Why I don\'t shop at Autozone in Southern IL (long) As many of you might know, I reside in the middle of an area that is grossly lacking in a good employee base for auto parts stores. The few parts stores are utterly devoid of any intelligence, and on the occasion that I actually find someone that is both able and willing to help me, I normally keep coming back to them. Every now and then, a horrible mix of a poor memory and convenience cause me to venture out into places that I have avoided in the past. Last night was one such time. About a year and a half ago, when life was still cold and empty, I spent some time working on a car for my (then) fiancee. For those of you with overbearing wives, girlfriends, or fiancees (or any combination thereof), you know what I mean by cold and empty. The rest of you can simulate the experience by kicking an angry wild boar in the cahones, and then laying on the ground for a bit while said angry boar gnaws at your extremities for a while before trying to have intimate relations with it. This wonderful woman owned (and, still does, surprisingly) a mid-90s Pontiac Grand Am, with the infamous Quad-4. Her water pump had decided to fail. Now, I am a big fan of ingenuity, but a car that has the water pump *under* the exhaust manifold, against the firewall, far away from the radiator, and connected to a timing chain that is impossible to remove without pulling the motor isn't ingenuity, it is poor engineering. In the process of replacing the water pump, I decided that it might be a good idea to replace the serpentine belt. It was already off, and the Good Lord and the alcoholic previous owner only knew when it had been replaced. Well, at least one of them knew, and neither were talking to me at that time. At that point in my life, I hadn't ventured out to too many of the auto parts stores in the area, and I thought I would make my rounds going to each, and seeing what they had to offer in the way of customer service, parts availability, and price. I decided to go to one of the two local Autozone stores. "Hey, it's only a belt. How could they mess that up?" I thought to myself as I drove to the store. I ate those words, later. See, I made the mistake of not bringing the belt with me. If I had, the two lessons I learned would have been much less of an ordeal. First lesson I learned is that not all belts are the same. See, I told the young woman with too much makeup behind the counter what year, make, model, engine size, and accessories the car had. She returned with a belt, which I paid for and brought home. It seems that differences between a 6 cylinder and a 4 cylinder escaped the pebble-sized brain of that young woman, even though the computer screen (yeah, I looked at it while she was typing stuff in, but I trusted that she would pick the right one from the list) stated "4 cylinder" and "6 cylinder." That trust was the first thing that I lost when I got back home. I'll give you a second to guess what happened when I got home. Time's up! You guessed it! That belt was waaaaay wrong. So, I packed it up, and dragged myself and the belt (oh, don't forget the old belt, this time!) all the way back to that Autozone. I exchanged the belt out with a different employee, who was nice enough to suggest that I compare the belt he gave me to the old, threadbare one. He wasn't nice enough to be apologetic, or even nice at all about the mistake made by the other CSR. In fact, he told me that I should have made measured it myself before going home with it. He had a point, but I don't think that was a time to place the blame on a customer. This is where the second lesson comes in. See, apparently, some manufacturers have a hard time with measurement. I'm guessing that the particular manufacturer of that belt was using one of those novelty "penis rulers" when they made that belt, as it was about 3 inches too long. I would have understood if the new belt was shorter, as old belts stretch. So, the CSR and I come to an agreement that maybe the more expensive belt would work. He grabbed it, compared it to the old belt, and it was right where it should be, size-wise. I made a mental note to put them on my "last resort" list. About two months later, I visited the other Autozone in my area for some spark plugs, where I was informed by the CSR that she "couldn't sell me anything other than what the computer said was recommended for my vehicle", even though I just wanted one step colder on the plug. If there were other customers in the store at the time, and she was busy, I would have been more understanding. So, fast forward to last night. The fiancee, who is now an ex-fiancee has asked me for a favor (what? Friends with your ex? That just unnatural!). Her alternator is going out. I agree to take a look at it. Turns out that she has an oil leak that has made the belt a dark, syrupy mess. I figured, just in case, I would have the alternator checked, also. Pulled out the alternator, and took it to the parts place that I have decided to use, as they passed the spark plug test with flying colors (not Autozone). So, I get home with a new alternator, and realized that I had forgotten to purchase a replacement belt. (D'oh!) It's late, so, with belt in hand, I decide to go back to the Autozone where I purchased the last belt, as it is 20 minutes closer than the store I prefer to go to. Guess what I was thinking? "Hey, it's only a belt. How could they mess that up?" Well, I will give them this, they did give me the right belt this time. Same young woman behind the counter as a year and a half ago (wow, I can't believe she still works there), goes off to fetch the belt. She flashes it at me, and starts to head over to the cash register to ring me up. "Could I see that for a second, I want to make sure it is the right one." She throws it across the counter at me, and I pull the belt out and measure it. With a look on her face like I had just knocked up her sister, and I was blaming her father for it, she says: "If you gave me the right information on the car, then it *is* the right belt." Now, what would you have done at that point? Disclaimer: I am not saying that all Autozones are bad. I have received good help at many Autozone stores. It's just the ones in my area. And, sadly, I doubt I will ever know if they improve, as I will never step foot in the two around me again.