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ThoughtsOnline

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


A few months ago, I decided to upgrade the appliances in my kitchen. I first went to a local outfit and placed an order, only to cancel it when the salesman started complaining about how hard the installation was going to be and suggested I arrange my own installation. This was a deal-breaker, as I've learned (from buying computer systems) that buying both parts and service from one outfit eliminates their ability to blame someone else if/when the project goes bad.

So I took my not-insignificant order over to Design Expo, Home Depot's high-end appliance and home furnishings division. They gladly matched the prices I had been quoted elsewhere and promised me that I would be 'pampered' when it came to installation.

Well... they sent someone ought to measure my kitchen to make sure that what I ordered would fit. He took his measurements, smiled and left.

And then I heard nothing from the store. No call telling me everything was fine, no call to schedule the installation.

So after a number of days, I called the store and, jumping to the end of a series of phone calls trying to find someone who had a clue, I was told there was some kind of confusion on their end about what I ordered and whether it would fit so they were going to send someone else out to remeasure.

So the second guy came out and did his measuring.

And then I heard nothing from the store (again). No call telling me everything was fine, no call to schedule the installation.

So after a number of days, I (again) called the store and, jumping to the end of a series of phone calls trying to find someone who had a clue, was told that the installer would be getting in touch directly with me to arrange installation.

Which never happened. What did happen was, while I was out of town, we got a phone call telling us the appliances were to be delivered to my house. No word of installation. And show up they did, where they were stacked in the garage.

And then I heard nothing from the store (yet again). No call telling me everything was fine, no call to schedule the installation.

So after a number of days, I (yet again) called the store and, jumping to the end of a series of phone calls trying to find someone who had a clue, was told that the installer would be coming out (last Friday) to do the installation.

And show up they did, only to tell me that the refrigerator I ordered was too heavy for them (two guys) to move by themselves. They did install two other appliances, but only after hitting me up for an extra charge for cutting a hole into the cabinet face so that the (larger than I had before) oven would fit. Note: it's not so much that I minded paying the money, it was that nobody - neither of the two guys who came out to measure, nor anybody at the store ever told me there would be such a charge. Ah, the pleasures of being pampered.

While these two guys were installing the appliances that weren't too heavy for them (and, to be fair, they did a nice job), I was back on the phone trying to get someone from the store who had a clue to figure out how and when I was going to get the refrigerator installed. After a number of phone calls over a number of hours, one of the store managers told me he had arranged for a Saturday morning installation.

But when Saturday morning rolled around, I get a call from someone identifying himself as the installer, telling me that no one from Design Expo had told him the size of the refrigerator and that he needed to try to find at least one more person to help him.

Finally, after a number of hours of almost-yelling at the store managers who were on duty that morning, and after calling Design Expo's corporate consumer complaint department (which, to their credit, was taking calls on a Saturday), the installer called me back to tell me he had found someone but couldn't make it out until later that afternoon.

Well, he did show up and it did take three guys to move the new refrigerator. They did a good job, and it looks good (it's nice to have a refrigerator that doesn't have rusted out shelves).

Boy, it was nice to be pampered.

And there is one last matter. Because of what I was told was Maryland law, Design Expo only charged me 1/3 of the bill upfront, prior to installation. There is still a several thousand dollar balance on my order... and I'm wondering how long it will take the brain trust at Design Expo to figure out that my appliances were installed and to charge me the balance. My guess is that it won't take them long at all. This is probably the one area where they have their act together.

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