Friday, April 14, 2006

Stale Appliances And Fresh Excuses

Early this year, a small plastic piece broke in our espresso machine. Because the unit wasn't all that old, we thought we'd just repair it. Predictably, the part wasn't covered under the warranty and nor, we discovered, was it sold separately. We were told we would have to buy a whole new top, which--naturally!--cost not all that much less than what we'd paid for the whole thing.

Fine. We decided we'd do without. Espresso and cappuccino aren't actually needs.

Er, not fine, because it turns out that we're weak. Those Starbucks runs started to add up, effectively administering death by a thousand small charges to the caffeine budget. Plus, since we both work from home, we were essentially adding a couple of "commutes" that wouldn't otherwise take place. Besides, who wants to have to get dressed just for a caffeine fix?

This was the logic that we used to justify ordering a new machine. I justified upgrading substantially by looking for a model that 1) had a design more conducive to repair and 2) included a grinder, so we wouldn't have to replace my quite-old burr unit when it fails. The deciding factor was discovering that an online service happened to have the item we wanted at hundreds of dollars off.

Remember that old joke? "Honey, how much did that cost?" "Sweetie, look how much I saved us!" Eleven years married, 14 together, and it's come to this.

In any case, out came the Amex, and in a matter of minutes, the Deed Was Done. Anticipated delivery: five to seven business days (we were sure we could make it through a week, so no need to waste money on express shipping).

That was more than a month--and multiple e-mails, phone calls and tracking numbers--ago.

This afternoon, a couple of days past the last "definitely will arrive by" date, the following lands in our e-mail inbox (and that of 25 other people: Can you believe they didn't even hide the other e-mail addresses?!). The bold signifies the parts of the e-mail that were in bright red:

Due to the high demand of this magnificent product, our inventory was sold out after you placed the order, and our incoming stock was heaviliy [sic] delayed due to a nationwide manufacturer back order.

If the product sold out AFTER we placed our order, what undeserving, line-jumping stiff got our machine? And there's a back order on manufacturers in this country? Are you sure they just haven't decamped to Asia, like so many other industries already have?

However, product has been released from the manufacturer and is enroute [sic] to our NY distribution center sometime this Monday 4/17.

Well, is it "en route," or isn't it?

We have received incorrect info from the manufacturer prior to this, indicating earlier delivery but this is verified.

Gee, if you say so.

You will be receiveing [sic] your order shortly, approximately 1-7 working days, depending on your exact location.

We sincerely apologize for any delay, inconvienence [sic] or early charging of your credit card by [online service], but this was completely out of our control.

They're right about charging the credit card: no delay there, by golly! That bill's come and gone.

In addition, this fine product is in high demand.

The advantage of this situation is that you will be receiving a factory direct, freshly manufactured item.

Please advise if we can be of further assistance.

Well, thanks for pointing out how much better off we are! But what an odd thing to write. What, the merchandise they normally sell is subpar or something? I suppose that's a good thing to know, for future reference. And since when do small appliances go stale on the shelf?

I'm just hoping that this latest excuse is more than a fresh pile. Because when barristas start making your order when they recognize your car pulling into a parking spot out front, it probably means you're too regular of a customer.

Note, later: The actual publishing of this post was delayed due to a Starbucks run (this time it was OK, though--really!--because I was treating a friend).