I am including the part in the begining about AAA Auto club South because they are responsible for this whole mess in the first place....
See photos below...
On Tuesday June 17th at approximately 8:00 p.m. my family and I were getting ready to leave the Royal Pacific Resort 6300 Hollywood Way in Orlando Florida, when we discovered that our van was not working properly. It would start and move but it shook considerably. Due to the fact we had about a 250-mile journey ahead of us, we knew that it was not drivable. So, I immediately called the AAA 1 800 222-4357 number for a service call.
About 40 minutes later a tow truck came and I asked the driver whose name was Herb to only take my van to the closest authorized AAA certified repair facility. (I expected at the time since I was in Orlando Florida and due to the volume of visitors to the area in addition to the highly publicized endorsement from both Universal Studios and Walt Disney World of AAA, this would not be a problem) He stated that he did not know where there was one and that he could take it to a Pontiac Dealer. I would probably pay more money for the repairs though. He did not know whether or not they would be AAA certified. Or, I could take my van to his friend that was an ex-marine and that he would take care of me. Well I asked him if the repair facility, L&M Automotive Inc. (He gave me a flyer from their business), was an AAA certified repair shop. He said no, but they were trying to be. I said to him that I was not interested and that if he could not tow me to one that was certified by AAA, then I would have to wait until the morning and try again. It was after 9:00 p.m. and I believed that all the repair shops were probably closed at that time. I decided that it would be much wiser to wait until the repair shops were open the next day, to get one that was AAA certified.
June 18th 2003
At 8:00 a.m. I took a shuttle back to the Royal Pacific Resort and called AAA for a tow truck again. In this phone call I made it very, very clear that I had already called for a tow the night before and sent away a tow truck that would not, or could not, take me to a AAA certified repair facility. I told the operator that I would only accept an AAA certified repair facility. I waited to the next day because I thought I would have more success in the day then at night, even though AAA offers 24-hour service. I made it very specific, so specific that she noted in whatever that company notes statements from members, that the driver of the tow truck was to only take me to an AAA certified repair facility.
When the driver arrived he asked me what the problem was and I told him that the van shook when I started it and all the coolant was gone. I knew that the coolant system was definitely one of the problems since there was obviously no coolant in the reservoir. He told me that AAA no longer would let the tow driver even look at the vehicle and that he would tow it. I asked him if he was towing me to an AAA certified repair facility because I had requested it on the phone to the operator, and that I did not want to go anywhere else. He was on his cell phone talking to a Kevin which I now believed was the manager of your Tires Plus I was towed to. I asked him again the same question and he said yes! I said, Good, because I knew that AAA would guarantee the work and since I was from out of town, I didn't want to be taken advantage of and this is why I was so specific in my request to be towed to a AAA certified facility.
He towed my van to Tires Plus Total Car Care 4801 S. Kirkman Road in Orlando and I went inside while he took my van off of the tow truck and gave my keys to the person Kevin, at Tires Plus Total Car Care. I walked inside and went up to the counter. The very first words out of my mouth were, Are you an AAA approved repair facility? The person behind the counter said yes! He even stated that Tires Plus also would guarantee the work. Once I was assured that I was at an approved repair shop I let them look at the van. It was 9:00 a.m.
I waited at Tires Plus until about 10:00 a.m. and asked them if they knew what was wrong with the van. They did not know so I proceeded to rent a car. I called the local Hertz and they picked me up at Tires Plus and I rented a car. I returned to my family at the Best Western Plaza International and checked out at Noon. I did not want to pay for an additional day, and I wanted to be able to drive home that night, safely. I did not know what was wrong with the van and I would have to return to my home in Dania Beach Florida, whether the van would be ready that day or not. It was apparent that my husband would not make it to work at noon on June 18th. But would have to work on June 19th or risk loosing his job.
At this point based on the information I had, I decided that I would return to my home in the rent-a-car if the van was not ready, and drop it off at the Fort Lauderdale airport 10:30 a.m. on June 19th. (This is stated in my contract with Hertz that I had this option or to return it to the location that I rented it from), and my sister would drive me back up to Orlando to pick up the van when it was ready.
