Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Story of a Refrigerator, or How to Get Your Complaint Heard in a World That Doesn't Want to Hear You!

You might think this a slight and even possibly a boring story, but I promise you it is neither.  In fact, this is a cautionary tale that perhaps will save you from our fate.

Once upon a time, there was a couple of a certain age.  Rosy and Hubby were a happily married couple of 30+ years except for the occasional blog post that Rosy would write that would skewer Hubby from time to time.

 


Rosy and Hubby were both grandparents whose grandchildren lived a thousand miles south.

One day, Rosy decided she wanted to attend the 5th birthday of her oldest grandson.  She is happily retired but Hubby still has to work and will probably work until he drops dead because he doesn't have a pension.  Sorry, Hubby, but Rosy does, so off Rosy went on an adventure.  It was an adventure because she planned to not only visit her grandchildren but to travel a couple of hours from the airport to see a sick friend, stay overnight and then travel back another 100 miles or so to stay at an airbnb all by her little lonesome near where her son and his family live.  She would be gone for six days.



It was all a happy adventure...but darkness loomed.

One day into the adventure during a routine daily phone call to Hubby it was revealed that their refrigerator of 12 years had just abruptly stopped.  No mention of trouble.  No goodbyes.  Just poof.  Gone.

Now Hubby, who is advancing in years and known to check out from time to time (see blog post "Has Your Spouse Checked Out of Your Marriage?" ) and was also not known for checking in with Rosy on things, had some decisions to make because Rosy would not be home for another 5 days.

Decision #1 should have been to not do anything, but Hubby thought he should just go buy a refrigerator on his own without Rosy present.  When he called from Sears to say he had found a refrigerator and was about to buy it, you can just imagine what Rosy said about that.  Well, you can imagine and then just add 1000% to that little imagination.

So Hubby decided it was probably not a good idea to buy a refrigerator without Rosy being there so he went home.  But he had some other decisions to make.

Decision #2 - what to do with the food in the dead refrigerator?  Now Rosy is known to have lots of ingredients because she likes to cook.  In fact, she has every sauce and ingredient known to man just in case she might need it for a new recipe. She has also stockpiled stuff "just in case." One time when a friend was staying over housesitting, she asked Rosy if she and Hubby were Mormons because of all of the staples that were stockpiled in the house.

Anyway, let's just say the refrigerator was full.

Hubby decided that he should put all of the food in a large plastic laundry basket to take it out into the garage where there was a freezer.  That is understandable. He didn't want to make multiple trips. However, the next decision is the head scratcher.  He decided to put the entire plastic laundry basket of food directly into the freezer.  Yes, you heard me, laundry basket and all.

When Rosy got home there was some discussion about that considering that the laundry basket itself took up so much room that nothing else could go in there, such as, oh...ice for the coolers that were now needed to keep the non-frozen perishables cold and bottles of wine that needed to be cooled down because Rosy needed them ASAP because of the decisions Hubby had made while Rosy was gone.

So Rosy arrives home and it's been five days with no refrigerator. They thought it would be a quick fix.  They would go to a few places, pick out a refrigerator and choose one that had the fastest delivery.  In a few days, they would be back in business!

Let me add that there were some constrictions to the search.  They wanted a side-by-side, but the refrigerator had to fit into the built-in space in the kitchen, which would not accommodate a really big refrigerator.

Anyway, they went to two other stores before returning to Sears and turns out, Sears had the one they wanted. 



They settled on one that was a step up from the one that Hubby had originally planned to buy (without Rosy present).  There was no way Rosy was going to choose that one so that Hubby would say, "That was the one I was going to buy all along.  If you had let me buy it, we would have it by now!"  No way would Rosy let that happen.  But the one she chose was definitely nicer...wine rack, separate rack for soft drinks, ice maker in the door, stainless steel accents inside.



So they asked when it could be delivered...Friday.  That was three days hence.  Deal!  No other store they had been to could get it to them faster than that.

And now the story just begins!

The old refrigerator started to smell and I don't mean a smell that would make you wrinkle your nose a little.  No, I am talking about a smell that curls your lips, makes your eyes water, your hair stand on end and makes you shout, "EWWWWWW!!!!"  It was a particular problem when Rosy wanted to get a glass of wine. Her hand and arm were so conditioned to going to that refrigerator for a glass of wine that, force of habit, she would automatically go to the old refrigerator, open the door without thinking and be bombarded with the smell.

But they only had to wait two more days!

Until...Friday.

