Cicero Pep Boys takes man on long, strange ride

When I was the automotive editor at Pioneer Press, I took my car to the local dealer in the burbs because it was convenient. I loved them. They washed my car and gave me a flower when I took it in. They steered me straight and kept my 10-year-old car working like clockwork.

And then it happened. They called my work place to tell me I needed extra work after a routine oil change and left a message on my voice mail that included something like: "You're an automotive editor? Are you trying to pull something over on us?"

That was my first clue that something wasn't quite right. Then they told me I needed more than $1,500 worth of repairs. And that if I wanted to go ahead and trade in my car, they'd give me $500. My car on KBB.com was worth $3,500.

So, I took my car to a friend who's a mechanic, and he replaced my EGR valve for $60. I immediately rucked up a fuss directly with my friends at the automaker, and the owner of the dealership called an apologized and offered me free things. I didn't want or take any of it. All I wanted was for everyone who walked through their doors to be treated honestly and fairly. Because I had a voice in the media I eventually was.

But others out there aren't so lucky. Take, for instance, what happened to Mohan at the Pep Boys in Cicero recently.
 
Similar to my situation, he found a place he trusted to take his car for repairs. And then it all went pear shaped.

It started with a check engine light and a knocking sound in early May. It has now been more than 50 days. The result? The car has been in the store for 16 nights. Mohan has had no less than 11 visits to the store. He's had to take 2 full days off work to deal with the problem and made more than 30 phone calls. He's spent almost $800, and the car still isn't fixed. (Below, I've pasted a detailed summary of his travails.)

The kicker: The car is STILL IN THE STORE. And as of June 25, he still hasn't received a call back or any kind of satisfaction from the store.

Mohan has started an all-out social media onslaught against Pep Boys, and refers to the store as #820 in various letters he's published around the Web. Here's the address and phone number:

2501 S. Cicero Ave.
Cicero, IL 60804
708-656-1160

So, my point? Well, there's a few.

  1. Anyone out there have contacts at Pep Boys so we can get Mohan some satisfaction?
  2. Boycott, boycott, boycott this Pep Boys.
  3. Anyone else out there have a similar horror story to share? Misery does love company after all.
  4. And perhaps this is a stretch: But are there any good and honest mechanics out there? (My friend who helped me was in Indy, otherwise I'd throw his name out there.)

The excruciating time line of events according to Mohan:


  • May 6: Date of original and first trip to the store to fix my check
    engine light, knocking sound and driving in a very low power added with
    engine vibrations.

  • May 7: While driving, I feel a hiccup in the engine, check engine
    light comes back. I take to the store right away, after a full
    diagnostic - I am told that it could just be some dust in the fuel
    line. Technician tells to drive at least for 10 days and then come back. However on my way back, it again happens. Gradually every day, the engine becomes worse (worse than before).

  • May 27: I return to the store, after 30 minutes wait, I am told that
    there is no technician, and I should come earlier in the day. Also, an
    advisor insists, that with the long weekend coming up, weekend would be
    busy, so Friday is better.

  • May 28: I take a day off, as the car is in a very bad shape.
    After 2 hrs wait, I am told that computer used to scan the car is not
    working since morning. However, it is already 1pm, why I should be made
    wait 2hrs, if the computer was not working since morning? I am told to
    come back on Tuesday, since Monday is still long weekend and the
    computer won-t be fixed.

  • Jun 2: A diagnostic is done for the 3rd time. A different advisor, who
    is not aware that I would claim warranty, tells that I need to replace
    both induction coils and catalytic converter. If was not aware of
    warranty, a few more $$$-s would have been shelled out. Upon claiming warranty, manager comes- now the whole diagnostic procedure changes. Manager wants to have the car for a night, to thoroughly check.
    Promises to car will be fixed for the problem and the check engine
    light.

  • Jun 4: Picked up the car, was told that the gasket seal which
    was installed, was not properly seated!! So, had I not claimed
    warranty, I would paid for new induction coils and catalytic
    converters, while the gasket was leaking (for the past two diagnostics). Weekend no driving

  • Jun 7: I drive to work, and the problem repeats. I immediately call and report it. I am told to again drop the car.

  • Jun 8: Dropped the car.

  • Jun 10: Picked up the car, this time, cables which were installed
    as a part of the tune up and other procedures were filled with oil -
    thus causing misfire. Again, technicians fault.

  • Jun 11: Problem repeats and dropped the car in the morning.

  • Jun 12: Morning, I call and talk to the manager, who is unaware
    that I picked up the car on Thursday evening and returned it on Friday.
    I quote his words - -I have been daily testing and driving your car,
    even today morning, there is absolutely no problem. Not even the check
    engine light-. I am just confused and again call him in a few minutes
    to ask, -How could you have been testing daily, did you even know that
    I took it on Thursday and returned on Friday, with the same problems.
    It is there right now with the check engine light on-. Manager now
    pretends innocent and gives the phone to technician after a 20 minutes
    hold. Technician, acknowledges to me that, there is indeed a problem
    and he will work on it.

  • Jun 16: After several days of trying to reach the manager or the
    advisor over phone, I am finally told to come take my car. It takes
    exactly 2 mins of driving and boom, check engine light is back and all
    the problems. I return to the store in less than 5 minutes and return.
    Manager not in store.

  • Jun 17: I again go in person to remind all of these and insist that,
    he just return my money. He says that it would not possible now, but he
    would take it to a dealer to fix my car. I insist to him that I will
    contact corporate office, he tells not to do it, as it would not help
    me. I tell him that, it is financially taking a toll on me, but he
    says, that is how cars are. He promises that I would get a car on or
    before June 21 (Monday) from the service advisor.

