and
the corresponding cable is removed.  No open distributor, no throttle
body (which he said was "gummed up"), and no signs of any effort at
all.  I told the guy I would put it back together and start it, and
then we'd see, and he sent somebody else to do it (one spark plug is
"all apart"?).  Sure enough, the car immediately started, and the guy
drove around to the front before I could even see it.  He wouldn't
even let me see how it ran!  When he parked it and ran off, I got
inside, and sure enough, it ran just as well as it ever did.

I can't believe those con artists wanted me to pay $570 to do some
crappy work that didn't need to be done.  I'm amazed that they get
away with this.  I got out of there after spending $60 (yeah, for a
battery charge and a flooded engine), and I would have gladly paid the
original $85 they wanted just to get out of there.  To make it even
better, they broke a T junction in my windshield washers, and my radio
and clock no longer work.  I'm hoping it's just a fuse.  I was so
eager to get out of there, I didn't even care.  I drove the car back
to syracuse without any problems, besides no radio and a loud
spedometer.  I can't believe those guys, I'm pissed.

Anybody have any suggestions on where to turn?  My father suggested
the better business bureau, but I'm wondering if there's anything
else.  As I waited for 5 hours there, not a single person walked away
with a bill less than $300.  What a mistake that was...  Anybody have
a similar experience?  I've never been to a Firestone before, and I'll
never go to another.


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