Ring, ring.  Robo call from Sears.  Their delivery date was postponed to Tuesday.  NOOOOOO!

Hubby called the salesman.

Their choices? They could cancel the order or choose another fridge.  Not options.

OK, they would wait three more days...until Tuesday.

Tuesday morning.

Ring, ring.  Robo call from Sears.  The delivery date was once again postponed, this time to Saturday!  NOOOOO!

They started to wonder if this refrigerator even existed.

Rosy said, "OK that does it!"

That's when Rosy wrote The Letter.

The salesman didn't help.  Customer service never answered, so what do you do?  You go to the top.  Why?  Here is why.  Let's back up a bit and Rosy will speak in her own voice.

"...I have been known to write a letter of complaint from time to time and discovered the power of the pen, or in today's terms, the power of typing a letter on your computer to the CEO of the company and actually putting that letter in an envelope, addressing it in cursive, putting a stamp on it and marking it 'personal.'  You could call that The Power of Making An Effort.

I have written many letters in my day, but the first time I really felt "the power" was when we had moved into our first house.  It was a lovely little house on a quiet street. 



Until Trader Joe's came to town!

Across the street and down a driveway facing onto the main street on the other side of the block was a liquor store that had gone out of business.  We didn't think anything of that when we bought the house, but we obviously hadn't done our homework because when we returned from a vacation, Trader Joe's had moved in across the street and semi-trucks were coming down our street and turning into the driveway in back of the store -- right in front of our house!  You see, it was the first Trader Joe's in our town and everyone wanted to go there.  Add to that a Blockbuster and an inadequate parking lot and it was a nightmare.  We and our neighbors managed to turn that driveway into a walkway so the semis went away, but Trader Joe's employees started parking on our street behind the store and walking in via that driveway.

Now I can't really explain my actions and what happened next other than being menopausal. 

For some reason, even though I knew it was a public street and a free country, those employees parking across the street from my lovely little house, coming and going, doors slamming and hello's and goodbye's at all hours of the day and night really, really bothered me.  So menopausal or not I didn't want Trader Joe's employees parking in front of my house and that's that.  So I wrote a letter to the CEO.  And guess what?  The employees stopped parking there.  I think it must have been my comment about what a bad neighbor I thought Trader Joe's was.  I don't think he liked being called a bad neighbor.  In fact, he said so in his conciliatory letter that he wrote back to me.

The second time I realized the power was not too long ago when we discovered that our Comcast On Demand wasn't working so I innocently called customer service and got "Jay."  It was after hours and "Jay," a very nice fellow but clearly not an English speaker and clearly reading from a script (I was pretty sure this was one of those call centers in Mumbai or someplace like that) did what he could, but you know that thing where you know just enough to know that the person trying to help you isn't going to be able to help you?  It was like that, so I couldn't wait to get off the phone.  I did what he recommended but it didn't work.  So the next morning, I called again and I SWEAR TO GOD, I got the same guy!  Do these guys work 24 hour shifts?  Anyway, more stuff that didn't work and now I WAS REALLY MAD.  So I found the name of the CEO and his address and dashed off a letter about Comcast's poor customer service.


Here is a taste of my letter:

Dear Mr. Roberts:

I just want to let you know that I have just spent two of the worst days of my life dealing with your company.  I now know why young people bypass cable and find their TV viewing using Roku, HBO To Go, Netflix and all of the other ways they get by without cable.


The reason is that your support is terrible.
 
[I shared the error message we were getting when we tried to access On Demand]

So I called my cable provider.  YOU.  And spoke with some kid in some foreign land who knew nothing.  He was pleasant enough but spent more time reading off a script and apologizing.
 


Blah, blah, blah...I gave him a piece of my mind.
 
Anyway, in the meantime I took it upon myself to book a service call.  Right after that, I received a phone call from one of Mr. Roberts' people - he had received my letter - and she was ready to bend over backwards for me. I told her I had a guy coming out, but she gave me her private number and said if that didn't work, to call her. The guy came, knew immediately what the problem was (turns out when they upgraded us outside, it screwed up our TIVO connection) - long story short it was fixed ON MY OWN INITIATIVE.  However, as promised, she called me back to be sure we were OK and she knocked $50 off our bill for our trouble.

So now I am back to the story of the refrigerator. 

What do you think I did? 

Why, I wrote a letter to the CEO, of course, and told him my whole tale of woe...how we were living out of coolers, I was getting fat from eating out at restaurants every night, we were going to have to spend the Easter weekend with no refrigerator (not that we had anything special going on, but he didn't need to know that).

