I guess I’m old-fashioned, or perhaps, an old fogey… or worse, because, when I pay for a good or service, I expect the good to be without defects and the service to be accomplished correctly and in time frame agreed upon.
Last month I had to buy new hoses for my washing machine. I had to take back the first set, and they were the most expensive set, because they leaked… right out of the packaging. Last week, I bought a 13 gallon plastic storage bin, and when I brought it home and set it down, empty, on the floor, the seam split.
We live in a small town with two furniture stores, and when we wanted to replace some furniture that we’d had for more than twenty years, we couldn’t find anything at either store… or in their catalogues… that remotely resembled anything we wanted. Everything was overlarge, overstuffed, and oppressively dark. So, on a business trip to North Carolina, the heartland of American furniture making and outlets, my wife found what we wanted, and the company agreed to ship it, at our expense, of course. The company stated that it would take three to five weeks to arrive. It still hasn’t arrived, and it’s seven weeks and counting. I’ve been talking to the company almost daily, and I finally pried out that the furniture hasn’t even left North Carolina, and the latest estimate is another three weeks before it gets here, and no other freight forwarder can do it in less than three to six weeks. Further investigation revealed that the freight company didn’t even pick up the furniture until two weeks after the date I was told it had shipped. Whether all this is incompetence or indifference, or some combination of both, I really don’t care. What I do care about is that I’ve been lied to and that no one seems able or willing to do anything about it, except say that, in effect, that’s the way it is.
I have a friend who’s a contractor, and a very good one. He has a small team of employees who can do many of the tasks, such as framing, finish carpentry, moderate earth-moving, tiling, etc., and anything his team can do is done well and on time. Anything that he has to subcontract is another story – and about half the subcontractors in the area he won’t use, because they’re even worse. He also admits he’s racist at times, because the only reliable and truly professional drywall firm is Latino, and the best painters are also.
Along those lines, we decided that a pull-down ladder was a better way of getting into the storage space above the garage than standing on a step-ladder. The company sent three wrong ladders with the incorrect dimensions before finally sending the correct size.
After twenty years, we bought a new refrigerator. The new refrigerator arrived right out of the packaging – unpackaged in our kitchen – with a noticeable dent in the front door. The warranty/service covered this, and just this past Wednesday, a month after the refrigerator was first delivered, a new door arrived – except when it came out of the four layers of packaging, it had a bigger dent than the door it was supposed to replace.
I am not making up any of this, and I could have given several more examples, as well. That’s why I’m more than a little concerned about the future of the United States. I certainly don’t recall as much incompetence in as many areas as I’m seeing now, and I don’t think it’s entirely that I’ve become more of a perfectionist as I’ve aged… or a prematurely aged old fogey.