Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ferocious Fire Balls to the Nostril: One Man's Experience with TA Appliances

Husbands, listen to your wives. I am going to throw that out there right at the beginning, because if I followed that advice myself, then the horrific account I am about to present to you would have never happened. Then again, it would also mean I wouldn't have this story to tell (or at least, it wouldn't be a true story and get me all riled up at family functions). It is definitely a story I've shared numerous times, and to the point I've decided I mind as well just post this thing on my blog and refer people to it from now on. Because it is a story that must be heard; a story of a husband who dared to think for himself.

This story starts like many good stories have, on May 1st (or I assume lots of stories begin on May 1st, they don't always provide a date). We had been shopping for a washer and dryer for a few weeks now, and I was already being hit with a bad case of shopper's fatigue. I didn't want to replay the events of the previous fall where we found furniture we really loved at a Brantford store, but proceeded to numerous stores in the surrounding area before realizing our first stop had the best deal. My strength isn't price shopping and store gallivanting, and I was ready to wave the white flag that day. So, when we entered into TA Appliance, I was already in the frame of mind of wanting to make a purchase, and move on to the more important things in life like improving my slicing skills on Wii Sports Resort.

Emily had been very wary of dealing with TA Appliances because two of the homes in our neighbourhood had an extremely bad experience with them. I still wanted to at least check out TA, because they were a local store and I preferred to support them over the giant box stores that are swallowing up the soul of this nation (and I don't really like them). When we entered TA, we were immediately greeted by a salesperson. I am going to avoid mentioning his real name since this is a blog read around the globe (not by many, but still various countries -- Russia loves me!). Instead, I will know refer to him as Beefer, because beef comes from cows and everyone knows what comes out of male cows. Now, Beefer was incredibly out going and friendly, and more importantly, he was extremely knowledgeable about washers and dryers. The entire experience was an absolute joy, and as an added bonus, he showed a washer and dryer that we instantly fell in love with. It was a little higher than our planned price point, but we could still afford it, and it had some added unexpected features that we felt we could take advantage of. He told us if we order today that we'd be able to get the washer and dryer delivered in 2-3 weeks. That was a little longer than I hoped, but it also meant that if I was willing to turn my clothes inside out, I would only have to lug laundry to my parents' house one last time. I was sick of having to travel to do laundry and I wanted that machine ASAP. Emily was still apprehensive of going with TA because of others' experiences, but I assured her it must have been an anomaly because they seem really great now. We made the deal and paid our deposit and shook the hand of salesperson, Beefer. I left the store knowing that a washer and dryer would be in my home by the end of three weeks. Life was good, and Emily would be glad she listened to me (I thought).

The third week arrived at our door steps, and I had not heard yet from my new friend, Beefer. I thought, I'd call TA and get a status update on our appliances. A lovely women, let's call her Scrambled Eggs, answered the phone, and I politely asked her if she could find out the status of the Spicer's washer and dryer. Scrambled Eggs notified me that she was unable to do this for me, and that I had to speak to the person who sold me the products. I wasn't sure why my salesperson needed to be the one who checked the computer for inventory, but I gladly told Scrambled Eggs that my man was Beefer. Scrambled Eggs then notified me that Beefer was on his day off, but if I left a message for him that he would get back to me immediately the next day with my products' status. So, I did exactly that, and patiently waited for the prompt response I would get the next morning.

Three days later, Beefer left a message on our machine. Beefer notified us that it would be another 2 - 3 weeks, because apparently, there was a part missing. This didn't make much sense to me, because even though I am no expert of the washing machine business, I always assumed they didn't actually start making the product on order. Were they waiting for an order to be made, and then the mechanics immediately jumped to work, but in their excitement accidentally kicked a screw underneath a bench? Were they posting signs for my missing part and would it appear on my milk cartons across the land? Here I was, a fool, thinking they made a mass amount of washers and then kept them in a warehouse -- oh no, they apparently make them on order and then the parts proceed to play of game of hide and go seek.

I wasn't thrilled of the idea of waiting another 2-3 weeks, because I couldn't really get away with turning my clothes inside out for much longer. I wasn't really sure how honest the reason given by Beefer really was. I accepted it, and decided I'd suck it up for three more weeks, because then, I'd have my washer and dryer for sure.

I was now smack dab in the middle of week three and I had not heard anything from Beefer. So, I called again, and surprise, it was his day off. So, I left a message, and my optimism for a quick response was slowly wavering.

