July 27, 2009

This is The Song That Never Ends...

Note to my beloved readers... This is a post that I mostly wrote on March 25th of this year. In reading this, you will be embarking on a very long journey that started at the beginning of March. Actually, after I wrote it, I opted not to publish it. It was so long. And so full of complaining. Which I don't like or condone at all. No circumstances justify whining. Our Lord on the cross never whined or complained once.

But, a few weeks ago, I was surfing around visiting some new blogs when I came across this letter about someone else's saga of trying to get her washing machine repaired. I said I would try to finish my story and publish it because I was in shock that two of us could have such a similar nightmare at the mercy of this company.

So here it is.

This is a picture of me on the phone yelling at the manager of our the warranty repair company. Apparently my hubby thought it was adorable listening to me chew out some mindless, helpless person who can get no better job than to sit on the other end of the line thinking up ways to frustrate and irritate poor overworked housewives.

But hey, let me start at the beginning...

Once upon a time we bought this old house with an old washing machine. It took 45 gallons of water for each wash load that would hold only 3 pairs of socks each (and our well can only refill at less than 1 gallon per minute.) When it went through the spin cycle the poor queen (um, that would be me) had to run to the basement as fast as she could and brace her body against the machine to keep it from jumping so far away from the wall that the pipe would break lose and flood the basement. (I am not making this up.)

One day after several years of praying for a new washer that would hold a few more pieces at once, not flood the basement, and allow us enough water to flush the toilet on wash day, the antique went to the washer heaven in the sky. The handsome King rode in on his royal steed (a blue ford Taurus) and said, "Honey, I think it is time for a new washer. And not just any washer but a high efficiency washer that will take less than 5 gallons of water per load and be able to wash all the weeks linens at one time. As a bonus, because you have been such a faithful washer woman, it won't bounce across the floor, either." So it was spoken, so it was done. And the Queen and her new Duet high efficiency front loader lived happily ever after for the next 5 1/2 years.

Move forward to modern day...and reality.

A few weeks ago my washing machine broke down. This was upsetting on many levels not the least being that I've logged more hours with my front loader than with my husband in recent years. Of course, there is the consideration that we have massive amounts of laundry. We have the largest capacity machine available and still wash all day Monday and do 2-4 loads of upkeep each weekday.

One day at the laundromat was enough to send chills up my spine...and that's before considering the cost of $40 for 4 days worth of laundry. Home school math tells me that is $10 a day. Tomorrow will be 3 weeks since my machine heaved it last sigh which boils down to $210.

Fortunately, we have a neighbor a half mile down the road who has given us the blessing of coming and going to do laundry at her house. The kids think this is the best discovery since they found out the bank teller gives you lollipops if you ask loud enough from the back seat of the Suburban. They all get out their bikes and strap laundry on their backs and stuff it into the baskets on the front of their bikes and pedal back and forth a good bit of the day.

It does give a whole new meaning to "airing your laundry." Ahem. I apologize for that. Between the passport office and the repair center, I am under unusual stress these days.

At any rate, God answers prayers and blesses in many ways and in this situation we have been blessed by Mrs. H's kindness and hospitality to us. We have had opportunities to talk with her that we wouldn't otherwise have. We learned many things that have encouraged us in our walk with the Lord and the way we face difficult situations.

But this saga is still too much to not share and put down for all posterity. Three weeks ago, on a Thursday, I came home to hear my machine making a noise like I've never heard. One of the things that really impressed me about this model was that it makes only the tiniest sound of water swooshing. Our old model, a cheap version of the traditional top loader sounded like a helicopter taking off each time it went through the spin cycle.

So, I come home and it is making this racket. I mention it to Allen who takes a look and says it is just because the bathroom rugs are in there. I shook it off until Friday morning when I put a load in and ran upstairs to breakfast. A few minutes later we hear an ominous beeping from the basement. Further investigation showed the computer giving us an error message code that is not in the manual. Not really a good sign.

However...We have had trouble several times over the years where little baby socks and wash cloths (and yes even a pair of Victoria's Secret bikini underwear) have been sucked into the pump. Of course, then the machine can't drain and so it shuts down. Fortunately, my very ingenious husband took out an extended warranty and each time the repair company has sent a man to retrieve the offending item and get us up and running again. For no charge.

