Archive for October, 2014

The ballad of the stove

October 20, 2014

I’ve hoped.  I’ve rejoiced.  I’ve stewed.  I’ve fumed.  I’ve waited.  I’ve threatened.  Now I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

I promised to keep you updated.  Well gather round, children, and I’ll tell you a tale of customer  service.

Cue the acoustic guitar… (Throw a dulcimer in there too.)

I chose a new stove after careful consideration of all the features I wanted, right?   Remember how excited I was?

Paid for stove, delivery (and taking the old one away), and hookup to the gas line.  The latter two tasks kept me sitting and waiting for days.  The actual delivery was scheduled for between 8 and 12 and the guy arrived at 3.  It took two more days to get a technician from the gas company out to hook it up.  They really need to get their automated call waiting fixed.  On the first call I was told I had a wait of five minutes, I waited twelve.  When they transferred me to someone else, I was told one minute and waited ten.  Fix your clocks, people.  Or something.  Anyway, the guy was scheduled for between 8am and 4pm, got here at 3:30.  Another full day trapped at home.

After the stove had been unwrapped and hooked up, I discovered that there was no storage drawer.  There had definitely been a drawer on the stove in the store, and it was an important feature for me.  Called the store.  They told me there had to be a drawer, maybe it was just stuck.  The guy from the gas company was still here, so we both tried to figure out how to open it.  But it was just a metal plate fastened onto the front.  The guy helped me pick up the whole thing to look underneath.  Vast empty space underneath the oven part, no drawer at all.

Chorus:  And it’s the stove ballad, the ballad of the stove….

Over the next three days, many conversations with the staff at the store.  Lots of different theories, one of which was I didn’t know what I was talking about.  Check if there’s a strip of metal on the sides.  Maybe the wrong model was delivered, check the company and model number.  I kept insisting that there was simply nothing there under the oven.  Finally the folks at the store got hold of the company agent and were amazed to learn for the first time that the company had decided to change the same model to a new one without storage, as there had been some complaints about the drawers.  They hadn’t bothered to let anyone know, not even the stores selling the damn things.  They had simply taken my order and sent me the brand new model.  Sans drawer.

When the folks at the store called me to tell me this, I said, sorry, I want the storage.  What can be done?  (I have to say that the store staff had been working on this non-stop, and they were terrific.)  They said they had no old models in stock.  I asked about the one on display, and was told they couldn’t give me that one.  They said a company representative would phone me.

Chorus:  And it’s the stove ballad, the ballad of the stove….

A rep called.  A week later.  She explained that the manufacturer had changed the model, and that’s all they had available.  She offered to extend the warranty on the stove I received.  I told her not interested, I wanted a stove with storage.  I asked her how to replace the stove that had been delivered, or how to return it.  She got a little huffy, and said if I had used the stove at all I couldn’t return it.  I said I hadn’t used it, the only thing that had been done was the gas guy had turned on all the burners to check if they worked.  She again warned me that if I used it they wouldn’t take it back.  I repeated that I hadn’t and wouldn’t use it.  She said an agent would call me.

Chorus:  And it’s the stove ballad, the ballad of the stove….

No agent called, leaving me with an electric hot plate and a toaster oven to cook a holiday dinner.  We moved the dinner eslewhere.

After two weeks, still no word from an agent.  Granted, there had been a long holiday weekend in there, but still…  I wrote it all down, and marched into the store again.  Demanded to speak with the manager, but he wasn’t there and the shift manager agreed to sit with me.  I told her the whole story.  With all the documentation.  I truly believe that the fault lies with the manufacturer, not the store, but hey, I bought the thing at this store and they need to work it out with the company, and I shouldn’t be the one to have to suffer.  I told her I really didn’t know what my next step should be:  try to talk to the company again, call a lawyer, the Better Business Bureau, or a TV show that helps consumers who are being screwed over.  She assured me that none of those were necessary.  We discussed alternatives.  I said I would either accept an older version of the model – with storage – at no additional expense (including hookup), or a full refund including all the expenses directly connected with operating the stove.  She tried to call the agent.  Busy.  After ten minutes of busy signals, she promised to get back to me.  I left.

Chorus:  And it’s the stove ballad, the ballad of the stove….

She called an hour later.  They would replace the stove with the one on display in the store, since it was the only one they could locate with a drawer, including at their other branches.  (Yes, I know that usually a display item is cheaper, and I did mention that, but I decided not to quibble.  Choose your battles wisely.)  She said it could be delivered the next day, but that I would have to pay for delivery and taking away the other one.  I said nope, I already paid once in good faith for that, I’m not paying twice.  It wasn’t my mistake, so I wouldn’t pay for fixing the mistake.  She said the delivery company had to be paid.  I said not by me, and that she was leaving me no choice but to call a lawyer.  She said she’d get back to me.

