I took my vehicle to a Les Schwab Tire Center on 8910 SW Barbur Blvd which is not a location I'm familiar with, because my preferred location does not have the equipment necessary for the service I was looking for.
Before I go on, this is my advise to you. If you have wheels you don't want to have scratched, or a car you don't want dented, you let someone there know and PHOTOGRAPH EVERYTHING beforehand in the presence of their employee otherwise, be prepared to get told "your word against ours" should they cause any minor damage.
My purpose of the visit was to have a Road Force balance and ForceMatch performed on my wheels/tires with their Hunter Engineering GSP9700 machine.
Road Force balancing is a specialized type of tire/wheel balancing that matches the low-spot of the tire and the high spot of the wheel are matched to attempt to correct phantom vibrations that standard spin-rotation couldn't eliminate. (more info on www.gsp9700.com)
It is an $80 service for customers with non Les Schwab tires.
The machine identifies the high and low spots, then instructs the operator to mark these spots.
Once the spots are marked, the operator will unmount the tire from the wheel, turn the tire with respect to the wheel until the temporary marking on the wheel and the tire are matched, then the tire is seated on the wheel again. These mounting/dismounting procedure is required for ForceMatch procedure and this is the step with a risk of wheel damage.
The technician used a different machine to mount/dismount the tires. He used a machine that holds the wheel/tire steady while a metal bar attached to the centerpost rotates around to handle the bead. The tip of the bar is covered with a piece of plastic, but slides along the circumference of the wheel with a considerable force exerted on the wheel. The technician also used a pry-bar in handling the tire bead.
Clear coat was grinded from the rim of all four wheels and one wheel had a chip in the edge.
These are not the tools that should be used on delicate alloy wheels. Machines designed for them has a roller guide that ROLLS along the rim, rather than SLIDES along and scraping it. The clearcoat is easily damaged just like the paint on your car. Imagine sliding a piece of plastic along your car while pushing on it as hard as you can. That's the idea.
My car was washed a few days before and I KNOW for SURE there were no damages on my wheels. I took my car back to the store and asked for a manager, as I wanted a refund.
Manager was not available, so I had one of their guys, Tom inspects my wheels. I showed him the damage that is clearly very fresh that ground up clear-coat powder still flakesd off when I ran my finger nail over it to demonstrate him. I also showed him the pry-bar damage.
He stated "this is a mounting damage". Well Sherlock, yes it is. This is a mounting damage from the day before from Les Schwab technician mounting/unmounting my tires back on during the ForceMatch process.
He asked me "did technicians actually mount/unmount the wheels?", clearly an indication he has no clue about the process of ForceMatch process.
He backs up with "Since these aren't Les Schwab tires, we didn't mount them"
Tom said "if we refund the money, would that make you go away? I know you don't want to do any business with us and we don't want any claims or whatsoever about the wheels. I'll leave a note to the manager and I'm sure he'll ok it"
I'm not stupid enough to not inspect my wheels after it was originally installed by the first shop, so I know the damage was not done there. I know it is not curb damage either, because the damage was NOT there when I washed my car a few days ago, I'm the only one who drives that car and I have not curbed it.
I asked him to accept that they caused the damage. He responds "Since we don't know what the wheels looked like when you brought it in, we won't accept responsibility for it, but since you're not happy with it we'll refund the money"
To their credit, I have to say, Les Schwab has great service, UNTIL something happens to your car and this is my first time. Then, they will claim "your word against ours, no proof the damage wasn't there before", perhaps unless the damage is substantial enough they can't possibly talk their way out.
If you have to let Les Schwab work on your wheels, especially if you have non L.S. tires and they damage your wheel, they will deny their part in it, even without talking to the actual tech who worked on it. No, they would not say "we probably didn't" they would say "we are not responsible for it" with such a certainty.
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