Brand Recommendations - Lawnmower / Thermostat

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AKPilot

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Thanks again, to everyone, for their recommendations.

It's interesting to see the two schools of thought, inexpensive/disposable vs longevity buys. Not a new theory, as many products/companies base their sales on being inexpensive and disposable figuring that it's more attractive to replace vs repair.

Also, found it interesting that some people don't fully service their less expensive models. I wonder if they'd last even longer, if serviced as the high-end brands?
 

troj

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I have a Toro two stage snow blower I've had for...7 years now, I think. Set me back about $900.

It's had the spark plug replaced once or twice, oil changes, the skids once, and just this year I had to replace the auger belt -- the belt got stretched when the auger iced up after sitting overnight, and I hadn't realized it had frozen in place. I into it for under $100 in parts.

I've also had to replace shear bolts....three times, I think, due to discovering things like newspapers buried in the snow the hard way!

It now needs to have the starter cord replaced -- a few months back, it broke off when I tried starting the snow blower. I've not yet bothered to fix that, as the electric start works just fine.

FWIW, up until this year, the electric start would typically get used once per season -- the first time I started it for the year. After that, it typically starts on the first or second pull.

-Kevin
 

bobkrech

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Mark and Troj

You and my father-in-law must have the same model.

Snow blowers are more expensive than a lawn mower, but spending $300 a year simply to have it picked up, serviced and deliver back home is nuts when you only use it for about 15 hours a year. If it were my snow blower, I'd do the work myself instead of sending it away for service every year for 1/3 the purchase price, and I'd expect to average about $50 per year for maintenance. Unlike lawn mowers, snow blowers are serviceable, and parts seem pretty easy to get locally (although they're 1/2 the price on-line), and if you have the manual they're pretty easy to fix.

Bob
 

mach7

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Bob,

I do a lot on the snowblower myself now. It hasn't been in the shop for a few years. Generally it gets much less use than the lawn mower. (not this year!)

One thing that irks me is the price Honda charges for stuff. I think the shear pins are $5 a piece, and it has 3! And at least 2 go every year. Thats highway robbery in my mind.
 

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Been using my Simplicity Sno-King for about 8 years now. Never sheared a shear pin. Perhaps you should clear the debris off the driveway before the first snow of the year. :snowflake::snowflake::snowflake:;)
 

mach7

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Been using my Simplicity Sno-King for about 8 years now. Never sheared a shear pin. Perhaps you should clear the debris off the driveway before the first snow of the year. :snowflake::snowflake::snowflake:;)

Hey come on! this isn't my first rodeo.:rolleyes:
 

AKPilot

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I'm such a goof ball! :cyclops:

Finally decided on a lawn mower to purchase. Found an incredible deal at Home Depot (sorry, but the local store was substantially more) for the one we wanted; they lowered their prices. Found out I could even sweeten the deal a bit more by getting one of their 10% off coupons by calling them at their national number. So I waited and waited for the coupon to come. It finally came in by mail.

So then a friend at work tells me, "Didn't you know that both Lowe's and Home Depot give a standard 10% off to active duty military and retirees?"

Doh!!! Waited all that time for nothing. Oh well, at least now I know.

Hope this helps someone else.
 

Bravo52

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For what it's worth, I've only owned three mowers in 30 years. I still have two of them. If you are going to buy a riding mower for home use, the only way to go is the Snapper rear engine model. As far as push mowers go, I've only owned Craftsman. The only reason I have had two is I got rid of the push for a self-propeled version. The key is the motor. B&S all the way....everything else is about the same.......:confused2:
 

mach7

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Here is one reason to stay with a Honda. I took it out of the shed yesterday, syphoned the gas from the snowblower to the mower, one pull and I'm mowing. No fuss. As an added bonus the snowblower did not break any shear pins this year!
 

AKPilot

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We went with the Honda. Home Depot lowered their costs substantially, and then we used our standard military retiree discount (gotta love it at age 43). We did good on the purchase.

Unfortunately, the locally owned store just couldn't match the price. However, I bought an extra set of blades and Stabil from them.

This is the first mower I've ever seen that can pop a wheely.
 