Another hour went by, another phone call from the store.  She told me that they would deliver the stove the next day, at no charge to me.  I thanked her for all her efforts.  Then I asked her about the gas hookup.  Which has to be done either by the manufacturer or by the gas company.  She got upset and said there was nothing she could possibly do about that, I would have to pay for it again with the new stove or talk to the manufacturer myself.  I said what, I can get the stove tomorrow and then waste another week or another month trying to get the company to hook me up again?  She said she would get me a specific name and number.

Another hour, another call.  She said that the manufacturer would provide the gas hookup for free.  I thanked her profusely.  She told me that the stove would be delivered the next day.  The guy would call before he came.  (This time, no hours were mentioned and I decided that given the circumstances I wouldn’t push it…)

Chorus:  And it’s the stove ballad, the ballad of the stove….

The following day it wasn’t so bad.  The delivery guys came at around 10am.  Only one teensy weensy problem.  Somehow in the communication it hadn’t been made quite clear to them that I was to get the stove that was on display in the store, so they had brought me a brand new one from the warehouse.

Without a drawer.  I made them check.

Um, no.   Take it back, fellas.

After more conversations all together with the delivery people in my kitchen and the people at the store, they took the newer new stove away and promised to bring the one from the store first thing the next morning.

Chorus:  And it’s the stove ballad, the ballad of the stove….

A little while after they took the wrong stove away,  a rep from the company called and confirmed that as soon as I have a new stove in place, they will send someone to hook it up at no charge.  She  gave me her name and a direct phone number.  I like her better than the first rep who called.  I dont like the elusive agent at all.

Things were lining up.  I became cautiously optimistic.  Emphasis on the cautious.

Chorus:  And it’s the stove ballad, the ballad of the stove….

True to their word, the delivery guys phoned at 6:45 am the next morning, and the stove was in my kitchen by 8.  And…it has a storage drawer.  The electric thingabob to light the gas is slightly different as well, which I didn’t remember, but it’s fine.  Being as it was a short day and before a holiday, I couldn’t call the company for the hookup, but waited until after the weekend.

Added bonus:  The store didn’t use the usual styrofoam to pack the stove back up.  I now have kilometers of  bubble wrap to play with.  I am easily amused.

Chorus:  And it’s the stove ballad, the ballad of the stove….

Due to the holidays and weekend, it was a few days before I could get back to the company rep.  And all of a sudden, she had no recollection of our conversation, and of course she would be happy to send someone to hook me up, for the full regular fee.  I began to shout.  (Kind of scared the kid.)  She told me there was nothing in her records, and that was it.  I don’t like her any more.  At all.

I called the store.  Got put through to the shift manager.  She, at least, does remember me.  Gave her the name of the company rep I spoke to, and she said she would get back to me.  She called back a little later to tell me there was no higher-up at the company she could talk to that day, they were out of the office.  She apologised and said because of the next holiday and the weekend, it may be several days to get it taken care of, but she assured me it would be done as soon as possible.

I wished her a happy holiday, and contemplated another few days still using the hot plate.  Piffle.

Chorus:  And it’s the stove ballad, the ballad of the stove….

Holiday and weekend over, the shift manager called from the store, and said finally everyone was answering their phones, and that I would get a call the same day to arrange a time for gas hookup.

True enough, the company called later in the day and told me someone would be out to me the next afternoon.  Again one of those 12-4 windows with a notice 1/2 hour before arrival (which hadn’t happened in reality yet).  A four hour wait is better than an eight hour one.

Chorus:  And it’s the stove ballad, the ballad of the stove….

Ha.  And he phoned at 11am, arrived at noon.  In, out.  Hooked the stove up, tested it, gave me a lesson in using the stove in 25 words or less, and have a nice day.  It was almost an anticlimax.

I have a working stove.  The one I wanted.

The Stove

39 days.  Not a huge length of time in the grand scheme of things, but way too much time for cooking meals on a hot plate.

I may, of course, regret the whole fuss if the drawer gives me trouble…  But you know what?

At this point, I don’t care.

And the sun has come out after the storm.

Morning sky



A little off the side, please…

October 14, 2014

And it’s the city planning committee at its best. Years ago, they planted trees along the edge of the sidewalk on our street.

