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You steal my sunshine

by anna at 07:22 PM on April 26, 2005

Time was we enjoyed a healthy, mutually benificial relationship with the companies we choose to do business with. Those days are over. Now it is a cutthroat, adversarial fight to the death over the simplest of transactions. Allow me to elaborate.

Our house is old. The prior owners were cheap. All the appliances and HVAC stuff date to before Liz Taylor's first marriage. Seriously, we're talking circa 1970. So when we bought it the cheapskates threw in a $370 "home warranty" that is supposed to cover just about anything that might break. It doesn't cover anything.

The "warranty" came from this company. Our double wall oven went on the fritz 6 weeks ago. We called them and they sent a guy out. Not surprisingly, parts aren't available to fix it. He measured the handle on the door and opined that it might be a 24 inch oven. He relayed this information to the warranty guys, who after several calls advised me that I had 2 choices: 1) A black GE 24 inch oven. 2) A check for $669 + whatever it would cost them to have it installed (Lowes charges $245.) This later changed to $629 inclusive of installation.

My friend is a master carpenter who's installed lots of them. He says it is complicated to determine whether a 24, 27 or 30 inch will fit the hole in the cabinet. We checked out the specs of GE ovens, which, as you can see, are quite detailed. He made several precise measurements and determined we need a 27.

Then the nightmare began. I told them that A) Our appliances are white. Black won't work. B) If they install the 24, there will be a gaping hole. And besides, there'd be nothing to screw it to on 2 sides. We'd have a double oven hanging loose by 3 screws.

To paraphrase that old SNL skit, no white, black. No 27, 24. I'm like, will you all at least fill in the hole? No, cabinet modifications aren't covered!!! Even if they are necessitated by your mistake? Yes. Why the thing about black? What is this, Henry Ford with his Model T that comes in any color you want so long as it's black? The policy says they can't guarantee an exact match of shade. Shade? White vs. black? Ah, but this 24 only comes in black (which we verified.)

We went to Lowe's to look at a 24. It's the kind of thing you'd see in an efficiency apartment. You'd be lucky to fit a squab in there, let alone Thanksgiving turkey. If you were suicidal you couldn't fit your head in there. Obviously, their scam is to offer you a real low amount versus an oven nobody would want. They hope that since the premium is so low, that folks will figure they came out ahead and apply the pittance toward an upgraded appliance. (These retro/chic ovens retail for well into the thousands, depending on model and features.)

Anyway, after dozens of late night calls (they're open 24-7 365 days a year,) we've come to a resolution of sorts. They've delivered a black 24 inch oven. We've refused to let them install it and leave this huge gap and give up our option of cooking a bird bigger than a parakeet in there. Not to mention suicide, which is seeming more and more attractive the longer this drags on.

So it sits in our carport, basically as a hostage. I'm not giving it back until we get what we deserve. And the weird thing is, there isn't much difference in price between the 24 and the 27. But there is a "restocking fee," which is 25%. Someone (read:you) has to pay this to GE if you fail to make the proper measurement and have them deliver the wrong model. And yes, the 27 comes in white. But no white, black.

Through it all they've reminded us that we could always just take the pittance they're offering. And eventually we'll probably break down and agree, even though it's wrong. It's a Mexican standoff. Has anyone else ever had such a frustrating experience with a company, utility or government agency?

comments (5)

Sad as it is, stories of failure on a companies part to meet their promises is a regular occurance. Anybody who attempts to redeem refunds on a regular basis will confirm this.

Most times when it becomes increasingly frustrating to deal with a company, I find the problem is either a) the person you are talking to does not have the knowledge/ power to grant the wishes you are looking for or b) the company is too big and you end up dealing with different service agents everytime.

In my experience as a consumer the best way to side step these problems is to explain to the service rep. that you have called numerous time and received little to know help and would like to spek to a supervisor. Keep demanding this until somebody with sufficient rank to solve your problem is acquired.

Now the combination of frustration and unhappiness with the comany will be obvious and they should want to correct it. If they do not fix the problem they are not agood company and chances are their lack of relationship marketing will kill them.

by dominathan at April 26, 2005 11:15 PM

One of my favorite occurrences of this was with my DSL provider in college. At one point they switched something on their end so that my DSL no longer worked with my university account (for the geeks, the IP pool had no DNS entries associated with them, so a reverse lookup, necessary for Kerberos authentication, failed). I knew exactly what the problem was since I used to study computer science and worked at the IT department, where I'd heard about this problem before. However, 20 minutes on the phone with a rep and me explaining in detail the problem, even fudging my credentials a bit, gave me only "The problem must be on your end." I tried to speak to a Tech II, and she asked him and he said the problem was on my end (or he just didn't want to talk to me.) I made her, very politely, go back to him three times and request that I be allowed to speak to him. (It was increasingly obvious that the girl, though trying to do her job, just didn't have a clue what I was talking about.) Finally at the end of my patience, I carefully dictated to her a letter to send to higher-ups detailing what the problem was and how to fix it and warning that if they didn't, several hundred subscribers would be in my same boat and would have to find another ISP. Did it make any difference? Nope... at least not 'till years later. Ah, the ability a Bell Baby has to ignore its customers.

by snaggle at April 27, 2005 12:51 AM

In my case the supervisor was even more strident and combative, saying they'd never given a consumer a white oven in her 8 years there.

Yeah and I guess it all goes back to that ill-fated breakup of Ma Bell. Snag, that "it must be on your end" is a popular dodge. I can't send email. I don't know where it goes. Called Comcast, after hours on hold I am told to address an email to myself. Ding! It arrives in my inbox. Problem solved, Comcast delivered this lone email successfully. What about all the others (MG, are you listening?) "Email doesn't always reach its intended destination." Hmmm.

by anna at April 27, 2005 7:46 AM

There's a happy ending to this saga. Today I was in a heated, protracted argument with the supervisor. She put me on hold to see if there was even an option of us paying the restocking fee caused by their error. She came back laughing and said everything was cool. A simple mistake on someone's part had caused all this heartache and acrimony. A white 27 inch is on the way. A small victory for the little man.

by anna at April 27, 2005 8:30 PM

DURABLE goods orders dropped 2.8% last month... they expected a rise of at least .3%... that's why these suckers squabble...


by Lockheed at April 27, 2005 9:50 PM

comments are closed