Boosterdude

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If you don't think Honda mowers are the best, you've never owned one. Good purchase Ak!
 

SpaceAXEplorer

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We went with the Honda. Home Depot lowered their costs substantially, and then we used our standard military retiree discount (gotta love it at age 43). We did good on the purchase.

Unfortunately, the locally owned store just couldn't match the price. However, I bought an extra set of blades and Stabil from them.

This is the first mower I've ever seen that can pop a wheely.
Dude!
.... I was told today by Lowe's (obviously a competitor) that Home Depot stopped the vet discount.... Now what we bought wasn't much, and they honored a 10% discount,; but at this point I'm thinking I should check with Home Depot about that....??

PS- MAN! Is Bunny (my wife) ticked off now! She's going to call Home Depot tommorrow and double checkthat, just to see what the facts are...
 
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AKPilot

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For both Home Depot and Lowes, I was tol to request a 'moving packet' to receive a 10% off coupon. This was standard fair when doing permanent change of station (PCS) moves in the USAF. We used to pick them up in the post offices. Now with the post office going on-line with stuff, you have to reqeust the packages directly from Lowes/Home Depot (it is on their web sites). However, it takes 6-8 weeks to receive them.

Then one of my retiree buddies, whose wife works at Lowes, told me that there's a standing 10% off for military retirees; just show them your id card. I've followed up and it rang true. Think of it this way, depending on where you're at this negates any sales tax.
 

Pippen

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Thanks again, to everyone, for their recommendations.

It's interesting to see the two schools of thought, inexpensive/disposable vs longevity buys. Not a new theory, as many products/companies base their sales on being inexpensive and disposable figuring that it's more attractive to replace vs repair.

Also, found it interesting that some people don't fully service their less expensive models. I wonder if they'd last even longer, if serviced as the high-end brands?
The problem that I've run into is that the expensive things we've bought with longevity in mind don't last like they would have in the past. This would be our preferred route to go, but my $800 Miele vacuum has been a bust and I'll probably buy a much cheaper one next time. It goes totally against my principles to buy something cheap that will end up as landfill sooner but the buy expensive to last philosophy isn't working out like it used to.

My expensive Bosch dishwasher has had twelve service calls. Yes, twelve, and has had almost everything inside and out replaced in three years. Thankfully I bought on sale and put everything I saved towards an extended warranty. It's running well now. :rolleyes: The repair guys said the addition of electronic parts has created some huge problems for consumers, as in people being able to replace dishwashers, washing machines and dryers for the almost same cost as replacing a single electronic part.

When I bought a $1700 fridge the guy asked if I wanted to buy an extended warranty to guarantee an extra 4 years beyond the one year manufacturer's warranty. I was absolutely livid and told him there was no way I was going to spend an extra $140 to keep it running for 5 years when I was replacing a 30+ year old fridge. I wound up being sorry because the ice maker went wonky about a year later and the parts alone are $160.

I was looking forward to replacing my 30+ year old Tappan range because it's not much to look at, but it works well and I'm sticking with it.

And you don't even want to get me started on my mini-van. :mad: We wanted a mini-van that could handle our camper and wound up with a Ford Freestar LE with more features than we normally would have bought. Most of the "extras" have needed repair/replacement in the four years we've had it--board for digital readout $400ish, cruise control (and it's broken again), $650 AC repair, thermostat, some heating system part that went out when it was -10 F last winter, the heated seat on one side has gone out, switches for side mirror and information panel have broken, keyless remote broken, $220 part for power door was replaced--and that's just off the top of my head and doesn't include engine repairs. My husband drives a 22 year old Buick and his comprable list would be one lock that doesn't work, a broken gas guage, a few heating/repairs through the years and I think he said the AC isn't working because it needs recharging. He has to crank the windows up and down and the heating/AC only has a few settings, but he's still alive to tell the tale. ;)

In answer to your original question, we have a professionally installed Smartway Solutions Talking Thermostat V1001 Single Stage. The talking is annoying, but it's held up. I have no idea what brand our lawnmower is but what's helped us out through the years is having a guy down the street that does maintenance and repair as a side job. He's reasonable and honest, plus he works out of his garage and his only advertising is word of mouth so he doesn't have high overhead costs.
 

troj

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The problem that I've run into is that the expensive things we've bought with longevity in mind don't last like they would have in the past.
It varies; some are still worth it, others, you're paying for advertising and a brand. It also varies within the brand -- on some of what you mention, my experience is different than yours.

