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    PROBLEMS WITH YOUR FIRESTONE TIRES? HERE'S YOUR STRATEGY FOR RAPID REPLACEMENT OR REIMBURSEMENT.

    Problems With Your Firestone Tires?
    Here's Your Strategy For Rapid Replacement Or Reimbursement

    Air Date: Friday, August 18, 2000

    FIRESTONELOGO.gif (2468 bytes)


    If you're one of the unfortunate owners of suspected Firestone tires manufactured in Decatur, IL, get ready to jump through some hoops in order to exchange your existing tires. I'll cover the most Frequently Asked Questions [according to Firestone] and their answers, but then you'll want to scroll down to get Ben's Tips on expediting your quest for new tires.


    Here are the most Frequently Asked Questions [and answers], from the Firestone website:

    Q. What size and tire lines are being recalled?

    A. All Firestone Radial ATX and Radial ATX II tires in size P235/75R15 produced in North America, including Mexico, are being recalled. In addition, Wilderness AT tires in size P235/75R15 produced in Decatur, Ill., are being recalled.

    Q. What is Firestone doing to meet the increased demand?

    A. The company is doubling production in its plants and maximizing the volume of imports.

    Q. What tires are being used as replacements? What is their safety record?

    A. Firestone is replacing recalled tires with new Wilderness AT tires not produced at the Decatur, Ill., plant. If Wilderness AT tires are not available, recalled tires may be replaced with comparable Bridgestone/Firestone tire lines or competitors' tires during the first phase of the recall. We are committed to ensuring that customer satisfaction is met.

    Q. Which vehicles have these tires as original equipment?

    A. Ford Explorers, Ford Ranger light trucks, Ford 150 light trucks, Mercury Mountaineers, Mazda Navajo, and Mazda B light trucks.

    Q. How do I determine if my Wilderness tire was made in the Decatur facility?

    A. Owners should check the DOT number, which is located on the bead of the tire near the rim. DOT numbers beginning with the letters "VD" were produced in the Decatur facility. If any consumer has any question about whether or not his or her tires were produced at the Decatur plant, they should call the customer service number(1-800-465-1904).

    Q. Should consumers who are using Wilderness tire models that have not been recalled be concerned? Can they have their tires replaced if they are concerned?

    A. Wilderness tires are among the safest on the road. Experience shows that only Wilderness AT tires in size P235/75R15 that were made in Decatur, Ill., should be replaced. At the same time, all consumers should check their tires to ensure that they are properly maintained and inflated.

    Customer Service


    Q. Who should customers call with questions?

    A. Customers should call Firestone's toll-free customer assistance line at (800) 465-1904. Bridgestone/Firestone has expanded the level of capacity of the toll-free number. The line will now be open 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

    Q. What are the hours for the toll-free customer assistance line? Will calls be answered over the weekend?

    A. Hours for the customer service line will be expanded to 6 a.m. to midnight by Monday, August 14, 2000, and to 24 hours per day, 7 days a week soon thereafter. Spanish speaking customer service representatives will be available on Monday.

    Q. Are Firestone stores going to extend their hours to meet the increased demands?

    A. Firestone dealers are committed to providing customers with the best assistance possible. Each store sets its own hours and will do whatever it takes to meet their customers' needs.

    Q. What should customers do while waiting to get their recall letter?

    A. While waiting to receive a recall letter, customers should ensure that their tires are properly inflated and properly maintained. Bridgestone/Firestone recommends a pressure of 30 pounds per square inch. Customers can call the toll-free customer hotline (1-800-465-1904) or contact their nearest company-owned Firestone Tire and Service Center for instructions on the process for getting their tires replaced.

    Phases

    CLARIFICATION as of 8/16/00: Firestone's commitment is to replace all recalled tires as quickly as possible. We are increasing US production of replacement tires and ramping up supplies from our global network. Meanwhile, we are asking all of our stores and retailers in every state to respond immediately to their customers, replacing the recalled tires with competitors' tires, if necessary.

    Q. What is the purpose of the phased program? Why do some customers have to wait?

    A. The data shows that more than 80 percent of incidents reported to NHTSA, have been in the Phase 1 states – Texas, California, Florida, and Arizona. The Phase 2 states – Louisiana, Nevada, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee – have accounted for 17 percent of the incidents. The balance of incidents – 3 percent – were distributed among all other states and several states had no reported incidents at all. The purpose of the phased program is to put priorities on the states where the most incidents have occurred.

    Q. What are the dates for Phase 1? Phase 2? Phase 3? How long will the entire process take?

    A. Bridgestone/Firestone plans to have Phase 1 completed by the end of October. We are working very hard to get tires replaced in the hottest states, those with the vast majority of the reported incidents, first. The entire recall program should be completed before summer 2001.

