Sunday 04 Dec 2016

Replacements and Repairs
Matt Seinberg

Did you ever have one of those days where everything happened at one time? That was my last Tuesday day off, when I was expecting two deliveries.

Just as summer was getting underway, our 9-year-old treadmill almost tossed me off the deck, so there was no way we could use it. I made some calls, and just to come to the house and look at it would cost from $110 to $175, and that’s not even counting parts. Marcy and I decided to buy a new treadmill after the summer.

It’s very hot in our basement in the summer, and I preferred walking outside anyway, so we weren’t in a rush to buy a new one. We did start looking at them at various stores on the internet, but we weren’t ready to order it.

Now the summer is over. I head over to Sears. They have a couple of Nordic Track treadmills that fit our price range and requirements. I start talking to Steve the salesperson.

I tell him what’s wrong with our Pro Form treadmill. He asks me if I adjusted the screws at the back of the deck. I gave him that type of look that tells someone you have no idea what he or she are talking about. He shows me on one of his floor models, and tells me what to do.

I say if I can’t fix mine, I’ll be back to buy one of the Nordic Track models. My Sears card had expired, so I applied for a new one and approved. Steve also took my information so he could email me about what I saw.

By the time I got home, the email had arrived, along with a 10% off coupon on any sporting goods sale over $250! Woo Hoo!

I adjusted the belt, and while it worked better, but it was still shifting over to the right side. After reading some articles on line, I figured some silicone spray might do the trick, so after work one night I stopped and picked some up.

I sprayed the deck and rollers as best as I could, but the belt was still pulling over to the right, and I didn’t feel safe on it. Marcy and I decided to get the new one.

Ten days after my first visit to Sears, I went back, found Steve and ordered the Nordic Track T5-5 treadmill with a five-year extended warranty, delivery and set up for the following Tuesday.

Hang on, there’s more!

On Saturday night, Marcy is doing laundry, but the dryer isn’t drying! We’ve had this Whirlpool dryer for over 15 years and had it repaired several times. Pete the appliance repair fellow said, after the last repair, “If you have to call me again, don’t. It’s not worth putting any more money into this thing.”

We went on line to try to figure out what new dryer we wanted. We knew that we didn’t want or need one of the fancy “new style” dryers. We stuck with the “traditional style.” We decided on either a Whirlpool or Maytag, which are from the same company, and on Monday, I stopped at one of our larger appliance stores where I knew some people.

Being in sales for so many years, I’m very sensitive to how I’m treated. Don’t try to fast-talk me, talk down to me or be a jerk. That’s what happened here, and I was pissed to say the least. I told the salesperson I couldn’t think at that moment and had to use the rest room. I’d be right back.

I came back a few minutes later. He's helping someone else. I left. I called a fellow I knew at another location of that same chain and he couldn’t do anything for me. I called a small neighbourhood store that we had bought from previously, but the salesperson I normally deal with was not available. I called Marcy and told her to go to Home Depot with her father and order it.

An hour or so later, one of the owners, Rich, calls and tells me that Bill is out sick and he can help me. We dicker back and forth for a few minutes, settle on the model and price, and we make a deal to get it delivered on Tuesday. I call Marcy back and told her don’t bother to go to Home Depot.

Hang on, again, there’s still more!

I get a call from Sears, on Monday night, confirming the delivery for Tuesday, between 7 am and 9 am. They arrive at 7:30 am. I’m barely awake and didn’t have any coffee yet. These three delivery people not only bring down this huge box and assemble the new treadmill; they bring the old one to the garage. They get a $20 tip.

The appliance store calls at 8:54 am, saying they will arrive between 9 am and 1 pm. The truck shows up at 9:30 AM. They bring the dryer downstairs and take the old one away. I give them a $20 tip. At least I didn’t waste my day waiting for deliveries. Little did I know what was to come.

The former homeowner had a plastic screen between the stairs and laundry room. After we finished the basement and got the washer and dryer delivered 15 years ago, we had a wall put up. I thought it was a simple sheet rock wall. Nope, this was steel reinforced with 2-by-4 wood supports and a sheetrock wall. It took me a good 30 minutes to take it down. Now there is no wall. I have to figure out what I want to put up, something that will be easy to take down.

I had to disconnect the washer so I could take the wall down. As I’m removing the drain hose from the pipe, I heard a crack. One of the PVC pipes cracked in two places. I’m freaking out. I call Mike; he’s does small repairs for us. Mike says he doesn’t do plumbing repairs. He recommends a plumbing company in Elmont. I call them, but they can’t come out until next week. I leave a message for our kitchen contractor Rich, but only get his machine.

I quickly get the Yellow Pages, and look for a local plumbing company. I call and ask when someone could come over. The woman says within an hour and his name is George.

Within 45 minutes, George arrives and looks at the pipes. He calls his office and gives me a price of $525! I look at him as he has multiple heads. I tell him he’s out of his mind if he thinks I’m going to pay him that kind of money for a simple repair. He calls his office again, and they reduce it to $400. I tell him he’s still crazy and I’m not doing it.

He then tries to hit me with an $85 service charge! I tell him that no one told me there was one when I first called. I’m not paying it. He tells me I have to call the office and talk to them, which I do. I am on hold. George is outside also talking to the office.

He comes back and tells me to hang up. He says he’s leaving and I don’t have to pay the service charge. I thank him for his time and tell him to tell his bosses that they are thieves. I’m sure there are some truly desperate people that would have paid it, but I wasn’t that desperate, since I had a backup plan.

That backup plan is my next-door neighbour, Pete the plumber. I know he’s not home, but I go talk to his mother-in-law Kathy and ask her to tell him to see me when he gets home.

Now the fun begins with hooking up the dryer. I had bought a new gas line, which turned out to be the wrong one. I tried using use the old duct hoses, but they didn’t work. Here’s trip number one to Home Depot.

I got the right gas line and two aluminum elbows for the duck work. One of them broke when I tried to fit it on. Here’s trip number two to Home Depot. This time I bought a kit that had 8 feet of new ductwork and two elbows. It was to short! I needed 10-12 feet of ductwork and one of the elbows broke again!

Here’s trip number three to Home Depot. I finally got some help, and Arty gave me two 6-foot sections of duct hose and told me to use duct tape to secure them together. This time I got stainless steel elbows that wouldn’t break, I hoped.

I cut a piece of the old duct hose pipe and used that as a connector between the two new pieces, duct taped the top one to the outside vent, and slid the elbow on the dryer. It worked! Yeah for me, I say!

Around 5 pm, I had to pick Michelle up from school. When we got back, Pete’s car was in the driveway next door. I went over, explained what happened and he came over to look at the broken pieces of PVC pipe.

He said it was an easy fix and told me what to buy. Here’s trip number four to Home Depot. I took Melissa with me and she helps me find the two pieces I needed. They cost $2! It sure beats $400.

We get home, get Pete and it takes him about fifteen minutes to put everything back together. He’s such a good neighbour that he never takes money from us, but Marcy always bakes something as a thank you for helping us out.

By the end of the night, the washer is washing, the dryer is drying and I’m dead tired. Even so, I get on the new treadmill for 20 minutes.

That was some exciting day off. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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