I drove my family back to Tires Plus and asked them if they knew what was wrong with the van. It was 1:00 p.m. and they still did not know. My family and I went across to Friendly's restaurant next door and had something to eat. We returned to Tires Plus about an hour later and asked them if they knew what was wrong. Kevin stated that it was the water pump and something was wrong with piston number 5 but they couldn't figure it out. I then called my mechanic that I always use in south Florida and spoke with him concerning what was said. I had the water pump replaced on April 19 2002 (I have a receipt of the work) and asked him if it could be that. My mechanic said it sounded possible since the water pump was an over a year old and was a rebuilt. My family and I waited for about an hour and finally Kevin came to me and explained that they now knew what the problem was. Fuel injector number five wasn't working and would have to be replaced.
I explained to him that I had just replaced that exact one and number 6 a little over a year ago, and that it was very strange that it would break. I then called my mechanic and he said that it was very strange as well. He told me to definitely get my parts back so that he could look at them and see if this was indeed the case. When Kevin first came to me with the estimate I told him that I wanted my parts back so my mechanic could look at them. I even saw him highlight it in bright yellow on the repair order. He then explained that fuel injector 5 and 6 (strange that number 6 was now broken as well), would have to be replaced. So, I told them to go ahead with the work, but be sure to give me my parts. He came back a little while later and told me that he forgot to add the charge of $80.00 for the diagnostic, and added that to my already growing bill. He recommended some more work, about $300 worth. I asked him if I could drive it home without this additional repair work. He assured me that I didn't need it done to make the 250-mile drive home.
What choice did I have, they knew and I knew that I was 250-miles away from home. That I had no place to stay for the night. I had a seven-year-old daughter that I was concerned about and I wanted to drive home, SAFELY. They knew I was going to return home that night, one way or the other. They knew I could afford the repairs because my husband I and were both calling our credit cards to check on available balances and used all the credit we had, two credit cards and a bank card, to pay a balance of $867.63.
All I kept thinking was that AAA had sent me here and that they were certified. I asked them again in front of my husband, and the man behind the counter said yes.
I did find it odd that they came back to me later and said they were having trouble finding parts and they were going to go with GM (Delco I assume), parts for the fuel injectors. Rather then other parts that would save me some money. I called my mechanic and he said since the parts he put in were GM Delco and since the 2 fuel injectors they wanted to replace were also the same two he replaced on January 28th 2002 (I still have the receipts of all the work done) to be sure I got the parts because I would have no other way to prove they were replaced.
It was now about 3:30 p.m. and My husband, 7 year old daughter and I decided to ride around Orlando and see the sights on International drive, and to confirm the route to the Hertz car rental if we had to drop off the car, if the van was ready before 6 p.m. Since the location I rented from closed at 6:00 p.m. we would have to drop the car off at Orlando Airport after 6:00 p.m. or drive both cars to Dania beach. An expensive option, though we were considering it, in light of our growing apprehension concerning the integrity of the your repair shop at this point.
We returned to Tires Plus around 4:45 p.m. I asked the person at the counter if the van would be ready and safe, (as if I should stress this point with certified mechanics?), to drive home today. I explained to him I needed to know before 5:30 p.m. because we were considering our options and didn't want to drive to the airport to return the rent-a-car. He told me he would find out and at 5:45 he said that yes, the van would be done that day, before they closed at 7:00 p.m. I did make a point of asking him if the van would be safe to drive. He said yes!
My family and I were very happy and I left my husband at Tires Plus Total Car Care to stay with the van and I went back to the Hertz I rented from to return the car. The Hertz driver drove me back to Tires Plus and I got there a little before 6:30 p.m.
When I arrived all the bays were closed, all of the mechanics including Kevin, the person that I had dealt with all day were gone. The only person there was the person to whom I paid the bill and I assume that he was James Punderson from my receipt, I had spoken with him through the day as well. I have a business card from the location and it has Kevin Beckwith, store manager printed on it. This store manager, that kept me in limbo for 9 hours that day, that made $867.63 from me, didn't wait long enough for me to get back from Hertz. At this point I felt that my greatest fears were becoming reality.