This time was different, though. When our guests left Friday night and he went to check out the situation, it quickly became clear that this was a far more complicated matter. He glumly said, "Bearings are bad." Now, in the middle of all the passport stuff and suffering with a sinus infection at the time, I was almost reduced to tears at this news. It is a good thing that I didn't know my husband had just bought a new stove that very morning! Although, it did explain the look of panic on his face.

We thought the warranty was up. After a night of restless sleep involving dreams of ransoming one of my children for a new washer, a quick call to Lowes confirmed that we still were under warranty. A repairman was available to come the following Tuesday morning. God is good. This was so EASY.

Now, we should have gotten the first idea of what we were up against when the repairman came. At first he looked at the machine and said, "You need a new drum."

My husband asked, "What about the bearings?"

He replied back, "Your bearings are fine." Now he spins the drum. "Oh, you need new bearings." Duh!

We praised God for his goodness when we got the prognosis. Bad bearings and a new drum translates to $300 for parts and 2 guys for 3 hours for another $300 or MORE in labor fees. Thank our Father who provides that it broke down before the warranty expired this summer and we had to eat the entire cost of repair or replacement ourselves.

Tuesday morning the technician ordered the parts and he left us with instructions. When the parts were delivered to my door I could call and they would send someone out to do the job. It doesn't get any simpler than that, does it?

After a week of constant interruption to my school day running up and down the street to wash, you can imagine how excited I was the following Monday when the UPS truck showed up with some enormous boxes for my machine. We called right away and we were schedule for the next day. This was going so SMOOTH. Who would have guessed?

Yikes! I spoke too soon. Move ahead to Tuesday. Also, the day I got my new stove. Which will put the whole day in more perspective. Oh, and I still had NO PASSPORT.

So, now that you are caught up on what was going on that day...here I was stuck at home with 7 kids and waiting for the repairman. My hubby was out of town. My sister from Italy was coming in. I had no food in that house that I could serve without the stove. And did I mention I waited all day? Around 3 my husband called from the road to ask if my surprise had arrived. And as an afterthought, if the repairman had showed up. When I told him no, the repairman had NOT showed up, he said to call the number he had left on the fridge. (In case you wonder, the fridge was actually one of the few working appliances-empty as it might have been.)

I did indeed call. I was told that the technician and his helper were on their way to my house as we spoke. I started to get suspicious when 5:30 rolled around and still there was no sign of him. When I, at last, called again, at 6:30, I was told that they weren't coming today. I expressed my dissatisfaction and was told that she understood completely. She could reschedule me for Thursday. No, I couldn't do Thursday. I had appointments that could not be rescheduled. Saturday, she said. Not really a good day for me - I had a baby shower to attend. My husband was scheduled to help out a friend so he couldn't stay at home and wait for them. But, what choice did I have. The next available date was a week out. OK. Saturday and I will skip the shower. Surely, my friend won't mind too much. The lady on the other end of the line asked me to confirm my phone numbers (they have our home and both cell numbers on file) so they could contact us. She wasn't amused when I asked why on earth she would want my phone number since they didn't bother to use it to tell me no one was coming this time.

Saturday came and went. Around 2:00 on Saturday, I began to get the idea no one was coming. A quick phone call to the 800 number confirmed that I was right. The technician called in sick. Now, I was getting a little irritated. They couldn't bother to call and tell me! So, I did what any good wife and homemaker would do. I dumped the mess in my husband's lap. Mostly, because I couldn't trust myself to act in a way fitting for a Christian. (See notes on Passport to know that I was truly getting to the end of my rope).

Allen spent the next hour and a half on the phone with various companies (Lowe's where we bought the machine and warranty, Sears-who manages the warranty work, and A&E - the actual contracted repair company). His argument was solid. We have invested so much time sitting around waiting for a man to show up to do repairs that will cost more than replacing the thing. Why don't they just give us a new machine and be done with it? All it boiled down to was that we had to spend all day Thursday waiting for another guy who wasn't going to show up. By this time I was threatening to flog whoever showed up in retaliation for wasting so much of my time thus far.

