Up to, starting from, as low as
This month's misadventure, characterized by frustration, was a consequence of doing an online search for new tires. Last summer we stumbled upon a screaming deal on four new snow tires on steel rims. We have, until this year, just ran on all-season radials. The four all-season tires that were on The Flying Furball, prior to the new snow tires, have a bit of wear on them but they still have considerable life left in them and could easily serve as three season tires, particularly if put on the rear of the car.
When spring comes, we'll take the snow tires off, put two of the gently used tires back on the rear of the car, and two brand new all-season tires, which we still have to buy, on the front. Easy peasy Japanesey, right? The Flying Furball, a name affectionately given to the Cavalier because of the back seat fur from our Golden Retriever Mawlers, takes a reasonably standard size tire: P195/70R-14. If you were to login to the U.S. Walmart website, you'd find, using the search box at the top of the page, that it was quick and easy to locate P195/70R-14 tires. Moreover, after searching a specific tire size, you can quickly filter the search results down by price or brand. In other words, you can find a specific tire and price in seconds. Now, switch over to the Walmart Canada website. When you use the exact same search criteria on Walmart Canada, P195/70R-14, you will discover one of two things: either Walmart Canada does not sell tires, or you cannot easily find them, or the price, on their website.
Next I went to the Canadian Tire website. If you search for P195/70R-14 from the search feature at the top of their site, you will not find a single result. Canadian Tire does sell tires, right? And presumably they sell P195/70R-14 tires; quite likely the single most common tire size on passenger vehicles. Mercifully, as you scroll down Canadian Tire's main page, there is a clear SHOP TIRES button (pictured right) which, on the day I searched, promised an additional savings of up to 25%. The words "up to 25% off" are not, in the least, informative without first knowing the full price. The words "up to" should only be used when asking a question; such as "What are you up to?". And if they are used, to define something quantifiable, you should immediately recognize the words "up to" as complete and utter bullshit. "Up to 25% off" generally means 5% or 10% off the already over-priced price tag. And after the government screws you over a bit more with tax, you've likely just paid substantially more than the "as low as" or "starting from" sticker price. If someone says "You can earn up to $50,000 in your spare time" what they really mean is that you'll bust your arse for four months and make two hundred bucks. And I'm always reluctant to give money to a Church on the promise that I'll go "up to Heaven" because, as noted above, the words "up to" are generally synonymous with bullshit.
My next step, of course, was to click on the SHOP TIRES button to find out how much a P195/70R-14 tire actually was (with or without the additional "up to 25% off" savings). I quickly discovered that Canadian Tire does not list tire prices according to their tire size. Instead, they list an uninformative "from" price. For instance, the Motomaster AWII all-season radial, which does come in a P195/70R-14, is on "sale from $42.29", with "up to 25% off". I spent the better part of an hour, scouring their site, trying to find the price of a Motomaster AWII P195/70R-14 tire. All I could find was that the Motomaster AWII all-season tires start at $42.29, and I can save "up to 25%". So does that mean they're $80 and I save $20? Does it mean they're $666 and I save $66? Or does it mean they're $42.29 and I save jack shit? Any of those scenarios is, in fact true, when a tire model starts at $42.29 and I can save up to 25%. Fuck. I just wanted to know how much a bloody tire for the car was.
Given the abysmal information provided on their website, I decided to put old technology into play and call them on the phone. After dialing the store and punching in the extension for the tire and batteries department, I asked the clerk who answered the phone a simple question. "How much is a Motomaster AWII P195/70R-14 all-season radial?" I was hoping the highly skilled associate could provide the answer quickly. "Can I put you on hold?" he asked, "I'm just helping another customer". I put my telephone handset in speaker mode so I could continue with other work and responded "Sure, no problem". Forty-five minutes later, still on hold, I came to the conclusion that he'd either forgotten all about the customer he'd left on hold or his body was splayed out in the warehouse under a toppled steel shelf.
As I pictured the lifeless corpse of Buddy Phucknuts being wheeled out of Canadian Tire on a stretcher, I didn't see much point in calling the Heron Road location back a second time. The Coventry Road location was much quicker to answer the phone and within a couple of minutes a young gal was on the other end of the phone. "I'd like the price on a P195/70R-14 Motomaster AWII all-season radial," I said. There was a long pause and I sensed her confusion. "It's a tire, I said, "for a car. And I can't find the price online."
"Is it in this week's flyer?" she asked. "Yes, I said, "as a matter of fact they are. The flyer, just like your website, indicates they start at $42.29 and there's up to 25% off in additional savings. But neither of those two pieces of information actually tell me how much a P195/70R-14 all-season radial really is". There was another pause of confusion. "Well you already have the price then," she said. There must have been something added to the water back in the '90's. It's the only thing I can think of to explain why twenty-somethings are as dumb as fucking posts.
"I understand the difficulty you must be having conceptually", I said apologetically, "but the price in the flyer is, well, not a price at all. It's a ball park figure. It's the breadbox price". There was a long silence. It became clear to me that not only did she not understand what the problem was, but that she also likely didn't know what a breadbox was, nor the etiological underpinnings of the expression "It's bigger than a breadbox." Having just wasted almost two hours trying to get the price of a tire, I just didn't have the time or patience left to explain to her that a breadbox would keep her sandwiches from tasting like mice shit and that tires were round and made of rubber. Having reached the end of my tether, I simply asked "Who's the manager down there? Can I speak with the manager? Can you patch me through to the manager's extension?" Of course she didn't know the manager's name or, for that matter, how to transfer the call to the manager's office. "JESUS CHRIST YOU'RE A STUNNED BINT!" my brain screamed in exasperation and I simply hung up the phone in silence.
A few minutes later I phoned the Coventry Road location back again, but this time, instead of selecting "1 for Automotive Options", then "2 for Tires & Batteries", I selected "5 for Office & Administration", then "4 for Duty Manager". I explained to Andre', the Duty Manager, that I was only looking for the price of a P195/70R-14 Motomaster AWII all-season radial; something that should be a very easy task. I indicated that both the website and the flyer were non-informative as they only provided the price of the smallest tire, likely a 12" or 13", and that terms like "starting from", "as low as" or "up to 25% off" told me absolutely nothing about the actual price of a tire.
Andre', obviously close to a computer, asked me the year, make and model of the vehicle. He confirmed that the standard tire size for the Cavalier is P195/70R-14, something I already knew, then proceeded to look up the price: $59.39 + $3.30 Environmental Disposal Fee + $8.15 HST. In other words, a P195/70R-14 Motomaster AWII starting from $42.29 with up to 25% off is actually $70.84. I didn't bother asking how much the tire would be without the "up to 25% off" savings.
Canadian Tire's customer service has really gone for a shit over the past few years. This shift, I would argue, is a direct consequence of their staffing decisions. Ironically, the information or advice you're likely to recieve from a twenty-something Canadian Tire sales associate will be coming from someone "starting at moron" and ranging "up to complete idiot". One final note on Canadian Tire's floor associates: I suspect there's a very good reason why they're all wearing red shirts....
Submitted by "Big Banana" Bob Loblaw, 28 November 2017