My expensive Bosch dishwasher has had twelve service calls. Yes, twelve, and has had almost everything inside and out replaced in three years.
I put in a Bosch dishwasher....4 years ago. The only problem we had was a door leak, which we tracked to one of the kids getting gunk on the door seal. Cleaned the seal and no more problem.

When I bought a $1700 fridge the guy asked if I wanted to buy an extended warranty to guarantee an extra 4 years beyond the one year manufacturer's warranty. I was absolutely livid and told him there was no way I was going to spend an extra $140 to keep it running for 5 years when I was replacing a 30+ year old fridge.
Some of the expensive ones are great, some are horrific. Our LG ($2200) is now almost 2 years old, and hasn't given us any problems.

I hear you on the vehicles -- we were given a 2003 Cavalier, with less than 35K on it, for the kids to drive. To call the thing a piece of excrement would be generous -- at under 40K, the instrument cluster is going out, and it's a known problem. My son had the stereo replaced, and the place that did the installation had to replace a bunch of wiring -- there was a short in the wiring to the factory stereo, and they produced the partially crisped wire bundle to show. That explains why the stereo had gone out a few times.

My much maligned Explorer? Over 200K on it, it's a 1993, and it's had the alternator and radiator replaced, and that's about it. Oh, and the A/C -- o-rings on the back of the compressor went out, and I've not bothered to have it taken care of.

-Kevin
 

SpaceAXEplorer

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Bunny called Home Depot- YEP! Just like Lowes, 10% vet discount...
Bunny always remembers those things, I don't.

We got a Hunter programmable Thermostat. It does the job, BUT, it uses 2 AA batteried that don't last long, and it always seems to lose it's settings, so I don't recommend it.

My mother is still using the same microwave oven, an AMANA, she bought in 1984.

We bought a Nissan truck back in 1993, new, less than 9G's and it made it to 240k miles. It ony needed a new water pump, once. No complaints on that one!

We replaced it with a Suzuki Forenza in 2006, we we paid much more for, that we ditched after 30k in 2009, because it was in the shop every other month with problems.
We traded it for a good deal, much less than the Forenza, on an Suzuki SX-4, as no-one else would give us squat on a trade, and the Suzuki dealership was selling it's inventory to another dealer the road, and going out of business.
We like the SX-4 alot, but I'm holding breath, and we're keping a good rapport with the techs. ;)

babble-babble- now on with my day:)
 

Pippen

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It varies; some are still worth it, others, you're paying for advertising and a brand. It also varies within the brand -- on some of what you mention, my experience is different than yours.
What I'm struggling with is that even those more "reliable" brands can't be counted on to be reliable anymore, and today's technology makes repair/replacement very expensive.

I really should think twice about participating in a thread like this. :rolleyes: In the past few weeks the old car needed about $600 in repairs (which we don't begrudge, since it is, after all, old). Both power doors on my van have had intermitent problems which will likely need repair in the near future. My $800 vacuum needed an $85 repair, $64 of which was labor (makes a note to look into DIY vacuum repair). And this week the screen on my Sony camera quit working. It still takes pictures and I can review them, but I have to use the viewfinder to line up a shot.