Thursday arrived. The morning went. As we sat at lunch, I put it out there. The guy is not going to show up. I was boiling by the time I got through my salad. In our house, we often turn to humor in times of stress, and this time I only half joking, started commenting on how whoever showed up would be chained to my laundry room until the machine was working. I don't recall all that was said, but we laughed and kidded around for most of the meal about this.

And then it happened! I kid you not. Just as I was getting ready to do dishes, the repair van pulled into the drive. I asked me dear husband to go to the door. I was in no mood to talk to anyone from that company. As he led the man, who had the face of a weasel, through the kitchen and down the basement stairs to the laundry room, three year old Samuel jumped from his seat and took off running behind them. I grabbed the little boy to remind him not to run in the house when I realized what he was saying. "Come on Mama, let's do it. Let's do what we planned!"

OOPS! Note to self. Be careful what you tease about in front of the little guys.

Allen came back up and I questioned how the guy going to fix the thing by himself when the argument for standing us up all along has been that they need two guys to do the job and the one guy hadn't been available.

He was waiting for the other fellow, my husband reported. And wait he did. By the time the second worker showed up, weasel face was standing in my kitchen rocking from one foot to the other, rather nervously. I thought his concern was that he was stuck in the lion's den and he didn't think guy number 2 was going to show. And he obviously knew by this point that he was going to have wrath upon him if the job didn't get done.

Well, second guy showed up and it was worse than I thought. Guy one, weasel face, began whispering to guy 2. After a few minutes, they dragged the parts up from the laundry room and began explaining to us that they were BROKEN! And further more, the very first guy to come out in the very beginning, missed the fact that the inside something or another was in need of replacement, too! And that part they didn't have at all, broken or otherwise.

Can you imagine??? I couldn't. Nothing they said after that meant anything to me except the words next Thursday! The day after we were scheduled to leave on our trip. OH, and believe it or not I still had no PASSPORT!

By this point even my children were afraid to speak to me because questions like, "May I please have milk on my cereal?" could send me into a nervous breakdown. My friends would come over and ask about my washing machine and passport and my husband would try to discreetly change the subject while shaking his head no and doing the throat slashing thing.

I am certain these guys had no idea what was coming as I got started venting weeks of frustration and anguish. I think the words unbelievable, negligent and unacceptable left my mouth but the one that got their attention was "supervisor." With shaking hands they dialed and I got on the phone with their boss, who passed me up to their boss and on and on and transfers and exchanges went until I ended up with the person who was supposed to be in charge. At which time I ranted and raved for a long time. I really don't know how long except that I know my head was pounding when I was done. It is nothing short of a miracle that I did not have a stroke right there and then!

The result was that the parts would be overnighted and I would be scheduled for first thing Saturday morning. I was to call and confirm that the parts arrived and that they were in working order. How I was supposed to know if they worked or not, I still don't know. But, I was willing to play along.

Friday, the parts came. I obediently dialed the number the supervisor gave me the day before. The lady on the other end of the line told me I was not on the schedule for Saturday. Did you get that?

I WAS NOT ON THE SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY!

They were going to make me wait around all day Saturday.

AGAIN.

FOR NOTHING!

I went through the long chain of command again. But this time I gave an earful of my saga to every person who came on the line along the way which included comments about me paying the price because the under qualified repair men they hire are too hung over to show up for work on Saturday morning. When I got to the top, three companies and I couldn't tell you how many people later, I was told


THEY NEVER SCHEDULE THAT JOB ON SATURDAY BECAUSE THEY HAVE HALF A STAFF ON SATURDAY AND THEY ONLY WORK HALF THE DAY AND THEY COULDN'T SACRIFICE TWO MEN TO THE JOB!


No one had any good explanation as to why I had been scheduled twice now to have that very job done on Saturday. My dear and oh so mild manner husband was working in his home office and I shouted this news to him.

The man on the phone certainly realized at this point that I meant it when I said I would hunt him down and when I was through with him he would be willing to find someone and personally escort them to my laundry room on Saturday. He asked me to hold while he tried to work something out. And, after that tirade my husband started making phone calls of his own on his cell phone. He got on the phone with someone in the executive office at Lowes. Who really had very little to do with the whole thing. Except that they sold us the machine and the warranty. And they contracted Sears repair service to do their appliance repairs. Who in turn contracted A&E, a national company to send their workers out.

