Report: #69475

Complaint Review: Walmart Express Tire & Lube Center

  • Submitted: Sat, October 18, 2003
  • Updated: Thu, July 08, 2004
  • Reported By: Akron Ohio
  • Walmart Express Tire & Lube Center
    2887 S. Arlington Street
    Akron, Ohio

Show customers why they should trust your business over your competitors...

In August of this year, I purchased 2 tires from the Walmart Tire Center. My car needed an alignment, so I took it to a local Sears Auto Center to have that done.

I had some abnormal wear on one of the tires and figured it was mainly because of the alignment and figured I'd have to replace it, no big deal. Well, once they got the tires off, they noticed the bit printed on the tire "mount this side in", and that Walmart had clearly mounted them "inside out". On alot of tires, it doesn't matter, but these are what they call "directional" tires, and they have to be mounted on the rim in a specific direction. ie. mount the "inside" of the tire facing "in" to the car & not facing out.

Apparently with the directional tires, the intended outside sidewall is stronger than the inside. So in essence, my tire was collapsing from being mounted wrong. In 3400 miles, the left front tire (outside edge) was worn to the cords. Sears didn't dispose of my tires, instead telling me to take them back to Walmart and ask for a refund, because although the misalignment contributed to uneven tire wear, their stupidity of mounting them wrong was the biggest factor.

Another issue (that could've resulted in my crashing the car and injuring myself & daughter or someone else) is that with them mounted that way, the traction was greatly reduced, meaning that anytime the roadway was wet, I was sliding all over the place & hydroplaning and could've caused an accident. I took the tires back to Walmart, and was met with an instant attitude. They simply told me that I should've brought the tires back (as if I knew they were mounted wrong) and they would've replaced them free (as indicated in their joke of a warranty - which they also then tried to void because the car needed an alignment).

I told them that I had bought 2 new tires from Sears because the ones they (Walmart) sold me were worthless, and Sears did not want me driving on them anymore at all because of the safety issue. The automotive manager was very unprofessional in that he tried to take all blame off the "tech" (loose term here) and put it on me with regard to the alignment. He then called the lead serviceman, who actually stood there and attempted to tell me that the words "mount this side in" were meaningless. Now I am by no means abreast to car things, but I'm intelligent enough to know that those words were put there for a reason.

A former teacher of mine at one time was a tire designer for Firestone, and he made it quite clear that tires are very hard to design because of the balance issues. For each letter that appears on a tire, there has to be design elements built into the tire in order to make balance correct, so I hardly think that the tire manufacturers would put words on tires unnecessarily, especially words that obviously affect the wear of the tires as well as the handling of the vehicle.

Initially they told me they weren't giving me any refund at all. Then I used the magic word "lawyer" and they then told me that they would refund 50% of the money spent. I hate to be picky, but when those tires could've been the cause of injury or death to me, my daughter, or an innocent person, I didn't feel 50% was good enough. I told them that was not acceptable. Then after more rude treatment from the auto center manager and the lead service "tech", I was told that if I got a written statement from Sears stating that the incorrect mounting was the major factor in those tires having excessive wear in only 3400 miles, they would issue a full refund.

Prior to the confrontation, the two of them disappeared into an office, and "called" Sears. They came out and said that the representative from Sears told them that the mis-mounting was not the major factor, but the car being out of alignment. Of course not hearing the conversation, there was no way to prove the call was even made. I left there very angry (angrier after the "tech" told me to have a nice day) and went back to Sears. The person I dealt with there (which I might add went above and beyond the call of duty) said that no call was made to them by Walmart (which I had suspected in the first place).

They were more than happy to give me a written statement that it was because of their failure to follow the manufacturer's specification for mounting the "directional" tires that caused the excessive wear and could've caused damage to both car and bodily injury had I have had an accident. While waiting for them to write the statement, I had occasion to talk to the two excellent Sears technicians that performed the service to my car, and was told that although the major damage was to the left front tire, the way that the car was out of alignment, it should've been on the right front and not the left, and that even out of alignment the tires, although intended to be 40,000 mile tires, would've lasted at least 15 to 20,000, not chewed up like they were.

So I got my statement, and headed back to Walmart. Conveniently, the "manager" who verbally stated that he would issue a 100% refund if I brought back a written statement, had left for the day. Thankfully though, the "tech" was still there, and he came into the customer waiting area. I showed him the statement, and clearly being very agitated by the fact that I did get it, simply stated (in a very unprofessional way) that I should go to the customer service desk in the front of the store and he would call up there and tell them to issue me a credit to my credit card. So although I ultimately did receive a refund credited to my credit card, I am still very unhappy about the way I was treated.

To try to hang primary blame on me for their stupid mistake, and then treat me like I was the idiot was totally unacceptable. If it had been that the wear was simply because the car was out of alignment, that would've been one thing (and I had gone to Sears initially fully expecting to have to pay for the one tire because it was shot), but being alerted to the mistake on their part (for which Sears said it was probably an honest mistake - never once during the ititial visit did they have anything negative to say about Walmart), I felt that something should be done.

And since I had the old tires as proof, and the tread depth readings, and other things to prove it was their mistake, I didn't expect to be treated like I was the idiot in this. This experience has lead me to make the decision to boycott Walmart in the future. Not only was the work shoddy, but when their mistake was proven to them, they became very rude and did all they could to escape making it right. I just hope that by someone reading my report, I can save someone from the same trouble. Maybe if the consumers who purchased tires from them would just check the outside of the tire to make sure they have been mounted correctly, it could save alot of headaches.

Akron, Ohio

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 10/18/2003 01:49 PM and is a permanent record located here: The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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Updates & Rebuttals


#1 Author of original report

With all due respect to Chris ..why I ended up at Walmart in the first place.

