Unless it is a pie top, I don’t vent often. Perhaps that is what I should do right now…make a pie with vents on top, or weave a lattice on top. But today? Right now, I am so frustrated that I fear I cannot even set foot in the kitchen. What happened you ask? Let me take a deep breath and tell you.
I am in the process of remodeling the house right next door to me. Pie Cottage Two, II, or perhaps, too. The kitchen needs new appliances. It should be easy enough to pick them out, put them on the debit or credit card, and a few weeks later…voila…they show up. In my mom and dad’s day, a check was written, or cash was handed over, and believe you me, I am so close to returning to a cash-in-the-hand way of paying.
I wanted to support my local economy as much as possible. I bought a new range, hood, and extended warranty at the Port Angeles Sears Hometown Store, a locally owned and independently operated store that has been here for years. Sears Hometown Stores are separate from Sears.com. But, when it came to the refrigerator, the deal online at Sears.com was such a screaming good one, or so it seemed, that the Sears Hometown Store folks and I agreed that I should order it online and have it delivered to the local Sears Hometown Store. The sales rep at the local store, trying to save me money, suggested that I open up a Sears.com credit card in order to take advantage of an additional 5% savings. That little voice inside of me said, “don’t do it, Kate,” but I didn’t heed it.
MY USUAL WAY
Now for many years, I have either paid cash for what I buy, or used a credit card that I pay off in full each month. I paid off my house and car years ago. So simply put, I do not have a credit history that they like to see, you know, the one where you buy, have an outstanding balance, and pay just enough to keep the interest from taking over your life. So, after everything was typed in for this new Sears.com credit card (that I didn’t need), the local sales rep then places a call to the company that is handling the Sears.com credit card to finish the process. He gets a funny look on his face as he listens to them. He gets off the phone for a moment and asks “Do you have a mortgage?” No. “Car payment?” No. “Credit card debt?” No. Then hands me the phone and says that the representative would like to speak with me.
DING DING DING
The rep, bless her heart, says that the amount of the refrigerator is a bit more than the $1000 credit card limit that they have approved me for because I have no credit history. She says I will need to pay for the rest in another way. I tell her to cancel the Sears.com credit card application. She says that the application has already been processed and approved for $1000, and she will now cancel this credit card, which I have apparently had for ten minutes but have never used. Oh, and also, when the card was applied for and approved it was a “hard ask” on my credit report; there is another “hard ask” when I just cancelled the card; and oh one more thing, there will be another ding on my credit rating because I was not approved for $20 over the $1000 limit. In each case, it brings the number of dings in this ridiculous credit game we all play to three. Ding. Ding. Ding. I’m seeing red at this point.
After I get off the phone, the local sales rep relays to me how sorry he is that it didn’t take the five minutes he assumed it would take, and had no idea it would affect my credit report in the way that it would.
BUT THERE’S MORE
But, it goes on. Since the online price of the fridge was such a good deal at Sears.com, I still decide to “save” a bit and buy it online. I go home and place the order online, and pay for it with another card I have. My card is charged, the confirmation email says that it is ordered, and will show up at the store the next day. The timing does seem a bit fast to me, but what do I know about how appliance deliveries work.
The next day there’s an email in my Inbox from Sears.com instructing me to update the delivery date. I press the link that is supplied. The site malfunctions, and I get nothing but a blank screen. I go to another browser and try with the same results. I call the number for customer service, punch in the required numbers when prompted, and get sent time and time again to the “Hello you’ve reached Sears.com Customer Service….Please listen to the following options so we can route you to the right representative.” Arggggggh!
I find the chat option. I type in my order number and explain to the agent about not being able to update the order with a delivery date as requested. The agent says, “Oh, I apologize for the inconvenience, but I can’t do it either. We’ll have to cancel your order and place a new order.” I ask if the card I used will be charged again. His answer is, “Yes.” Say what???? I tell him that this is unacceptable, and that I will not place a replacement order until I am fully credited for the original order that Sears.com has screwed up. He cannot credit me. At this point, I ask that I be transferred to a supervisor. (Remember that all of this communication is now being done by typing into a small chat window.)
The supervisor shows up and starts to type, offering me a further discount if I will place the order NOW. “No,” I type. “I will not place any order until the credit due me shows up on the card I used.” She tells me that I will see a refund in 7-10 business days on the card I used. She offers to give me an extra discount when (and if) I place a new order. I tell her I will consider her offer and request that it be in writing. She tells me to request a copy of the our chat session be sent to me via email after the session is concluded.
Now, you may think that this saga is done, but no it is not, and I totally understand if you want to skip to the end of this post to find out how it all turns out.
A dishwasher is on the list to buy as well, and the one I would like to get, a skinny size Bosch with a third rack, is only available at HomeDepot. Still steaming a bit, Gretapie and I drive to Sequim, the next town over where all the big box stores are. I place the order and use the card. Fine, all is well…I think.
When I get home, I decide to call the bank to see if I can put a hold on the charges for the first order that was cancelled. They tell me that it’s good that I called, because they have flagged my card for suspicious activity; four big charges (the cancelled fridge order, the range, the hood, and now the dishwasher) in just one afternoon.
USE IT OR USE IT NOT, THAT IS THE QUESTION
Just great. Don’t use the card and you have no credit. Use the card and they flag it…even though I have an (apparent) invisible history of paying in full ALL charges every month. My bank takes the flag off the card. I ask if they see any credit coming in for the first refrigerator order. “No, there is none showing.” I place the card in my dresser drawer, thinking it was sooooo much easier in my parents time.
TWO DAYS LATER
Two days later, I receive an email from Sears.com saying that my order for the fridge is cancelled as I didn’t update the delivery date, and “to allow 5-7 business days for the refund to be credited to your original form of payment.” Five days pass, I check. No refund. Seven days pass, I check. No refund. I go to the chat box again. Now, I am told that it will take up to ten business days for the refund to show up. Ten days pass, I check. No refund. I contact Sears.com again by chat and am given the big run around.
THE BIG RUN AROUND
Your order was cancelled. It will take up to ten business days for the refund…blah blah blah. I ask for the supervisor. Alberta types “Please give us 72 hours and our accounts team will send you a confirmation email regarding the refund.”
My reply is, “If that is the best Sears.com can do, I have no choice. Please know that this is in no way a reflection on you, Alberta. I appreciate you doing what you can, but Sears.com should have taken care of this in a much easier way than this.”
Alberta replies, “I completely understand how inconvenient it would be to wait on this. Please accept our sincere apologies. We will ensure this will not happen again. The refund should be showing up in your account by now, there should be some error occurred.” I certainly agree, that there is some sort of error.
A KAFKA-ESQUE EXPERIENCE
Now, several hours later I have an email with a no-reply email address at Sears.com from George P. It says, “This credit was issued because order has been cancelled. This credit should be view-able by your financial institution within in 3 to 5 business days. If you have any questions, please contact your financial institution.”
All of this feels like an absurd and surreal Kafka-esque experience.
Thanks for listening, and letting me vent.