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Auto center will give it another try

My wife and I, retired and in our 70s, decided to go camping again. I bought a used 1983, 19-foot, self-contained camping trailer.

Before leaving on our trip, I went to Don Olson Tire and Auto Center on East Bay Drive in Largo and ordered new tires, a lube and oil change. While there, the mechanic came out and informed me that my radiator needed to be flushed, showing me how brown the water was.

We left for our trip on June 1. On the second day, the red engine light came on. We stopped at an auto center in Brunswick, Ga., where I was informed that the trouble was the radiator. The mechanic showed me the water, and it was as brown as the water the Don Olson mechanic had shown me previously. Obviously it was never flushed at Don Olson, even though I paid for it.

My other mechanical complaint concerns the starter on my car. I had stopped at a rest area on the way home to tighten up a loose awning on the trailer, and, when I tried to start the car again, the engine would not turn over.

For more than an hour I asked people if they had cables to jump start the car. No one did. Finally the park attendant offered, but the car would not start.

I sat in the car for another half hour, very downcast and not knowing what to do. The tow truck would take only my car, not the trailer, and the garage did not know when it could get to the car. Finally a young fellow showed up with a self-contained repair truck. He was able to locate and fix the problem. It turned out to be the starter that Don Olson had changed out a year earlier.

After we returned home, I went to Don Olson and showed the manager the work orders from those two repairs. After much discussion, he agreed to give me a credit of $70 for the work done in Brunswick, but he wouldn't give me a credit of $24 for the thermostat that was replaced, even though it was damaged by the rusty water.

Regarding the second repair job, the starter, the manager's excuse was that, if I had brought the old one back, he might have been able to give me a refund. I think that the starter was always defective because it sometimes made a noise when turning the engine over. Al Eberhardt

Response: Dutch Tryon, store director, said he has talked to you several times and explained the store's position. He said your vehicle did receive a power flush and that the subsequent color of the water is not proof that it wasn't done. The acid wash can keep turning the water a rust color. Nevertheless, you were given another free flush and refunded for the first one.

With regard to the starter, Tryon said it was well past its six-month warranty period. When you came in, the battery terminals were loose, and they were cleaned and reconnected at no charge to you. He said some of your problems might have been caused by the loose cables.

Each time you have called Don Olson's office, Tryon said he has tried to call you back immediately. He was not always able to reach you. Although he thinks that the company has gone out of its way in refunding, providing free service and explaining everything to you, he will try one more time to reach you.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call your Action number, 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, (800) 333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request.

Requests will be accepted only by mail or voice mail; calls cannot be returned. We will not be responsible for personal documents, so please send only photocopies. If your complaint concerns merchandise ordered by mail, we need copies of both sides of your canceled check.

We may require additional information or prefer to reply by mail; therefore, readers must provide a full mailing address, including ZIP code. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

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