How To Not Totally F*ck Up Selling Appliances
Once upon a time almost six years ago, The Guy & I bought a house. Since moving from our old apartment meant moving away from our old apartment’s laundry facilities unless I wanted to drive all the way across town and pretend I still lived there just so I could continue to enjoy the privilege of paying $4 to wash and dry a load of laundry, buying a house also meant buying a washer & dryer. Our new house also had a garage, which meant I could realize one of my fondest adult lifetime ambitions of obtaining a standalone freezer and saving crapstacks of money buying in bulk and stocking up when things went on sale.
Because this girl knows how to dream big.
A few years earlier, Sears had been very good to us when we purchased our elliptical trainer, so they were the first place I looked for the needed items. They had all three, at reasonable prices, available for delivery when I needed them, so the order was placed and delivery scheduled for 3 days after we moved in.
The morning that delivery was supposed to take place, I received an email saying my order had been canceled and delivery would not be taking place. No explanation. Not even from the guy who showed up at 4:00 that afternoon with the hose for my new washer because Sears wasn’t even competent enough in their incompetence to cancel the entire order. He was told to deliver a hose, and a hose he would deliver.
So there I was, in a new house with no way to do laundry and no dream freezer, clean sockless and demoralized, scrambling to find replacement appliances while still trying to unpack, and I found myself on the Best Buy website. They had all three of the items I had recently “purchased” from Sears, at the same or slightly lower prices, and claimed they could deliver 3 days later. With a healthy dose of cynicism coloring my hope, I placed the order.
Sure enough, my appliances showed up 3 days later. I loved them and I loved my new house and I loved Best Buy like I had never loved a major online retailer before and thought I never would again.
Oh my friends, what a fool I was.
Our house is an older house, and when we moved in it had original ovens. Very original ovens. Like “we baked protest cookies lambasting the Carter administration’s energy policies” original. They were not long for this world, but I managed a couple of holiday baking seasons before it was clear I would not manage another.
Since Best Buy had come through so admirably for us when we really needed them, they were the first place I looked for new ovens. I found the ones I wanted, within our budget, ordered them and scheduled delivery for early November, to not only avoid the holiday rush but also give myself plenty of time to get used to them before the biggest cooking day of the year.
Thus began three weeks in retail Hell the likes of which I have never experienced. I worked eight years in retail, including holiday seasons. My experience is considerable. But nothing prepared me for what I would soon be going through.
A few days after the order was placed and delivery scheduled, I received an email saying “hey, thanks for your order, please schedule your delivery!” Which I thought was odd considering I had already done that, but okay, I went online and scheduled delivery for the same day I had originally requested. I got two more emails after that, saying I needed to schedule delivery, and finally called Best Buy to very politely ask WTF. I was told to not worry, they were showing my delivery on the schedule and I could ignore any further emails.
The day before delivery, I got another email. I also got a voicemail from the delivery company saying “we had you on the schedule but your appointment is canceled because your item isn’t in the warehouse” at which point I lost it. Between that evening, and the time I actually got my new ovens delivered and my old ovens hauled away, two and a half weeks elapsed. During that two weeks I spent a combined total of almost 12 hours on the phone with Best Buy, and was told:
– my order was canceled because they didn’t have the item in stock
– they found the item but I would have to buy & pay for it a second time because they had canceled the original order, but I still had to wait 5 days for the transaction to be reversed on my debit card
– if I got up at 5:00 in the morning on the first day of my vacation to call dispatch, they might be able to deliver four days after my original date
– dispatch wasn’t actually open that early, so I should call back two hours later to be told it was then too late to get my order on the truck that day
– my ovens would be delivered on FOUR different dates, none of which actually occurred
– I would be given a credit of $50 for all the hassle
– that a truck was on its way with my new refrigerator but no, that company didn’t deliver and install ovens
– four members of the Geek Squad couldn’t install my ovens because there was an electrical issue
– I would be credited for the installation charge since they didn’t do the installation
– my old ovens would be picked up in two days
– I was absolutely on the schedule for haul-away that day between 8:00 a.m. and noon/noon and 4:00 p.m./4:00 and 8:00 p.m.
– my old ovens would be picked up the day after that/the day after that/the day after that
– I would not be credited for the installation charge because it wasn’t their fault they couldn’t do the installation
– I would absolutely be credited for the installation charge because they would have been able to do the installation if the transaction hadn’t previously been so fucked up and there had been more time because this wasn’t all happening at TWO O’CLOCK ON THE WEDNESDAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING
– I would be sent a $100 gift card by way of apology for them being so terrible
An amazing young journeyman electrician was able to get to our house to correct the electrical issue that had prevented the installation. He then told my husband “if you can help with the lifting, I can do the installation”. Thanks to him, at 6:00 p.m. on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I was able to bake a pie using my new ovens. A week later, the old ovens were finally hauled away. A week after that, the promised gift card arrived, and I immediately put it in an envelope and send it to Toys for Tots because Best Buy could literally not pay me to do business with them again.
About 6 months later, it was time to replace the dishwasher. And I was running out of places I was willing to put my appliance money. With a heavy heart and no small degree of trepidation, I ordered a dishwasher from Home Depot, scheduled delivery and requested haul-away of my old dishwasher, and was fully resigned to none of that actually happening because clearly the purchase and delivery of appliances was a far more delicate and complex operation than I would ever fully fathom and it didn’t just happen because you wanted it to and gave people money.
They said they would call the day before with a four-hour delivery window. I said “pfffffffftwhatevs”, refusing to show them even the courtesy of using full words to convey my doubt.
They called the day before delivery with a four-hour window, and said they would call the next day approximately 30 minutes before they arrived. The smallest of cracks could be felt in the shell I’d constructed around my appliance-obtaining dreams, the faintest of voices could be heard to whisper “perhaps…” as I dared let myself hope again.
The next day, within that window of time, I received a phone call saying a truck would be at my house in about 30 minutes. There was a truck at my house about 30 minutes later, with a dishwasher. The dishwasher I’d ordered and paid for and asked be brought to me on that day. 10 minutes later, the truck was gone, and with it my old dishwasher, taken away to be properly disposed of just like I’d requested and paid for.
It was almost like they had some kind of a system in place where people could give them money and in return for their money the people got the things they wanted.
Fast forward about eight months, and the freezer I’d bought when we first moved in less than six years before started dying. I may not have cause to blame Best Buy for that specifically, but I’ll go ahead and hold it against them anyway. So back to the Home Depot website I went. I found a freezer, bought and paid for the freezer, scheduled delivery of new and haul away of old freezer, got a call the day before delivery with a window, got a call the day of 30 minutes before the truck showed up, had the new freezer in place and the old gone within 10 minutes, and went on with my day.
Turns out my dishwasher-buying experience wasn’t a fluke. There is a way to put a system in place whereby a company sells appliances which then actually land in the consumer’s hands in accordance with all previously agreed-upon terms and timeframes.
The future is now, friends.
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