I believe it actually was the next day that I got a phone message from Beefer. It was not the lovely and sweet words about an impending washer and dryer that I was hoping for. It seemed that I would now be waiting 4 more weeks for my washer. It seems that they did find the parts under the bench, but now, the problem was that the product was so popular that Maytag was not able to keep up with production (they need to stop kicking parts under the bench). I was frustrated because not only was I now waiting four more weeks, but Beefer never once bothered to contact me about this delay and now it was the second story he gave me for the reason for waiting. Beefer did offer me the wonderful consolation prize of having my dryer be ready in the middle of June (remember this). Though I wasn't entirely sure what one really does with a dryer without a washer -- maybe it could be a amusement park ride for Crosby? So, I decided that he could keep the dryer until the washer was faithfully by its side.

This time, I was little more upset, and wasn't just going to accept that response. So, I called him to ask if there could be any compensation for this delay, and if he could give me a loaner washer and dryer (so I could stop the laundry trips that ate up an entire afternoon). Beefer let me know that the price was already at the best deal he could do, and unfortunately, he did not have anything that could be a loaner. So, I was now left with an empty space in my basement, and clothes that were starting to talk to me.

I decided at this point to ask around to other stores and see if they had the model that was apparently just too popular for its own good. At every store, I was told that if I placed an order now, that I'd probably have to wait at least 4 weeks. They also let me know that this was likely due to the fact Maytag product was so popular and they had underestimated what was needed. The story sort of checked out with Beefer's, except for the fact that I wasn't placing my order at that moment, but had done it almost 6 weeks ago. I also called a store called Goemans in Kitchener(the place I should have gone originally), which sold the same model for over $200.00 less (but outright told me they couldn't get it until close to August -- which there was no way I'd wait until then).

The exchange with Goemans did give me some leverage. I contacted Beefer, and let him know I was really disappointed with how things had gone down. I was frustrated that he never called me with status updates, so I could be informed. I was frustrated the story kept changing on why I had to wait for so long. I was also frustrated that he refused to offer any compensation. So, I told him that I would go to Goemans unless he price matched. To the credit of Beefer, he did quickly discover he had room to move his price point and now, was able to knock off the money to match Goemans. This now meant I just had to wait four weeks, and then, I'd definitely have my washer and dryer.

The beginning of July arrived, and I was ready for some washer and dryer delivery goodness. To my surprise and complete shock, I had not heard from Beefer. So, I called for a status update, and was informed by Scrambled Eggs that he was on vacation. But suddenly, I now could talk to a person who was not my original salesperson. This time I talked to Bacon Slab, who couldn't really tell me about the status of my washer and dryer, but felt it might be another week or more. He did tell me that he could give me a model that was available this very minute, even though it wasn't what I ordered. He also gave me the promise that there would be free delivery for my troubles. In the end, I wanted the washer and dryer I ordered, plus Beefer would be back in a few days, so I decided to wait.

I called on the day that Beefer was to be back at work, and found out that his vacation was so grueling that he was now on his day off. I left him a sarcastic message (at this point politeness was beginning to be pounded away by agitation), and asked him to get back to me ASAP. The next day I discovered a voice mail from him, and it essentially said that Beefer wanted to talk to me. I took that to mean I wasn't getting a washer and dryer that day.

I called Beefer and asked him what was going on. This is when he informed me that my washer wouldn't be available until mid September (it was the beginning to middle of July at this point) and my dryer (the one available in mid June) would not be available until November. But Beefer being the great man he is, was able to offer me a deal. He had been at a washing machine conference and he was shown this brand new LG product of non stop awesome. He told me that this product was available now and could have it delivered within a day to my house. The downside was that it cost $600.00 more than the washer and dryer I had purchased. Considering we went higher than we originally wanted, this wasn't really a small detail. So, I told Beefer that I needed to talk to my wife (and this time I'd listen to her), and I'd get back to him.

At this point, I was so sick of waiting for my appliances. I didn't love the idea of throwing out another $600.00, but I really wanted that washer and dryer (the clothes were now rumbling about a mutiny). We then went into the store to talk to Beefer. I asked Beefer why it would now be a several month wait. Beefer gave me story number three, about how Maytag had decided to completely redesign the product and thus it was pulled from the shelves. When I then asked if this meant I was now buying a new product, he assured me it would be exactly the same (which would seem then that Maytag doesn't understand what redesign means). I then told Beefer that $600.00 increase was really hefty, and was hoping that since I'd been so patient, that he could offer me some type of discount such as free delivery. This is where Beefer informed me that he had been offering great deals to me because of who my father was, and there wasn't much more he could do (apparently, greats deals is matching the sticker price). He told me that he could not offer free delivery, because it was a big ticket item with a high price tag. So, apparently I should have ordered a blender if I wanted free delivery. I needed a bit more time to think and went home with a head that was ready to explode.

