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First-Person Single: tire-buying experience gets top ratings

Let me admit a few things up front. First, I’ve been writing for the Fred Beans organization for a dozen years. Second, I am the farthest thing from a “car-head.” And third, my knowledge of the quality of the service and sensitivity of the sales staff at Fred Beans’s 13 dealerships has come from watching them work and working with them, because – this is just embarrassing – I have not purchased a car from a Beans dealership or brought my car to a Beans service department in all those years.

But that is going to change, and here is why: I now have first-hand experience that reinforces what I’ve been observing and writing about for more than a decade.

A few weeks ago on a sunny Saturday morning, rushing to finish some errands, I ran over a curb hard. I knew I was in trouble when I lifted the flap of scarred sidewall rubber and saw fibers. Feeling foolish, I drove over to the Ford dealership on North Easton Road and threw myself on the mercy of assistant service manager Dennis Witkowski. I’d seen Dennis around, of course, but hadn’t had much interaction, so introductions were in order – followed by my admission of lousy behind-the-wheel focus.

All right, he didn’t let me off the hook by telling me this could happen to anyone. But he did let me know that I could drive – carefully, at medium speeds – till Monday (my choice), when I would have time to come by and have the new tire mounted. He explained clearly what he was going to replace my curb-chewed tire with and how much the tire, mounting and balancing would cost. He told me the service team would also assess my wheel alignment, since I clearly spent quite a bit of time whacking into curbs. And then he surprised me by saying there is no charge for the alignment check, though if the vehicle needed an alignment and I chose to have the service done, that would be around $90.

Dennis Witkowski, assistant service manager at Fred Beans Ford Lincoln Mitsubishi, Doylestown

The entire procedure (this is sort of like a root canal, only much less expensive, right?) took about an hour and a half. I spent it doing some editing and reading while sitting in the very clean, quiet and comfortable waiting room. Dennis checked in often to let me know the status of the remounting and the alignment I opted for them to do. The service techs also conducted a multi-point inspection, topped off any fluids as needed, rotated my tires and inspected the others for tread wear. None of this was preferential treatment: Dennis and other service advisers regularly updated other customers during this time, and the added inspections are a matter of course at all the Beans dealerships.

I was pleased with the service, didn’t gag when I saw my bill (it was a few cents less than the estimate) and felt well-cared-for by everyone. I’m tremendously grateful for the help and reassurances I was given both Saturday and Monday.

And I will be back.

—Anne Biggs, Driving Times editor