View From Frog Holler—Column

Home Column View From Frog Holler—Column

In the last episode, I had struggled mightily to arrange the repair of the defective icemaker on my three-year-old refrigerator. This had led me down the perilous path of dealing with a large corporation intent on not dealing with me. I had, nevertheless, apparently cracked the code and been promised a “one time accommodation” to replace the unit at no charge. This had been promised by a telephone angel from South Carolina who read the anguish and frustration in my voice. Fearing that this was an apparition, I had carefully written down the repair ticket number, the phone number of the service company and the name and contact number of the angel. It appeared that I was set, but I had little faith. I decided to follow up myself and called the service number, which turned out to be some outfit in Arizona. I got a nice guy, Josh, on the phone who pulled up the ticket, but there was no mention of the free service! I felt like I had been betrayed, with the angel and her supervisor probably sitting in South Carolina laughing at my gullibility. Not to be denied, I pressed, and Josh called the angel directly with me hanging on the line. Eventually, they got it all straightened out and we set a date for the repair. While I hate all the automatic requests for user surveys that you get each time you buy a soft drink at a convenient store, I actually asked the angel to send me a survey on which I gave her glowing praise for her professionalism, empathy, effectiveness and state of origin. I still cautioned that this wasn’t over until it was over! I had previously made an appointment for another repair before finding out how much it might cost and cancelling it. This had triggered a relentless robot with a phone who became obsessed with sending me text messages asking that I confirm the appointment that I had cancelled. In this back-and-forth I had become numb to the messages. It was a Friday afternoon when the new repair had been scheduled and confirmed on the phone. When I received a text message after 5 p.m. on Friday asking me to confirm the confirmation, I assumed it was the old robot still trying to call and ignored it. On Sunday, I received a voice mail stating that the new appointment had been cancelled because I had not replied to multiple text requests to confirm it. Looking back at my phone, I had received text messages early Saturday morning and Saturday night, none of which I had seen. It seemed I was being sucked back into the machine of service deniability. I guess it had to be my fault that after confirming in person, I had missed three weekend texts asking me to confirm again. Springing into action, I pushed the “callback” button, reached a human being and got the repair reinstated. On the long-awaited day of the appointment, I got another text stating that the repairman would be there at 9:30, and he appeared right on time. The nice guy from a certified shop in Fayetteville jumped out of the van, introduced himself, grabbed some parts and tools, slipped shoe covers on and came inside. I began questioning him about the defective design of the icemaker, and whether the new parts were improved to prevent the same failure. He assured me that the new parts were better, that he had undergone the proper training and would successfully repair my unit. He shared his life story with me as he merrily stayed on task. Within 30 minutes he had changed out all the parts and corrected a couple of other things. He carefully documented everything, taking at least 20 pictures and produced an online receipt, which I signed on screen. I complimented him that he had not had to go back to the van for parts or tools. He cited the need for efficiency and I was impressed. I am in hopes that the unit will work correctly and we can put this episode behind us. As this illustrates, it seems that service providers do everything they can to make it hard for us to get what we paid for. Even when they try, it is complicated and full of potential roadblocks. If the unit fails, I’m heading to South Carolina on an angel hunt. More later.

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