Your Sept. 22 issue on Truth vs. Perception was good, and I will get reprints for my consumer affairs class. Thanks.
You ran a letter from Donald F. Avila of Scientific Tire Systems Inc. in the Nov. 10 issue. He made some remarks that were right on.
He is accurate in his statement that tires are very complicated and in his implication that they are engineering marvels. They are, especially now with technology making tires better than imaginable 20 years ago.
In fact, tires have been so refined that we find it is increasingly difficult to sell them as a commodity item. The term ``use and need specific'' is going to be used more and more as tire technology continues to plow ahead with the cars of tomorrow.
That being said, tires will continue to get more reliable and perform better for our customers providing they are applied properly. I equate tires to tennis shoes. Could you run a marathon in a set of court shoes? How about high-top basketball shoes?
Could you? Sure. Would it feel good? No. Would they last? Probably not. Are they all athletic shoes? Yup. But they, too, are use and need specific.
We see misapplications on almost a daily basis now at our dealership. Either it's a customer complaint as to wear or tire performance (doesn't feel right) or it's a tire failure. In those instances, the customer complaints would have been predictable and preventable.
I teach consumer affairs classes to winter visitors in the local RV parks. There are two questions I pose to them. One, have you ever had a tire fail in the last 10 years? With very few exceptions, everyone will raise their hand.
The other, how old were the tires that failed? After doing a little detective work with a few who have had multiple failures, we always come up with tires that are 3.5 to 5.5 years of age or older.
After further investigation into their failures, we find that the wrong types of tires were installed. For example, taking off a mono-ply, all-steel tire and replacing it with a light-duty, RV AT type of tire.
Mr. Avila stated that finding a defective tire is rare. He is correct and getting a new fresh tire to fail is hard to do as well. But when you apply the laws of chemistry and physics to an aged tire, add a little extra heat (140 degrees Fahrenheit surface temperatures) like we have here in Arizona, and some high speed driving, we see tires fail at somewhat predictable levels.
Obviously operating factors are part of the equation, but because we see the highest failure rate of tires in the country, trends develop. The problem we see constantly is getting the wrong tire for the application or just plain old age. We have a saying out in the desert: ``If a tire is going to fail, it will do it here first.'' Trust me on this-they do.
Dennis R. Franklin
Owner and manager
Franklin Tire and Suspension
Get back to sales basics
In reference to Dan Marinucci's Dec. 22 column: Dan, you're right! As a 30-year veteran in customer relations, the new breed of tire salespeople needs to get back to basics and follow the five steps to a sale: 1) Provide a warm and friendly greeting. 2) Analyze the customer's needs. 3) Recommend the product or service. 4) Explain features and benefits. 5) Close the sale.
They also should consider who pays their paycheck. It's the customer.
Remember: Retailing is detailing.
Tony B's Tire & Auto
Johnson City, N.Y.