Sunday, March 22, 2015

Little Katie and Good/Bad Tire Shops

First....   Katie photos.  

I looked at her the other day and she glanced over at me.  She had the tip of her tongue out.  So cute!  I got the camera and took a shot, then a close-up. 

She looked away, but guess what, Katie?  I can still see you - and I took another:

Second...   The new rear tires episode 

The BAD service

This was long and very boring post, but I decided I didn't want to document it all, so I've trimmed it quite a bit. And it's still very long... and probably very boring.  I have saved my original to a Word doc, though, so next time I buy new tires (or any large purchase) I can read it and not let this happen again. 
First, and this store is not recommended, I called Discount Tire/America's Tire in El Centro last Wednesday afternoon.  There are two stores there, and I picked the wrong one for my purchase.  It's at 899 Danenberg Drive.  Go there at your own risk.  (The GOOD ONE will be discussed in a minute.)  

From start to finish it was a bad experience.  I didn't get the tires I thought I was buying (my bad for not double checking), I was treated like I didn't know anything, lectured to about my valve-stem extenders by my tech, his boss and the manager of the store.  The tech broke one of the extensions when he was taking them off - I don't think he knew what they were - and the new tires were put on without re-installing the extensions, without asking me.  I told them: 1.  How do I check the psi on the tires if I don't have valve-stem extensions, and 2.  I have a TPMS and need extensions to attach them to.   So they agreed to put them back on, but they weren't happy about it.  Luckily I have extras in The Palms to replace the broken one.  They had to remove the new tires to re-install the extensions.

When I was following my salesman out to the rig to show me where to park it, he sold me their tire insurance.  At first I said no, but he talked me into it.  While I was waiting I changed my mind and when I went in to pay after the tires were done, I told the store manager I didn't want the insurance.  

He was not happy.  He said that would be a problem. The invoice was already prepared and the approvals with the discount were done.  The people back east at Michelin, who approved the discount, were gone for the day.  I stood there and said nothing.  Finally he said to take a seat, this might take a while.  

It did take a while.  After everything was rung up and paid for, he put my receipt in an envelope and gave to to me.  Apparently, I found out later, they are supposed to also include a warranty card that has the tire information, and info I'd need to register my tires on-line in case of a recall.  I didn't get one of those.   

As a side note, the reason I first purchased valve-stem extensions is because the Discount Tire in San Diego recommended that I get them.  Same company.  Weird.  I'd go there when I was in San Diego to have my tires checked and they always had to remove the outside rear tires to check the pressure on the inner tires.  He said when I got them, come back and he'd install them for me.  Since then it's been easy to check the psi on all the tires.
I had such horrible service, they rushed me, talked down to me, I was really given the bum's rush.  The office guy helping me did get me 40 percent off new tires through the warranty on the old tires, though, but that's about the only positive, and it's because the old tire sidewalls had ozone damage. 

I'm leaving out a lot of details, but much of this mess was my fault, maybe all of it because I let it happen.

I should have said, "Slow down.  Quit walking away from me.  Speak slowly so I can understand what you're saying. I have some questions.  Are you getting the discount on the tire we talked about on the phone?  What is the warranty?  How much is the cost of each tire?  What date was it manufactured?  I want an experienced employee working on my motor home.  Stop telling me the company policy on valve-stem extensions - I have them - deal with it or I'll go elsewhere."  I was so rushed by them I never did any of that.  And this is a BIG, important purchase!  I can only say, "Please, God, let me do this better next time."  I am as mad at myself as I am at them.  

BYW, the tires I got were cheaper than the ones I thought I was getting, so all in all it was less money. But I wanted the BEST tires, not the BETTER ones.  Honestly, I wish I could do the day over.

The GOOD service:

After I got back to the campsite and tried to re-do the sensors, one of the rear ones didn't work.  It showed 0 psi.  I also wanted to check the date code, but it was facing in on both rear-outer tires, so I couldn't get it.

The next day, Friday, I went back to town and stopped at the other Discount Tire.  This one is across the street from Costco at 2010 N. Imperial Ave., El Centro, CA 92243.  760-353-5519.  If you ever need a Discount Tire in El Centro go to this one.  

I wanted to get the date code and I needed the valve stem checked.  

