“The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.”—Proverbs 10:9 (NIV)
Recently, I took my car for a tyre replacement. One tyre had gone slightly bald. Just one tyre. How hard is that to change? I ask you?
I used the tyre retailers close to our shopping centre. We had an arrangement, that tyre place and me, you see. Instead of trawling through the carparks trying in vain to find a carpark, I park my car at the tyre place for its usual two-yearly tyre replacement. Only this time, owing to tyres of the cheaper variety and travelling many more kilometres than average in a year, it was more like 18 months. I then go over to shop for an hour and a half.
This time my friend had joined me for the shopping expedition. Being just one tyre, the tyre people said we could return in half an hour.
So after the designated 30-minute window-shopping, we returned to the tyre place. There we waited in the lounge. ‘Won’t be long,’ they said. The lounge had a coffee machine, but no water. Oh, well…
The manager entered. ‘Oh, sorry, we’ve had a bit of a problem…You have two different sized tyres on the front. Three different sizes all together as the tyres on the front are both the wrong size. Have you been in an accident or changed the tyres yourself?’
‘No, and your shop did the other front tyre not even a month ago.’
‘Really? That can’t be right. Are you sure?’
‘I have the receipt right here in my bag.’
‘Oh, let me just check,’ the manager said, and strode to the front desk.
A few minutes later he returned. He went into a spiel about the different sized tyres, and you can’t have that. Need both the same etc., etc. And you also need your wheels aligned.
‘Fine then,’ I replied. ‘Just get it done. I need to get home by 4pm. Will I be paying for two new tyres?’
‘No, just one, and the wheel-balance. The other front tyre is fairly new still.’
Man goes away again. We wait some more.
Man returns. He crouches down to my level where I’m sitting and tells me, ‘This is a mystery. Different sized tyres, how can that be? And also, one of the tyres has the manufacture date of 2014, while the others are 2015. How can that be?’
‘You ask me. What about the spare tyre?’
‘Oh, that’s the original from when the car was made.’
‘Ah!’ I reclined in the lounge chair. ‘I knew there was something dodgy when I got the “four” tyres done last time. They replaced three, not four.’ That time they told me they’d stored the new tyre as the spare in the trunk of the car. Obviously, they didn’t.
‘Oh, no, not us!’ The manager did not want to hear my accusation. No, must be my mechanic and implication I’m not telling the truth. ‘Well, what a mystery!’
Yep, for him, I thought. After all, it was obvious he wouldn’t accept someone in his team had swindled me in the past, like in 2015.
I remembered that the 2014 tyre was a consequence of my husband getting the tyre staked going over a curb during a police stake-out near Flinders University. The whole of South Road was blocked off that time. At the time I had the “four” tyres replaced, they told me they had kept the 2014 tyre on one of the rear wheels because, less than a year old, it was not worn.
Anyway, I had a deadline to meet. Must be home by 4pm for the drive to Women’s Camp.
Manager man went away promising to change the tyre. Then he came back. ‘I’m sorry, it’ll take an hour and half to change the tyres and do the wheel alignment.’
No! I’d miss the deadline.
I declined his generous offer to retire in the lounge (or do more shopping) for another couple of hours. I rebooked my car with its “dodgy mismatched and unaligned tyres” for Monday morning.
‘I’m sure the tyre will survive the weekend,’ the manager said.
On the way out, I told my friend, ‘I like the fact that this manager’s been honest and thorough.’
‘Oh, yeah, you don’t get that too often,’ my friend said.
Just as well, I was home at 4pm. We had to leave extra early for the journey to Victor Harbour as a fatal accident on Main South Road meant we had to take a detour along the scenic route to our destination.
Monday. Car went in for two new tyres of the correct size, and the wheel alignment. 90 minutes later, I went to pick up the car. Not ready. I waited another half-hour.
The young fellow who worked on the car apologised. My car had been stuck behind another job. Anyway, there it was, my car with its new tyres sitting out the front ready to go. Destination, Art Group. I was already an hour late.
‘We gave you a discount on the wheel-alignment,’ the lad said.
‘Wow, that’s kind of them.’
Then he charged me for two new tyres.
I asked, ‘Why? I was told that I’d only pay for one.’
‘Oh, I’m sorry, our manager’s away today. You’ll have to come in tomorrow to discuss that arrangement with him.’
‘Really?’ I shook my head and paid for the two tyres. I knew the wheel-deal discussed last Friday was too good to be true. Then I headed off to Art Group.
Later, after finishing painting for the day, I came out of the hall and discovered the rear passenger tyre was balding in one spot. On closer inspection, I noted that the other rear tyre looked suspiciously like the month-old tyre from the front passenger side; the one they said was the wrong size.
‘Right! I’m going back,’ I muttered. I drove in the direction of the shopping centre.
But as I approached, I reconsidered. What’s the point? Would they listen? Did they listen previously? Would they admit something dodgy is going on? No, no, no.
A bald tyre and they weren’t even aware of it? After all that song and dance about wrong sized tyres and then they didn’t even see the obvious? Don’t care if the lad who worked on my car had “Monday-itis”—failing to detect a balding tyre—that was a real-wheel-deal-breaker as far as I was concerned.
I turned the corner and drove home. I’d take my business elsewhere.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016
Photo: Crooked Road to Mt Woodroffe © C.D. Trudinger 1981