What is the deal with the auto parts stores and their return/refund
policies? They seem to be much more resistant to giving refunds
when compared to other businesses, and was wondering if the "powers
that be" of certain big chains put pressure on the individual store
managers to avoid refunding a customers' money if at all possible?
Let me give you an example of something that happened the other day:
There was some grinding noise and squealing sounds coming from my rear
brake drums of a used car I just purchased, so I supposed that for
sure my brakes needed to be replaced. So I went down to Advanced
auto parts store in san antonio (#06224) a few days ago and purchased
some brake shoes. I was pretty positive that the old shoes were worn
So I jack up the car, remove the wheels and checked out the brake
drums. There's nothing wrong with them as the shoes still have a lot
of life to them to my surprise. However, I discovered the that real
reason why there was a grinding sound was due to the self adjuster
breaking off from the assembly and scratching around in there. I
would pick up another adjuster later.
So since I don't need to replace the shoes immediately because the
ones already on there still have a lot of life to them, I decided to
take the ones I purchased back to the auto parts store.
I bring in the shoes along with my receipt. I tell the store employee
that the reason why I'm bringing them back is because I don't need
The guy then examines the brake shoes carefully, I guess to ensure
that I didn't try to install them or swap used shoes in there. The
shoes pass scrutiny since I didn't make any attempt to install them
and they never came out of the box.
The employee needs a code to process the return, and requests that
info from the manager. . So the manager walks up to the employee at
the register, passes along to him the code, and then asks me,
"why are you returning the brake shoes?"
I responded, "I didn't need them."
Then he heaves a big belly laugh and says "what did you do? change
the brake shoes and stick the bad ones back in the box trying to fool
Then I have to go through the trouble of explaining WHY I don't need
them in some detail, and explain that the grinding sound was caused by
the broken self adjuster, not worn shoes.
But unfortunately, this seems so typical of auto parts stores when
trying to get a refund/return and it's so annoying. Maybe the manager
said it with a laugh, but not sure if that's respectful customer
service, or is it just me who is being hyper-sensitive here? Now, I
could understand if someone were returning a part that had obviously
been installed or used and if the management wanted to seriously
question that return, but why hassle someone over something that
obviously wasn't used, opened, or installed? I notice this kind of
attitude a lot at auto parts stores like advanced and autozone...you
return something and they act like you are stealing their children.
I don't know, but I did find the manager's comment, even if he was
laughing about it, to be a bit annoying. If you know you have to
refund to a customer and he did not abuse or use the part, why not do
so promptly and cheerfully, so that you can continue to make more
When I return stuff to walmart, home depot, or other places, I don't
get questioned to the 5th degree when I ask for a refund. I returned
a hose to home depot the other day and they didn't play a game of 20
questions .. they .promptly refunded my money. They were cool about
it. But it seems like big chain auto parts stores down here, like
advanced auto and autozone, just don't seem to get it.
Now I'm wondering if I should avoid auto parts stores as much as
possible in the future because of this bad customer service on refunds
and instead just purchase as much as my car needs in terms of oil,
filters, coolant, plugs, and etc from supercenters like walmart or