"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

Jul 18, 2015

Worst Deal: Goof Squad!!

By now you know I don’t have a lot of money.  So I was thrilled to finally purchase a real TV/DVD player last October with some of my birthday money.  I searched online for a bit, then thought to find the best prices at a well-known electronics chain with its own in-store service team. The closest Worst Deal is located in Medford, a half-hour away.

I shop alone so I don’t have anyone to play Devil’s Advocate, which is why I talk to myself while strolling the aisles. I have little extra space in my motor home and found just the size I wanted, on sale.  I didn’t recognize the brand but since it was on most of their selection I assumed it was their store’s slapped-over-name-brand-label.  You know what I mean.  I passed on the second year warranty and off I went.

After a few months the DVD player started acting up but it was manageable and I decided I could live with it. My first mistake.  When I finally brought the thing back to the store in early June I expected a replacement, like they do at Walmart.  Oh, no, it had to be sent to their service center in California for a full evaluation, which could take up to 6 weeks.  We are, after all in Southern Oregon.  
Three weeks later, since I was in the neighborhood, I stuck my head inside to make sure I hadn’t missed a telephone notification.

“You can check your progress online,” the Illustrated Kid solemnly said as he turned to his screen.  Yes, but I don’t do that; I’m here now.  He clicked and looked; clicked and looked; finally telling me that the TV was in California and had been repaired.

“Really?”

Yep; it’s easy to replace a DVD drive.  We’ll call you when it’s back here.

As long as I was there I decided to look at computer devices.  Here’s what I own: a laptop with a little 3G modem plugged into a USB port. It’s very handy when I travel since I’m often out in the sticks.  I rarely search and don’t social media, and up until now have been able to accomplish all I need with 2MB of Internet access for $25 a month. It’s a dinosaur plan I’ve had for years but for me it’s affordable.

These days that same 2MB isn’t stretching as far as it used to because of all the auto-streaming ads. I was talked into a newer 4G modem, free for my points; but the salesman neglected to tell me that in addition to being faster it would eat up more of my data, so I went back to the 3G.  The 4G is back in the box in a closet.  Additionally, I own a Princess phone which doesn’t tell me who’s calling, and a free Government cellular phone  for people in need, bless them.  That’s it.

Problems arise whenever I try to become more modem, because every option will cost me more money. I’m living on less than $9,000 a year which isn't easy, but I'm happy I'm not under a bridge. Whatever happened to Free Internet Access for all citizens as promised?  Forget me; think of underprivileged kids who must use the library for school projects and studying for SAT's.  Our library has a 30-minute online limit.  These kids are at a definite disadvantage from the get-go, which will only increase the gap between the Haves and Have-Nots.  I don’t have any kids, I’m thinking of yours; but maybe I'm wrong.

No, thanks, I'd rather not schlep the weight of my laptop, power cord, notebook and pen to Starbucks or Mickie D’s, even if there were any nearby. I just realized that many of the people who suggest I do so are probably unaware of what this entails for me.  They must think I just pull out a fancy phone, not realizing I’m still in the Dark Ages.

Ah, it would be nice: something smaller for traveling and not as involved to quickly check that I'm not overdrawn. But I've learned that I-Phones, I-Pads, Notebooks, Smart Phones and the like rely on wireless Internet access. I can’t plug my modem into any of their USB ports because they’re either the wrong size and/or the modem technology is too far behind their Smart-Things to recognize or bother about.  Kinda like people, was the distinct impression I got.

“What do people without wireless do?"

"Everybody uses wireless these days, Ma’am.  EXCEPT  YOU, hahahaha.”

I love feeling intimidated while browsing on foot.  Several hours later I received a call from the Goof Squad letting me know my TV had arrived in California and was being looked at.

Zavier's dragon chair
“What about Tattoo Joe's info; or was he just blowing me off?”  The curve she didn’t expect.  I was put on hold and the final explanation was yada-yada.  Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, but OK, I’ll wait some more.

They called July 8th and I picked up the TV on the 9th.  Their fix was not what I'd been told. “It’s all checked out and working fine.”  Great, thanks.

Later that afternoon the Goof Squad called to make sure I was happy. Damn, I barely got home and haven’t had time to watch a movie but I’ll let you know.  I was still annoyed and felt I'd been out-and-out lied to by that young man, and the 30 additional days they tacked on to my warranty impressed me not since I’d been without my TV for 5 weeks, but I said nothing. 

Until this past Monday, when my landlady handed me a letter, which usually puts me into a state of panic.  No one but bureaucratic officials address mail to my street address, and their salutations usually include a demand to license my dog or move off the property because of county codes.  You'd be nervous, too.

When I saw the return address was Worst Deal I laughed about their numerous updates and conciliatory calls.  I’d rather they cut down on notifications and repair things faster.  But the letter, dated one day after I’d picked up the TV, said (sic):

“Service on your product was completed on June 19th. We attempted to contact you on July 8th to pick up your product.  Your product has been waiting for you to pick up for 15 days. Worst Deal is not responsible for any product not picked up within 30 days after services were complete.  Please immediately pick up your product at the Worst Deal store where you dropped it off.  In the event that you do not pick your product up within 30 days from the date of this letter, Worst Deal will need to dispose of your product. Any questions please call the Worst Deal store service department.”

