Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We Are Obstacles of Our Own Self-Sufficiency

Two years ago I purchased a front loading washer & dryer set. I was quite pleased with myself because I had saved for a very long time.

Unfortunately, in my eagerness to acquire a front loading set I did not thoroughly check out the machine. I looked in the sales ads. I found a machine at a big box store that was the amount I had in my savings account. The machines at the local place cost more than I was able to pay.

 The strike on the machine I purchased was made of plastic and after two years of use by both adults and children, it broke.  At the time of purchase I knew that on such a big expenditure it was worthwhile to get the extended care plan. I purchased five years of peace of mind. I knew that if anything went wrong with my machine, it would be fixed for free.

Nothing is that simple when you purchase at a big box store. I called the store asking if I was able to get the part. I was not. I was quite aware that such a simple fix would not be worth the hassle and wait of a repair person. If I got the part I would be able to take out the two phillips head screws, place the new part and then reinsert the screws. I then called the warranty service and they informed me that they would have to send one of their repair professionals out to service the machine. They would not provide the part for me. I was given the phone number of the repair service that contracted with the warranty service and called with the part number. I wanted to be sure that the part was available when my appointment day finally arrived.

Today was the day. I waited around until the repair person called. Although I was told my appointment was at 8am, the repair person had me down for 11am and was calling to see if it was okay if he came a bit early. I was quite happy to have my machine fixed and I had already been waiting so I told him to come on. I then asked if he had the part. He said he was required to check the machine for any problems and couldn't speak of it over the phone. I was filled with a sense of dread...surely after repeated calls and even a part number and description the repair person would have all that was needed to fix my machine.

The repair person was in my house for less than a minute. He looked at the broken door strike and and said, "Yup. It's broke. I'll need to order that part. We'll call when it's in." 

The piece that needs to be replaced on my machine is a $4 part! They were given the information. I can fix it my damn self! Why couldn't I be allowed to do this?  

I am angry. I am not angry with the customer service person at the big box store. Nor am I angry with the warranty lady or the service professional. I am mad at myself. In my haste to acquire the machine I spent too little. What comes from spending a few hundred dollars more at the family own appliance store is the ability to pick up a part for my machine if I need it, or an extended service contract that gets one of their people to come out to my house and fix it.

Because the chain of responsibility is so dilute at this point, I cannot contact any one corporate office and get resolution to my satisfaction.

Often we are faced with the choice between cheap and seemingly easy or being more deliberate. In my experiences, when I choose immediate gratification or saving a buck I pay in the long term. We are one of our own biggest obstacles in our journey to self-sufficiency.

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