17 February 2007

Free Installation!

The battery in our 1999 vintage automobile came with the car when it was new.
I intended to replace it this fall, prior to the really cold weather setting in. I forgot.
So when this latest cold spell, (single-digit temperatures), blanketed the area, I figured we'd go out one morning to find the car wouldn't start.
But it's been reliable and hasn't let us down.

Knowing I had pushed my luck pretty far, I went to Wally World to buy a new battery yesterday. There was a method to my madness-
Buy your battery at WW and they will install it free!
On this particular model car, the battery is completely out of sight. There are battery posts readily marked up front, under the hood, but the battery is tucked down under the engine somewhere. I've never seen it, so I had no idea how difficult it would be to replace it.
Why worry? Wally World will do it free!

Taking a look at the batteries on display, it appeared I had two choices-
A "good" battery... 650 Cold Cranking amps, was gonna cost me just under $50.
A "Maxx" battery... 900 Cold Cranking amps, would cost an extra $15. To me, it seemed a no-brainer... I was looking for a battery that would spin the cold engine and make it easier to start. I decided I'd spend the money on the "Maxx".

The helpful clerk behind the counter was named Brett. I told Brett I needed a new battery, and Brett asked what make/model car I owned, stuck his nose in his reference manual, and said "you need a 34N".
He walks over to the display and grabs one of the "good" batteries.
"No, no Brett... I want the larger battery with more power."
(Tim Allen grunts here, please.)

"We can't do that. The spec calls for the 34N."

"What? What spec is that?"

"Our reference book specifies what battery we can install, and the 34N is the battery that goes in your car."

"What kind of craziness is that? The two batteries are the same size!"

"No, they're not."

I grab both batteries and set them on the floor. They appear to be EXACTLY the same size!

"You mean to tell me those batteries are not the same size?"

(Now, my friend Brett has begun to turn on me. He is showing me a little attitude. I don't like clerks that show me attitude.)

"Got a tape measure, Brett?"

"Uhh, well, I don't THINK they're the same size."

"Well Brett, are they or aren't they? They look to be exactly the same outer dimensions. Give me a tape measure Brett!"

"Well even if they are, I can't put that battery in your car because our book specifies the 34N."

I measure the batteries. They are exactly the same size.

"Here Brett, take this piece of paper and pen, and write your store manager's phone number on it, please."

I leave Wally World, having failed my mission, and go to work a full 90 minutes early... the time I figured it might take to install the battery. From work I call the nice Wally World manager and explain how Brett was really not the most helpful of clerks, and ask what
is this crap about not being able to sell/install the 900 Cold Cranking amp battery in my car?

My new friend the Wally World manager is very apologetic. He says his clerk is mistaken... that there have been lawsuits (damn lawyers again), and young clerks like Brett sometimes are overly cautious. If I will return to the store, he'll be more than happy to insure I am satisfied.

"No, I really don't think I want Brett and his crew touching my car tonight. How 'bout I come by first thing in the morning?"

"That'll be fine".

So, bright and early in the morning after I am relieved, I return to Wally World to meet my next new friend, Don the installer.

I warn Don that the battery is one of those you cannot see from above.
Don's an expert... "Yeah, we'll have to go through the fender to get to it."

I watch from 20 feet away behind the safety fence as they put the car on the lift and remove the right front tire. They then unscrew four screws in a panel inside the fender, and set the panel aside. Then my new friend Don gets a funny look on his face. He calls another guy over, points at something I cannot see, and they have a little discussion.
He walks across the shop floor and gets another tool kit, and begins to assemble a long line of extensions to his ratchet/socket set.

To make a long story short, much head scratching, lifting/lowering of the car, attacking the battery from above and below followed. In this shop, where experts do this sort of thing all the time, it took them 75 minutes to install my new battery!

When the dust had settled and the car was back on the ground, Don came over and confided,
"I'll never do another one of those!"

So now comes my obvious question-
"Free Installation" if you buy the battery at Wally World...
If this battery turns out to be a dud, can they refuse to install a replacement?


mkquilts said...

I don't know the answer to your question about whether or not Wally World would replace your battery for you. I don't buy batteries there; my experience with getting things done there has not been good.

My car is a Mercury that was made in Canada. It takes a very large battery with a lot of cold cranking power. I doubt Wally World would even have one and would then probably try to sell me something different that wouldn't be the right size.

When I needed a new battery, even my favorite auto repair shop didn't have one in stock and so had to order one from the supplier. I never did tell my other half how much it cost - he was out of town so I got to buy what I wanted! After all, I was paying for it!

He always wants to buy the cheapest batteries he can find. That was fine until we ended up with a battery that was a "blem" so it was very cheap and it exploded in a car I used to have!! After that I no longer sought the advice of my husband when I needed a new battery for any vehicle.

I should add here that I used to work in an auto repoar shop so I probably more knowledge about these things than the average woman.

The Old Man said...

Y'all canna do stuff the easy way, can ya? I b'lieve you made the best out of the sichewashun.
For the battery placement? Some engineer forgot K.I.S.S.

Oshawapilot said...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I sometimes wonder if a frontal lobotomy is a prerequisite to working at WalMart.

It idiocy I've experienced there over the years with "customer service" is staggering.

I've had good experiences as well, but the bad ones are staggeringly scary.

Di said...

Well, I always believe that old saying: 'You get what you pay for', but then sometimes you don't so--go figure!!

I hope the battery lasts for a long time!!!! Good luck!