Here's the Scoop: Feb. 17, 2010

Hung out to dry
It’s become a cliché to state, “You don’t appreciate things until you no longer have them.” The fact is, it’s true. I guess that’s why it’s a cliché.

To illustrate this point, imagine if you didn’t have a clothes dryer. We actually didn’t have to picture such an event recently. To be honest, it’s not like our dryer went missing or anything. It was in its usual place. And it turned on and tumbled the contents around in a circle. But there was no heat — it was like a 40-something Roger Clemens without a steroids boost. Or a right arm. As with a power pitcher, when it comes to dryers, lack of heat cuts down on effectiveness.

The good news was that the dryer came with a two-year warranty. The bad news was that, according to the manufacturer, 26 months is more than two years. I was on the phone with the company when I was informed about this fact. I did some quick figuring and I had to agree. This broken dryer issue was already sounding expensive.

“Um, you know, that dryer cost more than my wedding — and I’ve had my wife a much longer time. Don’t you think you could fix it for free?” I pleaded. The company would think about it, I was told. End of call.

Tough decision
I was soon picturing top executives sitting around a boardroom debating whether or not to cut me a break on repair costs.

“Well, there’s a reason our customer service has been raked over the coals in the blogging world,” I imagined one high-ranking official stating at the decision-making session. Uproarious laughter followed. Then a formal “no” vote followed regarding the “question” of having company cover the repair costs.

Of course, this was all happening inside my head. Back in reality, I had no executive word from the company. After a few more days, I finally vaulted over the growing pile of clothes on the floor and somehow found the phone.

This time, something strange happened. No, the company didn’t become charitable and offer a free fix. Instead, after I read the serial number of the dryer to the representative, there was an awkward pause. I was asked to read the number again. I was put on hold for about 10 minutes before the woman came back and informed me that that dryer was made in 1999.
Having already been burned by the amount of months in the warranty period, this time I was more careful with my calculations.

“If my math skills serve me (I was holding my breath), that dryer is 11 years old. And we bought it just over two years ago. That doesn’t exactly qualify this equipment as ‘new’ on the purchase date, does it?” I asked nicely.

Then things started snowballing. The manufacturer blamed the retailer and vice-versa. In the meantime, like our laundry, we were being hung out to dry. The odd thing is, I would prefer to dry clothes naturally. It’s not terribly practical in the winter, though.

On it went, for five weeks. Finally, a light bulb went off at the dryer company’s headquarters (at least the light bulb was working!) and someone discovered that our dryer was really built in 2007, the same year it was purchased.

The good news was, my wife could stop taking laundry to work. And we could cease playing pioneer by hanging clothes to dry on the fireplace. The best news was that the company had reconsidered — the repair work would be free! And that was no hot air.
— Brian Sweeney