Oh really?  Alter-Ego Amy, whom I’d hoped long-buried, jumped out of my skin and onto my Princess phone.  The youthful-sounding customer service gal asked what I wanted her to do.  How 'bout pretend you care how I feel and address my grievance?  After all the frustration, what's with the letter?  The store manager listened and apologized but said it was really the Goof Squad’s responsibility and I needed to speak to their manager, who wasn't in.  He promised the Goof Squad manager would call back; it really was, after all, their policies.

“Then why is your Worst Deal logo on this stationery and not the Goof Squad’s?”

Jeez, it doesn’t take much to stump some people these days.  I never did get the call.  When the DVD froze and the screen displayed a colored test pattern on Thursday night, I saw red. Driving to Worst Deal Friday morning I literally prayed to God to keep a lid on my lips.

I argued relatively calmly for me but I wasn’t going to get pushed around nor leave with another shoddy TV. I never wanted to step foot inside another Worst Deal and made a friend promise to shoot me if ever I suggested the idea again.  I wanted my money back.
Fearless

“We can’t do that, Ma’am.”  Sure you can; get someone over here who can make a decision.   I couldn’t believe my own ears.  I did walk away with a credit on my card and shook the hand of CS Manager Mutt, who listened to my story patiently, understood the value of happy customers and acted like a genuine Customer Service Representative. I offered that not everyone is savvy when it comes to electronics and suggested he remind their employees of that, to which he grabbed his card and said to ask for his help whenever I shop.  But what about that letter?  Doesn’t anyone care why or from whence it came?

“It was computer-generated, automatically, two days following notification of pickup,”  Mutt said as he pointed to the bar code where a signature ought to be.  But then why wasn’t my case closed out when I picked it up the day before?  And if the work was completed back on June 19th, why didn’t anyone call until July 8th? He agreed their procedures need examining but remained silent when I mentioned the logos again.  You know, it just seems that the head is responsible for the tail.

Why should I care?  Because I don't feel like becoming complacent.

I did feel better and was leaving with a more positive impression of Worst Deal than when I walked in, thinking I might even give them another chance in the future, but that didn’t last.  Two overhead, brightly lit red  EXIT signs were above each sliding glass door on either side of the entrance kiosk.  But the doors didn’t open so I stood like a boob, until I noticed the NOT AN EXIT sticker on the door.  Silly me.

I pointed upward while joking to the kiosk employee, “You should cover up one of those EXIT signs.”

“We have stickers at eye level,” he glumly responded. I felt like an idiot while mumbling that not all of us notice (especially when the doors are covered with stickers and I’m not wearing glasses.)  Afterwards I was mad at myself for not turning to ask,

“Would it have cost you to say something nice?”  Like, “Lots of people make that mistake.”  Apparently so, and so that’s the last time I’ll frequent a Worst Deal store, God strike me dead if I do.

On the way home I considered what to do now that I’m back to watching movies on my laptop.  I’d already used up 97% of my Internet allotment but come Saturday my monthly cycle begins anew.  Maybe I’ll check Craigslist, or drive around and spot a free TV on a curb like a story I just heard.  Then I can use the money for other big ticket items like Heartguard and Frontline for BC, or an eye doctor’s examination for me so I can see Do Not Exit signs easier.

1986 Ford F150XL
That’s when my truck decided to act up by grinding while starting.  How can I Garage Sale for a TV if I can’t stop-and-start with confidence? It’s a good thing I demanded the refund. I stopped home to check my bank balance before heading to the mechanic.  Still only $60, earmarked for the service provider’s bill with 10 bucks to spare.  I’d hoped to be smart by having the truck’s problem diagnosed now in order to plan for the repairs, since I just finished getting the U-joints replaced a couple weeks ago.  Ouch.

But when I went to the mechanic old Trigger died on the spot.  It's the alternator. They gave me a ride home, but not before a confab around the engine block with my by-now mechanic buddies.  I really hope my trust isn’t misplaced, but for the past several years their work has been approved for price and quality by friend’s husbands and sons.

“It’ll be about $195, parts and labor.”  That's terrific:  my TV credit was only $140; I still haven’t seen it: and payday on August 1st is a long way away.  They got the truck started again but what were my chances that once home or elsewhere I’d be stuck and really in a bind?  Yeah, they agreed, it would be a bitch.  This is just the situation one dear friend frets may happen.  How do I handle it alone?

Thinking aloud, “Wait…I haven’t paid the phone bill yet.”  Hmmm...that'll be just enough.  “F__k the phone company, fix the truck; but not ‘til Monday, since the money hasn’t hit the bank yet. I need my wheels.”  There I go again, being irresponsible.

If the refund's NOT there by Monday, well, there are still are a few people I haven’t alienated who’ll float me a loan; but Buddha's Bonnet, I hate begging.  Once home I popped a DVD in my computer and tried to figure out my karma, when the roof air conditioner started dripping on my leg.  Nice.  The second one in the bedroom already quit last year and this weekend’s prediction is 100 degrees. BC & I will manage or flee to the coast.  No, wait, I have no wheels.

I must have been a real shit in my former life, but at least I can still laugh about it.  I decided to try the bedroom A/C and low and behold, it works again.  Maybe I just need to clean out the filters in this one. So here I sit. I figured I’d better write this story and post it before they cut off my services.  I’ll be back on the 1st if not sooner, Gourd Goddess willing.

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