A Canadian Tire customer seriously questions the service practices of a North Vancouver shop after trying to sell him a $400 repair - for an inexplicably loose wheel bearing.
A Canadian Tire customer is raising serious questions about the service practices of a North Vancouver shop after an attempt was made to sell him a $400 repair - for an inexplicably loose wheel bearing discovered by an auto technician - the new tire fitted.
Canadian Tire response
“The CBC has published a report containing serious allegations against one of our Canadian tire shops and information that we believe is false, inaccurate and extremely harmful to our brand.
Her story paints a serious picture of a shop and service technician who intentionally tampered with a customer's car and made unnecessary repairs.
We strongly and categorically reject these allegations and would like to bring to the CBC's attention that the allegations you have now made indicate shocking behavior that we firmly believe never occurred. The impact of these allegations is severe on our brand - and we're not doing that. I don't think the CBC has done their due diligence to make sure the facts are correct.
Our service technician who identified the loose wheel bearing on the customer's car is a reliable, experienced and deeply honest man. The suggestion that he intentionally dismantled a wheel assembly to cause a problem is beyond belief. Furthermore, there is no evidence to support the CBC's claim that our technician engaged in a shocking act of loosening nuts and bolts - and the evidence of this is not recorded on our work order or the GM dealer's work orders. This is a point that absolutely would have been noticed if it were true. Furthermore, the CBC relies on GM dealers, who appear not to have followed GM's service standards, to support their story that Canadian Tire did something wrong.
(Canadian Tire spokesman Duncan Fulton's full statement can be read at the "Related" links to the right of this story.)
“Suddenly – out of the blue – does it need to be replaced?” asked customer Errol Hanson. “You would feel some kind of vibe. A vibration on the highway and I didn't feel anything wrong."
"These screws don't just come off," he said. "It has to be undone with a wrench, a really big wrench," he added.
Hanson took his 2002 Chevy Tracker to the Canadian Tire Store at 1350 Main St. to replace the tires in late October, 10 days after his regular mechanic serviced the North Vancouver Suzuki.
Suzuki's service manager confirmed to CBC News that a mechanic inspected the vehicle while it was at the dealership and found no loose wheels.
Wheel loose suddenly
When Hanson returned to Canadian Tire to pick up his vehicle, he said the person at the service desk told him that a wheel bearing needed to be replaced.
"It says we can do it for you right away - right now," Hanson said. "He said he had to be replaced."
Instead, Hanson opted to take the vehicle to North Shore Suzuki.
"I shook [the steering wheel] and it was loose! I was like, 'No, something is wrong here.'"
Records show that a mechanic at the Suzuki dealership "tightened the wheel bearing" and charged him $80. Hanson said the service supervisor told him the bearing didn't need to be replaced, just tightened, and that the nut holding the bearing in place would not loosen on its own.
North Vancouver Suzuki's service manager told CBC News that his mechanic tested the vehicle by turning the wheels and inspecting the wheel bearing. He said the mechanic confirmed the wheel was loose but couldn't find anything in stock - it looked like new. North Vancouver Suzuki insisted that the only problem his mechanic found was that the nut holding the bearing in place had come loose.
"It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I felt really uncomfortable about the whole thing," Hanson said.
"God forbid, the wheel fell off or something - who would I chase?"
Hanson went back to Canadian Tire and asked the service manager how this could happen, but said his concerns were essentially dismissed.
Customer felt "cheated"
"He said, 'The mechanic doesn't remember - so there's nothing I can do,'" Hanson said. "He didn't take responsibility for anything. I felt cheated. I really did.
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Hanson wonders if someone at Canadian Tire loosened the nut that held the bearing in place while the new tires were fitted.
"I went there in good faith as an innocent bystander and this is what happens. I don't know what to say. I can't point the finger that they did it on purpose. I wasn't there to see how they do it," said Hanson.
CBC News called the North Vancouver store and asked for an explanation, but the service manager said, "I don't know why I should get involved with the media" and hung up.
Canadian Tire headquarters later sent a statement suggesting that the automotive technician involved remembered Hanson's vehicle.
“While we were doing the [tyre and alignment] work, we identified an item that needed repair (hub bearing) and also in line with automotive service best practices, we informed the customer of the need for service and quoted an available price for it. the best repair (renew the hub bearings).
"Since we are not hired to do the work, we cannot determine whether tightening or replacing the hub bearing was the best service offered."
Canadian Tire also said that Hanson would receive an apology.
Apologies from headquarters
"However, we believe that in this case our customer did not receive the level of customer service we intended to provide and therefore we will be contacting the customer directly to apologize and do our best to resolve their concerns to their satisfaction." solve. Canadian Tire headquarters sent this additional statement on Tuesday to specifically address Hanson's most serious concern.
"It is a serious and damaging allegation to suggest that a Canadian Tire mechanic would tamper with an automobile and endanger lives... Canadian Tire categorically and explicitly rejects this conclusion."
CBC News decided to run their own test at the same Canadian tire shop to see what repairs, if any, would be recommended.
We brought a 2007 Honda Fit owned by CBC intern Gareth Madoc-Jones to see Carmen Martino, an independent mechanic who conducts consumer education for the Automobile Protection Association.
Teste Martino drove the vehicle and removed the wheels. He concluded that it was in good condition, but recommended replacing the front brake pads soon. Martino also intentionally loosened two bolts – one in the rear wheel area and one at the front – which he thinks should be obvious to any mechanic looking under the car.
Loose screws could pose a safety hazard if left undisturbed, he said.
Madoc-Jones then took the car to North Vancouver Canadian Tire. He told the service center that he had just purchased the vehicle and asked to have it checked to see if it needed repairs.
A customer service representative said he would do a "basic maintenance check" for $20.
Madoc-Jones was told, "Let's just check... They're going to check everything."
Missing screws loose
The next day, Canadian Tire gave him an estimate of $200 for the recommended work, including a rear brake adjustment. There was no mention of loose bolts or front brake pads, which Martino said were worn.
"They didn't even look at it," Martino said after revising the estimate. "That's what it tells me. They didn't even look because they didn't even take the wheels off.
"They discard things he doesn't need, and they discard things that make them a quick buck."
Upon realizing that the screws were still loose, Martino warned: "It's very, very dangerous."
Canadian Tire headquarters responded: “A basic service does not include an off-wheel inspection, but does include a visual and noise inspection performed by the workshop. That matches what your mechanic said - that we didn't take the wheels off."
The Automobile Protection Association (APA) has included Canadian Tire in some of its most recent annual consumer surveys.
President George Iny said he found that service quality varied between Canadian Tire dealerships, which are independently owned and operated.
"Canadian Tire is unique when it comes to customer service," he said. "They don't seem to have standards or consistently enforce them on stores. So they're often at the mercy of the store."
Based on CBC News test results at the North Vancouver store, he said, “Very obvious mechanical defects were not resolved and they also sold or recommended services that were unlikely to be needed.
"Perhaps you should tread carefully before entering this store."
The APA advises consumers who receive repairs from a major chain, such as Canadian Tire, to get a second opinion from an independent mechanic. Iny also suggests asking mechanics about their old parts so they can verify that the repair was really necessary.