Variations On A Theme

I have often written, far too often, of my extreme dissatisfaction regarding the decay in the competence of American companies. Our latest debacle involves a refrigerator and a big-box retailer that…I’ll just write “can’t shoot straight.”

Our new house had a Viking Professional refrigerator when we moved in. Sounds far more impressive than it actually is. This appliance did not work all that well, in part because the previous homeowners neglected maintenance, no doubt due to the fact that they only lived in the house about six months a year. However, the fact that the fridge was 17 years old didn’t help, either.

We found a company that specialized in servicing Viking appliances and they sent a competent tech to do some maintenance and to fix the ice dispenser. However, he couldn’t actually fix the dispenser because he had not been supplied with the correct part.

We made another appointment to have him fix the ice dispenser. When we learned the cost of parts and labor would be about $1,000 (on top of the $1,000 we had already spent) AND that the correct part wouldn’t be available until August, we decided to buy another refrigerator.

After gagging on the cost of a Viking replacement fridge ($18,000!) as well as the cost of other 48-inch wide, counter-depth refrigerators (nothing under $9,000) we decided to buy something more practical. One of the “big-box appliance stores” was having a sale and we have a credit card with them that entitles us to either a 5% discount or zero-interest financing for 24 months.

We bought a refrigerator and paid $40 extra for the company to haul the Viking away when they delivered and installed our new appliance. Well…when the “leader” of the first crew arrived he let out an audible groan when he saw the Viking. “I can’t take that, it’s built-in.” When I told him and showed him it was not built-in he still refused even to attempt to haul the fridge away. They didn’t leave the new refrigerator, either.

When we called the company we were less than calm when we explained what had happened. We were assured that four people would be on the next crew and that they would take the Viking away when they delivered our new fridge.

We should have known something was amiss when only three people arrived on the second attempt at delivery/haul away. Once again, the crew refused even to attempt to take the Viking away although they did leave the new refrigerator this time.

We were livid when we called the “big-box” store again. It goes without saying they refunded the charge to haul the Viking fridge away as well as giving us a partial rebate on our purchase. However, they refused to send another crew to take the Viking away.

In desperation, we called the company that had serviced our Viking and they sent, basically, one person to haul the old fridge away and to install our new, non-Viking one. This person also lamented the “it’s not my job” mentality that has taken over American business.

It is 99.9% likely that we will never buy an appliance from this “big box” store again. Even if they knew, the company employees would not care.

The phrase “American competence” has become an oxymoron.







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5 thoughts on “Variations On A Theme

  1. And we complain when immigrants want to come to our country to work. >grin<
    On May 2, my blog post happens to mention how the restaurant industry is starting to cope with a lack of employees who want to work.


  2. I’m at a point where unless I’m pretty much at gun point, I won’t go into a “big box” store. The way they are laid out makes it sometimes impossible for you to find what you’re looking for, the “help” for the most part isn’t, and they all seem to be going to self checkout. Maybe I’m just becoming a curmudgeon but I have problems with all three. I will go to a smaller “mom and pop” store and pay the extra to get far better service. And it doesn’t matter if I’m buying a single padlock or several thousand dollars of equipment, I’ll go where the service is. As a plus, 90% of them will actually thank you for spending your money there.

    As far as the quality of the employees, that’s been going downhill for a while. I first started to see it some 30 years ago. Too many folks had a “not my job” attitude for many things that some of us were willing to do. Whether it was sacrificing a day off, or even working overtime on a weekday to get an important project done. As an owner, I have no problem sending someone down the road, who isn’t pulling their weight. Especially so the ones who want to tell ME how things are going to be. Until your name is on the bottom right of the front of the paycheck, it’s my way or the highway. Choose wisely, because there are no second chances. Not saying I won’t listen to new ideas, but most all of what is brought to me has been tried before. I’ve been doing this for most of my adult life and know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two (shamelessly stole that line).

    Long way of saying, it sucks about the run around you got on your new fridge.


    1. Thanks, DDM. I think many/most American companies have become soft and fearful, in large part due to desire to avoid litigation/arbitration.

      “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
      – Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2 Act 4, Scene 2


  3. There is one “big box store” I frequent, the blue one, for the usual stuff and that is because they give me a 10% discount for being a veteran. The discount naturally doesn’t apply to appliances. The orange one I use when the blue one doesn’t have the specific item I want. The rest of the time I go to my locally owned hardware chain.

    For appliances, that is a different tale. When we remodeled the house, we purchased all of the built-in appliances from a locally owned appliance dealer because the prices were better through our general contractor and they had the particular models we wanted. The refrigerator was not one of those as we kept our previous one. With major purchases I get pretty particular about what I want. I don’t buy junk and generally will look for the best price on that model. With the remodel, the new heat pump was easy to get what I wanted, since I was the mechanical engineer on the project. That is either Trane and/or Carrier. Period. On the electrical equipment, I had the electrical contractor provide written specifications on the equipment and the electrical engineer and I reviewed them for approval. We did reject some. You either meet the specifications or not.

    I won’t get started on a rant about service technicians or contractors as you do not have enough space. I have my particular HVAC contractor because he is an experienced, trained technician and his prices are reasonable. I have dealt with enough contractors over my engineering career and it is pretty easy to figure out who is good and who is stupid enough to argue with you. DDM, you sound like a contractor with whom I could work.


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