Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Customer Disservice

I bought a new dishwasher recently. The experience has moved “Appliance Replacement” ahead of “Root Canal” on my list of least favorite chores.

It all began last spring, when my dishwasher’s pump died. Since barbecue weather and paper plate suppers were almost upon us, I decided to wait until fall to replace it. In September, I purchased a dishwasher online from a well-known home improvement store.

That was my first mistake.

Although installation popped up as “$0” as I placed the online order, when I called to confirm the delivery date (because they sure as snow aren’t going to call you) the customer rep told me installation would cost $99. She couldn’t explain this rather dramatic contradiction. Consequently, I canceled that particular order and continued to use my defunct dishwasher as a drying rack.

In November, I ventured online again. This time, I accepted the opportunity for the “free” installation that I now knew would cost me $99. Then came the fun part: scheduling delivery. The subcontractors had two specific rules about delivery: they pick the day and they pick the time. Nothing was negotiable. So intractable was the delivery dispatcher that I was ready to believe that he was the one paying for my new dishwasher.

Since I work for a living, a concept that seemed foreign to the delivery company, I scheduled a Saturday delivery. Alas, when the delivery truck arrived, the crew was unable to install my dishwasher. A cabinet between the dishwasher and the electrical plug made it too complicated for them even to consider it. Since they couldn’t install the new machine, they couldn’t haul away the old dishwasher, either. Another ironclad rule, it seems. So, they asked me, should they leave the dishwasher there, in the middle of my kitchen, or should they take it back?

That’s a tough one. I sent the delivery “team” and the new dishwasher back to the Warehouse of Negativity. For installation, I scheduled a contractor for the following Saturday, the rescheduled delivery date.

The dishwasher was installed, just in time for Thanksgiving, and it worked great for a few weeks. But now, there is water sitting in the bottom of it—not just a drop, but a muddy lake of it. Today I called the manufacturer to schedule a repair. After ten minutes on hold and several more in a convoluted telephone system, I was connected to a customer rep who must have “arguing with customers” enshrined as one of her performance goals. She did a good job of it, too. Even when I pointed out that she had not read the right model number, she apologized that I hadn’t heard her correctly. She never did apologize for the fact that my dishwasher is not working. Finally, she assigned me a “repair assessment” date—over two weeks from now—and gave me my choice of 4-hour time windows.

I will never again question why American jobs are moving offshore.