In a flash, I received a phone call (I didn't include my email address on purpose) from Mary* (*not her real name) who now wanted to be my best friend.  She called to tell me she had been in touch with the manufacturer, the warehouse and everyone in between and delivery would definitely be Saturday.  She said she would call me on Monday to make sure everything went smoothly -- and it did...and she did.  We also received a $75 gift card and a mini-fridge to tide us over (that we could keep).

So this story has a happy ending. 

The bottom line is, yes, some things went wrong.  Yes, we were put out and unhappy.  But Sears made it right.  Has this letter writing always worked?  No. We went through two Bosch dishwashers in 7 years and they didn't seem to give a damn despite my damning letter about what a crappy product they had that would only last a couple of years.  But Sears did. So I salute them and wish them well.

So if you have a problem with a service or product, you should start with customer service (keeping in mind that a customer service rep doesn't really have the power to grant you what you may be after). 

But if you are not getting satisfaction there, I highly recommend going to the top and letting that person know how you feel.  Believe it or not, I think they want to know.  Don't send an email.  Write a good old-fashioned letter that clearly and concisely states your case. Use good English and correct spelling.  Be careful to not be too insulting but don't be afraid to use strong language either, such as you will tell all of your friends, and you have MANY, never to shop at that store again!  Put it in an envelope and put a stamp on it. 

Now you might say, "But I don't know who the CEO is or the address." 

Well, my dear readers, here is where the library comes in again. 

Your library most likely has a website.  Go there.  Find their list of databases or research page and click on the business resources.  There should be something like "A-Z Databases (that's what my library has)" or some sort of corporate database that has all of that information.  Too daunting?  Pick up the phone, call the library, ask for the reference librarian and ask him or her to look it up for you.  Voila!

So now we have the refrigerator, it's full, especially the wine rack, which is very important, and Rosy and Hubby and the new refrigerator lived happily ever after. 



 


Rosy had a little talk with the refrigerator about what her expectations were.

The End.



Postscript:

Hubby just called up from downstairs.  The water dispenser in the new refrigerator is not working!

GRRRRR!!!

Here we go again!

(Postscript:  All is well.  Rosy and the refrigerator are getting along just fine)!

 
 

Thanks for Reading!
 
See you Friday
 
for my review of the stunning new HBO documentary

"Nothing Left Unsaid:
Gloria Vanderbilt
and
Anderson Cooper"
 
and

 
The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on
 
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before

 I Die Project."




 
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7 comments :

  1. Wow. Sears has done it again. And,a refrigerator again! I bought a fridge from Sears a few years ago and it was a problem from day one. After wasting at least fortY hours, literally, waiting for the repairman to arrive only to have them tell me they weren't qualified to replace the compressor our not show up. We owned a business of which I was the president and CEO.

    I even called to confirm the last repairman's scheduled appointment and to be sure he was qualified. Yes and yes, only to have him arrive three hours and forty-five minutes into the four hour window for arrival too tell me he want qualified. This resulted in my letter to the CEO which resulted in a call from his assistant. Long story a bit shorter, they did finally replace the compressor, but refused to replace the fridge...not their policy. I even pointed out that besides my frustration and extreme waste of time, they had almost $2,000 wasted of their time and travel for a $600 fridge.

    So I'm struck with a fridge that sounds like a bucket of rusted bolts every time it shuts off. And I've sworn to never buy another Sears product...the local Sears store from whom I bought it said, "we have nothing too do with Sears" and would not stand behind the product.

    I don't think customer satisfaction exist anymore.

    Anyway, rant over. It's a beautiful day and I have more important things to do. Good article Rosy. I very much believe in going to the top, or at least the highest authority you can get to.

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    1. Good for you, Megan! A woman after my own heart!

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    2. Just so you know, your comment was duplicated so I deleted the duplicate.

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. When I was working and a customer would have an issue with one of our employees, their complaint letter to the chairman always ended up in my department. It was up to me or someone else on my team to reach a satisfactory resolution with the customer. And here's the important part…the CEO's assistant had logged that letter and who she forwarded it to, and I was required to follow up with the assistant with the resolution. If I didn't, I would get a call from the assistant. You didn't want to get a call from the CEO's assistant! She had a direct pipeline to important people! So…the person who is tasked with resolving your complaint is on the hook for making the customer happy. Because if the customer writes ANOTHER letter to the CEO, that would be bad news for me! I am impressed about the mini-fridge aspect of the Sears resolution. Too bad you couldn't have had it during the entire refrigerator hiatus!

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