Monday, January 30, 2017

Broiled and Baked Laundry

It’s two hours since my last blog post. Someone is ringing my doorbell at 7 pm. It’s the UPS deliveryman and he’s left a package at my doorstep, scurrying off into the night like a brown-clad Santa Claus. I see from the return address that this is the control panel Sears has sent me to present to the repairman when he returns in five days to fix my washing machine. But it’s less than a month since Christmas and I can’t resist the urge to open the package. So I do.

The control panel looks a little different from the one in my current machine, but I suppose one must expect a few design changes after 31 years. I scan the labels on the panel: “Start,” “Clean,” “Warm,” “Broil”… Wait, back up. Broil? I know it’s been a long time since I last bought a washing machine and I’m sure the newer ones have lots of new bells and whistles, but somehow I don’t think my washing machine should be broiling my clothes.

I phone Sears and explain the situation to the woman on the other end of the line. “I think you sent me a control panel for someone’s oven,” I conclude. She remains skeptical. Perhaps she’s thinking I should wait five days for the repairman’s expert opinion. But I’m persistent and resolute. She asks me to read her the part number so she can look it up and confirm it is indeed not a washing machine control panel. That’s when I notice a slip of paper inside the box. It’s the packing slip, clearly stating the object in my hand is an “oven control with harness” which sounds like some kind of appliance kink accessory.

As I peruse the slip, I see the “ship to” address is a Mr. Charles Smith (name changed) in Buford, Georgia, more than 650 miles away. Ironically, it had been shipped from College Park, Georgia, a mere 50 minutes from Buford. As I read the packing slip to her, she grudgingly accepts her company has sent me the wrong part. She tells me she’ll send out a replacement and is about to hang up when I point out they need to expedite the shipment since the repairman will be showing up at my house in five days expecting the part to be there. Otherwise, we’ll be wasting both his time and mine and would need to reschedule the appointment. She dutifully notes this and is about to hang up again, when I point out another obvious problem: Sears has another customer patiently waiting in Buford, Georgia for a part that’s sitting on my kitchen counter. Shouldn’t she either have a replacement sent to Mr. Smith as well, or if she intends to send him the one on my counter to at least advise him there will be a delay and he should reschedule his repair appointment?

See, that’s just common sense. If I received another customer’s order, then that customer’s repair will be delayed and he will be inconvenienced too. The difference is, he’s waiting for a package that I know will never arrive because I’m staring at it and the Sears clerk is ready to hang up without making any arrangements for me to return it. I assume the repairman will take it with him when he comes five days from now, but that’s five extra days Mr. Smith will have to wait. And he doesn’t even know it. When he finds out, he’ll have to reschedule his appointment; and the next available date may be weeks away. Shouldn’t Sears be more concerned about its customer than I am?

I suggest to her that I might call Mr. Smith in Buford, Georgia to let him know I have his oven controller. Perhaps I might even mail it to him, I say, somewhat facetiously. “That would be a good idea,” the Sears clerk says. I nod as I hang up the phone. It’s a shame American businesses don’t come up with those anymore.

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