    Q. What should customers in Phase 2 and Phase 3 states do while waiting for a recall letter?

    A. Owners should ensure that their tires are properly maintained and inflated. Firestone recommends a pressure of 30 pounds per square inch. Firestone Tire and Service Centers will conduct safety inspections at no charge. Customers may contact the toll-free customer hotline #1-800-465-1904 to locate their nearest company-owned Firestone dealer.

    Q. Can customers who are traveling to Phase 1 states from other areas have their tires replaced immediately?

    A. Dealers will work with customers on an individual basis to try to resolve any issues.

    General

    Q. What prompted the concerns with the recalled tires?

    A. We don't know. The continuing NHTSA inquiry is seeking an explanation and we are cooperating fully with that inquiry. However, out of a commitment to public safety and consumer confidence, Bridgestone/Firestone has decided to recall the tires even though no definitive cause has been determined. The number of incidents reported has been relatively low in proportion to the vast number of tires on the road and miles driven.

    Q. What is being done to ensure that tires made at the Decatur plant are safe?

    A. Other than the P235/75R15 Wilderness tire made at Decatur, there have been no other concerns with tires made at the plant. We don't yet know the reason why there were more incidents reported with that size tire from the Decatur plant. Bridgestone/Firestone maintains rigorous quality control procedures in the plant as it does in all of its plants.

    Q. What is Firestone doing with the tires that are returned? What are the environmental implications?

    A. The tires will be properly disposed of in accordance with applicable laws.

    Q. How does this recall compare to Firestone's recall in 1978?

    A. There is no correlation between this voluntary recall and Firestone's government-mandated recall in 1978. This is a voluntary, pro-active recall. Since 1988, Firestone has been part of the Bridgestone family and has global resources committed to customer safety and satisfaction. Without regard to costs to the company, Firestone has elected to make this voluntary recall because of its commitment to public safety and consumer confidence.

    Reimbursement Policy, According to Firestone:

    Firestone Tire and Service Centers, authorized retailers will purchase competitors' tires when necessary

    NASHVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 15, 2000 – Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. today announced how it will reimburse customers who incurred costs to replace tires that now are included in the company's voluntary recall.

    The reimbursement policy spells out how Bridgestone/Firestone customers can be reimbursed for costs related to exchanging the tires that are included in the recall – the Firestone P235/75R15 Radial ATX and Radial ATX II tires made in North America, and P235/75R15 Wilderness AT tires made at the Decatur, Ill., plant.

    "We hope to quickly reimburse customers for costs they may have incurred replacing tires that now have been recalled," said John Lampe, executive vice president, Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. "The policy covers Firestone tires as well as competitors' tires that were purchased to replace the recalled tires, and it is retroactive to January 1, 2000. We believe this is a simple and fair way to make things right for our customers."

    The policy covers those tires, purchased between January 1, 2000 and August 8, 2000 from a company-owned Firestone Tire and Service Center or authorized Bridgestone/Firestone retailer, that replaced the tires recalled on August 9. Prorated fees paid for the new tires will be reimbursed.

    It also covers recalled tires that were replaced with competitors' tires between August 9 (the first day of the voluntary recall) and August 16, at stores other than Firestone Tire and Service Centers or authorized Bridgestone/Firestone retailers. Bridgestone/Firestone will reimburse consumers up to $100 per tire including applicable mounting and balancing charges and taxes. If there is not a sufficient quantity of Bridgestone or Firestone replacement tires in stock, Firestone Tire and Service Centers and Bridgestone/Firestone retailers are instructed to find equivalent competitors' tires to the customers' satisfaction.

    The policy will be explained on Bridgestone/Firestone's Web sites (here at www.Bridgestone-Firestone.com or www.Firestonetire.com) and in an advertisement that will be published Wednesday in more than 41 major newspapers nationwide.

    The advertisement will explain the reimbursement program and help consumers determine whether their tires are included in the voluntary recall. Consumers may pick up reimbursement forms at Firestone Tire and Service Centers or authorized Bridgestone/Firestone retailers or on the company's web sites (Click here or www.Firestonetire.com), and follow the instructions on the form.

    "We are committed to educating consumers about our voluntary recall," said Christine Karbowiak, Vice President, Public Affairs. "By listing this information in major publications throughout the country and making it available in stores and on the website, we're making it simple for consumers to determine if their tires are included in the recall, and we're saving time for Firestone tire owners who are not affected."

    Instructions for Filing Firestone Voluntary Recall Refund Request


    1. This form is to be used by any customer who paid to replace a recalled tire(s) on a pro-rated, customer satisfaction basis purchased from an "Authorized Participating Bridgestone/Firestone Retailer" between January 1 and August 8, 2000, or paid to replace a recalled tire between August 9 and August 16, 2000 and is now requesting a refund.

