My girlfriend and I went into Firestone to get a cheap oil change. She goes to college 500 miles away in North Carolina and her plates are from NC. The car was a 1997 Ford Taurus with 109k miles. There was nothing wrong with the car.
We were waiting for the oil change to be done when a mechanic came out and told us that there was a problem. We followed him onto the shop floor, where another mechanic told us that the ball joints on the car's front wheels needed to be replaced, or, as he put it, "The wheels could fall off any time." He gave us a quote of $500 for the repair.
My girlfriend told him that she didn't have that kind of money, so they tried to push her to sign up for a Firestone credit card, and even generously offered to take 10% off.
We declined both the credit card and the repair. The invoice came back with a written quote for $426.98 to replace the ball joints.
When the oil change was finished, we drove the car off and immediately noticed that the car shook a little and the handling was erratic. We took the car to a trusted mechanic my father uses, and he told us that the seals on both ball joints were gone.
However, the ball joints had plenty of use left and all that was needed was a new seal. However, this shop didn't have any in stock, and since she had to leave for school, she drove the car back to college and had the seals replaced there for $210.
I tried to contact the BBB, but all that came back was a response by the local Firestone manager denying everything.
I called Firestone corporate, but they dragged their feet every step of the way. First, "Consumer Affairs" told me that it would take at most 1-2 business days to respond.
They never did.
I called back, and refused to be put on hold or talk to an answer machine, and finally got in touch with a guy in "Customer Retention." He consistently tried to misword my claim and tried to tell me I was disrespecting him when I interruped saying that he's twisting my words (i.e. I got the car inspected here in Pittsburgh -- he tried to claim later that I said the car was FIXED here in Pittsburgh).
He also said that Firestone had no compensation program for mechanics, so he claimed that the mechanic had nothing to gain from breaking my car. Should I really believe this line?
Anyway, I've got to say that he's definitely earning his paycheck, as he played the best game of runarounds I've ever seen. In any case, in the end, the guy in "Customer Retention" wanted me to fax him the invoice of the repair, and then wanted to do an inspection on the car in North Carolina by a Firestone manager and trainer. He also said that an "internal investigation" would be done.
He then said that he would be out of town for the next two weeks starting tomorrow, but that I could talk to his "partner."
So I'm posting this on this site hoping:
1) Others won't be duped by these jokers.
2) Others will find a trusted mechanic and stick with that mechanic, rather than play Firestone's bait-and-break game.
3) Someone could advise me on how I should proceed -- should I file a claim in Small Claims court? What's a good amount I should be asking for? Do I have a chance?
Hope I've helped!
Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania