Pep Boys: Does Nothing While You Sit There for Hours (UPDATED) (UPDATED AGAIN)

The battery died in my 2005 Jetta a week or so ago. R and I were able to jumpstart it on the 16th so I could go to the grocery store and I was able to use my remote starter to turn it on the next day. But then early Wednesday morning, it wouldn’t start again.

My Dad and I decided that we would take the battery out and go get a replacement. So he came over around 9:30 or 10am and he unhooked what he thought were the bolts holding it in place… no luck removing it. We looked in the user manual and they conveniently had no diagrams or useful info (they wanted you to go to a dealer of course). So I then went to my trusty standby (Google) and found some instructions for removing the battery. They came with a warning though that sometimes removing the battery caused an issue where things may need to be reset that the layman would be unable to do. Deciding not to do anything to my car that might require getting it towed somewhere, I called Pep Boys.

Having had problems with getting work done on my Jetta at non-VW places before, I first asked if the could replace the battery in my car. The answer was yes. They figured out the cost for my battery and the installation and told me it would be about $132 with tax. I asked if the person I was speaking to had heard about the problems with the resets after installation and he checked with some of the mechanics. He told me that only happened 10% of the time, and if it did, it would be a $59.99 charge.  I joked that he should tell the mechanic to make sure that didn’t happen and asked how busy he was. This was at 11:45am. He said there was only 1 truck ahead of me, it was already being worked on, it should only take 30 minutes and he had a whole bunch of guys scheduled to come in at 12:30. Sounded perfect to me and I said I would see him after we jumped my car to get it running.

So Dad and I tried to use the emergency jumpers from a kit in my car for about 15 minutes without success. He was starting to think about running home for different jumpers when I peeked in the old F-150 we have for gardening and construction projects and found another set of jumpers. Basically, we attached them, made sure they were on properly, I got in my car, turned the key and the ignition immediately started. Lesson learned: 10 gauge jumpers aren’t worth a damn.

So my car is running, Bella is down for her nap and Dad is set up to sit around and watch CNN while I run off to get the battery replaced.

I got to Pep Boys around 12:30 and was immediately told that it was going to be longer than 30 minutes. No big deal, I took longer to get there than I expected (though I did arrive at the same time as the new influx of staff). So, I wandered the store and found some better jumpers and then took a seat in their little waiting area. As a side note, I fully admit I was not properly dressed for the weather outside, but the temperature INSIDE the store, especially in the waiting area was ridiculous. There was no reason for it to be so incredibly cold. But I sat there with my arms folded to keep myself warm, sunglasses firmly in place to fight getting a migraine from the fluorescent lighting and to help ease the vertigo I was dealing with.

And I waited. And I waited. And I waited. I am non-confrontational by habit, so even when it had been 90 minutes since I arrived and I had heard nothing, I just assumed they were working on my car now after fixing other cars first.

At the 2 hour point I needed to use the restroom. On my way back to the waiting area, I looked through the windows they have into the shop area and saw that someone was JUST pulling down the door behind my car… meaning they had only just brought it in to even BEGIN working on it. I was annoyed, but again, non-confrontational.

Around 2.25 hours, I wandered over and saw that my hood was open, but that no one seemed to be actively working on my car. OK, starting to get frustrated. At about 2.75 hours I walked over again and looked in the window and saw that the hood was down on my car. I figured they must be done and hopefully they would check me out soon.

At 3.25 I had just about had enough. I walked over to check on my car and it was still sitting there with the hood down. I walked up to the front and waited around for a few minutes and when there was a break in the frenzied pace, I asked the person whom I knew was the manager if there was a form I could fill out to make a complaint. He continued to ring things up (they were obviously understaffed) and asked what was wrong, I said I was looking for an update on my car. He immediately asked one of the other employees if they could assist me with finding out the status of my car. The employee asked me my name and then went back into the shop. I followed him and then stood near the waiting area.

The employee comes out and says “Oh yeah, um they’re saying you need an oil change”. I said, that’s not possible and walked right back to the check-out area where the manager was. He had a free moment and I unloaded on him….

“I called you guys at 11:45 and I was told it would only take 30 minutes to change my oil” (He responded that he had been the one I had spoken to and remembered the conversation) “When it didn’t take 30 minutes, it didn’t concern me much because I knew some other cars may have shown up. But when I see my car not even getting pulled into the shop until 2 hours after I arrive, that bothers me. When I check on it 15 minutes later and the hood is open but the car is unattended, I figure the work is in progress. When I walk over 30 minutes later and the hood is down, I assume they work has been completed. I realize sometimes it takes a few minutes to get the work orders back inside, but when another 30 minutes has passed and I continue to sit there, I have a problem with that. Then, when I am finally given an update on my car and the excuse for the delay is that they are going to recommend an oil change, I call bullshit. My car was inspected on December 1st, my oil was changed then, my car is rated for 5-6,000 miles between oil changes and in that time I’ve maybe driven 200. This is absolutely unacceptable to me.”

He responded that he completely agreed, he would not charge me for my battery or installation (just a few small purchases I was making) and that he would absolutely speak with the staff in the shop to see why this had happened.