AUTHOR: Tamberlyn - (U.S.A.)

Chris, thanks for your post. To explain and possibly clarify why I would let a "McDonalds Reject" work on my car: My tire blew out on the expressway on a Friday evening. The closest OPEN place was Walmart. I had never gotten any car work done there previously, and had not found this site prior, therefore I didn't have prior knowledge of the caliber of their auto service people. Just because they pay their cashiers & floor personnel crap wages does not mean they pay their auto people on the same scale (but of course I found out that they do just that). That being said, their behavior after the fact is what invoked my ire. When I returned with a written statement from Sears (which is what they asked for) I did not deserve to be cussed at by the very person who requested that statement. Yes I have learned a valuable lesson. And I hope that my explanation clarifies how & why I ended up at Walmart in the first place.
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#2 Consumer Comment

What do you expect from a Department Store tire center?

AUTHOR: Chris - (U.S.A.)

I've been selling and servicing tires and automobiles for about 30 years, and I have mechanics that I pay good money to do quality work.

Why would you allow a Wal-Mart McDonalds Reject work on your car and put you and your familys life in risk? Next time you take your car in for repair, weather it be tires or an oil change think about how much the person working on your car is being paid.
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#3 Author of original report

Express Centers should have knowledge about the products they are selling

AUTHOR: Tamberlyn - (U.S.A.)

Hi Kristy, thank you for your comments. I do understand what you are saying with regard to directional tires, because until this issue came up, I had never heard of them myself. That being said, I must say though, that I do feel that it is the company's responsibility to ensure that the people who work for them are knowledgeable about the products they are dealing with. For example, I work for a company that manufactures lockers and storage equipment, and it would be unnacceptable for me not to know about the product I am working with. Therefore, those who are employed as technicians in their Tire & Lube Express Centers should have knowledge about the products they are selling to the consumer. Had I have had an accident as a result of those tires being mounted incorrectly and injured or even killed someone as a result I don't think "I didn't know" would be an acceptable excuse.

It was just very unprofessional to have two people (one of whom was manager on duty) stand there and tell me that the words "mount this side in" had no meaning. As I stated in my original report, my CAD drafting instructor worked as a tire designer for Firestone prior to becoming a teacher, and stated on more than one occasion (illustrating a point) that designing tires was very difficult because of the balance issues. For each letter you see on a tire, there has to be another element designed in, in order to counterbalance the weight of the letter being put onto the tire, so I find it highly unlikely that they would arbitrarily put words on a tire for no apparent reason. If that was the case, they could put "eat at joe's" or anything on there.

I also stated that when I went back to Sears to get a written statement, I had occasion to talk at length to the 2 technicians that worked on my car earlier in the day. While they stated that my car was out of alignment, they indicated that the way it was out of alignment, most of the tire damage should have occurred to the tire mounted on the passenger side, not the driver's side as was the case. They also stated that although in truth it was out of alignment, I should have gotten at least 15,000 to 20,000 miles out of them before they would've needed to be replaced, not the 3400 miles that were on them.

The biggest problem (as both had stated, since they both at one time had applied for jobs at Walmart previously) is that Walmart does not want to hire anyone for their Tire & Lube Express that has any sort of credentials (ie. ASE certifications) because they do not want to pay high wages for their techs. It's easy to get people who are willing to work for $6.50 an hour rather than the rates that ASE certified techs would require. Therefore they are getting alot of kids fresh out of high school with no real experience (the Sears techs stated that the only training they would've gotten would have been to watch 2 videos). I chose Walmart to purchase tires because at the time I had an unrepairable flat tire and they were the closest place open at the time. Their price for the least expensive tire was comparable to what I was charged at Sears for their tires, so it isn't like I was expecting a high quality tire at a dirt cheap price. I knew upfront that the tires I purchased from Walmart were not the highest quality and that I would have to replace them sooner than I would have if I had chosen a higher quality/more expensive tire. But that being said, I did not expect to have to replace both tires within a month & a half.

My biggest complaint (not even getting into the safety issues) was the manner in which I was treated by not only the lead technician on duty, but the manager. I was not looking for a fight, and I was not looking to be treated like I was an idiot simply because I am a woman. And that is precisely what happened. And when I returned with the written statement that the manager told me was the requirement for a refund, I feel the technician (the manager had left for the day) was way out of line in the way he handled it. He took the paper, read it, then walked over to the phone, made the call to customer service, then proceeded to tell me to "go up front and get my f*cking refund". At no time had I used any profanity, although I do admit to raising my voice as they had raised theirs during the initial interaction with them. I did speak to the store manager on duty and told him that I did not appreciate being cussed at by an employee of the store, and that I hoped proper steps would be taken so that this type of behavior would not be repeated with another customer. Whether or not anything happened is anyone's guess.
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#4 UPDATE Employee

A little advice

AUTHOR: Kristy - (U.S.A.)

I happen to work for Wal-mart, being there 4 years this year.Beforehand, I was a technician at a Ford dealer. I don't currently work in the tire shop, but I do have about 6 years or so experience . I can also say,that while I am sorry that the tires where mounted wrong,some techs(the newer less trained ones) may not have heard of directional tires.They really aren't that common,seeing only 2 or 3 cars with them the whole time I worked at Ford. But, I really hope the techs at Sears(seeing plenty of mistakes and other examples of people pushed into buying things they"needed" from various Sears stores)let you know,that if you know the vehicle needs an alignment,get the alignment done FIRST,before getting any new tires put on the front end. Depending on the alignment,how bad it was out of whack,3400 miles would be enough to do some damage to the tires. The techs just mounting the tires wrong side out , and on the wrong side of the car just mainly, as you said, reduces traction,which can be dangerous in inclement weather.It would not , however be the main factor in the tires being worn down to the cords.
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