I paid for my bill and got my keys, the van was parked out front. I asked the cashier for my parts and he looked at me. At first he just looked at me and said nothing. He then gave me a response something to the effect of I don't know! At this point I said, Well, AAA would guarantee the work so I'll be all right. He responded that Tires Plus Total car Care would guarantee the work as well. Here I was, the store was closing early at 6:30 p.m. and the manager was gone. All the lights were turned off and the bays I assumed were locked up. The only person there was the guy behind the counter that didn't know, I had just returned my rent-a-car and did not have a room for the night. I DID NOT GET MY PARTS THAT I HAD SPECIFICALLY ASKED FOR! I only hoped that I would get home safe at this point. Why I had just spent over $800.00. So I took my bill and left. I put gas in the van across the street and headed down the Florida Turnpike toward our home in Dania Beach.
At approximately 10:30 p.m. as we approached our Turnpike exit at Griffin road, the vans temperature gage started to go up. We watched it carefully, it was running hot, but fortunately we had made it home.
June 19th 2003
At 10:30 a.m. we drove the van to our regular mechanic to see why it was running hot. By the time the van made it to Romeos Auto Repair on Dixie Highway coolant was shooting all over the engine. When my mechanic looked under the hood he was shocked. He pointed out that the oil cap was not even screwed on and that the engine cover underneath the cap wasn't even set in right. He also pointed out that the breather hose to the throttle body was not connected either. At this point I was furious. How could mechanics let me drive 250-miles in the rain in a vehicle in this condition?
Well, at least I was protected by AAA, or so I thought. I called AAA for a tow truck to take me to the nearest Tires Plus Total Car Care. The closest location was at 201 North Federal Highway. When I arrived there I told Floyd and Charlie the two mechanics that I dealt with there, about the van and that there was something wrong with it. I didn't know what was wrong. I didn't even let my mechanic touch it I just had it towed back to them.
I waited to find out what the problem was with the van. In the meantime I contacted AAA and asked the person I spoke with about AAA guaranteeing the work and she told me that .........
Tires Plus Total Car Care was NOT one of their CERTIFIED AAA REPAIR FACILITY. Oh really I replied.
In the meantime the mechanic Charlie at the Tires Plus Total Car Care in Fort Lauderdale told me something to the effect that the problem was the water pump and they didn't do a very good job referring to the work done in Orlando at the Tires Plus. I told him to please fix it so that I could have the van back.
I spoke with Floyd one of the mechanics and asked him if I could have the parts. He at first said yes then he told me that he could not give me the defective water pump, because they needed it to get a credit in that store. I said I could understand that, but then I wanted to talk to the main office. By this time my cell phone had died and I asked to use their phone to call the corporate office. Floyd told me to be patient and wait, and that they would fix my van. I wasn't going to yank the phone across the counter like I wanted too, and rant and rave to someone at the corporate office, so I very calmly sat and waited.
The van was running at about 5:30 p.m. and it was too late to go back to my mechanic that day. I continued to drive it that evening.
June 20th 2003
I drove the van to my mechanic, after dropping my husband at work, and could not get an appointment that day. He did look under the hood at my request to see whether it was okay to drive through the weekend.
Well, the oil cover was replaced properly, but the breather hose to the throttle body was still not connected, I asked him to look further and he noticed that a bolt was missing that holds on the ignition module and coil packs. He said it was drivable and I have an appointment on Monday June 23 2003 to have it looked over completely. I do not have the funds for him too completely open up the engine to see if the fuel injectors really were replaced. Coincidently they are the same fuel injectors I replaced on January 28th 2002, and I DID NOT GET MY PARTS THAT I REQUESTED TWICE from the location in Orlando that did the work.
I did not have any problems driving up to Orlando with the van. I did notice that the coolant system was not right by the fact that I did not see any coolant in the system. but how would that affect the fuel injectors. How come the Bad fuel injectors are the same ones I replaced. How come I parked the van and both fuel injectors automatically broke. I can see if the coolant leaked out because the water pump was bad. But no one explained how the two were connected. I asked Kevin and he explained that the fuel injectors broke probably due to a carbon buildup that he was willing to fix for the additional $300.00 charges I mentioned above.
