People Underestimate the Value of a Good Ramble

Friday, March 11, 2011

TVs: Size Really Does Matter

So let me tell you about the amazingly bad customer service we got this one time.

On the Tuesday morning before Thanksgiving, I had the bright idea to rent a flat screen TV for our living room cause we always watch movies here on Thanksgiving and our living room only has a 25 yr old 24" TV. I thought it would be a fun idea to have a larger TV so the 20 of us can watch the movies my sister always brings over. (Mostly stuff like Toy Story or other kid movies, cause that's the kinda people we are.)

Anyway, I called the closest RentACenter to us (about 5 miles away) and asked how much a weekly rental would cost. He said $300-500. I was like what??

We rent a TV, a stand, a DVD player and a bed every year when we go on vacation to the cottage and it costs $75 for all that. Of course, I realize that he did that because he didn't want to deal with just a weekly rental, they want rent-to-own people. But shouldn't there be some sort of standard rate or something?

So then I called another branch, which just happened to be probably the farthest away from me, closer to downtown, but still only about 8 1/2 miles. This place told me it would be $29.99/wk and that I could have it by the next day, Wednesday afternoon. It was going to be a 47 inch.

I spoke to two people there and made sure to ask both of them if the distance was a problem or if I should call a closer branch. Both told me it was fine, that they delivered all over the area and they took all my personal info, references, where I worked, my social security number, and lots of other important info that you aren't ever supposed to give to strangers over the phone.

So the day passes and I don't hear from them so I call the guy, Darrell, back. He says everything is fine and he will call me the next day to set up the delivery.

I don't hear from them in the morning, so I call again. Darrell tells me there was a problem because my house was not in my name. Um...yes it is. So we straighten that out and then he tells me that he just has to complete the final paperwork and he'll call by 1 pm to set up the delivery time.

I'm busy cooking and suddenly I realize it's 2 pm. So I call Darrell back. Hector answers the phone.  Hector's first language is definitely not English. I tell him who I am and why I'm calling and he says he's going to get Darrell. Hector comes back to the phone and in his accent, which I can barely understand, he finally manages to explain to me that Darrell said they can't deliver it to me cause I'm too far away. Um...what?

So I ask for Darrell and he says Darrell is not there. (So how he got that information from him is a mystery. But it took us so long to get to this point with our language barrier, I left it alone.) I ask for a manager and he says there is no manager on duty. I say someone must be in charge and I want to speak to someone who is. He says, fine, but there's no one here and puts me on hold.

Carlos comes on the line. Carlos and I can understand each other. He tells me that unfortunately, for a short term rental I'm just too far away. The End.

I'm not happy. I start calling other branches, but it's now 2:30 pm and they all tell me that they just can't do anything for me today. One place says they have a 42 inch that I can come and get and it'll only cost $65. So now it's more than double the money and I have to get it myself. No way.

I keep calling.  At one place, Lamar, tells me to call the corporate office and they will do something. So I call the 800 number and the customer service person says she'll contact the district manager and he'll call me back.

As it approaches 6 pm, I'm feeling pretty confident that there will be no TV for us. I'm disappointed and little mad, cause if I hadn't called them back, they never even would have told me.

I called back to the customer service department, mostly just to complain and while I'm on the phone with them, the manager calls me. He's a nice guy and he honestly feels bad. He says they should have given me his cell number or the number of the store where he was working that day because he could have done something if it was earlier. But it's just too late now.

He gives me his office number and his cell number and says that if I ever need another TV for a family function, he'll give it to me free for a weekend. We're about to hang up when he asks me to hold for a minute. He comes back and says he worked it out with another store that's closer to me and that they will keep the store open late and deliver a TV to me. It's smaller, only a 32 inch, but he won't charge me and I can keep it until Monday.

At this point, I'm feeling like this isn't even worth all the hassle, but since I've come this far, I agree.

Then Lamar - you remember Lamar, he's the one who told me to call the 800 number - calls me back and says he's going to get me a 37 inch TV with a DVD player and that it will be delivered soon.

Then enters Howard. He's the delivery guy and, after he got lost for a little while, he finally drops the TV off around 8 pm. I did feel bad, cause he was working late on the day before Thanksgiving and Lamar was keeping the store open late, since it was supposed to close at 7 pm.

The first thing Howard says when he comes in the door, "Did Lamar tell you about the remote?" No, I say, he did not. Apparently, there is no remote. Without it, we can't adjust the picture size, which is set on a very small square setting.  It's like this tiny little space inside the larger frame of the TV, which makes it, arguably, smaller than the amount of viewing space on the little old TV I already own.

We spend about an hour trying to find some way to adjust the size on the actual TV, but nothing.  Fortunately, we have lots of random TV remotes laying about, so after trying pretty much every single one of them, we finally find one that will allow us to fix the ratio aspect of the screen, change the channels and even turn the thing on and off.

That was actually a problem, not cause we're so very, very lazy and won't get up to change a TV channel (which we are) but because the power and channel switches are on the top back of the TV which is sitting on top of our other TV stand and is, therefore, much too high for the majority of my family members to reach it.

The moral of the story? There is none.

Or if there is, maybe it's that you might waste way too much time on something that isn't so important, but that doesn't matter as long as you get free stuff.

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