10 April 2010

Anger cannot be dishonest.
   - Marcus Aurelius, Stoic philosopher

Anger rises like bile in my throat as I am typing. The truth is, I'm at the mercy of yet another dishonest man who does the dirty work for his dishonest employer. He, like so many others just like him, uses my lack of mechanical expertise as a way to extract money from my pockets.

A few days ago, something in the exhaust system under my car gave way, and in the yielding, made the car, a small four-cylinder sports model, sound just like a monster truck. I have had enough experience of such things to know it's not a repair I can do myself--even if I could get the correct parts, I haven't a clue as to how to assemble them or weld them into the proper places.

I've had this work done over the years at Midas Muffler. You know them. They're the ones who tell you that your muffler is warranted for as long as the original purchaser of the muffler owns the car. Sounds like a good deal, right? Especially if, like me, you tend to hold onto your vehicles for decades. You think, Hey, if I pay this one-time fee, I can have free mufflers forever. Excellent.

Or so I thought.

I called Midas, explained my situation, and asked for an estimate. My car is now of an age when I am weighing repairs against the cost of replacement. I know that there is a point of diminished returns--you don't spend thousands in a year to repair what you can replace for hundreds. The manager told me I was looking at between $150 and $180, depending on the location of the problem, and of course, the muffler would be fully under warranty. I made the appointment and dropped the car off as scheduled at 8:00 a.m. this morning. The manager said he'd call me as soon as they looked at the car to let me know what to expect.

It was all very friendly and normal, and I expected him to tell me it would cost between $150 to $180.

A few minutes ago, he called. The pipes from the converter on have to be replaced, he said. The muffler, too, he said. It's going to cost between $420 and $450, he said. The muffler's under warranty, so that won't cost anything, he said. We took it apart, and it is what it is, he said.

It is what it is.

I am so shocked and angry, my fingers are shaking as I type.

Except what they don't warrant is likely to break your bank--"This warranty does not cover exhaust or tail pipes, hangers or other exhaust system components which may be required at the time of replacement. The Midas Muffler and Brake Shop must restore the exhaust system to its proper operation. If you do not authorize the installation of other needed parts, you will receive a non-installed and non-warranted muffler." These three sentences constitute their official license to rob you blind.

I took the time to look up online complaints against Midas franchises across the United States. Just like demons, they are legion--and the reports of the indignities and injustices qualify in my book as being completely evil.

Excuse me. I am going to call my travel agent, and see if I can't book these suckers some one-way trips to the Hell they so richly deserve.


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