IRVING, TEXAS -- On 5/19/06 I accompanied a friend to Pep Boys in Irving, TX to get his brake pads replaced at the advertised price of $69.99 per axle. When he asked about it, the clerk said something like, "Oh, you don't want to get the $69.99 brake job! We don't take the time to smooth the pads on those. After a few days, your brakes will start squealing. If you bring it back, we won't be able to fix it. You need to get the $149 brake job." When I asked if we could still get the $69.99 brake job, the manager came over and started another sales pitch, something like, "Well, we can do it for you, but you won't be happy with it, etc." When I asked him why his company even advertised the $69.99 brake service if the quality was so bad, he said I would have to ask the corporate headquarters about that. When I told him politely that I disagreed with this type of sales tactic, that it seemed like "bait-and-switch" to me, he became angry and said quite loudly that since we didn't seem to trust them, we should go find another shop to do our repairs. So we did.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, in "Guides Against Bait Advertising," this behavior is illegal:
"Sec. 238.3 Discouragement of purchase of advertised merchandise.
No act or practice should be engaged in by an advertiser to discourage the purchase of the advertised merchandise as part of a bait scheme to sell other merchandise. Among acts or practices which will be considered in determining if an advertisement is a bona fide offer are:
(a) The refusal to show, demonstrate, or sell the product offered in accordance with the terms of the offer,
(b) The disparagement by acts or words of the advertised product or the disparagement of the guarantee, credit terms, availability of service, repairs or parts, or in any other respect, in connection with it,"
Also, before the brakes discussion, they had tried to sell my friend a $95 "tune up", where they would do nothing more than check fluid levels and replace 6 spark plugs. This also seemed like a scheme to make money off consumers who are ignorant about car repairs.
This was my first experience with Pep Boys and will be my last. Companies who violate laws and business ethics like this should prosecuted and put out of business.