  • Today is June 23, no call or nothing. I just need to here stress that,
    in this full process; I have got only one call (in 48 days).

Filed under: Help me!

Tags: auto repairs, mechanic, pep boys

Comments

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  • You should know that pep-boys does not require any type of certification of their "mechanics". I had a friend in high school who used to work at Pep doing transmission work without any formal training or certification. Try the Mechanic files at Car Talk (http://www.cartalk.com/content/mechx/) next time you need to take it in.

  • I don't understand why, if they keep failing to solve the problem, you would keep going back. Especially when they claim on two different occasions parts where installed incorrectly.

  • I only use Pep Boys for oil changes and other basic car care. Anything else I take it to my trusted mechanic who works on cars for a side job. Takes a little longer to get fixed but I know it will be fixed right.

  • @tubman -- if you're in chicago, we'd love to have the name of your mechanic! so many of us go to the pep boys of the world because we just don't know where else to go.

  • These stories just kill those of us in the business trying to do the right thing. Problems fixing a car I can understand, the strangest things can and do come up. The total lack of communication and concern for the customer is just rediculous.

  • YOU KNOW IT IS FUNNY EVERYONE COMPLAINS THAT THEY SPEND TO MOUCH MONEY ON THERE CARS AND THAT REPAIR SHOPS ARE OUT TO GET THEM BUT AS CONSUMERS WE ARE ALL LOOKING TO THE CHEAPEST PLACE TO FIX ARE VEHICLES.I UNDERSTAND NOT EVERYONE IS HONEST BUT I HAVE TO SAY I BEEN TO THIS PEP BOYS IN CICERO ABOUT A YEAR AGO MY CAR BROKE DOWN IT WAS VERY COLD OUT AND IT WAS LATE ABOUT 7PM WE ALL KNOW HOW DARK IT GETS IN CHICAGO WINTERS.I CALLED THEIR TOW TO PEP NUMBER AND I WAS TOWED IN TO THE PEP BOYS IN CICERO MY CAR GOT THERE ABOUT 8PM IT WAS LATE I REALLY NEEDED MY CAR AND ASKED THEM IF THEY COULD LOOK AT AND SEE IF THEY CAN REPAIR IT THE SAME DAY THE SERVICE MANAGER TOLD ME HE WOULD DO HIS BEST. I KNEW THEY CLOSED AT 9PM AND THOUGHT THE WORST NO WAY COULD THEY FIX IT BUT I GAVE THEM A SHOT.THE SERVICE MANAGER CAME BACK ABOUT 30 MINUTES LATER AND TOLD ME I HAD A BAD WATER PUMP AND IT HAD LOCKED UP CAUSING MY TO TURN OFF AND NOT WANT TO START HE TOLD ME IT WOULD TAKE ABOUT 3HRS TO DO THE JOB I KNEW I WAS IN TROUBLE UNTIL HE TOLD ME THAT HE HAD SPOKEN TO THE MECHANIC AND ASK HIM IF HE WOULD STAY AND FINISH MY CAR I KNEW THEY CLOSED AT 9PM AND TOLD HIM HE SAID DONT WORRY I UNDERSTAND YOU ARE IN TROUBLE AND NEED YOUR VEHICLE AND THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME WE DONE THIS FOR A CUSTOMER HE TOLD ME THAT THEY WOULD NOT LEAVE UNTIL MY VEHICLE WAS COMPLETED.WELL TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT I LEFT THAT PEP BOYS AT ABOUT 12AM AND THE SERVICE MANAGER FOLLOWED ME WITH HIS CAR ALL THE WAY TO THE EXPRESSWAY AND HE ALSO GAVE ME HIS CELL PHONE NUMBER IN CASE SOMETHING HAPPENED ON MY LONG RIDE BACK HOME.I THOUGHT I SHARED THIS WITH YOU BECUSE I KNOW PEOPLE MAKE MISTAKES AND I KNOW PEP BOYS IS A CORPORATE COMPANY IF THIS GUY HAD SO MUCH TROUBLE WITH HIS REPAIR I'M SURE THAT HE GOT HIS MONEY BACK PEOPLE POST TO MUCH NEGATIVE STUFF ABOUT REPAIR BUT WHEN EVERYTHING GOES GOOD THEY NEVER POST ANYTHING VEHICLE ARE COMPLICATED MACHINES AND NOT EASY TO REPAIR I'M SURE THIS WAS NOT THE FIRST TIME THIS STORE ANY OF PEP BOYS STORE WERE NO ABLE TO FIX CAR BUT I HAVE LEARN AS A CONSUMER IF YOU ARE NOT SATISFIED YOU GET YOUR MONEY BACK AND IF THIS GUY WENT TO ALL THIS TROUBLE TO POST THIS POST AND SENT SO MANY EMAIL HE FORGOT TO DO ONE THING PICK UP THE OLDEST MEANS OF COMMUNICATION THE TELEPHONE CALL 1-800-PEP-BOYS THEIR CORPORATE OFFICE WOULD HAVE MADE SURE HE WOULD GET HIS MONEY BACK.NO SHOP OUT THERE HAS MADE EVERY CUSTOMER A 100% HAPPY WE ARE HUMANS AND MISTAKES ARE MADE.GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR CAR.....

  • In reply to jrshdw:

    Holy run-on sentence!
    Punctuation marks are appreciated, sir.

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