Sam is the Manager at the Imperial Ave store, and he was very polite and concerned that when I left his store, I was satisfied and comfortable with the new tires.  Since I didn't buy the tires at his store, he didn't get paid for the time they spent working with me, but I was treated like a valued customer.

He had one of his techs, Temo, check everything out.  Temo was familiar with dual tire valve-stem extensions, looked at the tires, checked the psi and made some adjustments, and I told them I wanted to see the date code.  It's August 2014 - seven months since the date of manufacture.  Because of the date code and the fact that they were dirty and scuffed and I told Temo I didn't believe these were new tires.  I said I thought the other store sold me used tires. (At this point if Katie was missing I would have thought they took her.)

Sam came over and I said the people at the other store rushed around so much and talked so fast, I hardly knew what was going on.  I didn't even get the tires I thought I was getting.  He offered to call over and see if my old tires were still there, and I could go back and have them put back on, and then start over.  Wow, at that point, it sounded good, but I was hot, and unhappy, and exhausted, and I didn't want the other store employees near my RV again.  

Sam and Temo took me over to a pile of new tires they just had delivered to show me what they looked like.  Most had a stripe of colored chalk or a white number written on the sidewall.  My tires didn't have any of that.  I said I thought they are used.  Then we went back to my tires and Sam showed me the little rubber thingies sticking up from the tread of the tire.  He said new tires have those for a short time, then they wear away as the tire is used.  THEN I believed him - these were not used tires, and he proved it to me.  Thank you, Sam!  (I know I'm sounding like a royal b*tch, but I SO thought I had been taken advantage of, and I was so mad at myself, I didn't believe anything good about the other store.)  

So, that issue solved, Temo said everything looked good and we got the full DOT code on one of the tires.  Not knowing I'd need them all to register my tires, that's all I got. (Of course, Temo didn't know I didn't get the registration card with all that info from the other store.)  I thanked them and left.  

I parked across the street at the Costco and checked the psi myself but I still couldn't get the rear right outer tire sensor to register.  I was still showing "0" psi.  I called Dion, the man who sold me the TPMS at the Big Tent at Quartzsite, and told him about the sensor and he had me move it around on the other tires, and it worked on those, so he said it was the tire stem on that one tire - #6, and not the sensor. 
I hated to go back to the Good America's Tire and take more of their time - this is all free, they don't charge for checking tires - but I drove back across the street.  Temo came out and I explained what was happening, and that there was something wrong with tire #6. Temo checked the pressure again.  He had to take the tire off since the stem was on the inside of the tire.   He checked it with my gauge, his gauge, and finally with just the TPMS sensor, but he wasn't getting enough air through the stem, it was hit or miss.  He said he didn't trust the stem, so he took the tire into the shop and replaced the valve stem with a new one.  When he checked it again, it worked.  (I didn't know the tire stores put the stems on new tires.  I thought they came that way.)  I went on my way again with profuse thanks.
When I got home to our site, I tried to register my new tires so I'd be notified if there were any recalls. But to register them, I needed the whole DOT code for each tire, and I didn't have that, only the one that Temo and I checked to make sure they were new tires.  I called the Michelin number and asked if I had to have all four tire DOT codes, including the date code, and she said yes. Rats! I also asked her about the age of my new tires. She said 7 months is not a problem at all, so I felt better about that, at least.
When I hung up I decided to call the original store who sold me the tires, to make an appointment on Monday to get the DOT codes.

The BAD service, again...

When I called, the manager answered the phone and I told him what I needed, and that I wanted someone experienced with RV dually tires with valve-stem extensions if they had to take off the tires to get the codes.  He said they didn't need to take the tires off, but started lecturing me about how they didn't put the extenders back on tires because they tended to leak air, etc. etc. etc.  He went on and on.  I finally interrupted him and said, "Okay that's enough!  Stop lecturing me. This is MY motor home, these are MY tires, I want to check MY OWN tire pressure.  I also NEED extensions because I have a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.  I NEED extensions and I CHOOSE to have them.  I don't want to be driving around with flat inner dualies because I don't know what the pressure is in the tires!"  He said, "I'm NOT lecturing you, but etc. etc. etc, (fingers in my ears - lalalalalalalalala).   I said, "That's enough, I'll call another tire store."  He says, "No, we'll do it."  I said, "No, I'm calling another store.  Good bye."  And I hung up. 

The GOOD service, again... 

