I have been noticing a lot of publicity lately about a campaign to “buy local.” A recent experience convinced me that this should not just include choosing local stores over internet buying. I also strongly believe that locally owned stores are a better option than local chain stores. My experience involved a tire with a slow leak and my attempt to get it fixed.
My car has all the bells and whistles, sometimes I think a few too many. These include electronic tire pressure monitoring. Temperature changes affect tire pressure, and occasionally I will get a one-time warning light after extreme temperature changes. But after having the warning light come on for the second time, instructing me to put air in my right front tire to bring the pressure up to normal, it became obvious that I had a slow leak that needed to be fixed.
I had this on my mind as I was driving down the street past a chain tire store, whose name I won’t mention. I noticed that their bays were all empty, so I figured I could get speedy service on my tire. The speedy part was true, but the service wasn’t what I expected, and I left in somewhat of a snit. This later morphed into absolute anger when I verified that an attempt had just been made to con me out of my money.
They pulled my car in immediately, jacked up the right front, and after less than a minute the service writer came into the waiting area and told me that the tire was not repairable because the damage was to the sidewall. I said I wanted to see it. The wheel was still on the car, and they showed me the culprit — the head of a screw protruding from the tire. However, it was not on the sidewall, it was on the flat part of the tread. When I pointed that out, they said it was, “Too close to the sidewall to fix.”
I didn’t argue; I just told them that I would take the car elsewhere. I had become suspicious that their only goal was to sell me a new tire, and they were willing to go to any lengths to do so. I might have given them the benefit of the doubt that maybe they really thought it was not repairable, except for what happened next. As I started to back the car out, the service writer approached and asked me a question that was an insult to my intelligence, and further validated my suspicion. He said, “Do you want us to remove the screw?”
Now, I may not be the brightest bulb in the box, and while I did arrive in Lima many years ago as a hick from the sticks, I did so in a Plymouth sedan. I was not riding atop the last load of “punkins” on the back of a Beverly Hillbillies truck. I am smart enough to know that a foreign object that punctures a tire and remains there can also function as a hole-filling plug. It may cause a slow leak, but if you pull it out you can pretty well bet that you will immediately have a full-fledged flat tire that renders the car motionless until it is fixed. If I had agreed to let him remove the screw, I would have then had to pay them either for a new tire or at least for putting on the spare so that I could drive away.
I then took the car to a locally owned business. It repaired the leak promptly and without question, costing about $165 less than the cost of a new tire. I also noticed that they had seven bays occupied by vehicles receiving service, at the same time that all the bays of the chain store were empty. Obviously, I’m not the only one who thinks that buying local is the best option.
Don Stratton is a retired inspector for the Lima Police Department. He writes a guest column for The Lima News, often focusing on police matters.