Friday, January 28, 2011

The incredibly shrinking food packages

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one noticing it.

And this from Consumer Reports:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

One man's experience becomes an internet embarrassment

From Seeing The Light

Why No One Should Go to Brakes Plus in Colorado Springs

This is an open letter to the president/CEO of Brakes Plus over a recent episode I had at their store on 740 Abbot Lane in Colorado Springs.
I am recommending that if you need your brakes fixed, go somewhere else.

Larry Pisciotta
Brakes Plus
6911 South Yosemite Street
Centennial, CO 80112
Dear Mr. Pisciotta,
I am writing in regards to some really poor and disrespectful treatment from your Colorado Springs store at 740 Abbot Lane.
1. I was lied to mulitples time about different things
2. My intelligence was insulted and I was spoken down to
3. This store lied to and tried to manipulate my girlfriend
4. It was insinuated that I was not welcome to wait
First, I have strong knowledge and experience as a mechanic. I’ve rebuilt cars since I was a kid helping my dad in the garage fixing a 67 Mustang front end. Then some more experience rebuilding Chevy, Volkswagen, and Jeep engines; transmissions; transfer cases; drive shafts; re-gearing axels; rebuilding complete brake systems; rebuilding carbs; and repairing & rebuilding suspension systems, including lifting Jeeps for extreme off road use. I have also taken classes in auto mechanics, engine rebuilding, electrical repair.
Before my current career, I was in the U.S. Navy as an electrician’s mate specializing in motors and control, electronics, air conditioning systems, ship’s electrical generation, and power distribution.
Second, I am a college graduate with minors in mathematics and physics. Courses I studied for fun while earning a BA in photojournalism. My IQ is in the 140s.
My residence is in Seattle, Wash. I am here in Colorado Springs visiting my girlfriend. As I live in Seattle, flying here with all my tools would be silly.
While driving her 2002 Mercury Sable around Colorado Springs, it developed a groaning noise in the left rear. I knew the brake shoes were rubbing so I went to the parts store to get the necessary parts, including a new wheel cylinder, drum, springs, adjuster, and shoes. Pretty much a complete brake rebuild. The total cost from NAPA was $110 for everything for both rear wheels.
As all my real tools were in Seattle, I borrowed what we could find at her house and her father’s home. We also planned on going to the store if needed to get any extra tools.
When I started to work on her brakes, I was unable to get the drum off the shoes. So we decided to take the car in to Brakes Plus which had the $99 deal for a complete rebuild.
We took her car in to the Brakes Plus at 740 Abbot Lane in Colorado Springs. I called the store and talked with Dale about the issue. I knew the brakes needed changing due to the noise. He said bring the car in so they can look at it.
We took the car in and dropped it off. Dale made a print out for me to read and sign. I noticed there was no indication of the problem I was experiencing that I discussed with him. I asked him why and he replied rather rudely “I’ll inspect the brakes, don’t worry about it.”
He seemed quite upset that I brought this to his attention and even more so when I took a moment and wrote the problem down on the sheet. He seemed unnerved. After all, how are you supposed to diagnose the problem if you don’t listen to your customers, and how is the tech supposed to diagnose the problem if there are no notes?
I stressed I wanted the $99 special as I knew the grinding would indicate that the rotors would need turning, or replacing. I understand the extra cost if the rotors needed replacing. Dale had my phone number as the primary contact, and my girlfriends the second.
Leaving the keys with him, I asked about how long until I would know what is wrong. He said one hour. So I left with my girlfriend to go have a cup of coffee. We felt rather uneasy about leaving the car because Dale kept asking if I was going to stay at the shop.
In less than half an hour, my girlfriend’s phone rang and it was Dale from Brakes Plus. He quoted to my girlfriend the price of $1300. Yes, Thirteen Hundred dollars. He explained to her that the front end needed all new tie rods and needed to be aligned. Dale said to her “All the tie rods are bad which will cause the tires to grip the road and separate which will cause an inside rubbing and you just don’t want that.” I’m sorry, that’s biggest load of crap I’ve heard in years. And for having such a bad front end, it drives pretty damned straight and smooth at 75 mph on the interstate. Maybe everyone should have bad tie rods.
Dale lied about calling me first. I received no such phone call. My phone was sitting next to me on the table as we drank our coffee. “I hope it’s OK I talk to you as I can’t contact Paul.”
The sheet Dale gave me had my phone number correctly printed on it. So they had it.

