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ATTN: Consumer Affairs
123 S Front St.
Memphis, TN 38103
December 24, 2015
To whom it may concern:
I was reminded today why I don’t shop at AutoZone. I live in a well-populated suburban area with four readily
available auto parts stores to choose from. These are in addition to the countless online options available to
source parts from. I own a small automotive diagnostic and repair company, which I run as a side business. By no
means is this a big time or high volume operation. However, that being said, I do purchase thousands upon
thousands of dollars in parts throughout the year. More and more, it seems I acquire them from online
distributors. Although, I still get about 40% of my parts through a traditional brick & mortar, mainly when
timeliness is a factor.
Historically, I have tended to shy away from AutoZone due to poor experiences (multiple) with your Duralast
electrical parts. Although the problem items were eventually warrantied – it isn’t in my interest to have to redo
work or warranty parts…it just costs me more time and money. I recall another time having problems locating the
correct brake line and fittings for an Impala (I remember being astonished at the lack of availability for seemingly
routine parts on one of the highest volume family sedans and fleet vehicles in recent history). These are the
reasons I don’t even bother to have a wholesale account with AutoZone, it was never worth my time to open one
given my infrequency of use.
But I digress; back to my experience today that reaffirmed my lack of interest in being a patron of your stores. I
would like to mention a few very positive things to start. First, I was very pleased with the fact that you were open
today (and decent hours too), Christmas Eve. Second, I was very pleased with the lady that took my call, she
confirmed the part and held it for me. She was very kind, energetic and competent. I apologize, I didn’t catch her
name. That last factor was a big one – competent. Lastly, I was pleased you had the part I needed to get this car
done and returned to the owner before the holiday. Being you were my last resort (and call), I was quite thrilled
you had the part that I only found out I needed after starting the job – which happens sometimes in this field, the
only one in a 70 mile radius at that.
All of these positive things though, were immediately overshadowed with what appeared to be several layers of,
well, idiocy – I don’t know how else to describe the following 30 or more minutes of my life. Honestly, I couldn’t
tell you if it was 24 minutes or if it was 38 – it really doesn’t matter to me because the absurdity left an absolutely
sour taste in my mouth and thus the reaffirmation of AutoZone remaining at the very end of lists of absolute last
resort. I have no problem waiting my turn or following a “process” to get through something… but my goodness,
the competency level in the store was atrocious. I came inside to simply pay for the two parts that were confirmed
available there less than twenty minutes prior. I waited in line with a few other people standing around (who
appeared to also be waiting for help). There was one person at a far register that wasn’t going to be taken off task.
There were at least two people in the commercial accounts section that were evidently only capable or available to
handle commercial accounts. This was indeed the only moment I thought it could perhaps be in my benefit to
have gone through the trouble of opening a wholesale account with you. Alas, that sentiment quickly passed.
These were things that I noticed, I wasn’t perturbed yet – I understand the fact that these are low-wage employees
doing whatever they need to be doing and I also understand and believe it to be reasonable for me to wait for the
one or two people dedicated to helping the next person at the counter. When I was greeted, the gentleman was
nice and he could locate the hold for the caliper bolts (but for some reason had to re-lookup the rear caliper
bracket…the one part that I really needed to be held as the bolts were just ancillary at this point and also readily
available other places). I was okay with this too, I get it – he had no idea who I was or what I wanted, as he hadn’t
just spoken to me, fine. So he locates the bracket and bolts. Here’s where the trouble really starts. We now have
the two items, in hand and ready to go – but I can’t check out. I have cash, I have credit and debit as well, I want
to pay and leave – so I can get back to work and return the vehicle to the owner prior to darkness setting in. The
register we are at won’t work, so we wait for the other people checking out at another register to be done (not
sure what the issue was with the 6 or so other empty check out stations…no till? – I didn’t ask, doesn’t matter), we
get to this register and a different gentleman begins to attempt to ring me out. He says the total, at which point I
indicate that I have the core, already back in your box, all set to go…as hysteria and confusion run across his face,
we go to a third register and start all over. And by start all over, I mean he asks the year, make, model and engine
of the vehicle?!! We have the parts!!! Just scan them!? I comply. This is now rung up with the core, just as
before. Okay, if you have to ring it up and charge me the core – then do another transaction to refund the core,
cool, I am fine with this – JUST DO IT ALREADY. No, he then asks someone who tells him to wait (she was
apparently working with a “manager” on another register issue? Again, I’m not sure – and it doesn’t really concern
me, I just assume we don’t need 4 people to ring out my two items – and why the first person couldn’t?? Don’t ask
me, I have no idea either). About this time, the first gentleman comes by and asks me what’s up – he too,
appeared surprised I was still here – I expressed clear dismay when answering him, “I have NO idea what is going
on here”. The second gentleman comes back and I just say ring it up – I don’t care about the $6.00 core, I’ll keep it.
For some reason then we had to go back to the second register again now??!!? We start again – at this point I
almost threw $60.00 cash on the counter and walked out of there. There was never any clear explanation or
rationale of what the issue is – “sorry, it’s my first day” etc. But again, that doesn’t really concern me – I just
happen to believe that my expectation of being checked out with two small items, with about 10 employees
milling around, would be a relatively simple task. I would tend to think that an organization of your size and your
resources could get the basics down – not today, not in Madison, WI.
Here is my comment / complaint / concern / observation / question: HOW CAN IT BE SO DIFFICULT TO CHECK OUT
SOMEONE??? TWO OF YOUR ITEMS, WITH YOUR SKU’S ON THEM AND A CUSTOMER WHO WILL PAY IN CASH,
CREDIT, DEBIT… WHATEVER… HOW CAN IT CONCEIVABLY TAKE HALF AN HOUR TO HAVE SOMEONE BUY TWO OF
YOUR PRODUCTS? SO DIFFICULT TO USE YOUR SYSTEM, WITH AT LEAST NINE EMPLOYEES IN THE STORE AND TWO
OTHER CUSTOMERS? My feedback is this – I really don’t care. I know it shouldn’t be that difficult. I know it isn’t
other places! I don’t write to complain or to ‘get something’. I don’t want anything. There should be no intent or
underpinnings of this letter as entitlement in any way. I am not a ‘letter writer’, in fact – I understand the service
industry and the implications of survey metrics used by large companies and I often will give the max score to any
experience that was just average for those reasons. I just wanted to let you know why AutoZone will continue to
be a stop of last resort, as perhaps others shop elsewhere too because of similar experiences. It seems whenever
it is a stop of last resort for me (once or twice a year), the experience is atrocious for one reason or another – and
with my business and schedule, I just don’t have time for this type of nonsense. Perhaps one day when I know
have an hour or so to waste, I’ll stop in to see if I can get my $6.00 core back. The third page is my receipt,
indicating the exact time and location of the experience.
Brick Auto LLC