Monday, February 23, 2004

Slow weekend.

This is what happens when you actualloy buy a house in the suburbs, Leaguers. I spent Saturday replacing a sprinkler head on our automated sprinkler system. It turned out to very inexpensive and fairly quick to do. Then, we went to Arizona Cactus and got several plants for the yard, then some soil and planted those. It's raining like a bastard today, so i am curious to see if we'll still have cacti when i get home, or if they'll all have flooded away.

And now is as good a time as any to relate The Tale of the Couch (or: Be Careful When Purchasing a Sectional Sofa).

Last August, Jamie and I decided it was time to get a new sofa. The sofa we had was purchased immediately after college with little funding behind it, and the wear of two unweildy Steans men and a chubby dog had ground the thing into uselessness.

We also had family coming for Thanksgiving, so we decided we should replace the sofa sooner rather than later.

Jamie and I also have a steadfast rule: Our house is not intended to impress other people, it's there to entertain us. And as such, we began to also consider what Jamie might like best. And if Jamie likes one thing, it's getting a little shut-eye. So, while wandering around one furniture store, we said to ourselves "Ah-HA!!!! We shall get two parts of a sectional. One part shall be a two-cushion section, and the other shall be a lounge, so that Jamie may lay down all the time!"

We looked high and we looked low for a new sofa, trying not to travel all over the Valley of the Sun to select one, but making sure we'd given it a good shot. We have a smallish space for a sofa to fit in, and we also knew the sofa would not sit against a wall in the room it was intended for. Jamie and I seemed to be drifting toward a bold, solid color as we looked at our options. There's a whole world of variations on a theme of beige when one looks for a sofa.

At long last, we ended up at Basset furniture. Basset makes custom furniture based upon a wide array of designs and fabric selections. We found just about exactly what we were looking for, got through the process and paid a small deposit on what was to be a fairly expensive piece of furniture. We wnet home knowing that in about 6 weeks, we'd have our furniture.

7 weeks passed and I called Basset. I was told one part of the sectional had arrived, and they were awaiting the secodn part. It should be in within two weeks.

Two weeks later I called and was told that the second piece had not arrived, and could I wait two weeks?

The process more or less repeated itself, and I asked to speak with a manager. "He's not available. Can he call you back?"


Nobody called.

And then THIS process repeated itself.

Finally we reached about a week before Thanksgiving, and I still had no new sofa. So I drove down to the store (which, just by point of explanation, is about halfway across town). I asked for the manager by name, and upon seeing me, he pretty much freaked out. "We have half of your sectional."
"I know that."
"But there was a mix-up, and they sent the wrong piece for the other half."
"How long have you known that?"
It urned out they'd known that for a LONG time, but someohow had not fixed the error in their system. So basically the order was coming up in their computers as "completed," but, in fact, was not. I was assured that they would correct the situation.
Two interesting things happened while I was there. Apparently everyone at Basset knew who I was from my frequent calling. Steve the mqnager said "this is Mr. Steans," and they would say "Ohhhh, Mr. Steeeans." And then I heard some guy, who did NOT know who i was decribing a situation similar to mine and talking about what a chump the customer was. It was then pointed out I was Mr. Steans, and the guy got kind of quiet.
Steve the Manager told me that I would get several hundred dollars taken off the price of the sofa if I didn't ask for my money back at this moment, and, as a bonus, I'd get a loaner sofa for the interim.
It sounded good. If I were patient, I'd get the sofa I wanted for cheap, and I'd get a nice, leather sofa for the interim, and a nice little story about the sectional when it did show up.
The interim sofa showed up as promised. No problems there. We had the interim sofa by THanksgiving, and I gave the old sofa to a poor student in need of a place to sit.
But then things got quiet from Basset.
I called again.
"Where's my sectional?"
And I got the same old story from them "Well, it looks like you got a piece of it in the warehouse, and they're waiting ona second piece..."
"Can i talk to Steve, your manager?"
On hold.
"He's not available."
So given some time off right between Christmas and the New Year, I went down to Basset to figure out what the story was.
I pulled into the lot, and the sign was gone. Basset had closed it's doors. And they had a few hundred of my bucks.
I freaked out. BUT...
there was a sheet of paper taped to the window of the Basset store. It directed all inquires to THe Roomstore which sat next door.
I wandered in and asked what was going on. They were able to track my paperwork after a while. it turned out Basset was financially attached to The Roomstore, and The Roomstore now was supposed to take care of my business for me.
It says here we got in one piece of the sectional..." the girl read from the screen.
"Okay..." I sighed, rubbing my eyes. "I want my money back."
THey promised a refund of my deposit. I was happy. I was curious that they didn't ask about the interim sofa, but whatever.
Jamie and I went in search of a new couch, and upon visiting a different store, found one immediately. We ordered it, and off we went.
"You ordered a new sofa?" people asked me, incredulous that I would take such a dare again.
"Well," I would nod, "I do need a place to sit."
"You have that other sofa."
"I don't like the other sofa."
"I can't believe you're willing to take that chance again."
Well, people, there are millions of sofas safely delivered each year. I figured we could take our chances on this one actually arriving.
But my re-imbursement check didn't arrive.
"Did you wait 7-10 days sir?"
"Uhm. It's been like 7."
"It could be there in 10 days."
So I waited.
And it didn't show.
So i called again.
"Oh God," said the girl on the other end of the phone. "They never even started your paerwork to get the check. Hold on."
I waited, staring into the image of the firey abyss I imagined the whole shopping center becoming.
"Sir," she chirped. "I've begun your paperwork. You can expect your check in 7-10 days."
"Okay..." I said, imagining the whole strip center an inferno.
But then... the check came. And it even cleared.
Knowing we had a cleared check and a new sofa en route, I took a moment to pause. "What are we going to do with the interim sofa?" I asked Jamie.
And we considered our many options, but what I DID NOT want to happen was for us to be tracked down in a year when we'd given the sofa away and were unable to retrieve the thing. Nor could we let them know we had it until we had received the new sofa.
Which arrived two weeks ahead of schedule on Friday.
"We need to return the interim sofa."
"I don't think they know we have it."
"We need to return it."
"Look, you take care of it."
So Jamie called, and The Roomstore came within 24 hours to actually come and retrieve their own sofa. "You have MERCHANDISE?" Apparently the girl was horrified to find this out. Apparently they had no record of the interim couch and we could have kept it for all eternity.
So we have the new couch. It's big and blue and has seats for more than two. I'm pretty pleased with the darn thing. I just wish we'd gone to Stone Creek Furniture to begin with. I also found out I CAN be patient and not turn into a weepy mess when confronted wiht an irritating but non-life-threatening annoyance.

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