The other evening, our Toyota Camry came home with a leaking back right tire--it was leaking so badly that my wife could hear it when she went to get our eldest out of her car seat. A quick visual inspection found the culprit; I could just see the flat head of what looked to be a steel construction staple embedded in the tread, and hear the air rushing out around the staple.
After figuring out how to get the spare and tools out of the trunk of the Camry--by far, the most convoluted such system I've run into; I'm glad I was working on it in the garage and not in a driving rainstorm at night by the side of the road--I put on the mini-donut spare and tossed the now nearly-flat full-sized tire in the trunk and called it an evening.
The next day, I was trying to figure out where to take the tire to have it repaired, when I remembered something from many years back: America's Tire (called Discount Tire in some areas of the country) had once repaired a flat for me for free--but that was nearly 15 years ago in another state. I remembered them telling me (at the time) that it was standard company policy to patch tires for free, even if you've never bought anything from the company. So my first thought was to return to America's Tire--but surely, such a generous policy couldn't have survived the cost-cutting and bottom-line-focus that's afflicted seemingly every company over the last 15 years, could it?
After driving a few miles to the local America's Tire outlet, I was thrilled to find that yes, in fact, their generous 'free tire repair' program was still in place. About the only requirement is that you provide your name and address, and some information about your car. They'll then repair the tire (if it's repairable; holes on the shoulder areas of tires are not repairable), mount it back on your car, and put the spare back in the trunk--all for free. What's really amazing about this is that the employees don't treat this free service as a hassle--they were professional and treated me very well, and at no time did I feel like they were upset that I was taking up their time with a free service. From the time I entered the store until I left about 20 minutes later, I was treated just like the customers there who were dropping $600+ on new tires.
To find such service in today's cost-reduction-era is rare enough. To find it delivered with excellent customer service and in a courteous manner is simply amazing. Granted, I've only taken advantage of this service twice in 15 years. But both times, I've had a great experience, and I think that's worth sharing. So if you find yourself with a flat tire, you might want to visit a local America's Tire (Discount Tire) at which to have it repaired. (I also use them when I need tires for our vehicles, but there is absolutely no requirement that you be a customer in order to have a tire repaired for free.)
So thanks, America's Tire, for bucking the cost-cutting trend, and for providing a free service in a courteous and professional manner.