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No Wonder They’re Bankrupt

No Wonder They’re Bankrupt

In the EMS Artifact, there is a hierarchy. Since there is only me and Mrs. EMS Artifact, it’s fairly short. It’s probably more accurate to describe it as “division of labor.” Which in itself is an archaic, totally non PC way to describe the domestic duties of men and women.

In our hierarchy, I am in charge of auto repair, litter box cleaning, snow clearing, electronic purchase and repair, and of course, home repair. For example, this week I got to choose the contractor for our new roof.

On the other hand, Mrs. EMS Artifact is in charge of color schemes, linen and towel purchases, gift selection for the grand kids, and of course, the kitchen. Not that I can’t cook (a bit), but she’s better at it. Except for grilling outside, that too is my domain.

Oh, I also get to select the single malt and cigars. Since the Mrs. doesn’t drink or smoke cigars, that doesn’t really count.

Back to my story. One of the things that Mrs. EMS Artifact is in charge of is buying appliances and arranging for repairs that I can’t do. Which is most of them.

She happens to like buying appliances from a large national retailer that has been around for a long time, but has fallen on hard times of late. I won’t name them, but you can probably figure out who I mean by the post title.

Along with selecting the appliances, she also made the decision to buy the service plans. Which, for the most part has worked out over the years. There have been some hitches over the years, but overall the company has been pretty responsive. We’ve got a refrigerator and a dish washer replaced under the service plan. In the case of the dish washer, they replaced it because they couldn’t find a cosmetic part that had cracked. Yes, for the price of plastic piece of trim, they ended up giving us a credit to replace the entire machine. That included most of  the installation cost, but I won’t bore you with the details.

On to the current story. The stove. At the bottom of most stoves is a drawer wherein you can stuff pots and pans that aren’t being used. This is called the “utility” drawer. In the case of our stove, the handle on the utility drawer was plastic and held in place with a couple of rivets. As luck would have it, back in mid October the plastic handle cracked. Ooops.

The Mrs. called the handy dandy 800 number for service and got a person with an unpronounceable name and a questionable grasp of English. Hello global economy. The Mrs. explained the issue and asked of the person on the other end of the phone could order the part and have it shipped to us. She figured that I, being pretty handy, could replace a piece of plastic held in by to plastic rivets.

No, the person on the other end of the phone explained, they couldn’t to that. A service call was required and the highly trained service technician would have to verify that the handle was broken and order the part on his laptop. Great.

So, an appointment was made and on the appointed date within a two hour window, a highly trained service technician arrived to look at the stove.

“The handle is broken. I need to order one from the depot and when it comes you can call for another appointment for someone to come out and replace it.”


So, the highly trained service technician started up his ancient laptop computer, went online and ordered the parts. Along with two rivets to attach it to the drawer itself. He then printed out a receipt on an ancient thermal printer. The receipt was almost 100 yards long and had some ridiculously high prices on it.

He then left to go another service call.

A week or so later, a small package arrived. It was the two rivets, but no handled. A few days later, the handle arrived. The Mrs. called the 800 number and made an appointment for a highly trained service technician to install it.

On the appointed day, within a two hour window, a different service technician showed up to install the handle. He opened the box and discovered that the plastic handle had come pre broken from the warehouse. In fact, it was more broken than the broken handle it was supposed to replace.

So, he started up his ancient computer, reordered the part, and left us with a receipt and instructions to call for yet another appointment when the part came in.

Time passed, and we were getting on towards Thanksgiving without the handle making an appearance. Since were hosting Thanksgiving last year, the Mrs. was busy cooking and baking and using the stove. Which included opening and closing the utility drawer. Which in it’s turn meant that the rather thin front of the drawer warped and would no longer sit on the rest of the drawer as designed.

Mrs. EMS Artifact once again called to inquire where the parts might be. This time she got “Lucky”, as he told her his name was. His grasp of English was a bit better, other than referring to the rivets as “Riv As.” Whatever.