I e-mailed Beefer that evening, and told him we would go forward with the washer and dryer even though it was far more than I wanted to pay. I also told him that I felt the customer service had been really poor and wish he had kept me better informed of things. I also didn't understand why he couldn't offer free delivery on the item, when a previous salesperson had said he could on another set of washer and dryer. I also asked why the dryer I ordered originally would not be available until November, when he had told me it would definitely be in the store in June (remember that?). I let him know that I would never even consider going to TA Appliances again unless he could offer me something, be it free delivery or a discount on the price. I let Beefer know that I wasn't all happy and go lucky anymore.

The Beefer immediately got back to me. He told me that he was wrong, and that actually it was the washer that was available in June, except it wasn't available anymore. So, that did a lot of good for me. Then Beefer assured me that if I ever came back to TA, that he would make sure that I got free delivery on my next item. But he couldn't do that now. I wasn't sure how he could guarantee that, because what if I got another high price item (like a really nice blender) or that it was a brand new model again (which was another excuse for this time). In the end, he did magically find a way to knock off a little bit of money, and then promised the product could be delivered that week and it would be completely installed for me. Unfortunately, we ended up going away for a bit, and so we couldn't have it delivered for a few weeks.

The delivery day finally arrived, and I was ecstatic about getting my washer and dryer. When they arrived at our house, I noticed that they were already out of their boxes. The delivery guys assured me that they just took them out of their boxes. They also let me know that the hose was missing on the washer, so they couldn't install it. This obviously just added to the comedy that was becoming my TA experience. I immediately got on the phone to talk to Beefer. Scrambled Eggs notified me that he was with a customer, but he would get back to me immediately.

While I was having that splendid experience, Emily found a fresh looking scratch on our brand new washer. Emily has this thing where she doesn't like scratches on newly purchased products. They offered to give us $50.00 back, but in the end, we decided for them to just bring back the washer. We kept the dryer though, and paid for it. During this whole time, I never heard back from Beefer.

It was over an hour later when I reached Beefer, and he informed me that he just got my message and was about to get back to me. It is crazy how I just happened to reach him when he finally found my message (it must have been hiding with that washer part). I told him about the missing hose, and Beefer let me know how shocked he was. He promised he would call his guy first thing Tuesday morning, which was nice except that it was Saturday. I wanted my washer before Tuesday, not a phone call about it on that day. Beefer said there wasn't anything else he could do, and that was the end of that conversation.

It was at this point that I started becoming a rather unpleasant person. Emily suggested I kept the frustration away from her and unleash it on the owner of TA. So, I called up Scrambled Eggs and asked for the e-mail addresses of the owner and the manager. Scrambled Eggs informed me Brantford didn't have a manager, but she would give me the e-mail addresses of the manager, Spilled Milk, and owner, Burnt Toast, who were in Kitchener. I was under the foolish assumption that I would get the addresses in my inbox right away, but two hours later I had to call again about their status. I was informed by Scrambled Eggs that she was just about to send them this instant -- the crazy coincidences that happen at that store.

It was around this time Emily and I decided to vent our frustrations to our neighbours. Our neighbours had their own bit of info to share. Apparently, they decided to watch the TA movers like hawks, since they messed them over in the past. It was during this time that they saw the appliances wheeled out in wrapped cellophane. The male neighbour had been a professional mover and had never seen a brand new product shipped that way. Of course, the kicker was that he saw how the mover cut off the plastic, and it was clear he was scratched the washer. At this point, I was a little less than impressed to find out that we had got floor models. We were always under the impression we were getting brand new appliances. I didn't want floor models, because I know that people mess around with them and they get more wore down. Heck, I always press the buttons when walking past one of those machines, so I know what people do to them.

