The Lovely Claire‘s got a new car, and it needs snow tires. I’ve been casually pricing tire-and-wheel packages, but I knew there must be a way to save some money. I then remembered that a very good friend of mine had once told me he could get me a deal on tires, so I got in touch with him.

He suggested I call National Tire on Caledonia Road in Toronto, and tell them he sent me. Great!

My call to them went like this:

-ringing (about 8 times)-

National Tire: “Please hold.”

Me: “Sure.”

-hold music, “That’s Amore”, (5 minutes)-

National Tire: “National Tire.”

Me: “Hi, I’m looking for a winter wheel-and-tire-package for a 2006 Suburu Legacy Wagon.”

National Tire: “Have you been pricing them out?”

Me: “Well, yeah, sort of…”

National Tire: “Listen. You need to make some calls, get your best price, and call us back once you have that.”

Me: “But I was referred to you by [drop good friend’s name here]; I figured you could just give me your best price.”

National Tire: “Rings a bell. You need to get your best price and phone us back, OK?”

Me: “Uh, sure.”

-end of call-

Now, first of all, I should say that under normal circumstances this kind of lousy customer service would have turned me off and I would have ended the relationship with National Tire right there and then. But my good, trusted friend who blesses me with many a deal on automotive parts and accessories due to his vast network of contacts, had told me this is where he gets his tires. So I made a few calls to other companies, got some prices, and phoned National Tire back:

-ringing (about 7 times)-

National Tire: “Please hold.”

Me: “Sure.”

-hold music, annoying radio ads, (9 minutes)-

National Tire: “National Tire.”

Me: “Hi, I’m looking for a winter wheel-and-tire-package for a 2006 Suburu Legacy Wagon.”

National Tire: “”Listen. You need to make some calls…”

Me: “I did that.”

National Tire: “Oh. OK. What year of car is it?”

Me: “2006.”

National Tire: “Make and model?”

Me: “Subaru Legacy Wagon. It’s a 16″ wheel with 205/55-16 tire.”

National Tire: “What’s your best price on it?”

Me:“$749 plus taxes, mounted and balanced.”

National Tire: [pencil scratching on paper] OK, let me call you back.

Me:“OK, thanks.”

-end of call-

Satisfied with this bit of progress, I went about my busy day. After several hours of meetings, email and document preparation, my phone hadn’t rung, and my voice mail light wasn’t flashing. It was almost close-of-business, so I phoned for an update:

-ringing (about 12 times)-

National Tire: “Hold.”

Me: “Uh huh.”

-hold music, [can’t remember which tune, now, ’cause “That’s Amore” is stuck in my head], (11 minutes)-

National Tire: “Yeah.”

Me: “Hi, I called earlier about a winter wheel-and-tire-package for a 2006 Suburu Legacy Wag…”

National Tire: “You’re going to need to phone us back after 6 because we’re really busy right now.” [hangs up]

-end of call-

I held the receiver a moment longer, in disbelief. He had hung up on me. I could feel myself flush. I was upset, because I didn’t get to continue the call. If I had, it would have gone something like this:

Me:“Listen, you lousy glob of monkey snot, you’ve wasted close to an hour of my day and I still don’t have a price from you. If you think for a second that I’m going to call you again, you are also a very naive glob of monkey snot. In fact, you have succeeded in pissing me off to the point that I’m going to invest another 30 minutes or so in repeating National Tire’s name 25 or so times on my website so it gets a few search engine hits, and I’m going to tell everyone what insulting, useless, stupid business practices you employ in dealing with prospective customers who were freakin’ REFERRED to National Tire. Have a lovely day. [hang up]”

-end of call-