He also stated that the front brakes had a small amount of pad left and needed to be changed. Also “that all 4 rotors needed to be replaced because they had deep grooves and sure you noticed that when driving the car.” My girlfriend stressed the car had been parked for over a year and a half. Dale responded with “They need to be replaced anyways.”
Also, the car does NOT have disk brakes all around. It has disk brakes in the front, and drums in the rear. It is a 2002 Mercury Sable.
He also said the master cylinder was bad which was causing all 4 brakes to leak fluid. Excuse me, but if the master cylinder is bad, the peddle would not hold it’s position (which it was doing) when sitting at a red light. It would slowly go to the floor as you keep applying pressure due to the worn out rings. Also, the brakes will feel a bit spongy, almost like there is a bit of air in the system.
All this time she was floored and relaying the information to me. She told Dale I would call back.
I called the store back and talked to the supposed mechanic that worked on it. He straight lied to me on several occasions.
First, I told him who I was. Second, he never mentioned anything about the front end, brakes or steering components. He quoted me $495 for just the rear brakes, but brought it down to $308. What happened to your $99 special?
I asked how bad the brakes were and he said “the shoes are metal to metal and the wheel cylinders are leaking.” I told him I had taken the rear tire off and attempted to remove the drum. When I had looked at the shoes, they had a good 1/4″ brake material on them and that there was no indication of leaking fluid. He stuttered and changed the story.
I was, and still am, furious he lied about even inspecting the brakes. There is no way he could have taken the drum off.
I told him to take it off the rack and that I don’t want them touching it.
When I went to get the car, Dale made a print out of the repairs and an estimate. One glaring mistake: I was quoted for repairing the “rear brake calipers and rotors.” The car had rear drums, shoes, and wheel cylinders.
We then took it over to a more honest brake shop. When I relayed what happened, he just shook his head and says he gets a lot of customers that say the same thing.
The mechanic took the car, lifted it on the rack, took all 4 tires off and then spent 20 minutes just trying to remove the left rear drum. As I watched, I just said to myself that there was no way the mechanic at Brakes Plus took it off to inspect it. And I know of no reputable mechanic that will guess at what is wrong without thoroughly investigating the issue.
The mechanic took me into the garage and showed me the front brakes were fine and the pads had plenty of lining left, the steering linkages and tie rods were actually tight, and “well within tolerance,” and that the rear brakes do need changing and that the one rotor needed to be replaced. He also showed me how the return springs were a bit weak and recommended I change them. I agreed and left the vehicle for him to work on.
I am pissed that a company such as Brakes Plus will lie to its customers. I am flabbergasted to how blatantly I was lied to multiple times, how my intelligence was insulted in that I didn’t know automobile mechanics and brake systems. But I am especially pissed on how they lied to and attempted to swindle my girlfriend.
This matter will be brought to the attention of the Colorado State Attorney General’s Office, the Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
I have also written letters to the editors of several major newspapers, local daily newspapers, online blogs, online consumer sites, and posting this letter and any response I get onto personal websites.
I will not be disrespected by anyone in your company again.
Thank you
Paul Conrad

Monday, January 10, 2011

Qwest doesn't "get it"

Is there a worse company, when it comes to customer service, than Qwest?

I have dozens (yes, dozens) of negative personal experiences with this company, and could devote an entire web site to describing just how bad they are.  In every business at which I've worked, there have been Qwest horror stories.  As a residential customer, things are no better.

I'm going to tell just one today, however.  Last fall my neighbor requested a new line for his fax machine.  The Qwest technician connected his phone to my line.  I discovered this when I picked up the phone one evening and had a party line with my neighbor (who was making a long distance call on my line).  I called and e-mailed Qwest, asking them to correct the problem, and several days later they sent someone out who disconnected my phone line.

The next day, I called Qwest from work and told them how their technician's error only made the error of the other technician even worse.  They said it would be fixed that day, but it wasn't.  I called them again the next day, and said they really needed to correct the mistakes their employees kept making.  They told me someone would be there between 11am and 3pm.  That's quite a wide window, but I managed to get home for it, so I could talk to their repair guy and make sure he did it right. 

When nobody showed after four hours of waiting, I drove to the General Store to call them.  The person who answered the phone wasn't the least bit sympathetic, more than a little curt, and told me that the four hour window was "an estimate."  What?  Are you kidding me?  Telling me "he'll be there at 2 pm" is an estimate.  Giving me a four hour window during which I have to put my life on hold to wait for their nincompoop isn't an estimate! 

At 6:30, over seven hours after their four hour window began, two of their techs drove up and fixed the problem in about thirty seconds.  So, six days after one of their people attached my neighbor's phone to my line; five days after I reported the problem; and three days after they disconnected my phone, it was finally working again!

I e-mailed Qwest to complain about all the problems - problems they caused and made worse - and was told that "due to the high volume of service calls," not everything can be fixed right away.  Well, forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but if you didn't screw things up in the first place, and make them worse by sending incompetent technicians out to fix them, you wouldn't have such a high volume of service calls!