Then I called the GOOD America's Tire and made an appointment for Monday at 10 am to have them check all four tires for their DOT numbers.  I hated to do that - they didn't get any money from the sale of these new tires, but they seemed to be doing all the work.  

This would be my third visit at their store. But I really didn't want the other store to get anywhere near my motor home.  (I have to say, I'm usually very easy to get along with, and I'll put up with stuff and still be smiling, but when someone crosses the line, I'm done.  And I was done with the first store.)

Before I got there, I stopped and got two boxes of donuts for the staff as a thank-you for all the time they've spent with me. They were so appreciative, but they deserved donuts, and more - their customer service couldn't have been better.  All the way around.  And poor Temo, he has the patience of a saint - he was working outside in the sun, with no shade available, and it was 90+ degrees outside.  He was removing tires and replacing them by hand, using hand tools, and he so pleasant throughout it all.  I don't think he was there when I was there on Monday - I hope they saved him a couple of donuts! 
Matt, the Sr. Assistant Manager, came outside with me where I was parked in their lot and got down on the ground with his flashlight and was able to read all the codes using his light, either from under the rig or through the wheel cover holes.  I had to move the rig once to get a number where he could see it, but he got it done. 
Thanks, Sam, Temo and Matt!  Your Customer Service rates an AAA+. 

I can't say enough about your store, your skills, your service and your courteous treatment.  I'm usually on top of things and in control of whatever I'm doing, but after spending time at the first store I felt like a very discombobulated senior citizen who had lost it.  When I left your store I felt like a valued customer.  Thank you!

The Warning - in case you need to smog your rig 

This is the warning I wanted to give RVers from California who need to get their rigs smogged every other year to get it registered.  Don't do it in El Centro, CA.  Not because the service was poor, it was actually very good, but because of the set-up of the only shop I could find in El Centro that was authorized to smog an RV.  I almost didn't fit, and a larger rig wouldn't fit into his only space to be smogged. 

I needed a "Star" shop - something to do with the weight of the vehicle.  Which, of course, costs more.  $80.00.  Plus 5% if you use a credit card at D & L General Auto Repair.  Yeah.  
I don't get these smog places.  They all seem to be in very OLD garages, and hard to get in to.  At least the ones I've seen are like this.  This place was big, but getting into the bay to smog the truck was SO tight, I couldn't drive straight into it. I had to go in at an angle, through the steel columns of the bay next to the one I had to be in.  Daniel, the owner, offered to drive The Palms in for me, but I said I'd do it, so helped guide me in and then back out, but I only had about 1 to 2 inches on each side, literally, going in and backing out.  Less if you count my side mirrors. And I JUST made it. Or thought I did.

Later I noticed I barely scrapped the driver's side.  On one of those huge rust-painted steel columns that hold up the roof. (Luckily I was able to remove the paint scrape later that day.)  Remember, The Palms is only 24 feet long.  I wouldn't go there again, and if your rig is longer, you definitely won't fit.  :(

But now the truck is smogged and won't need it again for two years. 

Between the heat of the day, the tight quarters at the smog place and the stress caused by the first tire place, I was SSSSOOOOOOO glad to be back in camp that afternoon. I didn't get back until around 6:00 pm, and that's when the other camper was parked so close to our site that we moved.  What a day!  And no, it wasn't still better than a day working.  Thursday and Friday might have been the two worst days I've had on the road in four years.  Unless, like childbirth, I've forgotten other ones. Oh yeah, I guess I can think of a few that were worse.  The high speed 5-hour drive from Quartzsite to San Diego for major surgery that night comes to mind.  Remember that?  LOL  Like Jeanne says, If it doesn't kill us, we have a story to tell...   or something like that.  :)

So - if you want super tire service by a stop with a manager and crew who know what they are doing and who will treat you with respect, here's where you need to go:

America's Tire
2010 N. Imperial Ave.
El Centro, CA 92243.  

And yes, I'll add both tire shops to the website about RV Service

At this point, I'm very happy with my new tires and would definitely go back to any Discount Tire/America's Tires except the one that sold me my tires.  The BAD one.

Wow, this is still WAY too long, too may words and not enough photos, but it's done.

