An upset tire shop worker spit on a Call Kurtis crew three times following their hidden camera investigation into customer complaints the shop raised prices after the work was completed.
Our investigation revealed exactly what customers like Loretta Brown of Jackson have been complaining about.
“I said that’s not the price you quoted me and I’m not paying that.”
She called El Camino Tires and Wheels at El Camino & Fulton in February after seeing dozens of ads the company posts on Craigslist with remarkably low prices for tires. Before making the hour long drive down the hill, she called to confirm the cost.
“He told me $199 plus tax,” she recalls. “I get down there it’s completely different… goes from $199 to $270 something.”
The invoice shows the tires are $199, but then they wanted to charge her $24 for valve stems she didn’t approve. Even if you add that up with tax it should come to $242.51. So how did they get 271?
She says the worker refused to explain the mystery math and then cussed her out in front of her 11-year old daughter.
“He actually told me to shut my f—ing mouth a few times. He told me you’re a white b—h. You’re a f—ing whore. You’ll do anything for $20.”
Ron Malinis of Fairfield drove 45 miles for a new set of tires. After installation he says the shop raised the price $90.
“I just wanted to get out of there, so I just paid it,” Malinis said.
We wanted to see what would happen to us.
After scanning their most recent ad on Craigslist, our producer called up for a quote. A staffer said it would cost $299 plus tax for 4-new tires installed on our Saturn. The next day, our undercover team armed with a hidden camera drops off the car noticing the shop now goes by a new name, All Star Tires and Wheels. It still has the same phone number. Once again, a worker confirms the price.
“It’s $300 plus taxes,” the worker says.
“And that’s installed?” our producer asks.
“Yeah,” the worker responds. “We mount and balance them.”
With tax of 8.75%, we’re expecting to pay around $326, but after they do the work a clerk tells us it’s going to be $379. How did they get that?
“I feel the price is getting changed on me,” our producer explains.
“It’s not getting changed on you,” the clerk says.
The clerk explains the tires cost $299. They’ve added on a mandatory state tire fee of $7, which is fine with us. Then there’s a valve stem charge of $28. We never asked for new valve stems and a state investigator tells me we don’t need them.
Plus there’s a disposal fee of $15. No one ever said anything about that. Add tax on all of that and you get $379.
“I just feel like these are hidden fees I wasn’t told about,” our producer says. “I’m kind of short on cash. So what happens if I can’t pay it?”
“Call somebody, but you have to pay it,” the clerk responds
She then says they’ll remove our valve stems from our tires, but will not warranty the tires. Our producer asks if we can just have our old tires put back on and is told we’ll have to pay $50 for the labor.
I then walk in and ask what caused the price to go up?
“Taxes and balancing fees,” the worker responds.
“We were told it would be $299 installed plus taxes.”
“Nope. That’s not how it is.”
I explain to them customers should not be surprised on the back end when they pick up their vehicle. Another worker told me a lot of people are not surprised when they get the bill. A third worker behind the counter wants us to know there are new owners.
“We bought the shop,” he says.
“Who owns it?” I ask.
“It doesn’t matter who owns it. Your mom owns it,” he responds. “You happy now?”
He gets agitated by our camera putting his hand on the lens and then spits on our photographer. When things calm down, I attempt to explain once again what happened.
“She (our producer) called up yesterday and was quoted one price; confirmed it on the phone,” I said.
“You got it confirmed on the phone. Is it recorded?” the worker asks.
“Is that right? Okay,” he says. “We have the right to tell you to leave, so leave.”
When I remind him they still have our car, he says we can talk outside. My photographer and I went outside only to get the middle finger. The same worker who asked us to leave comes around the side and once again puts his hand on our camera, and then spits on our photographer two more times.
“I’ve got a lawyer who will f— you up,” he says.
Gary Almond with the Better Business Bureau calls this a classic case of bait and switch.
“Obviously this is a very very bad practice.”
So what do you do when they jack up the price after the tires are installed?
“Really there’s almost nothing you can do,” he says. “They have the keys. They have the car.”
The Chief of the Bureau of Automotive Repair, Sherry Mehl says you should push back and say you’re not going to pay more than you were told.
”You need to say I’m not going to take this. Most of them will back down.”
After our photographer was spit on three times, we called the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. They showed up. Our photographer decided not to press charges. The tire shop re-installed our old tires for free.
Iqbal Shahzad says he’s the new owner of the family business after his Uncle moved to Pakistan. He apologized for his employee’s behavior and admitted the shop location has had problems. He says he’s trying to change the business for the better.
“You guys are going to be much clearer with people about how much it’ll be?” I ask.
“I could put fine print on the ad,” Shahzad responds. “I can have them sign the paperwork and everything up front.”
It’s too late for some customers who don’t like the way people have been treated at this tire shop location.
“Personally I wouldn’t go there,” Loretta Brown said.
“Don’t take it there,” said Ron Malinis.
The owner’s wife posted on the Call Kurtis Facebook page, “We are proud to say the man does not work for the company anymore”.
CBS13 has learned no government agency regulates tire shops. Tire shops that ONLY install tires do not have to be licensed with the Bureau of Automotive Repair. I recommend you always ask for pricing in writing before you have any work done on your vehicle.