Monday, May 30, 2011


To me, cars have always been a luxury.  Something that I am VERY grateful to have when I have one.  After communting by carpool in England, then finally getting a car, then having to sell it and commute again, I learned quickly how nice it was to have a car.  I was VERY lucky to have a car for some of the time I was in was in University (thanks Mom and Dad- Thelma did me good!), but even more blessed to have a best friend (thanks Jesse!) who let me borrow his car if I needed to do groceries or do some shopping that was too much for me to walk home with (living in Shawnee, Oklahoma, taxis were just not an option!).  I have always been thankful for my own car.

I lost my car to Graham when we moevd to T.O, so I was now commuting by streetcar, subway, subway and then walking to work at the other end.  I LOVED the days that I had a car, but hated that it was because Graham was usually gone for X amount of time.

Today I had to take our car in for LONG overdue check up and diagnosis for why our car was wheezing when you turned the a/c on, clunking over bumps, chugging gas, and grinding when you tried to brake.  I had a feeling the $40 oil change would turn into at least $1,000 worth of work, which Graham and I were prepared for...knowing it might be MUCH worse as the a/c doesn't blow ANY cold air.

Since moving, we have had no idea where to take the car, so I decided to take it for a few quotes before agreeing to get any work done.  I started with Canadian Tire (I had no idea if this was a good idea, but it was somewhere to start) and then was planning on going to a friend's cousins garage in Whitby.

Umm...that would have been the ideal plan if Canadian Tire wasn't the most outrageous experience I have ever come across.

Here's how my day went in short.

I showed up at 9am to get the car DIAGNOSED.  I agreed and signed to an air conditioning check ($40) and a front end check ($37) and the rest of the inspection (brakes) was free.  IF and I mean, IF I decided to get the work done their tomorrow, then I also needed an oil change which could be factored into the quote.  They told me it would be an hour, hour and a half at TOPS.  I told them I would pop over to wal-mart, get a drink and magazine and would wait it out in the waiting room for them to call me over when they were done.

2 hours later, I went to the desk to ask what was going on.  They said that they were just starting the a/c check, but wanted to show me what work needed to get done with the brakes and stabilizers.  I went over, they blah, blah, blah'ed me a bunch of stuff I knew was going to be MEGA $$$$$, and felt skeptical.  I KNEW the stablizers needed to be done, as the front end noise was HORRENDOUS over bumps and the alignment was WAY off because of whatever issue there was.  The stablizer arms were missing the bolt to keep the ball and arm together.  However, they gave me some schpeel about the brakes which didn't add up.

They did the air conditioning check, saying it would be 15 mins and then they would give me a quote and I could pay the $80 or so for the diagnostics.  45 mins later, I was annoyed and went back to the desk to ask them what was taking so long, and was unhappy with them telling me a time and NOT remotely sticking to it (there were only 2 cars in the shop and 8 mechanics, so come on!).  They told me 5 more mins, which turned into 15, which by that point I was PISSED.  I asked the girl behind the desk to get the manager and get me my car and bill. She came back 5 mins later and said it would be another 5 mins.  I demanded my car back and when I looked through the window, I noticed they were putting it on the block and draining the oil!  WHAT?  I asked her to tell them to get my car down IMMEDIATELY and fill it with oil, give me my keys and the bill and my estimate.  She said they couldn't do that and that I owed them for a oil change I "agreed" to.  WHAT? 

The manager finally graced me with his presence (after chewing out another customer about him asking why they said his car was going to take 1 hour and it took 3, and the customer furious that he was being "schooled" like a child), and told me that my ccar would be ready in 10 mins.  I started raising my voice at the desk, asking for my car back immediately, told them I didn't approve an oil change or work, wanted my keys and quote and REFUSED to pay for the oil change.  He gave me a bullshit story, couldn't still give me my keys back, so I threatened to call the police.  They asked me to come into the office to discuss this, and I refused to allow other customers to be shielded from the disaster that happened.  Two customers left, one lady DEMANDED her keys back immediately and the other customer that got "schooled", was at this point, yelling REALLY loudly by the desk that this is "bleeping" (substituted by me- pg blog) outrageous. 

Somehow, my car was immediately taken down, oil change completed, bill fixed and ready with an estimate, a $2,800 estimate.  They tried to sweet talk me while I paid, and finished with:

"We'll see you tomorrow morning to get your work done, here's your estimate.  The air conditioning and new brakes are the most expensive, sorry for the bad news".  I told them they MUST be kidding, and I will be reporting them with my estimate and a secondary estimate (once completed) both to the papers and the Better Business Bureau. They were PISSED.  I however, didn't care.  I had already waited 5.5 HOURS to get the bum's rush today, there was NO WAY that I was going to ever go back there again!

So, off I went to FORD to take my car for an estimate.  Graham had already called to warn them of the disaster and what they said needed to be done according to Canadian Tire.  They gave him a quote for $1,500 less than what CT quoted, so I went straight there.  They were appauled by what happened, and said although it was too late now to finish the car today, they'd have it done mid morning tomorrow (5 hours of labour vs. the 13.75 CT quoted). 

Final tally from FORD and repairs needed were SUBSTANTIALLY less than CT ($600) and they were BRUTALLY honest with what needed to be done on the car.

Lesson, screw wasting almost 6 hours ANYWHERE.  Just take your car to the brand dealership your car is, get warrantied parts, and a brutally honest service!

Are you kidding me these people can still be in business?!?!  It seems like this is common practice for 2 customers in a row to be dealing with this crap!


Argh!  So tired!


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