On April 6, 2022, I booked a short vacation cruise out of Port Canaveral, FL. Port Canaveral is about a 150 mile drive on expressways from my home in St. Petersburg.
A day or two before while on the way home from Tampa on the expressway driving around 68 MPH, I noticed a small but annoying vibration in the seat of my 2009 Cadillac DTS Luxury Edition with 55,000 miles on it.
At 82, I rarely drive above 55 or on expressways. Looking forward to a 300-mile round trip, I did not want the vibration. After all, this is a luxury vehicle that should ride and steer perfectly. The steering on this vehicle is so good that it tracked the road without any kind of pull to the left or right at any speed.
I value my time to be very expensive today since I cannot get any more. Having more than 40 years experience operating a service enterprise in NYC, I am keenly aware of how to plan my time so I do not SQUANDER my precious time.
I am not a novice or ignorant on things mechanical.
I owned a service firm in NYC and a fleet of 10 trucks, cars, Motorcycles and RV’s. I am the author of Auto Insurance Tricks and Repair Rip-Offs. I studied auto mechanics for two years at Tomlinson Vocational High School here in St Pete and for 4 years in the United States Coast Guard as a Engineman 2 Class EN2.
To this end, I decided to visit three tire firms near me to learn what it would cost me in TIME and dollars to get rid of the vibration in the seat.
Going Out for Three Bids
On March 9, 2022, I drove up Tyrone Blvd to Mavis Tires and Brakes at 2701 Tyrone Blvd. (I have been doing business with Mavis in CT for more than 15 years) to have them do a road test and inspection and then provide me with a solution.
A solution to me and how I ran my business for over 40 years is to inspect the issues, decide exactly what needs to be done including the cost of TIME and present a fixed BID with my client to solve their concerns. Undersell and over deliver works
At age 82 my time is more valuable than dollars. I despise folks who wantonly squander my time. I never ever waste others time or ask for a favor.
Having done business with Mavis Tires in CT, my first choice was Mavis Tires and Brakes. They agreed to see me at 12 noon on March 10. I made a reservation, but told the Rep that I may cancel if I could find an earlier time elsewhere as I had much to do, and time was not in my side.
I then went across Tyrone Blvd and made an appointment with a service rep at Tires Plus at 10 AM March 10 to have my Cadillac thoroughly road tested and to get a fixed cost to make the vibration go away for my upcoming trip.
As a retired octogenarian and longtime consumer advocate I know how to conduct business as a vendor and client.
As a professional I expect any vendor that I do business with to clearly understand this.
I also called two other firms and the Firestone store on 49 street North, but could not see me till the 11th.
Arrival / Triage
March 10, 2022, 945 AM I arrived at Tires Plus waited for a few minutes after I gave up my keys. Again, I made it clear that I expected my Caddy to be driven on the road so the tech could feel the vibration in the driver’s seat.
My issue was vibration in the driver’s seat and based on my long history of owning vehicles that told me the front end did not need to be aligned as the car tracked perfectly.My thought was that they would balance and rotate the tires. My expectation was about $40 to $60 which is the going rate for such service.
Even though the invoice indicates the vibration was in the steering wheel I did not make that an issue.
Treatment / Service
Instead of my expectation of me being asked to go with the tech on the road test like I requested, in less than 10 minutes after I gave up my keys another guy, Harry, who introduced himself as the store manager asked me to go into the garage where my car was on a lift with all four tires attached.
Harry directed me to take notice of the play in the D/S front wheel where he told me that the wheel bearing was shot and that was my problem. I could not hear, see, or feel any of the things he was doing. I asked if he had driven the car and he said he did not need to do that.
Then I reminded Harry that this vehicle had less than 60,000 miles and bearings like these should last well over 200,000 miles without failure as they are factory pre-lubricated and the permanently pressed on the shaft.
Then I asked this question:
How much is a replacement bearing?
The answer I got was that he had ordered it and would not know until it arrived.
I still do not have what I came to get. I was willing to pay for a professional Road Test by a qualified repair technician. I wanted a Total out the door price to REMOVE the vibration in my seat when driving this car 60 to 80 MPH.
I told Harry that I had to be out of his shop by 1 PM an not a minute later as I had business to do.
I had expected to get a road test, the results and get preparing for my upcoming cruise among other things.
At about 12:45 Harry called me in from outside where I was conducting business on my phone and commenced to hand me a bill…
That bill turned out to be $612.10 instead of the cost of a road test that cost $21.99.
Having no time left to argue, decided to give harry my AMEX card before I took the car on the road to see if $612.10 resolved my problem.
Having been conned in my early years by auto repair, AC and plumbers etc. about unnecessary or ghost replacement parts, I asked Harry to give me the wheel bearing removed from my Car. And I decided to see if this $612.10 provided me with a smooth ride to Melbourne Florida.
What happened when I got out on the expressway the next day on my way to Melbourne?
I now had a road noise that I did not hear before and the vibration in my seat was the same or worse. So, I suffered the pain of having done business with a salesperson who Insulted my intelligence.
After the cruise, I drove back in a vibrating seat.
My Standard FeeFor the record, my consulting and Coaching business my standard fee is $650.00 per hour for my Sales and Marketing coaching. Equally when anyone abuses my time today by being dishonest or intentionally squandering my time, I will send them a bill.
Since I retuned from the cruise, I showed that used wheel bearing to several auto repair places including a 35-year tech at Firestone on 49 Street, where I paid to have my car road tested.
And yes, the vibration is still in the car and two techs examined the wheel bearing and could not find anything wrong.
The original bearing appears to be equal to a brand-new bearing according to 3 seasoned front end mechanics.And a guy who has owned a Jeep repair shop for over 39 years.
So, what is the bottom line?
My time has been squandered. My intelligence has been abused. And having been a customer and Vendor of American Express I lodged a complaint to have this Nonservice credited to my account.
The best example of my time being squandered can be found at www.theplan.com/posted.htm
This notice was uploaded by me in 2003 for mega spammers who send me UCE or con mail. Yes, it works on the internet and in a court of law.
The folks at Firestone, Tire Plus sister company, suggested that replacing all 4 tires would resolve the vibration.
In my business you have just one chance to do things right. Doing them over is inane, as they should have been done right the first time.
Therefore, I am never ever going to take my vehicle back to Tires Plus.
If they want to pay to have another firm get it right and compensate me $650 an hour for the time I must consume, I will consider that.
Otherwise Tires Plus can expect me to share my story of a 82 year old being duped by them.
I am positive that I am NOT the only senior or ignorant person that gets sold parts and services that are unnecessary.