<grumble, grumble>:mad:
 

bobkrech

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My favorite "brand name" suprise discovery occurred a copuple years ago when our 21 year old GE washing machine sprung a leak. That machine owed me nothing, so it was off to the same appliance store that I bought it from (because they still have the best prices and service) and went looking for a Maytag. They had 3 Maytag washers: one had an enamaled steel drum, the middle priced one had a stainless drum, the the "top" unit has a stainless drum and had an Energy Star rating. At the other end of the display line were 3 Amana washers. They looked identical to the Maytags. Then I remembered that Amana had been bought by Maytag with the last year. Hum. The Amana prices were $100 or more lower than the Magtag, and the stainless steel drum unit was on sale, making it only $25 more than the base Amana, and $225 less than the "top" Energy Star Maytag. I went back and forth to compare the 2 machines and it took several walks till dawn broke over marblehead. The only difference between the two machines was that the Energy Star machine did not have Hot/Hot and Warm/Warm wash/rinse setting. By not having those 2 options you reduce the energy consumption by a factor of 2 because you only have to heat half the amount of water. But I'm not stupid either. For the last 21 years, I never used those 2 setting on the old washer either and saved a lot of energy. I bought the non-energy star unit and saved $225.

Lesson: Buyer beware and read the fine print.

Bob
 

troj

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What I'm struggling with is that even those more "reliable" brands can't be counted on to be reliable anymore, and today's technology makes repair/replacement very expensive
The latter bit is what frustrates me most.

It drives me crazy the amount of goods that are disposable because they're either not repairable, or the cost to repair them is so high that no sane person would do it.

-Kevin
 

AKPilot

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Maybe I'm the odd one out here, but after a few years of buying Sears products the light finally came on and I realized that many things in Sears are actually 'rebranded' brand name products from other manufacturers. I found this out when our Kenmore fridge/freezer's ice machine broke and the repairman went and got the part fromt he real manufacturer.

That and they, Sears, hikes the prices up to put their own name on them.

Finally, they lifetime guarantees I grew up with, and my professional airline mechanic father swore by, are no longer 'lifetime' and come with a ton of caveats.
 

troj

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Maybe I'm the odd one out here, but after a few years of buying Sears products the light finally came on and I realized that many things in Sears are actually 'rebranded' brand name products from other manufacturers. I found this out when our Kenmore fridge/freezer's ice machine broke and the repairman went and got the part fromt he real manufacturer.
When it comes to Kenmore, you can replace "many" with "all". Their lawn & garden products are the same way.

The reality is that there aren't that many appliance or electronic manufacturers, anymore, and store brands are made by someone else.

Kenmore washers are dryers are made by Whirlpool, if I remember correctly.

FWIW, our 18 year old Kenmore washer & dryer have earned their keep. I've replaced: washer motor/transmission coupling (direct drive, not belt drive), dryer belt, dryer temperature limit thermistors, and the starter capacitor on the washer motor. Total parts cost is maybe $100.

-Kevin
 

plano-doug

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The latter bit is what frustrates me most.

It drives me crazy the amount of goods that are disposable because they're either not repairable, or the cost to repair them is so high that no sane person would do it.
Kevin,

I see this differently. The cost to repair them only seems high because the cost to produce them is so low. As long as you can buy a brand new washing machine for ~400 bucks, most folks are gonna be hard pressed to drop 200 dollars to repair a 10yo unit. I've repaired easy stuff, but if I gotta get a repairman and the unit is already 10+ years old, getting a new one is no-brainer.

As for the repair cost, if I'm a repairman, a service call will be in the range of 80-100 dollars just to start. That's the going rate nowadays. When you look at the balance sheet, it's hard to see much fat there. Add in the cost of the repair part, which somebody has been inventorying for 10 years, and you're at $200+. So, in my mind, the repair costs are reasonable. But the practical consumer will opt for the new unit.

That said, I put $200 into an 8yo TV back in 1996. It had cost $800 new in 1989. I thought that was not a good expense on an old TV. But it's still working fine anchoring my family room :) My kids will probably break it someday - on purpose - knowing that'll be the only way I buy a new one :)

BTW, if anyone drives south on US-41 from I-64 in Evansville, Indiana, the big blue Whirlpool building on the left used to be a P-47 factory :)

Doug

.
 

Adrian A

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I've been using a Robomower on my 1/4 acre lot, and it's great, one of the best purchases I have ever made. I go home, use the joystick to walk the mower out into the yard, push the button on the perimeter wire, push the button on the mower, and walk away. From there, sometimes I have a margarita on my deck while I watch the mower do its thing. It's been going great for 6 years now. Very little noise, no fumes, no gas in the garage, no pushing. The only winter maintenance is to put the batteries inside and take their fuses out.
 

