Tuesday, August 21, 2007


When I mentioned last week that I wanted to scream at the cashier at our grocery store, I knew I was over-reacting. I never actually would have done something like that, but today - I want to.

Last week we noticed our garbage disposal wasn't working properly. It hummed, so it was still getting electricity, but it no longer would churn. We were frustrated, only having been in this house four months, but knew it was a system covered by our home warranty. John put in the call to AHS and they referred us to a local business who worked with them.

We sat at home all day today waiting for them to come. As is usually the case in situations like this, we were given a window of about eighty-seven hours (okay, four) when they would be here. Four minutes until they were supposed to be here, they walked in. Their truck was unmarked, but in good condition and they appeared clean-cut and professional. He came in, chatted for a minute, then cleared out the area under the sink. He said that it was just one of those things - the disposal had served its duty and was out. We would need a new one - no problem.

However. (Isn't there always a "BUT" when it comes to home repairs?) However, the electrical wiring wasn't right and he'd need to run a new conduit and something else technical that we didn't understand - none of which would be covered. He told John he needed $170 right that second to start on the work. I cringed. That was a substantial amount of money to drop on us when we thought it would only be the warranty service call. We wanted to check with them, to see if what he was saying was true, since we didn't know him from Adam.

John said he was going to get the checkbook and the man told me he needed a pan to put under the sink. I was holding Jack and yelled for John - who didn't answer. The man said, "Oh - he's outside." I went and looked - not outside, not in front, not in the garage. He was getting flustered in the kitchen. He asked for a pot (there was one on the stove he motioned toward) - I laughed and said, "No offense, but I'm not using a hundred dollar Cuisinart stock pot for that! I'll find you something." He didn't find it amusing.

The man and his son started getting things settled and the boy brought in a bag of equipment. John was still MIA, but only three or four minutes had lapsed. The man kept reminding me that he needed a check - now. What was the rush? Why the hurry? I started getting very uncomfortable with him. He said he couldn't start anything until he had a check.

I went into the garage and got a galvanized tub we use for icing down drinks at parties. I found John in the basement. I asked him what he was doing (adjacent to the kitchen) and he said he was on the phone with the warranty company. The man overheard and the activity picked back up. I heard him on his walkie talkie, giving specific prices (which added up to - non-warranty - less than what we were paying WITH the warranty). His son walked past a couple times, but I didn't notice what he was doing. All of a sudden I heard the truck start up in the driveway and figured they were in there doing paperwork. I carried Jack into the kitchen and everything was gone - all our stuff put back under the sink. John was in the kitchen, I pointed it out to him and he looked perplexed, too.

By the time I walked to the front windows to see what was going on, I could only see the back of their truck going down the street. THEY LEFT! John had a check in his hand for the money and they were GONE.

We were so confused. Now I wanted to scream at someone. I called the home warranty company and was on hold, then gave an earful to the first person who answered the phone. (As an aside, I apologize to the switchboard operator and appreciate her patience in letting me get it out before she replied that she needed to transfer me.) :)

John called the repair man's cell, which was on our Caller ID, and he didn't answer. He called back - voicemail on the first ring. He left a message explaining that we had the money in hand and just wanted to see what the warranty company said when they ran out the door without an explanation. He wanted to know if they were fixing it or not.

He then called the office number we had for the repair man - clearly his wife, very confused by the whole thing as well, who suddenly put all the blame on herself for "over-booking" him and said that it was all her fault. (Um, no - it was HIS fault for running out of here without a WORD to either of us.)

We finally reached the customer service department of the warranty, who apologized and put him on our "do not call list." But, here we are, after losing an entire day of work for John and after having to face this ordeal, and the garbage disposal is still broken.

Fast forward to 3:30. The phone rings and it's the warranty company. They got a call from the repair man who said he ran out of time (??) and couldn't sit to find out if the problem was resolved, so he left - but he is still in the area if we want him to come back. COME BACK??!!

No, I don't want him to come back - EVER.

The warranty company understood, apologized (and did add that they do not cover an upgrade to the wiring, which we STILL don't even know if we need because I wouldn't trust this guy to give us an accurate/fair appraisal for a tomato much less a garbage disposal) and said, "Well, we do have the option of a cash out." Basically, they offered to give us whatever they were going to pay him for us to put toward another repair person to do the work, but that will take 24 hours to process and they'll get the estimate and send us the money.

So, that's that. Now we still have a broken disposal, but at least we can hand pick our repair man. We're going to call Julie (our realtor) and see if she knows anyone. What a NIGHTMARE. This should have been so easy and it's been anything but.

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