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Where do I take it to get it fixed?

November 7, 2012
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

You called around shopping for tire prices, and "We Be Tires" or something like that, came in way lower than anyone else. So here you are, your car is on the lift with the wheels off and the guy says you have to have new brakes, new ball joints and shocks right now, or else the new tires will fall off on your way home. You ask for an estimate to have the work done, and the answer causes the "deer in the headlights" stare you have on your face. Do you have any options here? Are you being told the truth? Was this a bad place to come for your tires? The answers are yes, maybe and not necessarily.

Here's what happened.

You are in a specialist shop, specializing in tire sales. Their lives revolve around number of tires sold. They have competitions and award bonus programs to the employees that sell the most tires. To keep the volume up they have to keep the pricing as low as possible because of a lot of competition. The result is a low, sometimes non-existent profit on tires. They may have to sell them at a loss, called a loss leader, in order to move them. To survive, they must find other more profitable work to do to your car, using the loss-leader tires to get you on their hoists with the wheels off. Because they need the profit from the other work rather badly, they may not be inclined to give you a discounted price on the work. So the answers are yes, you have options, such as refusing the repairs at this time and getting more estimates. As for being told the truth, a second opinion would handle that also. As for being the right place to buy tires, it may well be, if you get the loss-leader price and leave. It's like going into a casino and winning on your first try, and leaving immediately. The casino owners would hate you, but you would be ahead on money. Simply tell them to put the tires on and let you go. Don't worry about the big lip on the service guy. Let him pout. He won't make his quota off of your car today. Don't let the guy scare you. If you drove in, you can probably drive out. If they did something to disable the car so that you can't drive out, it's time to call for a tow truck.

Using the various loss leaders can be a good shopping tactic. For instance, at fast oil change shops, get the special oil change price and skip the new wipers, air filters, belts and hoses and anything else they offer. It applies to advertised prices by lots of specialist shops like brake shops and muffler shops if you show some sales resistance. It even affects towing, because motor clubs pay below market rates to towing companies, encouraging them to tow you to their own shops so they can make up for their loss-leader towing fee. The safest way to handle questions about repair work is to have a general repair shop recheck you car and give you their opinion and their estimates. Since they don't have to make up for loss leaders, their repair prices may be more reasonable, and if their technicians are on salary with no sales bonuses, they might be more likely to tell you that the work is not necessary.

So it boils down to your sales resistance in the face of high-pressure sales. If you've got it, flaunt it, and you might save some money on car repairs. If you don't have it, watch out for people selling bridges in New York, or vacant land at low tide.

 
 

 

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