This is why I contacted your company, by phone on June 20th 2003, and why I have spent the better part of my day typing this letter to you. I feel that AAA let me down. I feel that your company outright lied to me that they were AAA certified. I seriously have doubts about whether my fuel injectors were bad, or if they were even replaced. I spoke with my mechanic, and the mechanic that change the water pump at your Tires Plus in Fort Lauderdale, and they both told me that a water pump replacement is about an half an hour job. Why was I charged $112.00 in labor? What is $25.00 Misc. shop supplies? Why did Kevin forget to charge me the $80.00 diagnostic in the first place? I wasn't told that at all when I walked in! I asked if they were AAA certified and the man said yes. Nothing about an $80.00 diagnostic charge.
Why did your people tell me they were a AAA certified repair facility? Does your store manager Kevin and the tow truck driver have a scam going on to rip off people because they happen to have broken down and were staying at a $200.00 a night resort and they look like an easy target. Would this have happened to me if I stayed at Motel Six? I do not understand why I was lied to.
Why was the oil cap not on my vehicle? Why is the breather hose to the throttle body, a part that was mentioned by Kevin that needed repair and that might have contributed to the fuel injector problem in the first place, not connected? Why is there a bolt missing on my engine? There is more that my mechanic told me that I can't even understand. He has told me that he will give me a diagram on Monday so that I will understand what else was left in an unsafe condition in my van. A van that I was assured was safe, to drive my family, at night, in the rain, 250-miles home. A van that I spent $867.63 at a supposedly AAA certified repair facility.
Even if the facility isn't AAA certified why did I have the experience I did. From my perspective it looks to me that I looked like an easy mark, since I was a female. I was in an expensive hotel so I would probably have the money to spend. I was from out of town so what recourse did I have. Would I wait until the next day for the parts? I couldn't, everyone at Tires Plus knew I HAD to leave that night. So, was I allowed to leave with substandard work so that I would not be able to return for the parts? If the van was not ready until Thursday, I would have driven back, and picked up the van during the day, the shop would be open and what excuse would there be for me not getting my parts? But, if I had to leave that night, the store was closed and my parts, my parts. Well where were my parts? Uh,........ I don't know! That is the answer I got I DON'T KNOW! I didn't get my parts. Well what could I do? What recourse did I have? If only the water pump didn't break I wouldn't even of known my oil cap wasn't on, or the other things that I mention above.
What would have happened if the coolant squirted in the engine through the open fuel cap? What would have happened if it happened while we were driving 75 mph on the Turnpike?
I honestly believe that I am the victim of a scam job and that my fuel injectors were not even replaced. Everything that happened at your repair shop is now suspect. How can I trust one thing when I was lied to the minute I walked in the door?
I am was contacting the credit card companies and my Bank of America to dispute the charges. I do not believe that I should pay for work that I specifically requested the parts from, and did not receive. I cannot believe that I was allowed to drive, and was assured that my vehicle was safe, a distance of 229 miles. I have no idea if my water pump was replaced or was even defective, or if the reason it failed the second time was because of the, not a very good job type of work that was performed on my van by your store in Orlando.
I want to know why this happened, and why was I lied to at the counter when at the very first moment I walked in I asked if they were AAA certified? Why did the tow truck driver believe that he was taking me to a AAA certified repair facility? And the big question of them all, why did I not get my parts? The Mickey Mouse job they did by splicing three seperate pieces of hose together to replace the elbow piece shown below. This is part of the coolant system.
This picture shows a bolt that was used to replace the correct one on the right. There were also some of these same bolts missing. My mechanic had to fix the area before replacing the bolt. I can only imagine the damage of the vibration driving those 223 miles home on my engine with all the bolts that were missing. This clearly shows a missing bolt. Some pictures of bolts missing I cannot see. My mechanic has told me so much I can't remember it all. Two hours of labor for repairs for Tires Plus Butcher Job.
Now I just came from my mechanic and spent over $230.00 to have him loook at the van. I took pictures and here they are
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