Two Tales From The Wal-Mart Service BaysS

Welcome back to Garage of Horror, where we share your worst wheeled experiences. Today we have a twin-pack of tales from Wal-Mart, everyone's favorite retailer, employer, potential Jeff Gordon sponsor, and symbol for everything that's wrong with America.

Yes, today's Always Low Opinions Of Humanity™ edition has its origins in the service bays of Wal-Mart, where longtime reader Dave H. spent a presumably dark time in his life when he was a service tech at a Wal-Mart Tire and Lube Express. Luckily for us, he seems to have lived to regale us with his cautionary saga, beginning with a downward spiral of lies and violence that just might make you question the idea that The Customer Is Always Right.

With most of the big box stores, dumb people take advantage of their lax return policies and warranties (ex breaking an object on purpose and taking it back saying it broke on its own). I had a guy come in one day and said that all 4 of his tires were crap and he wanted "free ones". Now, I'm pretty quick witted, and when someone comes in asking for "free ones", that gets my sarcastic juices flowing.

I follow him out to the parking lot to assess the damage on his less than pristine Chev pickup and come to find out that the guy had just come from doing, what looked like to me, a burnout competition. There was chunks of rubber all over the rear half of the truck and the strong smell of hot tires was unmistakable. As I take a look at the front of the truck and notice it's sitting a little funny. Upon closer inspection, I notice about a screwdriver shaft sized hole in the sidewall of the tire. Sure enough, there's one on the other side too. Crap tires do that I guess.

The whole time he's mumbling about "sh*tty tires" and how much money he spent on them. I asked him how he got the truck here with two front tires that had such a coincidental failure. He told me that they held, "enough air to get him there". Uh huh. So I took him back into the service area and pulled his invoice to ensure that his original bill of sale for his"sh*t tires". I then pointed out on his invoice where it indicated that the tread life warranty was void if the tire experienced any "unintended abuse or damage" and that included stabbing the sidewalls and brake standing the tires. This was the C.Y.A. for just this instance. So I told him that since his tires wore prematurely due to unintended abuse and he got a little hot under the collar and started to raise his voice. "You mean to tell me that you're not going to warranty these tires??" I told him there was nothing I could do for him.

Next step in the book of ripping of the company is demand to speak to a manager. So I called mine, who knew nothing about cars, and during a previous incident, ensured me that he would back me up in any case that I said we did not have to cover. The guy started yelling at him and going off about how this was all "bullsh*t" and that he's getting treated like a "F-ing a**hole". All the while, I kept my cool and stood across the desk from him. Immediately to my left is the shop area, which is a cinder block wall, and the door to the shop that you need to get buzzed to get out of. The guy was really heated now and threatened me and looked as if he was going to throw a punch at me, because I was so cool and he was furious (probably because he realized that now he's f-ed because he's got four shit tires and needs to leave the store).

So the guy made one last verbal assault and called us "A bunch of F-ing assholes", cocked his fist back and swung to the point where I jumped back. He wasn't swinging at me though, he swung at the cinder block wall. His fist made a huge smack sound and we all stood there in shock. Holy shit, this guy was nuts! He yelled "F********CCCCCCCCCCKKKKK!!!" and he tried to get out the door, which was locked remotely and I have the button. He yelled at me to " OPEN THE F-ING DOOR A**HOLE!" He walked out of the parking lot, leaving his truck parked outside the shop, it was gone the next day and we never saw him again.

Like anyone who ever worked a day in retail needed reminding that the customer is not always right, let alone not always right in the head. So, then, is the problem always the customers? Right, like anyone who's ever dropped a dollar at a big box service center is ever going to buy that.

Guy doing an oil change in one of the bays had an early Dodge Dakota on a drive up hoist. Guy finished the oil change and lowered the truck down. Policy states that we have to get into the car, do the start check to make sure the oil pressure comes up and then shut the car off.

Most of the time we followed this procedure, but this time, the guy just reached in the window and turned the key, forgetting that it was a manual transmission. Truck was in gear and when he turned the key, it was just like the Dukes of Hazzard! Truck took off and hit the kick up at the end of the hoist and flew into the hoist across the bay. When it landed the front end was now wrapped around the upright of the opposite hoist. Guy stood there in a daze.

The owner took the news pretty well. Of course the insurance company paid off the guy's damages and the kid doing the oil change was fired instantly. We kept a part of the truck's grille as a trophy and a reminder of the day that we had a flying truck in the shop.

Dammit! It seems all of humanity is to blame after all! With, of course, the caveat that Dave seems pretty cool. We thank him for writing in, and note that he escaped to what we can only assume is a better life.

Garage of Horror is a recurring feature where we share your automotive nightmares. Some are mild, some are wild, but all are moments - some funny, some painful, some outlandish - that you'd rather not repeat. Have your own Garage of Horror story? Email it here with the subject line "Garage of Horror."

Image credit: People Of Wal-Mart