Friday, July 18, 2008

A Tale of Two Stores (Or, Sears Kinda Sucks)

So, we have this new house. New to us, anyway: the house dates from 1952, and while the appliances were probably not that old, I wouldn't have been shocked to hear they were from the 70s. I am absolutely positive the washer, at least, was exactly the same washer my mom had when I was growing up. The refrigerator....well. Let's just say that we were keeping drinks in the freezer, and they were juuuuust right.

So we had to buy new appliances. As with the house, I really mean "new to us," because having just bought the house, we are broke like we've never been broke before. We were going strictly used or scratch-and-dent, and we were making no bones about it.

On July 4th, we went to the Sears outlet. I was incredibly happy to discover that they had the exact range I'd had my eye on: a Maytag 6875 electric range. Yes, we have abandoned our dream of running gas to the house (see: broke), so the one thing I wanted to spend some money on was a nice electric range. After a lot of research, I thought I'd be happy with one of these, and I was even contemplating paying full-price for it. But: they had it at the Sears outlet, and at a really great price. Heck, we even got a stainless range for less than the price of a white or black one (usually stainless costs $200 more). Of course, once you added the warranty/maintenance program ($199), the delivery ($69) and the haul away of the old one ($10), it was still pretty steep, but we were pretty happy, still. We set delivery for the following Saturday, July 12.

On July 5th, we went up to the Maytag Store, which also has a clearance room. No, don't worry: we didn't see our range there (well, we did, but brand new at $600 more, so we were still happy). But we did buy a refrigerator (French doors, bottom freezer: exactly what we wanted, in super-cool black) and a front-loading high efficiency washer and dryer. By buying three appliances, even from their clearance room, we qualified for a rebate of $200. Their service/maintenance program was $99 for each appliance. Delivery for all three: $59 flat rate. Haul away of the three old appliances: $0. We scheduled delivery for July 12.

On July 12th: Maytag said they'd come between 8:00 and 10:00. Sears said they'd come between 10:15 and 12:15. Sears arrived at 10:13 (early); Maytag arrived at 10:15 (late, though they'd called at about 9:45).

The Sears guys ran in. They picked up the old range, they ran out. They ran in the new range, they set it down. The lead guy said to me, "Do you have the plug?" (Ranges are not sold with the plug already attached, because you need to buy the plug that fits your home) I said I did. He said, "Great, you just stick that in the back and plug it in." I was surprised. I thought they were supposed to hook it up for me. But I figured from the way he said it that it must be like a printer or computer plug: it plugs in in the back, and then into the wall, no problem. I said, "OK." I'm a fool. He ran out the door: he had 19 deliveries to do.

By the time he left, the Maytag guys hadn't even finished unloading the truck.

The Maytag guys:
  • Measured all the doors to see the best way to bring in the appliances.
  • Took the front door off its hinges.
  • Unhooked the old appliances and hauled them out.
  • Brought in the fridge, hooked it up, turned it on.
  • Brought in the washer and dryer.
  • Hooked up the washer, which I wanted in a different place than the old washer had been. This meant that the hoses the washer came with were not long enough, so the guy went to his truck and brought in 8-foot hoses. Which, by the way, he did not charge me for.
  • Hooked up the dryer. Which meant attaching a plug, because dryers are also not sold with plugs attached. Not only did he attach it, he supplied it, after seeing which one I needed. Sears had me buy one when I bought the range, and I had to guess if it was the right one, based on the age of my house.
  • Started both the washer and dryer to make sure they were working, and instructed me to make sure to let the dryer complete its cycle to burn off the protective coating on the inside.
  • Put the front door back on its hinges.
  • Left, at least half an hour, more likely forty-five minutes, after they'd arrived. I bet they were late to their next delivery, too. I didn't care that they were late.
Note: $79 versus $59.

Of course, when my sweetie and I went to attach the plug to the range, we discovered it wasn't as easy as we thought. There are three wires, which need to be attached to three screws. There were extremely vague instructions that came with the plug, and none that came with the range. We think that the middle wire needs to go to the middle screw. But we don't know if it matters for the two outside wires. We don't think so, but we're not sure, and we do not want to fry our range before we even get to use it.

So, we called the store. The salespeople at the store were very surprised to hear that the delivery guys had not hooked it up for us. After all, we had paid for "white glove service" (which means they bring it into the house and hook it up, instead of leaving it on the curb!). They were very apologetic. They said they'd call the delivery guys and get someone to come back out. After a couple hours, I haven't heard anything, I call back. The salesguy is flabbergasted: the delivery people are telling him that they are not going to hook up my particular range. He says he's arguing with them, and will call me back when he gets it figured out.

An hour or so later, the store manager calls. He says they'd made a mistake in telling me the range would be hooked up: the delivery guys do not hook up slide-in ranges, because they need to be hard-wired. I point out that I don't have a slide-in range, I have a stand-alone range. He is very surprised. He asks if I have the plug, and I say yes. He does not understand why the delivery guys did not hook it up. He is very apologetic. He says he'll take care of it.

A few minutes later, I get a call from their delivery call center, in Scottsdale, AZ. The guy is calling to schedule the appointment. Unfortunately, Sunday is totally booked. I say that I have to, you know, work, so if they could come at 8:00 am on a weekday, that would be great. He says he can't guarantee anything, but he will make a note that I've requested this, and since we're setting the delivery day for Wednesday, with that much lead time, I'm very likely to get it.

Of course, when they call me Tuesday night, the delivery time they've scheduled is 11:15-1:15.

My sweetie calls the 800 delivery call number. They can do nothing for him. They say that they cannot guarantee any particular time. He points out that the whole reason they have to come back is because they screwed up in the first place, but they are unmoved. He says he doesn't see why we should have to take a day off of work because they suck. They don't care.

Let me just say: I understand that these things are computerized, and that there's not a lot of control over things, and you can't give people requested times because everyone will want the same time, but there ought to be a way to override the system to take care of customers who are really pissed, especially if they're really pissed because you f**ked up. The fact that there is no way to do it suggests to me that they have so many customers who are really pissed, they cannot afford to give any of them special treatment.

At this point I am shaking with rage. I call the store again. They close at 9:00 pm, and it is 8:57. To my astonishment, someone answers the phone. I almost feel sorry for him, except that I am in a rage. I explain the problem, my voice shaking in that annoying way it has when I get so mad I'm in danger of crying. He is hugely apologetic. He says that he will call the local delivery people the first thing tomorrow morning (when I am calmer he admits it won't be him, because he won't be working, but he'll leave a note for the morning manager) and try to fix it. But he tells me honestly that they probably won't be able to get me an early-morning time. I say, fine, if you can't, then get me Saturday. He promises to do so.

The next day, someone from the local delivery center calls, and confirms the appointment for Saturday. At this point I'm so disgusted I say fine. He says I will get a call the night before to confirm the time window.

I've just got the call: they will come tomorrow between 4:00 and 6:00 pm. My sweetie had only one thing to say: "F**kers."

I just want to point out that it's a damned lucky thing we're not living in the house, or I would have had no range to cook on. I have 30 days to return the range if I need to, and seven of them are already gone. Heck, if we're counting from the day we bought it, we're at fifteen days out, and I still haven't been able to turn the thing on. Meanwhile, I am keeping plenty of drinks cold in the refrigerator, I'm making ice in the freezer, and I've already done two loads of laundry in the washer and dryer.

I cannot say anything for Maytag reliability, or for the services of the mythical Maytag repairman. But the Maytag delivery guys? I love them. Buy from the Maytag Store. The difference could not have been starker.

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