I recently bought tires at VIP and needed them mounted. I called to set up a time to come and asked how long it would take. The associate (John) siad that depends on what I was having done. I said "mount the tires." He asked if I wanted them balanced and aligned. I said "tell me what it cost." His answer:
"regular install: $141.92, plus alignment would add $82.99, or there is the 'lifetime package' with balancing, rotation, changing to snow tires for $271.99." I told him I wanted the bare bones, no frills mount, balance, and dispose of old tires.
When I got there I was told it would take about an hour and they could start right away. John took the keys without showing me the work order and I left to do some shopping. When I came back 45 minutes later they had my car up on the jacks with the hood open (!) and had not even started mounting the tires. A guy came out of the shop and proceeded to show me a "Multipoint Inspection Form" which I had not authorized and proceeded to inform me that my shocks were bad, my ball joint needed replacing (which was not news to me but this is not what I came to VIP for) and that my transmission and steering fluid needed replacing. He tried to use scare tactics about how some procedure needed to be done according to scheduled maintenence every 20,000 miles and how "no one would touch it" if I didn't get it done soon. Even though I wanted to tell him to stop wasting my time with this *** and get on with mounting my tires, I sat down in the waiting room and waited. And waited. And waited. While I was waiting I overheard several phone conversations from an associate's side, where a customer was calling to ask what something cost and the associate was trying very hard to "upsell" and convince the customer they needed to spend and additional $50-$100 for "safety" or some kind of promise of service if needed in the future.
Finally after 1-1/2 hrs they had finished putting on my tires, I signed the work order, also was intimidated into signing their "inspection form," paid and went out to my vehicle. Since I didn't trust them at this point I checked my valve caps. Sure enough, the nice ones that looked like dice and had brass threads were gone and had been replaced with cheesy plastic ones. I stormed back inside and demanded my valve caps back, which I got. John told me rather lamely that new valve caps were part of the standard "service."
When I got home I took a good look at the "work order" which had a $61.96 charge for "road hazard." It also had a $14 charge for "valve or TPMS cap/core." my vehicle does not have a tire pressure monitoring system, so I went out to check if they had replced the valve stems. Nope, five years of road grime told me that these were the same valve stems I went in with.
The next day I returned to the VIP store and first went to the shelf to see what those plastic valve caps cost if you buy them straight up. $1.49. I went to the counter with the package and asked to speak with Steve, whoc is the manager. I told him I wanted to talk with him about my experience the previous day and get his take one it. I started with the $14 charge for the valve caps. He replied that this was a service so the cost was higher. And besides, he said, they had replaced the valve stems. I replied that it was news to me that brand new valve stems came with five years of road grime on them and perhaps he would like to come outside and see for himself, maybe run his finger on the valve stem and THEN tell me with a straight face that VIP had put on new valve stems. He checked one and agreed that it was not new. I invited him to check the other three which he declined.
We went back inside and talked further, away from the counter. By this time John had vanished from the counter area. I asked him whether he would have written up a work order the same way if a customer said they wanted a bare bones, no frills tire mounting. He said no, it would have been $80 more (!) because of the alignment. I asked him if he approved of the practice of writing out work orders that have upselling charges that the customer doesn't want and not only did he agree with the policy, he tried to chide me for not letting VIP do an alignment for $80! Seriously he went into the zombie spiel about how I needed to do this for my own "safety." Do these guys think that if you're female, you have the word '***' written on your forehead. I asked him to drop it and get on with the real issue, and he started to chew me out for not being polite enough to him. I pointed out that he was wasting my time and that all he was going to accomplish was to waste more of it and get me even more angry.
Finally he asked if I would be ok with him removing the $14 charge for the cheapo plastic valve caps and the $61.96 for the "road hazard" which I didn't want in the first place and had no intention of using and I said I thought this was the least he could do. So we went back to the counter and it took about 15 minutes for him to type in whatever he needed to type in to reverse the charges. While we were there, a gal at the counter tried to convince me that they had indeed put shrader valves INSIDE the valve stems (um sure, you put in the metal parts but left the rubber outer part? really?)
After the unwanted charges were refunded, he asked if they could do the 25-50 mile re-torque and I replied
a) I am not going to let any employee of VIP auto anywhere near my vehicle again. ever.
b) I know how to use a torque wrench.
c) they are STEEL rims and do not NEED re-torquing (unless you didn't torque to the proper N-cm inthe first place maybe?)
I wished them a nice day and left.
I used to go in there to buy tools and accessories but I will never ever set foot in any VIP again. I know darn well that their corporate model is to pressure the franchise managers to get their associates to hornswoggle consumers into paying $250 for what should be a $80 job. If they don't corporate HQ gives them gried. I just don't see how this corporate model of deceptive "upselling" is going to work in the long term. Customer loyalty can only be earned, it cannot be forced. The corporate model is to get the guys on the front line to scare the customers into expensive and useless tweaks and insurance which are purported to be for the "safety' of the customer. Give me a break, it is your bottom line you are thinking of and NOT the customer and this is how you wipe out customer loyalty. I shouldn't have to fight for the service I want but that is how VIP operates nowadays.
Stay far away unless you enjoy wasting your time and arguing with idiots who are trying to put their hadn in your wallet saying it is for your own good.
Bye bye guys, it was nice while VIP had some integrity, but now that you are pulling the "let's use our most shameless business practice on a woman, she won't notice," we are done.