Hellish Customer Service

I'm home now and I don't want to go out again. I can't. It's too discouraging. I can't get anything done due to the incompetence of virtually everyone I come in contact with, so what's the point?

Unfortunately, staying home isn't the answer either because even online solutions aren't working for me. It's like changing lanes and having your new lane come to an instant stop: whatever you try to do to save time and make your life easier will come back to bite you on the ass. So happy holidays and bring on the excuses!

I'm having a dinner party Sunday to celebrate my upcoming birthday, one of those terrifying ones that end in a zero. My husband and I recently separated and I have spent the past week trying to put the house back together since he moved out. There are lots of empty spaces and disorganization, but I'm working on it, with the party as a motivation.

The problems started this morning with an email from the shoddy company from whom I ordered 48 wineglasses in mid-October. OK, I'll name names: it was wineglasses.com, (un)fulfilled by winestuff.com. They managed to get me champagne glasses right away, but not any of the other three kinds. On the site, when I ordered, there was nothing about them being out of stock but of course if they'd told me, I might have gone elsewhere and they didn't want that! Almost six weeks later and not a peep out of them, and I need the glasses by Sunday.

The phone number for winestuff.com on the October Visa bill (billing me in full for my order) was a nonworking number, which never builds confidence. So last night I emailed them for a second time, after no response to my first email two weeks ago, asking them when I could expect my glasses. I received an email this morning informing me that it would be next week at the earliest. So now I need to borrow or rent glasses for my dinner party.

That annoyed me enough, but there was plenty more to come. On to my first errand of the day, dropping off four items to be framed. When my husband moved out, he took the majority of the artwork. I called the framing store first, around 9:30, and was told they were open and to come on in. When I arrived, a few minutes later, I found a couple ahead of me with a major project spread out all over the counter and one worker, Randy, who informed me he would be with me shortly. I picked out four different frames and still the couple was obsessing over mat colors and frame styles. This was obviously going to take a while, but Randy assured me someone else was coming in at 10:00am, in just 10 minutes. He encouraged me to wait.

At 10:15 when no one else had shown up and the couple still hadn't made it halfway through their project, I gathered up my things and headed for the door. Randy rushed over to recommend I go to another branch of the store and mention his name, which he reminded me was Randy. Then he asked me for my name, which I refused to give him. He had taken more than a half hour of my life and that was enough.

I headed to Errand #2 (Errand #1 having been an utter failure), picking up a small table for the front hall. I girded myself for a problem, since I hadn't called ahead, but no, the table was there and pickup took just a few moments. Score one for Plummer's!

Next, to Rug Warehouse to pick up the pad for a rug I bought last week. Naturally the rug was not in stock and had to be shipped from New York at a cost of $175 to make it in time for the party. The rug is 8x11' and I needed a pad the same size. They tried to sell me one about the thickness of a Band-Aid, but, I wanted one that might actually protect my wood floor. So I paid for the thicker one and George, the salesman, asked a worker to go in the back and cut it for me. The guy was back there for quite a while, during which time I played "Bejeweled" on my phone. Finally the pad was brought out. It was 7x12'. Hence my return visit today.

I had called George on my drive over from the frame store to make sure he would have the pad, since the rug is being delivered tomorrow. He assured me it would be ready. And it was: the Band-Aid thickness pad was all tied up in a tiny bundle, ready for me to take it. The salesperson (George was nowhere in sight) cheerfully told me that I was even due a refund because this pad was cheaper than the one I actually wanted.

I asked to see George who reluctantly came over. We went back and forth about the pad: really, this one would be fine. I asked him why he didn't have the thicker one and he said because the big roll had run out and a replacement had not yet arrived from the East Coast. The way he said it, I obviously was expected to say, "Oh, the East Coast! That's really far away! No wonder it's not here after eight days." He even pointed out that I had paid extra to order my rug as a "rush," the inference being that certainly he shouldn't be expected to do the same.

I told him that, as a rug store--a "Warehouse," even--he really should stock pads the sizes of his rugs. I said that when it looked like I was going to run out of paper towels, I made sure to get another roll ready so I wouldn't have to go eight days without any paper towels and have to use toilet paper instead. He offered to cut a strip off the 7x12 pad and tape it together to make 8x11. I told him that was an unacceptable compromise, and that if he really thought it an appropriate solution he could have done it last week and saved me a trip. He offered to let me take the skimpy one now and send someone over with the thicker one when it arrived. I started crying, much to my dismay, and through my tears I pointed out that instead of solving my problem this would create a new problem: I have to schedule a time for someone to come over. I have to move all the furniture off the rug, roll it up and then reverse the process after the new pad is in. I told him I was having a party and had been trying to get everything done before that. He got excited: Oh, a party! That will be fun! Yes, I'm getting divorced, getting old, and having a big wineglass-less and rug pad-less celebration. Hooray for me!

In the end, I left with the skimpy pad. What choice did I have?

I returned home and brought the pad and the table inside. When I opened the box with the table, one of its top corners was completely warped, curling up like a sultan's shoe. The table was also covered with white fingerprints. Someone had actually handled the table, putting it into a box and sealing it, figuring, "Ah, whoever gets this won't care that it's deformed." I cared. I called the store to tell them I would be bringing back the table. I got switched around to several people--"Picky bitch on line two!"--until the warehouse manager finally agreed to take back the table. Reverse Plummer's score of one. In fact, give them a negative one because now I have to drag myself back to return it. Now I have accomplished less than nothing on my to do list; I have actually extended the list, which was too long to begin with.

Another thing I needed to do was replace a TV. So last week I ordered a flatscreen from Amazon.com, along with mounting hardware. Yesterday I received an actual phone call from the company that will be delivering the TV tomorrow, scheduling an actual delivery time. How professional! How rare! I have my fingers crossed that they aren't just setting me up for disappointment. I have made arrangements with a friend to help install it.

Unfortunately, the mounting hardware was coming from another Amazon vendor. It arrived via FedEx this morning while I was driving all over town accomplishing nothing. It required a signature. So now I don't have it. I can take my chances and hope they bring it tomorrow somewhere around the time the TV arrives, or I can drive WAY downtown tonight between 6:30 and 8:00pm and hope they can find it so at least I know I'll have it. Add another item to the to do list, plus the bonus of rush hour driving in downtown Los Angeles.

And now the baking begins. Do I really need to point out that I'm not in the mood?


  1. Update 12/14/2007: the new rug pad came today. It was supposed to come yesterday but after waiting for hours I had to go out. As I had predicted, replacing the pad was a royal pain, requiring double scheduling, not to mention furniture-moving and tipping. And it took more than two weeks. A customer service story for the ages! Oh, and still no more wineglasses after two months.

  2. Final wineglasses arrived yesterday. Not exactly in time for holiday entertaining.


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