Big box blues

I hate this part.

There was a time when when my not-yet-atrophied heart thought about the romantic nature of gift-buying. One year, my wife and I went to Aruba, swam with youthful indifference in the neck-deep water, and nearly got eaten by wild desert dogs. Three years ago, we drove a convertible from San Franciso to Cannon Beach Oregeon, stayed in a B&B, and made our way from the redwood forests back to the Gulf Stream waters. They were romantic times, even if they were somtimes interupted by maneating feral animals and my bosses.

Last year, instead of a love-affirming trip to a gorgeous beach, we bought a washer and dryer. Don’t be fooled. Spin cycle love can be very exciting. Every time I see my wife enjoy the fruits of our anniversary gift to each other, I get a very clean feeling. Or something like that.

Alas, a few days ago, the high-tech washer started making a decidedly low-tech noise. It sounded much like someone put a corkscrew in the garbage disposal. I removed the clothes and looked for a corkscrew, but found nothing. Further investigation revealed much more of the nothing I initially found. Fortunately, I thought, this bad boy is still under warranty. And, I may find that lost corkscrew!

I’m no big fan of big box stores, but when it comes to buying big appliances, it’s hard to pass up the Lowe’s and Home Depot route. This time, I’d gone with Lowe’s. My wife put in a call and I almost immediately heard the tone in her voice that she takes when I come home at 3am smelling of a dive bar. It’s terse, quiet, and a little more than off-putting. I was glad I was not the guy on the other end of the line.

I eventually learned that, because we didn’t save the receipt (and this is the part where you smart people commence with the laughing), there was no way to prove our outfit was still under warranty. Lowe’s wanted to know what day we’d purchased the washer and dryer, otherwise there was no way for us to prove our purchase.

I quickly remembered I’d purchased everything on my American Express card (for the Sky Miles, you know). I called AE and within 15 minutes I had an answer.

“May 31st!” I exclaimed from across the room.

My wife, on her own phone, relayed the information to Lowe’s and I settled back for another one of my “hot damn, I’m the man” moments.

Seconds later, my wife was off the phone and giving me a look that said, “You might as well have been eaten by rabid dogs.”

Apparently, even though Lowe’s had asked for my date of purchase, that only allowed the manager the opportunity to send off to the corporate office for a copy of the receipt, a process that we were told would take a minimum of 7-10 days. Or we could call the repair company and see if we could sweet talk our way into a “take us at our word” repair.

The Whirlpool repair folks asked for the model and serial number of our machine. My wife read it off. The response? Lowe’s had purchase the machine in late April, which meant it looked like it was past its warranty date.

“Even if we purchased it on May 31st?”

“Do you have a receipt?”

“Lowe’s is looking for it.”

“Call us when you get it.”

“If we find it after you do the repair, can we get reimbursed for the costs?”

“Nope! Bye, now!”

And so, there we sat, facing two possibilities. First, 7-10 days was a long damned time for a family of three (including a kid) to be without a washer. Second, Lowe’s may never find the damned receipt anyway.

I wished I’d been eaten by the dogs, or at the very least, wished I had a receipt to shove up somebody’s tailpipe. “Just call the damned repair company and tell them to come fix it,” I said and decided I was going to write a long rant about big box home improvement stores, another in a series of “That’s how they get ya!” warnings.

And then something funny happened.

Sometime after 8:30 last night, the phone rang. I answered and it was Lowe’s. The receipt had been found and faxed in just two days. All my worrying about the evil minions at Lowe’s had been unfounded. Instead of wild dogs ruining my anniversary gift, I got people who actually helped.

And so now, the repair people are coming on Monday. Now I know to save every damned receipt for everything I buy.

And this is the part that I hate.

I actually have to praise Lowe’s for not sticking it to me.

I hate that part.