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Maybe I'm the odd one out here, but after a few years of buying Sears products the light finally came on and I realized that many things in Sears are actually 'rebranded' brand name products from other manufacturers. I found this out when our Kenmore fridge/freezer's ice machine broke and the repairman went and got the part fromt he real manufacturer.

That and they, Sears, hikes the prices up to put their own name on them.

Finally, they lifetime guarantees I grew up with, and my professional airline mechanic father swore by, are no longer 'lifetime' and come with a ton of caveats.
When it comes to Kenmore, you can replace "many" with "all". Their lawn & garden products are the same way.

The reality is that there aren't that many appliance or electronic manufacturers, anymore, and store brands are made by someone else.

Kenmore washers are dryers are made by Whirlpool, if I remember correctly.

FWIW, our 18 year old Kenmore washer & dryer have earned their keep. I've replaced: washer motor/transmission coupling (direct drive, not belt drive), dryer belt, dryer temperature limit thermistors, and the starter capacitor on the washer motor. Total parts cost is maybe $100.

-Kevin
In the entire history of Sears they have never manufactured anything. Sears is a retailer and all their "Sears Name" are out jobbed to comercial manufacturers. This does not mean they are identical to other brands,many time they are made to Sears specifications. When I worked at Sears (about 8 years ago) Die Hard Batteries were made by Johnson Controls which also makes Interstate Batteries, but there are different patents used in the 2 brands

PS As a disgrunted former employee I have a lot of bad things to say about Sears but they are usually very compeditive in their prices and will meet a compeditors price for the same product.
 
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troj

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In the entire history of Sears they have never manufactured anything. Sears is a retailer and all their "Sears Name" are out jobbed to comercial manufacturers. This does not mean they are identical to other brands,many time they are made to Sears specifications. When I worked at Sears (about 8 years ago) Die Hard Batteries were made by Johnson Controls which also makes Interstate Batteries, but there are different patents used in the 2 brands
I'm not surprised by any of that.

Even "name" brands can sometimes exhibit that -- products sold at Wal-Mart are an example. Wally world sets a price point, then tells the manufacturer to meet it. There are companies out there that make a different line of products just for Wal-Mart, and because of that, you cannot readily compare them to the same brand you'll find elsewhere.

-Kevin
 

Bazookadale

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I'm not surprised by any of that.

Even "name" brands can sometimes exhibit that -- products sold at Wal-Mart are an example. Wally world sets a price point, then tells the manufacturer to meet it. There are companies out there that make a different line of products just for Wal-Mart, and because of that, you cannot readily compare them to the same brand you'll find elsewhere.

-Kevin
I sold tires at Sears. Very few car buyers look at a new car's tires unless they are tire salesmen. I was amazed to find out that most new car tires have lower UTQG ratings,treadwear,traction, load index ect then the aftermarket replacement of the same brand and model. Just as you said the car manufacturer give a price point, and the tire manufacturer meets that price by giving lower rated product.
 

bobkrech

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In the entire history of Sears they have never manufactured anything. Sears is a retailer and all their "Sears Name" are out jobbed to commercial manufacturers. This does not mean they are identical to other brands,many time they are made to Sears specifications. When I worked at Sears (about 8 years ago) Die Hard Batteries were made by Johnson Controls which also makes Interstate Batteries, but there are different patents used in the 2 brands

PS As a disgruntled former employee I have a lot of bad things to say about Sears but they are usually very competitive in their prices and will meet a competitors price for the same product.
I also worked for Sears selling shoes one summer as a college student 40 years ago. I enjoyed the work, and the folks I worked with, but the management were idiots.

They NEVER manufactured anything. In the beginning they either bought surplus merchanidise, or took the money from catalog orders to have stuff made to fill the orders, which wouldn't be allowed today. They even sold cars, airplanes and houses at one time. A short history is here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sears and here https://www.searsarchives.com/catalogs/history.htm

They order a lot of appliances, and so they contract the major manufacturers to make products to Sears specifications and rebrand them product with the Kenmore label. Each product is only as good or bad as the original brand name product. Additionally, different models of Kenmore products may be made by different manufacturers. Within the past 2 decades Sears has also sold some brand name appliances along side the Kenmore brand.

