Arizona Trip - Adventures in Customer Service

On they way back to Scotsdale from Tucson (about 2.5 hour drive), we picked up a nail in the rental car.  It is not a fun experience to have a tire go instantly flat at 70 miles per hour on the freeway.  We are very glad that it was a rear tire, not a front.  We got off at the next exit and stopped in the parking lot of a Circle K.  Leslie went to work calling Payless Car Rental ($200 cheaper for a week with a minivan than their competitors) and I set about changing the spare. Hmm....the spare is not inside the car anywhere.  Or underneath the back of the car.  So I ask Leslie to look in the owner's manual while she's on hold.  Hmmm...no owner's manual in the car.  Leslie finally gets someone on the phone.  They don't have roadside assistance, even if we paid for the insurance, the tire isn't covered.  They don't want to call anyone for us either.  Also, they don't know where the spare is located.

I finally locate the spare myself.  On the 2007 Dodge caravan, the spare is located underneath the middle of the car between the  driver and passenger seats.  Okay.  I can reach the spare, barely.  Good thing I've lost weight recently.  However, once I'm down there, I can't figure out how to get the thing off.  So we call Payless again.  They can't tell us how either.  Ooookaaaaay.  Not so happy a camper is this photogeek.  We eventual call someone to come change the tire, even though I've never had a problem changing a tire before.  I just can't figure out how the heck to get the thing off the car to change it!

So a very nice, helpful guy comes and helps us out.  I wish I'd just called him immediately instead of trying to figure out how to do it on my own for an over an hour (I'm a little stubborn and convinced that I'm perfectly capable of changing my own tire).  It turns out that to get the tire off, you have start by constructing a three piece, three foot high tool that you then insert into a peg that is covered by a plastic cap between the driver and passenger seats inside the car to remove the tire that is underneath the car.  A very...interesting design choice by Dodge.

So, it's 8:00 at night and we are on our way.  WhooHoo.  Only, we are on our way back to Tucson, the nearest city where we can buy the required Firestone tire.  We stopped at a nearby Walmart and they offered to stay open late and replace our tire, but Payless requires you to buy the exact same tire, or you get to pay for two tires that you only get to drive on less than a week.  So, it's back the 45 minutes to the mall in Tucson, where there is a lovely Firestone dealer.  They kindly stay open late to replace our tire (kudos to Firestone, you've earned our business).  It actually took longer for the mechanic to figure out how to put the spare back than replace the tire.  It did my ego some good to have to show the mechanic with the "ASE Certified" logo on his sleeve how to put the spare back on.  Maybe I'm not completely helpless!

So, the morals of the story:

  1. We will go out of our way not to use Payless Car Rental ever again.  They were very nice on the phone, but not particularly helpful.
  2. We like Walmart and Firestone!  They were both willing to stay open past their normal operating hours to help us out.
  3. We like American Express, because, surprisingly, they are likely to cover the cost of the tire because we rented the card on AmEx.
  4. Treat people well and you will earn their business, or at least my business.

So, if you ever feel like I'm treating you like Payless Car Rental (I don't know where the spare tire is and I can't call anyone that does), call me on it!  I want my clients to feel like Firestone treated us (yes, I have the product you want and I will stay open late to help you out).

A couple photos.

15.jpg Notice the beautiful sunset lighting!

16.jpg The last photo of the night.  I was a little upset and couldn't imagine actually wanting a photo of the device to stick into the floorboard of the van to remove the spare - silly me!