This was enough information to inspire me to send off an e-mail to the Spilled Milk and Burnt Toast. It contained the entire story, which you've just been graced with. It also contained these lines, that have now become a favourite among many. "When I was one years old, I accidentally ate shit. It was awful. I promised myself that I would never eat shit again. Yet, you've been shoveling it in my mouth for the last 3 months." I thought it had a nice poetic quality to it. I also ended the e-mail with three demands: 1) the washer and dryer had to arrive to my house by the end of this week, 2) I get a real discount on this washer and dryer and not some $25.00 certificate for my next purchase, and 3) they pick up the dryer because I didn't want any floor models. I told them, if my demands weren't met then I'd never return to the store again (though at this point the products would need to be free and a parade thrown in my honour for me to ever be interested in returning).

I heard back immediately, and Burnt Toast and Spilled Milk apologized profusely, saying it was the worst customer service story they had ever heard. They said they would work to remedy things immediately on the Monday morning. Despite my shattered faith in customer service, I took them for their words.

I was at work, but Emily got a call Monday morning from the Brantford manager, Puck (the one that Scrambled Eggs told me doesn't exist). Puck profusely apologized for the horrible experience. He then notified Emily that the Maytag pair that we originally ordered had magically appeared in the warehouse (this is the washer not available until September and the dryer not available until November). He also promised an even larger discount on the pair, and that there would be free delivery (so, they can deliver more than blenders for free). Emily asked about a free extended warranty, but he said he would need to look into it. Puck was confused about us being surprised abut it being floor models since his invoice stated they were such. Emily looked at our invoice and it never stated that at all. It started to become clear why Beefer was able to offer a discount, but didn't want us to know about it. Puck assured Emily that these models were brand new. All in all, it was the first positive experience since we ordered the appliances back in May (it was August now).

I was overjoyed with this info, but curious what black magic they used to get the washer and dryer to suddenly appear (I'd never demanded the Maytag models, but rather new pairs of the LG models we now were going with). Of course, I was happy about getting what we initially wanted, but very suspect about how they came available.

I contacted Puck, and asked him how they got these washers and dryers. I wanted to know why they weren't available all this time before. I also wanted to make sure I got a complete break down of what I still owed. Oh yeah, I wanted to make sure a hose would be coming too, so it could be installed.

The response was an interesting one. Puck sent me an e-mail which broke down all the costs. He also informed me that the hose no longer came with this model, but being the amazing Puck that he is, would throw it in at no extra cost. He also showed me that pick up of the dryer normally costs a thousand dollars, but that was being scratched. He said we wouldn't pay delivery because we already paid for it that last time. As for why the washer and dryer were delayed so long, it was apparently due to Americans had under made the product compared to the demand, thus none were available for Canada (this was story number 4).

I then, sent out another e-mail asking how they could ever charge $1,000 for pick up and that I would never pay that price, especially since it was their screw up. I'd rather take a sledgehammer to the dryer and then drop the smashed parts off at their parking lot. So, he shouldn't really expect me to be impressed with him taking away the pick up charge. I also told him I was under the impression the delivery was completely free and the previously paid amount would be added to our appliance costs. After all, the first delivery was for things we didn't want, and there was no way I'd ever then pay for a second delivery. So, the free delivery wasn't anything special if they kept on the original charge. I also again pushed for the reason the appliances magically appeared. Puck then let me know that you can never know what is happening with these big companies and it is a mystery how it arrived so early (such a magical and mysterious business).

I didn't get my answer for the arrival of the appliances, but I did end up getting free extended warranty and entirely free delivery. In the end, we got a pretty decent discount.

This is where the craziness ends. The second delivery would go without a hitch. Well, at least for me. The delivery people were harassed by my neighbour who constantly let them know how much TA sucks, which he screamed from his lawn. The delivery guys alerted me that they had never been heckled before.

Later, Emily and I discovered that the hose does come with the washer (says so in the manual) and in their invoice, TA says they pick up old appliances for free. So, two of my discounts look like one that everyone should get.

So, I now have my washer and dryer. They are really great, and my clothes are now happy and clean. But not really sure if the washer and dryer are good enough to make up for the crazy journey I had to endure to get them. In the end, I got myself an interesting story, and a lesson that I should always listen to Emily.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:49 am

    That is just unbelievable. How a store like that is still open. 'We don't have a manager...'

    wow.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, there is lot of things that left me scratching my head during and after this whole ordeal. The fact Scrambled Eggs said they don't have a store manager, and then I talked to him two days later, was definitely one of them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous10:06 am

    Jeff Johnson via Facebook:

    Well worth the 20 minute read... sorry to be entertained at your expense though. Congrats on the clean clothes; you deserve them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for checking it out. Yeah, the lemony fresh clothing almost makes it all better.

    ReplyDelete