This pactice is not unique, nor uncommon. White Consolidated Industries is a prime example of this, and they have done a lot of contract manufacturing for Sears over the years. Until the mid 50's, White made sewing machines, and 40% of their business was from Sears. When Sears contracted with Japanese companies, White diversified. White purchased the Kelvinator, Gibson, Westinghouse, and Franklin Brands in the early 60's and started manufacturing the products overseas. By 1985 they owned the Kelvinator, Gibson, Hamilton, Frigidaire, Bendiz, Philco and White-Westinghouse brands. They were bought by Electrolux of Sweeden, the owner of Tappan, in 1986 and taken private so the financials are not made public, and now they operate the Frigidaire Company; The Eureka Company; Schrock Cabinet Company; American Yard Products; Poulan/Weed Eater; Americold; Baring Industries; Beam Industries; Challenge Industries, Inc.; Dimas; Dito Dean Food Prep; Dometic Corporation; Euroclean; Husqvarna Forest & Garden Company; The Kent Company; Partner Industrial Products; Richards-Wilcox; VWS; Wascator Manufacturing; Washex Machinery Company, making Electrolux the largest major appliance maker in the world.

https://www.fundinguniverse.com/com...solidated-Industries-Inc-Company-History.html

When a large manufacturer fails, a large conglomerate purchases the remains and the rights to the name, and keeps making products. Along with White, Whirlpool is a major conglomerate and owns the Admiral, Magic Chef, Hoover, Amana and Maytag brands.

Bob
 
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Bazookadale

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I also worked for Sears selling shoes one summer as a college student 40 years ago. I enjoyed the work, and the folks I worked with, but the management were idiots.
I could bore you for hours with my Sears idiot manager stories but I'll cut it down to a few minutes.

As an international company each Sears store is run like a Mom and Pop store. We had a great Store manager in Harrisburg 20+ years with the company who kept things on an even keel. I would have recommended Sears Automotive in Harrisburg to everyone - across the river in Camp Hill I wouldn't let that store oil the rollers on a skate. But we had a revolving door policy with District managers, I don't think we had any one for more than a year. Many were brought up through the retail store and had no knowlege of automotive. One guy decided to have a mega sale on motor oil by the case - after all once they are in the store we can upsell them right?Guess again, someone buying a case of oil is a do it yourselfer, not much way I can say "wheel aligment with that?"The store lost thousands on that.
Another DM put the NOW program in effect - No One Walks! Sell tires to that person no matter how much you have to discount them. Even if you sell under cost at least we took a sale from a compeditor.After a month of that we had a visit from the Regional manager who was appalled that the margins of ever store in the district had plumetted - yeah that happens when you sell under cost, the DM didn't understand that.
In California in the '80s Sears auto lost a huge lawsuit because a DM forced his stores to insist cars needed safety related work when they didn't, - Multi million payout and an extensive training program of what service is suggested, recommended and neccesary.In the late '90s we had a DM who put us on a quota system - sell 1 aligment per rack per hour or he would start firing people. exactly the type of thing that had gotten us sued in CA. Another DM decided our store was overstaffed and layed off 2 of our 3 brake techs.After that he recieved compaints that people were turned away for brake jobs on Wednesdays and wanted to why? "cus we only have one certified tech and he can't work 7 days that why." His answer the shop is certified so anyone can do brakes!Wrong!

We had a DM who was 21 years old with a high school education - sarted out as a tire tech, became a good saleman and was made store manager in Brooklyn because no on else would take that store. But he had no managerial skills at all and was quicky fired.
I was fired by a DM for not answering the phone within 3 rings - a mandatory job requirement. Why didn't I get the phone within 3 rings? I was outside the store inspecting the customers car, a mandatory job requirement and couldn't hear the phone - I was the only saleman in the store at that time due to staff cutbacks. I enjoyed my job but getting fired may have been the best thing that ever happened to me!
 
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