    2. The tires included in this voluntary recall are:

    • P235/75R15 Firestone Radial ATX and ATX II tires made in North America (excludes temporary spare tires identified by "TEMPORARY" on the sidewall)

    • P235/75R15 Firestone Wilderness AT tires made at our Decatur, IL plant with DOT serial numbers 1st and 2nd digits, "VD"

    1. Print and complete Form 1 http://mirror.bridgestone-firestone.com/news/corporate/news/vric_VRRF1.htm) if you paid to replace a recalled tire(s) on a pro-rated, customer satisfaction basis purchased from an "authorized participating Bridgestone/Firestone Retailer" between January 1 and August 8, 2000.

    • If you purchased a replacement tire from a Firestone Tire and Service Center, you must include your original paid receipt for the replacement tire(s).

    • If you purchased a replacement tire(s) from an "authorized participating Bridgestone/Firestone Dealer", you must include a copy of your Dealer Claim Form and your original paid receipt for the replacement tires.

    1. Print and complete Form 2 http://mirror.bridgestone-firestone.com/news/corporate/news/vric_VRRF2.htm) if you paid to replace a recalled tire(s) between August 9 and August 16, 2000.

    • If you purchased a replacement tire from a Firestone Tire and Service Center, you must include your original paid receipt for the replacement tire(s). If you purchased a replacement tire(s) from an "authorized, participating Bridgestone/Firestone Dealer" you must include a copy of your Dealer Claim Form and your original paid receipt for the replacement tires.

    • If you purchased a replacement tire(s) from any other retailer you must include your original paid receipt for the replacement tire(s) and a Firestone Voluntary Recall Surrender Form verifying ownership of the recalled tires.

    NOTE: The Voluntary Surrender Form is available at all Firestone Tire and Service Centers. Deliver the recalled tires to a Firestone Tire and Service Center, complete the surrender form and include with the Refund Request Form.


    1. Please provide all of the information as clearly as possible to enable your request to be properly processed.

    2. No refunds will be approved without the required documentation.

    3. Upon approval of your request, a refund check will be sent to the person listed on this form at the address specified. Mail Completed Form To:

    Firestone Recall Reimbursement Center
    PO. Box 5199
    Des Plaines, IL 60017-5199 

    Ben's Tips To Surviving and Replacing Defective Tires


    First off, where do you go first? If you own a Ford Explorer, Ford Ranger light truck, Ford 150 light truck, Mercury Mountaineer, Mazda Navajo or Mazda B light truck, then these tires in question are standard equipment.

    Go to your local Ford or Mazda dealer and enlist their assistance in getting new tires put on your vehicle, but only if the current tires are those tires in question!!! Check your tires to make sure they are the suspected model at the heart of this voluntary recall, and verify they were made at the Decatur, IL plant...first!!!

    If you have these tires on another make/model vehicle, you'll need to find your nearest authorized Firestone/Bridgestone retailer to begin the process.

    1. Paper your trail! Make sure you collect all of your receipts for either he lease/purchase of your car (if it came equipped with the tires in question) or the tires themselves and take copies of these with you to either the automobile dealership or an authorized Firestone/Bridgestone retailer.

    2. Paper your trail2! Make sure you document all of your replacement activity, i.e. trips to the car dealership or tire store, phone calls, etc. (You may need this information as back-up later on.)

    3. Be persistent and professional. I know, you've got four kids and don't want to roll your vehicle as a result of a blowout, but everybody's in the same boat. They've heard all of the stories, and are probably pretty whipped by all of the negative press they've received, so be sensitive to this, but firm when beginning the replacement process.

    4. Remember usage policies. Tires and batteries are always replaced on a pro-rated basis, i.e. you're going to be docked for use or wear. With tires the industry norm is through the utilization of a "tire tread gauge" that detects the amount of tread remaining/amount of tread used. Their replacement policy covers the tire, but be prepared to ante up the usual cost of putting tires on a car: installation, stems, balancing and disposition fees (the cost to get rid of your old tires). Take your checkbook.

    5. Don't be afraid to be the squeaky wheel and invoke Dover's Six Steps To Effective Complaining (www.bendover.com/Complain.ASP). No matter what, hold your ground and do not accept anything less than results. If Ford can replace the tires on 50,000 vehicles with the tires in question over a year ago in Saudi Arabia, they can belly up to the bar and make good for their customers in the United States!

    Parting Thought: No matter what type of tires your vehicle is equipped with, always make sure they're properly inflated. Under/over inflated tires are a safety hazard...and can cost you $$$ in poor gas mileage.
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