Customer Service

About the first week of August, I drove my trusty ol’ wagon to the local Les Schwab Tire Center. The location our family frequents is just around the corner from our home, and we’ve never had an issue in the two decades that we’ve been customers there.

The challenge I brought to the table this particular Saturday was a set of slotted dish Ansen Sprint mag wheels.  Ya see, my daily driver is a 1982 Ford Granada GL wagon.
For years now, I have run a big and little skinny white wall tire combo with painted steelies and Falcon poverty center caps. The wagon looked clean, but I wanted an ’80’s street machine look. So when an ’85 Thunderbird arrived at All American Classics with those slotted mags, well, the wheels started to turn.

The wheels had an aged appearance, which was ideal for my vision with the car. There was even a stamped date of 12/20/1985 on each of them. The wheels are 14″ x 6″ for the front and 14″ x 7″ on the rear. I envisioned a set of big ‘n little raised white letter tires and a stance to make the car pop!

Oh, this was gonna be RAD!!  (you know, 80’s style?)

A quick check on tire availability, and I saw that a set of Cooper Cobra radials would most likely do the trick. So I dropped by Les Schwab, and a service rep, Kellen, began to help me. We discussed the look I was going for as well as availability, and it was recommended to go with 225/70R14’s for the rear and 215/70R14’s up front. The order was placed, and a time was scheduled to make the swap. I was giddy with excitement!

Now, some background info here… The wheel/tire combo that I had been running was as follows:
The front tires were 205/75/R14’s, and the rears were 225/75/R14’s. On stock rims too. But, I was confident in my order and eagerly arrived for the scheduled appointment.
What could go wrong?

When I arrived to pick up my vehicle at the end of the day, the technician, Rebecca, handed me my keys and casually stated, “Uh, there is some rubbing.”
I paused. “Rubbing? As in tire rub? Is it safe?” I asked and could feel a sense of dread drop like a load of hot lead in my gut.
Nervously, she replied, “Uh, well there might be some tire smoke.”

I took my keys and walked out to my wagon. I really liked the look. It changed the whole attitude of the car.
I climbed in, fired it up, and began to angle the wheel to exit the parking lot. The front tires begin to rub viciously against the front fenders.  I paused, thinking, “Oh, it can’t be that bad. It’s probably minor.” I turned the wheel more as I pulled out into traffic, and it was even worse. The rear tires were singing. LOUDLY.

Every bump made it worse. I couldn’t even fully turn the steering wheel to safely make a turn. I ventured the short distance home and backed into the driveway. “Maybe the added weight of my other tires and wheels added to the wagon’s payload,” I thought.

I got out of the car and was dismayed to see that damage had already been done to the tires.  There were gouges in the tires, and white rubber was showing. The wheel opening moldings were flared out and damaged. I emailed the corporate office straight away and sent pics.

Monday arrived and I was Johnny-on-the-spot at the tire shop.  Kellen was ready and, though I was amped up, he did his best and calmed me down.  He listened and assessed the tire sizes and what was happening. My old set were put back on, and I was told that he would be in touch to address the problem more thoroughly. After waiting patiently, I asked to come in again the following Saturday.

When I did, Kellen told me of his plan. The idea was to do a test fit to see if a 215/70/R14 would work on the rear of the car. So my car was whisked off and jacked up, and the test fit seemed to be a cure. Kellen even asked me to stand on the rear bumper and bounce the car to make sure there was room. Success!!!

He told me he had a plan for the front tires, 205/70/R14’s, and to give him a little bit more time because they had to be custom ordered.
Well, some things really are worth the wait. Two weeks later, I again came in on a Saturday, and the crew dug in. The tires were not the original Cooper Cobras I ordered. Oh no, but the replacements were a set of BF Goodrich T/A’s!

Again, Rebecca was the lead tech, but when she noticed that there was still a rubbing issue, Kellen and Nathan jumped in to solve the problem. With a few calls to O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, a set of cast coil spring spacers were purchased, and the rubbing issue was solved. Can I tell you? My car looked amazing!

As the bill was finalized, I expressed that I hoped I hadn’t sounded like a whiner or a “I WANNA TALK TO THE MANAGER” type throughout the process. Kellen laughed, “We just want to take care of our customers, and do it right.” And they did!
Thanks again to Kellen, Rebecca, and Daniel at Les Schwab Tire Center on Minnehaha in Vancouver, WA. You folks won a customer for life! -Written by Mark Karol-Chik

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