November 20, 2013
Does it really have to be this hard?
I've lived in this country all my life and snow, sleet, slush, rain, rocks and rumbly roads are part of the landscape. The weather can change in an instant and we're always ready, from keeping the gas tank full, as well as the other essential fluids and watching the forecast to plan for our daily driving. I'm a great driver, having taken not just the new driver's training but additional courses on defensive driving and winter strategies. With all that prep, you'd think I'd be completely ready for anything. Yet, I have a confession to make. For almost 30 years, I've driven every winter without snow tires. My "all season" tires have always been just fine. I'm able to work from home if the weather is not great and I don't need to go to work at the same time as 95% of the other drivers, so my risk is lowered for a wintery crash. I do believe that part of good winter driving is the driver, not just the type of car, the road conditions or whether one has snow tires or not.
Things are changing. We've had some really great mild winters, without mountains of snow covering our roads. We've also had a couple of brutal seasons, with snow up to our roof! As we are moving out to the country, our driving will be different, so we decided it was time to incorporate snow tires into our annual car expenses. Alberta has also toyed with the idea of making winter tires mandatory, like Quebec has done. So we're being proactive! Two year ago, we saved and saved and then bought dh a set of winter tires for his car. He can also work from home like I can but tends to at least go in to the office for the morning, so safe driving is a must for him. We got the best deal, after lots of shopping around. The day we arrived for the tires to be put on, after several delays at the dealership, they informed us that the tires were on back order and we'd have to wait for another 2 weeks. What?? This was early in the season and the snow had not yet arrived. However, in our region, waiting can be tricky. Besides, we had planned our day around the tires being put on and had gone up very early to be on time. So we stood our ground, insisted they correct their error and keep us happy. We ended up with the Michelin Latitude X-ice tires, expensive and quite a bit more than the other tires we had ordered. They were happy to give them to us for the price of the lower quality tires. That did the trick and all was well. Tires on, well before the snow arrived.
This year, it was my turn. I got a great deal on my tires but just like getting his tires done, it's been a bit of a struggle. Starting in September, we did our research, decided which tires to buy and where to buy them. Went in to buy them but ran in to an issue with supply. In the end, I was able to order them on line and they should arrive in the next few days. Today, I went in to make an appointment to have them installed. And here's where the issues came in. The store is no longer taking appointments the traditional way. Instead, what they are doing is having people line up as early as 5 a.m. to get a one of the daily "cones" when they are handed out at 8 a.m. ~ think soccer cone. Once the cones are all gone, if you didn't get one, you have to come back. Then the "winners" with the cones get to stand in line to wait for their turn to get the time their car will be worked on. For many, this is an all day affair. Considering it starts at 5 a.m., I'm out! As they were explaining this to me, they pulled up my order on the computer and noticed that my tires were not being sent to that store, but to one in the city, which then changed things. As each store may have their own process, I'd have to go to that store to find out how they will install my tires. I then said that I wasn't planning on having that store put them on, that it was the only store they would allow them to be sent to. And that's when they said "that's because we can't do any more installs. We're too swamped as it is." What?? So now I have tires arriving, without being able to get them installed in town. I then asked if I had my dealership install them, will they refund the automatic install fee that I had already paid. Yes was the right answer. Great, now I'm happy as I know my dealership had said they could install them the next day. But, here's the but, the warranty would be null and void!! Not the manufacturer's warranty, the one the store has that includes things like free rotations, free flat repairs, free this, free that. Now I'm stuck! So they sell me the tires but the process for installation makes no sense.
Calmly, I ask for the manager's contact info. They kindly take my info and promise the manager will call me in a day or two but with a warning that the situation would not change.
Don't mess with a mama who's suffering from whooping cough and pneumonia all at once!
Two hours later, the manager kindly called me, listened as I explained my frustration and ta~da, just like that, in the blink of an eye, I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT!! Now, how hard was that!! He was kind, understanding and was able to provide me with what I wanted all along ~ a decent time to bring my vehicle in for the tire install. He also confirmed that it is a crazy system and unfortunately one that will just be getting worse next winter. And he also said if we do this install, the warranty is in effect for the life of the tires and we are then free to get them installed at our dealership. So next year, I may just bypass here and get them done there. Easier if I can have an appointment. I seriously could not fathom crawling out of my warm bed at 5 a.m. just to get a cone!! Maybe that works for others, but not me.
That's my winter tire story to date. Hopefully on install day, all goes well. Wish us luck!!