Unfortunately, there are also power cables strung along there. I guess when they planted the trees they didn’t think they would actually grow? (I picture a startled and perplexed paper-pushing bureaucrat in my mind…)

So now, when the trees start to get too high, the gardening crew comes along, like they did this week, and cuts down the branches interfering with the power lines. Leaving the trees looking very lopsided and miserable.

side cuts

Did a shoddy job, too.  Some of the cut branches are still dangling there. Poor trees.

side cut

Of course, this is the same department that spends a fortune of our municipal tax money to plant blooming flowering plants at intersections and street islands all over the city, then when the plants stop blooming they send a crew around to dig them all up and plant others that are still in bloom.  Tossing hundreds of perfectly good plants into the garbage.  Several times a year.

One would think they should know better.  Or maybe not.

The October sky this morning perfectly suited my mood.  Even if I’m incapable of putting it into words, nature did a spot-on job.

October sky


Well done, nature.  Still treating us to such beauty even after we abuse you the way we do.  I can understand your anger, though.  I just wish folks would pay more attention to it.

Have an amazing day, peeps.

Baffled by Belgian Beer

October 6, 2014

The weekly grocery shopping trip.  Done after planning the menus for the week, doing a cupboard-and-fridge inventory and making a detailed list.  Asking kidlet for her list.   Hopefully finding and checking the coupons that I never seem to have with me at the right time.

Arrive at the market, check out the current specials and bargains.  Rejoice if one of the specials actually corresponds with something on the list.

OK.  I have a confession to make.  I’m one of those very annoying people who has to go through every aisle and look at every shelf.   Even when I have a specific list and nothing on it is on a particular shelf or in a particular aisle, I will still check out that shelf or that aisle.  Not only in the grocery store, I do it everywhere – bookshops, department stores, drugstores, hardware stores, you name it.  (We won’t even mention yarn shops…)  I have found some of the most amazing things and some of my greatest inspirations that way, but it drives partner absolutely bonkers.  She is more of the “go in-get what you need-get out” sort of person.

We try not to shop together.

(Except in IKEA.  She likes checking out everything there too.  Just at a different pace than me, but never mind..) And we can have lunch in the middle of it all.)

Anyway, today at the grocery store they were having an international beer fest, featuring ales and lagers from all over the world.  I didn’t have beer on my list, but I enjoyed perusing all the unfamiliar brands, wondering what they all taste like.   Then the Belgian shelf stopped me cold.

Beer Shopping

The St. Bernardus beers seem simple enough, prior and abt (abbot?) are appropriate names for the brand picture.  The first one I’m not sure about…a beer called “Wit” ?  I suppose that’s what you think you have after drinking one or two or more bottles of this ale…   Hm?

Then we get to Delirium Nocturnum.  Really?  Night terrors/dementia?  As the name of a beer?  With a scared-looking pink baby elephant on the bottle?  (Pink elephant?  Hey, I get it!  head::desk)  Humour aside, my jaw dropped.  My gob has been smacked.  I suppose that it’s better than Delirium Tremens down at the end of the shelf.  Why in the blue blazes would you name a beer that?  Delirium tremens = the DTs = severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome.  Yeah, just what I want to think about when I’m having a brew.  Can you imagine ordering it?  “Yeah, I’ll have a Delirium Tremens!”

The medical definition of delirium is acute brain failure.  This may be taking truth in advertising a little too far.

And then there’s the one between the two deliriums (deliria?).  La Guillotine.  With a picture of one and an open, waiting box beside it.

OK, I don’t even want to think about the rationale behind that name.

This may be a cultural difference kind of thing.  This company board or whoever simply may have a really dark sense of humour.  I’m sure they’re terrific beers.  And I like dark humour and good beer.

I didn’t buy any, though.

Would you?

The Look Moms Get

October 3, 2014

I got The Look from my daughter again.

You know the one?  That kind of appalled, kind of disdainful, kind of disbelieving that I could say such a thing sort of look?

It always cracks me up.  Isn’t embarassing or freaking our kids out occasionally one of the simple pleasures of parenthood?

This time, she was watching a biography of Kurt Cobain on TV (she’s a big Nirvana fan).  I was sitting nearby knitting. Cobain was asked in an interview “Can money buy happiness?” He considered it and replied “No, of course not.” I remarked “But it can buy yarn, and that’s almost the same thing.”

Kid’s head swiveled around to me, mouth open and The Look in her eyes. I grinned at her.

Yes, darling, mom is crazy and perfectly happy about it.  Deal with it.