Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Highs & Lowe's

Our fridge started making some scary noises a few nights ago. By the time the repair guy showed up, the freezer section was dead and the fridge part was on it's way. He pulled out a piece, tried a few things and pronounced it not only dead but not worth resuscitating. I asked him if he swap our portable for the crappy dishwasher that came with our house while he was at it. He said he no, and even if he could he'd recommend against it. Currently the cheapest portable available was about $500 and used ones regularly sell in town for $350 (college town). $350 is almost enough for a brand new installed dishwasher.

He seemed to be a pretty knowledgeable guy. Since he didn't have a vested interest in the answer, we asked where he'd recommend for appliances. He said Lowes was the cheapest in town. We fired up Consumer Reports on my lil' Android phone and off we went. It took awhile but we decided on a 'fridge and dishwasher and decided to spring for a gas range / stove to replace the ailing electric P.O.S. that we'd been hoping would die for the last 7 years! There was also a decent pricebreak on an extended service plane if ya bought 3 appliances, along with an assortment of rebates, a percentage off for starting a Lowe's card etc, probably about covered their installation fees.

First thing Friday, the new fridge arrived, as did the first snag, which I didn't catch it right away. To coordinate the three new appliances in the kitchen (me points at the missus here), we went with the stainless steel version (silver on the front, black on the sides, the dishwasher being black and the stove being mostly silver). The installers had to take the fridge doors off their hinges to get it in the house. I saw the black sides, and stopped paying attention. That is, until seeing the BLACK doors re-attached.

To get it straightened out, it took me a bit of hunting. Eventually I found the model number of the stainless version, on Sear's site, where it was on sale for the price they'd charged us for the erroneous black one! After a call Lowes agreed to the pricematch and bring the correct fridge Tuesday, with the other units to be installed thereafter.

The new fridge was swapped out on Tuesday. It didn't do my back much good to be swapping food back and forth between coolers and fridges. On the other hand, at least I didn't have to take time off for all this hoo-haw. The other 2 were scheduled for later in the week.

During each of the scheduling calls I told them I didn't care when they came so long as they were done by 2, so I could fulfill my duties as Luc's afternoon taxi service. Out by 2, got it? Yessir! Naturally, the installers show up at 1pm on Thursday. It didn't really matter as the range/stove had a big ol' divot out of it's metal front and the hinges on the dishwasher were bent in such a manner that it wouldn't even fit into the space the old one had occupied. (Also, the gas line that was supposed to have been run under our kitchen when our furnace was installed...didn't actually exist. Furthermore, that 220 outlet for our electric stove wouldn't run the electronics of the new stove which only requires 110 to keep itself hoppin'.) It was pretty comical especially after the mess with the refrigerators.

Before they left (to return next Tuesday), A-1 Installers - the folks Lowes hires - was kind enough to give us an estimate for running the gas line from our furnace for ~$600, plus permit costs etc.. Not a bad mark-up for around 30 feet of pipe and some labor. Meanwhile Lowes had heard about the continuing debacle and was very apologetic. They offered to upgrade the dishwasher to a Bosch. (The jury is really still out on whether this is much of an upgrade. It's a more reputable brand, but it's from their econo-line.) Eventually we decided to go with it, and set about getting ready for Tuesday.

We called a couple places to see about estimates on the electricity and/or gas lines. Apparently no one wanted our money bad enough to get off their @sses and come take a look. Eventually I got an electrician friend of ours who does a little work on the side to knock out the electrical work Saturday morning. (Not a big deal, swap out the breaker in the panel, and put a different outlet in the wall at the other end. But still, on a Saturday and on short notice?! THANKS ANDY!!!) After reading up on the finer points of running gas pipes, and checking out the hardware Lowes had in stock, I was pretty sure we could run the line ourselves so long as I didn't have to cut the pipes or tap / die all the threading required to screw 'em together.

Around $200 in gear and materials (at commercial prices, not contractor rates) and Sat. evening & Sun. morning knocking it out, the pipes were up and leak free! When A-1 rolled in Tuesday, there was a rather puzzled look on the installer's face when he saw that lil' gas pipe header poking through the floor. I'm sure he was expecting to be there all day running that! I thought about saying it had been there all along, and we'd just missed it somehow. :P

I guess I'm being a little cynical or pessimistic; each time A-1 had sent a different crew and this time, they sent a couple of black guys. My suspicion is that by now I had a rep for being a pain in the @ss, AND they were expecting their guys to get stuck for the day installing gas lines so they sent these poor guys. Maybe it's just how this year has gone and all the glasses are looking half-empty to me. (Or maybe they're really the most courteous and professional of their installers!) Anyhow, they were real nice, the installations went without a hitch this time and they didn't charge me for a piece of cord the previous guys hadn't mentioned we would be needing and that they usually charge for.

Now, if you're keeping score that's a different model refrigerator, a different make and model dishwasher, and although it was the same stove, its serial number doesn't match the original receipt. Remember me mentioning that extended warranty? Heh. While I was in Lowes getting the pipes and stuff over the weekend, I stopped by the Customer Services desk and sorta ran all this by a couple of the girls there. About halfway through, the started getting this cross-eyed look...said they'd work on it while I did my shopping. Even better, I went back to the appliance section and mentioned all this to the salesperson who'd started all this to begin with. While Margaret was waiting with our kiddo in the appliance section, she happened to notice the stove was on sale for $100 cheaper than it had been last week, just to make this more of a challenge for them. By the time all the pipe had been cut to order per my measurements, and threaded, the girls had come up with 2 individual receipts showing the return and new sale of 2 of the appliances. They said, once the installations were complete, they'd be able to adjust the price on the stove, otherwise they'd have to cancel its installation and start over. W/e.

So. Everything's installed and working great. When Lowes called to make sure, I said, yes I'm okay with the appliances but still need the price adjusted on the range/stove and still want a single receipt showing the 3 correct appliances together on the tag with the extended warranty. Sorry to be a stickler, but I know how 3rd parties work when it's 5 years down the road and you're looking to get them to actually perform. Can you imagine trying to explain all of the above to some customer service phone rep in India? HAHAHAHA, man. I'd love to be a fly on the wall while someone else tried it.

Just when everything was getting ironed out, it got one better: while reading the two separate receipts I got during the weekend, one of them wasn't even in my name! One said 'Nick H----, one said some other random dude. It did look like his card was getting billed for the dishwasher, so I'm really curious to see what that first statement for the Lowes card looks like! Anyhow, she said she had to get one of her specialist to get help her with that. I got a call right before closing time saying she'd not got it finished and will call me tomorrow. I'm imagining I'm going to have to go down there. Would you want a big hairy weirdo freak all up in your grill about all of the above? I'm guessing they won't either.

-------Thanks for stoppin' by.-Nick H.