Tuesday, November 27, 2007

About what date is it, anyway?

Perhaps you remember my previous post about that lost half-hour of my life spent on hold with Kohls.

The worst thing about that experience was the loss of time -- once I got the CSR, she took about one minute to look up my order and answer my questions.

That experience has been topped by my La-Z-Boy experience.

Good news: I ordered new livingroom furniture, which we needed, badly. Our old furniture, although purchased in this century, was not keeping up with the demands of HDTV-watchers. So when the new La-Z-Boy Showcase Shoppe opened just down the highway, I was there to check it out.

I'd been window shopping for a couple of years, so I pretty much knew what I wanted, and by golly, La-Z-Boy had it. So I ordered up.

And here's what my saleslady told me on the day I ordered, October 29: "It normally takes eight weeks to be delivered. But they're telling me it should be here by Christmas."

It my excitement at the time, that was enough: I'd have it by Christmas.

However, on further review, I realized that vague "have it by Christmas" was not working for me.

Eight weeks from the day I ordered is December 24: Christmas Eve; technically, before Christmas. But moving new furniture into a room on Christmas Eve: not appealing to me. So just exactly did "before Christmas" mean?

Last week, I called the La-Z-Boy showroom to nail this down. God bless me.

I talked to "Tiffaney," and all that implies. Tiffaney, while answering the phone in a perfectly capable way, seemed rendered incapable of assuming confidence in her answers, or even in any ability to find an answer. Several minutes and murmuring in the background late, the best she could do was, "We'll call you back later."

I am still waiting to hear from Tiffaney.

However, being a seasoned consumer, since I knew as soon as I hung up that Tiffaney would be a no-show, I called the next day, and talked to a gentleman whose name escapes me (mumbled), but I'll call "Fred."

Fred had one quality that Tiffaney lacked--to at least bluff confidence in his ability to help a customer. However, as events ensued, this ability was exposed to be a thin veneer, and his inner Tiffaney was evident.

"Hi, this is Cathy D. and I have a question about some furniture I have on order."

"I can help you."

Yada-yada-yada from me about when I ordered it, what I was told, which you just read, and my main concern:

"So, what I need to know is, exactly what does 'before Christmas' mean? Does that mean next week, or does that mean December 24 at 11:59 p.m.?"

"Who was your salesperson?"

"I'm sorry, I don't remember her name." (I was with her for 20 minutes.)

"Hang on, I'll look it up."

Time passes as I age less than gracefully.

"Okay, that was Sandy. I'll have her call you ... Monday."

"Ah ... okay. Thanks." GGGGggggggrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Why, oh why, in this computer age, doesn't he have some kind of chart or spreadsheet or database to look at? Why are we relying on people who aren't in?

Then, in a stunning development, "Fred" called me back later. Unfortunately, what he told me was such a Dilbert moment I had to just laugh (quietly, in my hand).

"Is this Cathy D.?"


"This is 'Fred' at La-Z-Boy. I've looked up that your furniture will be shipped from the warehouse in (garbled) on December 17, and it will take seven to ten days to arrive at your house."

I do some quick, first-grade math in my head.

"Okay, so it ships on the 17th. So the earliest it will be here is ... the 24th? Christmas Eve?" (Eight weeks!?)

"Shipments normally take from seven to ten days."

"Okay, so she told me the furniture would be here before Christmas and she, indeed, meant the earliest it would be here is Christmas Eve? Or as late as the 27th?"

"Well, I'll have her call you Monday."

Resigned: "Okay."

Now, this was a bit of a customer-service nightmare of a phone call, don't you think? I mean, I did learn one new piece of information: it's shipping from some warehouse on Dec. 17. But add the seven to ten days and you get ... no more information than I had in the beginning.

I know, if the warehouse is in Timbuktu, that furniture might be my 2008 happy new year present. It's if coming from Chicago or Detroit (and, oddly, we did pass a La-Z-Boy warehouse on our trip to Livonia a couple of weeks ago), if it leaves the 17th, it seems to me it might be here even sooner than the 24th, given I live three hours from both places.

Why can't somebody say, it's shipping on the 17th, and it USUALLY takes X number of days to arrive in Ft. Wayne? But they just can't seem to go there. They are just stuck on the seven-to-ten days note, which now whines incessantly in my head.

I'm still in the dark as to any definitive date that furniture will arrive. Sandy never HAS called me. And as excited as I am about getting new furniture, the thought of turning the house upside-down on Christmas Eve is not very appealing.

In still a second stunning development, 'Fred' called, again. Sometime over the Thanksgiving weekend he called my home phone (despite I had asked him to call my cell) and left a message:

"Your furniture will be leaving the warehouse on December 17."

Glad we got that cleared up, Fred.

Well, how about you? What are you waiting for?

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