27 December 2013

Past Shop

 A little consumer rant for today? Well, you’re getting it anyway!

I was oh so proud of myself and giddy with anticipation. On December 25th I decided to take the plunge and buy a new washer and dryer for myself, replacing the small apartment-sized ones a friend gave to me when he moved out of town that had themselves been purchased used. You see, I have had some problems of late with the washer (sometimes I have to help it work up to the final spin so as not to end up with clothes that I had to wring out and dry forever) and with the dryer (a scary noise that has made me reluctant to use it again for a couple of weeks now).

A chance e-mail from a retailer about their fabulous end of year sales (I’ll leave you to guess which retailer that might be) and I fell upon a lovely duo of front-loading machines (not as novel for the dryer as for the washer) in what they described as “liquid silver”. Fabulous! I called my Dad to see if he thought the pedestals were necessary (they are just storage drawers; he said no) and then I placed my order online. I even called them part way through the order to ask about the recycling option (take away my old machines for a fee and recycle them) and after much searching on their part, I was told that that could be worked out once I got my delivery notice. “Fine!” thought I, and proceeded to the checkout, where I was greeted with the usual credit card options and a flashy “PayPal now accepted” button. I went for the PayPal, which charges my credit card when I make a purchase, but it was marginally easier, having only the password to fill out and having my delivery information automatically supplied to the retailer. I went to bed dreaming of my lovely new machines and oh, the laundry I’d be doing!

The next day, I woke up to the delivery notice e-mail, proposing the last day of my time off as the delivery date, which suited me just fine. It was also my opportunity to work out the details on that recycling option. Not having a car (or a truck) or being physically capable of wrestling my old appliances down my stairs to be trashed by the city’s large item garbage collection, this recycling thing was a truly necessary part of the whole deal, and it promised to make me feel better about the disposition of the old machines, even if not actually certain they would be re-used or taken apart for their useful components.

The e-mail had little clickable buttons, including one for the recycling option, additional fee of $30 per item. Fine! I clicked for naught. It seems that the link brings up a “mail to” window which doesn’t really work when one uses webmail exclusively. Never mind! There’s a helpful toll-free number to call — all will surely be worked out!
Are you beginning to suspect that all did not work out? Clever you! The first person on the phone brought up the file of my transaction and sadly announced to me that I couldn’t choose the recycling option because I had paid by PayPal.

Me: “What? How about if I pay for the recycling in a second transaction, on my credit card if you prefer?”

Customer “service” rep: “Sorry, but our system won’t allow me to do that.”

(A couple more tries on my part to work that out, to no avail, then I asked for the supervisor.)

Supervisor: “Sorry, but our system won’t allow me to do that.”

Me: “You’re going to throw away a $2,000 sale for a $60 recycling fee that I’m offering to pay for on my credit card?”

Supervisor: “There’s nothing I can do about that. The system won’t allow it.”

So a rigid system trumps a sale. Let’s just say that the sale is now cancelled. And while they managed to charge my credit card (through PayPal) within hours of my placing the order, the refund will take up to a week, and maybe a few more days before it appears in my credit card account. The quick automated call about how satisfied I was with my exchanges with customer service probably won’t be earning anyone a bonus this year, either.

My dreams of getting this accomplished during the holiday break are over, and my motivation to do the preparation for having these new appliances in my apartment has evaporated. Don’t even let me remember that this is the same retailer that I had to visit several times to accomplish the purchase of a television a few years ago, even ending up with a radio (there was no picture) the first time around.

So bah humbug to you — uh — Past Shop!


Zeke said...


Try Brault & Martineau. My mom was even more anxious about purchasing a new washer (it took about 18 months for her to get up the nerve, if I remember correctly :-) But when she finally did bite the bullet, she couldn't have been happier.

Ken Monteith said...

Funny, she recommended someone else to me! In any case, I shall have to wait for the credit to come back to my credit card before I can do anything. Truly annoyed, never shopping there again.