But, he had built up a rapport with the lady at Lowes and it was not wasted. Before my fellow came back on the line, the lady at Lowes had worked it out that we would have our machine fixed or a brand new machine sitting in our laundry room the very next day. Furthermore there would be consequences for all those involved.

Just after, the fellow on the other end of the line came back and sounded so confused now. He told me that according to his records, we were scheduled for Saturday. I was much calmer now and thanked him for his time and apologized for my bad attitude. Which he said he understood completely and, Now here is a line I had come to love between them and the passport office, "Could he help me with anything else today?" I am not joking.

Saturday came and our family was making friendly wagers on whether anyone would show up or not. My husband said they would because 1-we didn't have anything to do 2- we expected them not to show.

But a man actually did show up. The people in charge had the common sense not to send the fellows who had been by before. He actually had the nerve to tell me that the piles of dirty laundry were in his way and I would have to do something with them! I couldn't resist a snide comment about that having something to do with the pathetic company he is employed with. Eventually, his helper showed up. They both looked as if they were shaking. I am sure they must have heard of the unstable dragon lady who had it out for repairmen. They spent the better part of the day fixing the machine. And didn't seem all too happy about giving up their Saturday doing it. He thought I was being sarcastic when I thanked them for actually showing up. And really fixing it this time.

And just to show there were no hard feelings. I gave them lemon ginger cookies.

14 comments :

  1. Oh, my goodness. There is nothing more aggrevating that laundry trouble! My story is much less aggrevating, but here goes... We bought a new front loader set in a lovely shade of grey. It was beautiful. My husband remodeled my entire laundry room, built stands, added cupboards and painted my laundry room burgundy. It was beautiful. And right off my kitchen, so I could look at it and smile all day long. 10 months later, the washer froze up, with clothes inside, including my favorite bra. Hubby calls the company, as we are still under warrenty. They put him off. Calls again, put off. This goes on for 1 1/2 weeks. I am getting mad. Finally, they tell him that they don't have a repair man in our area, so they will take back our set and give us a new set. But they don't have grey. They only have red. Can you picture it? And we had to wait a week to get them. My hubby thinks it looks nice.... I hated it! But, we can't stop and repaint everything, and then we moved the next year. So now my red washer and dryer are in a taupe laundry room, and I finally like them. And I also hate laundromats, except that you can do all your laundry in multiple washers/dryers and be done in an amazingly short, yet expensive time!
    Thanks for sharing your story!
    And thanks for the title. That song is going through my head now!

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  2. Oh Kat! What a horrible experience! I am in the midst of filing a breach of contract with Sears over an extended warranty that we paid $250 for four years, that they NEVER honored, but yet they keep calling to have us renew said contract. I do a lot of yelling when Sears calls, cause no-one can give me a straight answer as to why we were not in their records for three years, when I was seeking help, but now when its time to renew they have EVERY bit of information despite moving four times in four years! We have decided that from now on, we will purchase from local stores only and buy only dent-models, so WHEN we have have to replace them in three or four years, we won't be costing ourselves an arm and a leg or all the hassle of dealing with businesses who don't care.
    I am sorry for your trauma... But I can tell you, we can ALL relate! Thank you for sharing!

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  3. OMGosh.....I feel my jaw inching towards lockjaw status and my neck might need a brace from the kinks cause by stressing reading this. I feel yer pain, mama. Minus the passport issue, I've been in your VS-panties-wedged-in-the-drainpipe shoes. LOL It ain't a pretty place to be.

    I had to giggle on how much alike we are.....we too have a well that barely gets two gallons a minute on a good day. I'll have to share our super duper high pressure toilet story with you one time.

