So I’ve been working 50+ hours a week. So the range in the kitchen breaks. All I want is the problem solved, quickly and easily. The range is old. Judging from the styling, I was probably in grade school when it was new. It’s probably well over 20 years old. There’s probably not much point in fixing something that old. But I’d sure like to get a new one just like it, only with automatic shutoff and the other modern conveniences.So I went to the library. The old stove is a GE. Consumer Reports verified GE stoves are very reliable. So I went to the Web. Sears had the best price on the stove I wanted, but delivery and installation was another $120 or so. The best delivered price was from Home Depot. The stove cost about $70 more there, but delivery and installation was free.
As it turned out, it was worth what I paid for it.
Two delivery guys showed up on Monday while I was getting ready for work. My wife came back and broke me the news: They wouldn’t complete the installation because the gas shutoff valve is in the basement, like it is in many older homes.
They showed me where this asinine policy was in the contract. Of course nobody in the store went over that with me.
They told me I needed to go to the hardware store and get a valve. I said I’d be right back–the hardware store is five minutes away. They said no, they’d have to reschedule, after I’d put the valve in. In the meantime, where could they put the new stove?
I don’t particularly want two stoves in my kitchen, especially not with a 15-month-old running around. But besides that, who has room for an extra appliance?
I asked specifically what I needed to get at the hardware store, but they dodged the question. Then one of the men went to front porch to wheel in the stove. I walked to the front of the house, looked out the window at the stove, and saw it wasn’t even the right one. I ordered white, to match the dishwasher and fridge. They brought black.
“You won’t be charged for the installation until we come back and do it,” one of the men said.
“But that’s not even the right stove! I ordered white!”
“Oh, you’ll have to go back to the store and re-order then.”
OK. I don’t know whether it was Home Depot or one of its subcontractors who messed it up, but if I have to go back to the store, once they’ve messed up, I might as well go to a different store.
“Cancel the whole thing,” I said. Or something to that effect.
“Never give a Scotsman a chance to reconsider spending money,” my wife muttered, shaking her head.
During the week I hit the Web again. But I couldn’t find the installation policies of the other chain stores. So I did what I should have done in the first place–track down a locally owned appliance store. They’re not all that easy to find anymore, thanks to predatory chains from out of town, but I kept looking.
None of the ones around here have elaborate web sites, but they have links to e-mail addresses. It took a few hours for Slyman Bros. to get back to me, but they had what I wanted for $10 less than Home Depot charged me, and didn’t care where my shutoff valve was.
Yesterday afternoon I drove out to close the deal. We got there around 4:30, a half hour before closing time. There were two Slymans working (possibly a father and son, or an uncle and nephew). In the 20 minutes we were there, the two of them helped two other customers besides us. They closed three deals in 20 minutes. I said I’d e-mailed earlier in the week about a stove but couldn’t find it in the showroom. They gave me the same price on a similar model, a Hotpoint. That’s fine, Hotpoint is made by GE and actually got a slightly better rating in Consumer Reports, somehow. Whatever–it’s like the difference between a Ford and a Mercury.
The total price ended up being about $50 more than Home Depot, but that includes a shutoff valve and installation. And they’ll get it to us a week faster than any of the chains could, and, in all likelihood, the installers will be more experienced. And more of my money stays in the local economy, which is also worth something. I could have saved some by going to Sears and doing it all myself, but that would consume an entire Saturday or Sunday afternoon, and I’d really rather have that time to do other things, like re-caulking the bathtub, running phone wires, or putting my son’s swing set together. I’m not exactly looking for things to do right now, if you catch my drift.
He mentioned they’re getting a lot more business from our area lately. We told him about our experience with Home Depot. He said he’s had people coming in and complaining about them lately, and also about Sears.
As we left, he emphasized that the stove has a one year warranty, and if anything goes wrong, to call him and he’ll take care of us.
I’ve never bought a major appliance that quickly before.
Other than my microwave and dryer, all my other major appliances are less than six years old. The microwave isn’t much older than that, which leaves the dryer. But the next time I need anything like that, I’m headed back to Slyman Bros., as long as they sell something Consumer Reports rates highly. I’ve never been treated that well at any chain store.
And for all you bozos sitting in corporate offices at big chains, assuming you’ve read this far: My wife gave some really good advice. This especially applies to Scottish misers like me, but it’s true of everyone. The more chances you give someone to reconsider, the more likely they are to do it.
I suppose you do save some money, short-term, by requiring your customers to have gas shutoff valves right there in the kitchen. But the people most likely to not have a shutoff valve are also the people most likely to have older appliances and be in the market for new ones. Do you really want to lose that market?
I suppose you save some money by employing and subcontracting people who make $8 an hour and don’t give a rip about getting the order right, or making the order right. But how much money did you lose by pulling the wrong appliance out of the warehouse, trucking it to me, and then having to take it back? Not to mention now you’ve lost a customer–a customer who’s going to be in the market for windows, gutters, a dryer, and CAT5e cable, at the very least, in the next few years.
Circuit City is out of business because it got all of these details wrong. Judging from what I read every day at The Consumerist, none of the chains really get it all that much better than Circuit City did.
That’s fine. If all the big-box chains go under and their empty stores get changed into Goodwill thrift stores or office space and small, local businesses–run by people who give a rip because that’s the only way a small business can survive–rise up to take their place, it can’t happen soon enough.