Lucky told her that in fact the handle was en route and that when it arrived, along with the “Riv As”, she should call to… well, you get the point. She mentioned the warped drawer front and Lucky told her the technician would look at it when he came out to install the handle.

In due time, the handle, along with two more “Riv As” arrived, a call was made, an appointment, yada, yada, yada.

A third technician arrived, opened the package to find the handle was in good shape. He then looked at the drawer front and said, “I can’t install this, the front is warped. I’ll order you a new drawer.” Turns out, the drawer and front panel are different parts and can’t be ordered as an assembly. In fact, the drawer isn’t available any longer. “NLA” as the term goes.

The technician went on line and found out that the front was available only in black or stainless, not white as was the original. Mrs. EMS Artifact gave him the go ahead to order a black door even though it would tend to make the stove look like a LAPD police car.

The part was ordered and the technician immediately got a “backordered” message.

Did I mention that Thanksgiving was now a pleasant memory and we were hurtling towards Christmas and a New Year?

For some reason, the service company had my email address as the contact and so every few days, I’d start to get an email telling me that the part was on back order and they’d let me know when it was being shipped.

Eventually, I got an email from “parts recovery” asking if there were any parts left over from the repair which I would like to return. “DELETE”

After about a month of this, another phone call was made and another technician came out. He didn’t have a laptop computer. He had a smart phone with an app. Of course the screen was so small that I wasn’t sure what he was looking at. He told us that we, duh, needed a new drawer front and that he would order it again. Yeah, yeah, we’ll call when the part comes in…

He went on his way and the receipt came to me via email. Ahhh, the 21st Century.

Now, I was getting two sets of messages about the back order.

One day a package showed up. Much too small to be the front panel, it was another set of “Riv As.” Then another package showed up. It also was much too small to contain the drawer front. It contained four little sheet metal screws to hold the panel on.

Then in two days, I received two emails telling me that the part was back ordered.

That was the last straw. Did I mention that the Mrs. used to work in customer service? Not for this big company, but overall customer service has a few bedrock principles. One of which is that when you complain, you need to tell the company exactly what you want them to do.

Mrs. EMS Artifact is persistent among other things. She called the 800 number and asked to speak to a supervisor. She was on hold for over an hour. Fortunately, we have a phone with a speaker – phone option and she watched TV while ignoring being ignored. At long last, a supervisor picked up the phone and a longish conversation ensued.

The supervisor wasn’t much interested in providing a voucher to replace the stove because she insisted that they needed to come out and look at it once more. The Mrs. reminded her that under the terms of the agreement, they had three tries to fix an appliance and then were required to issue the voucher. The supervisor told her that a tech had only come out once and so they had two more bites at the apple.

Mrs. EMS Artifact averred that since this had been going on since October and it was now early February, enough was enough.

The supervisor only relented when I printed out a few of the back order emails and offered to send them to her via fax. At that point, she told Mrs. EMS Artifact that they had 48 hours to decide on the final disposition of the case and that they would call back 48 hours hence.

72 hours later, it was a case of “When the phone don’t ring, you’ll know it’s us.” So Mrs. EMS Artifact called and was told that the replacement had been authorized about 71 hours ago, but no one had called.

A voucher was issued on a Thursday afternoon and 30 minutes later we were at the store ordering a new stove for delivery Monday.

On Saturday I was having breakfast with a group of friends. One of those friends is a retired appliance repair man. He still does some work on the side to supplement his pension and thus can order parts from a few different distributors. During this debacle at some point I had sent him the model number and told him what the part was.

He reported to me that he had called two different parts distributors and both had reported that the drawer front was readily available. In three colors. WHITE, black, stainless. I told him that we had a new stove coming and we all laughed.

At which point he said, “No wonder they’re going bankrupt.”

The stove came and was installed in good order on Monday.

On Tuesday, I received and email informing me that the drawer front was still on back order.

I expect a UPS truck to pull up in front of the house any day now and deliver part.

Obviously, one hand part of this company does not know what the other part of the company is doing.

File under “Stuff you can’t make up.”

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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.


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