On a more positive note, it was cooler for three or four days, it even rained a little, and last week had Social Security Wednesday!  A GOOD day!  Tons of bills to pay.  Between my RV registration, smog certificate, RV insurance, new tires, dinette cushions and Katie's vet appt, this has been a very expensive couple of months.  Thank goodness for my shoppers!  You guys really helped.  I put any money I make on this website into a special account for tires (or other emergencies).  Even though I had to get them two years early, I did get the 40% discount on the rear tires, and had enough money in the account for the tires.  So, a big thank you to you all.  :)

From me and Katie, have a great Monday, everyone! :)

And if you've made it this far, congratulations - your perseverance is commendable!


  1. wore me out!...glad for the info
    In case I make it out west some day...

  2. Wow, that was quite the day! I think you should send that BAD store the picture of Katie with her tongue sticking out - except it's so cute, it wouldn't be an insult!!

  3. I truly hope you send reports to more than one website. Does this company have a corporate office? Please notify them as well. Companie surely have to maintain a certain standard to hold on to their franchise, and if they are messing with you they are no doubt messing with other women and those they can get away with mistreating. I'd shout it to high heaven, if I were you.

    1. Gypsy.. you are SOOOOO right!!!! I think a copy of this blog should be sent to the corporate office!

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  5. Kathy and I work as a team when we get tires for our vehicles. She makes certain we have all the paper work and I check the DOT numbers and make certain the valve extensions and tire monitors are properly reinstalled and working.
    There are still lots of shops with the attitude that if the customer is a woman that they can pull the wool over their eyes and get away with it.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  6. You did good. They are just lucky it was you and not me. I think I would have contacted the home company and told them they should give you the tires for free after what it took. All sales are not created equal and I'm glad you stood up for yourself even though it was a nightmare.

  7. Forgot to say.... Love the little tongue pictures.

  8. How do you smog a vehicle? Does this have something to do with emissions control? Surely you don't pump a gas or insect spray into your motorhome? It is best to leave the smog outside (grin). Glad I don't live in California . . .

  9. Barbara, I did some research (librarian in me, can't help it) and ALL Discount Tire stores are company owned. If I were you, I would use this link: and let them know about the good and the bad. It is unfortunate that some managers act the way they do....but if no one lets HQ know, nothing gets down. Also, HQ needs to know when someone else does good, and that other store went above and beyond what I would expect. Nice move with the Donuts. Did the same thing in Sacramento when Future Ford did a thorough maintenance check on our recently purchased motorhome which replaced the one which was lost in the storage lot fire just about a year ago now. --Dave (

    1. Dave - thank you for the link. I will send them my post's link, and let them know they need to talk to that manager. :)

  10. Well. that is quite an experience you had! At least you got the discount from the other tires, but that hardly makes up for the stress and aggravation. Yes, you should put some reviews on whatever websites you can.

  11. So sorry for the days you had.I can identify....with not knowing who to be madder at, them or yourself. I say shame on them. They clearly were taking advantage of the situation. I think you remained cool far longer than I could have. I no.image you for sainthood!

  12. I would fire off an e-mail to there main office right away. This is a big company and I doubt they would be very happy to hear this.
    Nice to have found the other store but yes they didn't make a dime and that's something the other store should have to pay them their labor costs.

  13. There is no excuse for bad service, amazing how a shop like that can remain in business.
    Glad you found a better dealer and got things resolved.

  14. You have the patience of a saint! I would have blown up at them long ago! LOL .... but yes, a copy of this blog could be sent to the corporate office, I wouldn't change a word. You really stated your case, the facts, and also your impressions,
    KarenInTheWoods and Steveio
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard

  15. I agree, a copy of your blog should be seen by corporate. You did good, sticking with it till the end & also rewarding the good guys. Becki

  16. I use Discount Tire and I've been extremely happy with them here in Las Cruces. I recently had new tires put on in Tuscon after having a dually blow-out on the way home from Mexico. I had to wait five hours for road service to arrive, and the nearest facility was in Tucson - 120 miles away.

    The Tucson store installed my new tires, but failed to put back on several lug nut covers on the wheels simulators on my Lazy Daze. I had to order replacements, but the Las Cruces store did install my new Borg dually extenders for free.

    Discount Tire has great prices, but they're a "production" store - i.e. "get 'em in and get 'em out." They make up for their low prices by volume of sales. That's not to say it's right, but sometimes you do have to "visually supervise" things to make sure they're done correctly.

    I hope all your tire "issues" are fixed now...


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