by Anura Guruge
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We got a pair of Firestone FR710s for our van yesterday from these folks. It definitely, per their motto, was ‘easy‘ and ‘different‘. I am fairly sure that they were ‘honest‘ too. There definitely were no hidden charges or ‘gotchas’. The ‘balanced and on the vehicle‘ price they quoted me was what I got charged, though they had to do a bit of juggling on the wheels since we were not replacing all 4 tires. I was suitably impressed. It was a competitive price too — but that goes without saying.
It was, in reality, the second time we had been there this week. We had also gone there on Thursday. The front tires on the van were out of balance. I called, got an appointment and took it in. There $8 per tire for balancing is fair. They balanced both front tires but said that they thought I had a shifting belt in one of the tires. Two of the tires were getting close to their limit. The balancing did not cure the vibration. While we were there they had given us, in writing, quotes for three different tires.
I was so aggravated with the van that I was going to ditch it and lease a new van. I spent a fair amount of time checking out leases. New Hampshire auto dealers are so screwed about leases. Deanna really didn’t want two new vehicles. Our KIA Sportage only has 14,000 miles on it after 19 months. We put even less milage on the van.
So I decided just to put two new tires on the van and keep it until June. Of course I checked the prices. I made some calls. Don’t bother with the Walmart Rochester Auto Center! It is basically CLOSED. Period. Move on. I love Walmart. I shop Walmart weekly, in-person or online. Deanna thinks I am a Walmart addict — but, trust me, the Walmart Rochester Auto Center is closed.
After much soul searching I decided to go with the Firestones. I called up Country Tire. I talked to Dan Loring, the Customer Service Advisor. He is the one that I had dealt with. I liked him. He tries hard. He told me that I should put the new tires on the back — though the van is front-wheel drive. He explained why. He called it ‘squirrely’ handling. It kind of made sense. I said ‘OK’. Then I CHECKED on the Web! Yes, I am a professional cynic and paranoid. I don’t even trust myself. He was right. So, that was a thumb’s up for him. [But, for the record, he didn’t know, when I first called him up, that you can have your tires balanced, ON the car. Yes, they don’t have the equipment. They should. I like having my tires balanced on the car. I know I have had it done, on my Yellow Corvette, in Laconia.]
Bottom line, we like these people. We like the café, with one cup of complimentary coffee, and Wi-Fi, they have. It is better than your normal waiting room. Good experience all around.
The place is owned by a Poulin brother, of ‘Dick Poulin Chevrolet‘ in Rochester. Funnily enough after getting the tires balanced we did drive to Dick Poulin to check the leases on a Chrysler. Wasn’t impressed. Won’t be going there again. The sales manager who checked out our van as a trade-in didn’t know how to use the trip counter to get the total milage as opposed to the trip milage that was being displayed! Aaaahhhh! I didn’t wait to hear what he was going to give me for a trade-in. I left in a hurry.
Country Tire does more than tires. We might check them out for other stuff, though we do have a decent mechanic in town who has taken care of us ever since we moved to Alton 2007.
Funnily enough this place is build on what used to be one of our favorite local, ‘cottage industries’ in the area. It was a small bungalow that sold ‘fancy’ garden furniture from the yard. In 2007 we stopped to get a Canadian swing — on wheels. The place was run by a lovely, ‘older’ gentleman. The brother-in-law of the lady who owned the house and business. Very, very nice. Though I was ready to pay by credit card for it, and I think it was in the $600 range, he told me to apply for the GE Finance no-interest for 12 months deal. I knew I would get that, I am a total sucker for any and all 0% deals — and I get 3 to 4 offers a week. We applied. He had to call it in. It was taking a few minutes. He goes into the house and comes back with a bunch of bananas! Yes, of course, the kids were with us. The bananas were for all of us. I was beyond impressed. That was masterful. We used to stop by. Never bought another expensive piece from him, but we would invariably buy some, unneeded but cute, decoration. Only because we liked him! We were sorry to see the house, the business and the gentleman go. But, we have Country Tire in its place. Maybe the good Karma lingers.