I was livid on the way home. I had wasted so much time, my father had been stuck at my place whether he wanted to be or not and I was missing time with Bella for no good reason.

So, that is why I posted the other day about planning an expletive-laden diatribe about Pep Boys. I decided to tone it back, because I will be copying and pasting much of this content into their online complaint form.

Oh, 2 more things. When I got into my car to leave, I noticed my seat was further back than normal, so I checked Bella’s car seat and it was indeed not seated properly from having my seat forced back into it. If I had not caught this and had been in an accident, there is all likelihood that Bella would have been injured. Also, the battery cover that my Dad and I had removed that was sitting on the passenger seat was never put back on. How effing lazy can you be?

UPDATE: Email received from Pep Boys after filing an online complaint.

This email contains the details concerning your contact with the PepBoys Customer Support Center. We would like to inform you that the issue has been escalated on Jan 26 2012 2:00PM and assigned to the next level of management. We appreciate your patience as we come to an appropriate resolution to this case.


He apologized for my time and mentioned that he knew I had been given the battery and labor for free. He asked if there was anything else he could do and when I brought up my other complaints, he just spouted out excuse after excuse.

Me: “Why was my car’s battery cover left on the passenger seat?”

Pep Boys: “Well because unless you specifically ask them to put it back on, they wouldn’t know to do that.”

Me: “Really? Why in the world would anyone want to drive around with their battery cover sitting on their passenger seat? Why would anyone not want to put their battery cover back on if a new battery had been installed?

Pep Boys: No real answer, just excuses.

Me: “The answer is a lack of work ethic and laziness.”

As for my bigger concern regarding my daughter’s child seat being knocked off it’s tracks….

Pep Boys: “Mechanics are all different sizes and sometimes need to move seats in order to move a vehicle.”

Me: “I understand that, and that I realize I am short (5′ 2”), but they did not simply push my chair back and my daughter’s seat was dislodged, they must have slammed it back and pushed very hard for it to be as far back as it was and for it to have knocked the seat off the track. If I had moved a seat back with such force and hit an “immovable” object, I might have checked to see and make sure I had not damaged it.”

In the end he just kept saying, well, if there is anything I can do. And I just kept saying, No, because your customer service is so horrible, I could never imagine using your services again.

I told him that I found this phone call unsatisfactory as an “escalation” of my complaint.

Mommy rage in full effect…….

About snarkysillysad
A former marketing professional with 15 years of experience in the technology industry. Through her blog she has shared her journey through pregnancy and motherhood as well as her struggle with migraines, depression, and chronic pain

3 Responses to Pep Boys: Does Nothing While You Sit There for Hours (UPDATED) (UPDATED AGAIN)

  1. icanhasdiary says:

    UGH, that’s awful! I can’t believe they made you wait so damn long!! And then don’t even know what they are doing! Did you double check that they did really put a new battery in your car (and didn’t just charge your current one)?
    I have heard terrible things about Pep Boys. My father warned me to never go there– they pay their mechanics super low salaries, so they get inexperienced mechanics or the guys who are desperate for a job. It sucks.
    This reminds me a little of the time I went to the VW dealership (ironically) for an oil change this past fall. I had a coupon for a cheap oil change at this specific dealership that I got from donating blood. I called in advance to make sure they could work on a Chevy HHR. They said yes, and gave me an appointment time. I arrived on-time and they said it would take “30 minutes tops” and I sat down in their waiting area. At 1.5 hours, they came out and said they didn’t have the filter my car needed in stock. “The car in front of you was also a GM, so I guess the guys used your filter on that car– sorry.” Someone had to run to another dealership to get the filter. I didn’t leave there until I’d been there for 2.5 hours! I was PISSED. I had to call my Mom to go to my house and let Hurley out! To top it off, they never reset my computer so the oil life would be up at 100%. So this screwed me up for two months, as the number dropped to 0% and my car kept insisting I needed an oil change. Grrr. I usually go about 4-5 months between oil changes!
    Man, we all have terrible mechanics stories, don’t we? Actually it’s terrible CUSTOMER SERVICE. And that’s bad everywhere, anymore. I don’t know why things suck so bad now.

  2. We usually take our vehicles to this guy that everyone at R’s old work took their cars too and who also does some fleet service. He’s never fast (you usually need to leave your car there for the day), but he’s honest and reliable. That will teach me for trying to get something done “quickly”.
    And actually, when I said to the manager “Look, I’ve had young guys working for me before, I know what it can be like”, he said that it’s actually the OLDER guys that were more of a problem. They didn’t like all the new technology apparently.

  3. icanhasdiary says:

    Yeah, I’d believe that about the older guys, for sure! My dad is one of those older guy mechanics and he kind of gripes about the computers in all the cars today. If he worked for someone else (rather than alone in his own business), he’d probably be a stubborn old fart. 😉
    I got so spoiled having a mechanic dad all those years. When I moved out here, I really mourned the loss. And I still do. I did finally find a decent mechanic, and my dad even met him when he was out for a visit two years ago, so he approves. Heh.

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