    Thanks for a great post....you made me laugh and smile from beginning to end.

    blessings~
    *~Michelle~*

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  4. OH MY! This story is overwhelming to me just reading it. I can not imagine experiencing it. We bought new appliances last year and our dishwasher was leaking from day one. So, we had to have it repaired. Same company! They had to come out twice and I had to wash dishes in the sink! That stinks! But it was not near the horrid experience that you all went through. I can not even imagine. But, I am glad that you have your washer working again. Thank God huh! What kind of washer did you get? I would like to know for future reference. Our dishwasher was Whirlpool Gold. It is doing OK now though!
    Hope you have a great week this week! :)
    Christy

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  5. Kat,

    I actually read the entire post sitting with you in every emotion that came through. I mean what ever happened to the word customer service???

    I hate that line they all utter, is there anything else I can help you with today? I am always wanting to tell them to speak to someone else that makes way more money than you do!

    I can't believe that you had to go through all this just to get things repaired. At that point, I would have been on the computer submitting stories to my local paper and consumer advocates panel and hope that they would intervene with me.

    I have had the same issues as you, dealing with Dell Laptop computers, Sear mattresses, and Verizon home phone service. Customer service is no longer available. It is something of the past. If a company wants to look at how to get business it would be go back to basics and treat people who buy your products like they sign your paycheck. Treat them right!

    OK, time to stop drinking coffee and get off my soapbox. By the way, I am with you! ((HUGS))

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

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  6. Thanks for your comment! It's funny that Kaitlyn goes by KK because my cousins used to call me that all the time! :) Thanks for the compliment on my haircut! It was so nice of you to stop by! :) Thanks,
    ~Karlee

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  7. Oh my goodness. What a story. What an adventure.
    Glad you finally got it fixed.. but don't you think that all that cost the company more then just giving you a new one.. Crazy.

    Happy Laundering..

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  8. Well. I hate that happened to you. Glad you got it finally fixed. I know how it is to be expecting a repairman to show up and they don't. We've resorted to asking friends and/or acquaintances to help out. So far it's worked. We always seem to know someone when something breaks.

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  9. Okay, now for every single one of us ladies who actually read through that 12-chapter novel, we need some kind of "Most Loyal Readers" award!!! ha ha ha

    But you had me intrigued, so I had to keep reading to see how "bad" you got and how long it took them to finally fix the thing. =0)

    Glad it's working now! It is, right?

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  10. So guess what, I'm commenting from this account and I didn't have to read the WHOLE THING again. Whew! ha ha ha

    So you're 37, huh? Pretty cool that 7 kids later, people still think you look way too young and cute for 7 kids. You go, Girl!!! I'm jealous. I look my age. I'm so skinny that there's nothing to fill out the facial wrinkles so they're really showing and I hate it!!!!

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  11. I can understand your frustration. I would have blown a gasket a lot sooner than you did.

    That is an unbelievable story, but I know it's true. These things happen & it's beyond belief.

    For their sake, I hope the washer lasts a looooong time w/o breaking down.

    I love that your kids write their own plays and perform for you. That's very creative.

    My daughter just loves to sing and act and she'll gladly do some choreography. She also loves to draw. She uses colorfull felt markers.

    I'm always thankful to find a play or a camp for her to participate in.

    Take care and I hope your head doesn't start hurting with all this stress.

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  12. Why can't people just do their jobs and what they are supposed to do? Why can't the simplest things be simple? I seriously think you should have just gotten a new washer for all that headache. I am afraid I wouldn't have been nearly as nice as you were!

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  13. Well, I loved it and found it very entertaining. Sorry, that's just because I feel for you, girl! Glad the nightmare is over.

    Once when I was pregnant we had contractors working in our home. When we contracted out I explained that I kept my home very neat and that I expected them to clean up after themselves every day (as best as they could).

    I had heard horror stories, you know?

    So I came home to sawdust all over my kitchen counters. Now how am I supposed to cook with that?

    So I mentioned it to the foreman and the next night they were vacuuming but had set the vacuum on top of the kitchen table....where we eat.....I wasn't to thrilled with that one either.

    But the worse was, like you, waiting for one guy to do some work and he never showed. I was not happy as I'd waited all day. My hubby finally tracked him down on the phone and said something like "You better get over there. My wife is about ready to rip your head off."

    He looked scared to death but I was very nice to him!

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  14. OH.MY.Gosh! You weren't kidding! Our stories are SO similar! HOLY cow!
    You know, I don't think people with 1 child will ever understand just how stressful this really is, but you sure did a good job explaining it :)

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