I have to admit it used to irritate me a little bit when my parents used to say, “I remember when …..” followed by some better way of doing things or how much better the “olden days” were. I remember saying to them, “Come on, things couldn’t have been better, you had the depression, the “big” war and you didn’t even have colored TV. Yep, those “good old days” must have been magnificent,” I would say sarcastically as I rolled my eyes and vowed silently never to say anything so ridiculous to my own children if I ever had any.
As time would have it, I grew up and started to hear myself echo the same words I used to hear my parents say long ago. Of course, when I was in early adulthood, I would rationalize when I said those things thinking, “at least when I say them, they are true.” Life has a way of sneaking up on you when you are not looking and by the time you are in middle adulthood you suddenly realize that what you are saying is exactly the same things your parents said way back when you didn’t believe them. Life is funny like that.
So, you might ask yourself, what brought on this line of thinking? Strangely enough, the purchase and installation of new appliances has forced me to see things the way my parents probably did when they said, “I remember when…”
Recently, my dishwasher and microwave went kaput which forced me to start looking for these new appliances. Being brainwashed by powerful advertisement, I basically knew what I wanted when I went out to window shop for what I thought would be a simple task of comparative price shopping and the purchase of my new appliances. Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it seems and the simple task of picking out appliances and having someone install them has left a bitter taste in my mouth when it comes to big business.
When I was a young adult, when my appliances broke down, I went to local small businessmen who made their livelihood being reputable people who needed and wanted your business to stay afloat. More than likely, these businessmen lived in your neighborhood and you went to school with their children. A deal was made with a handshake until the paperwork could be finished. More than likely your appliances were delivered and installed (free of charge) the same day. The guarantee you received was backed by reputation and you didn’t have to pay extra for it.
As I’m sure you know, small business has been largely replaced by the big business chains who sell appliances at much more affordable prices. These big chains price match so that shopping is really made easy. All you have to do is go to the chain you want to give your money to and tell them what you want and how much you would save if you bought it at Store B and the price is matched! What is lost when the big chains take your money and the small businessman can’t afford to compete anymore? What is gained by purchasing appliances at lower prices?
Recently I have found out what is gained by purchasing from a large chain. I gained aggravation. I went to the retail store just to purchase an appliance. Here is a little of how the conversation went.
Me: I need a new dishwasher. I would like the new Frigidaire dishwasher. Do you have that?
Store: Why yes we do. It is right over here and it is only $……
Me: Do you have it in black?
Store: Yes it does come in black but we have to order it. Can you hold on a minute while I take this call?
Store: (after 5 minutes). I’m sorry, I had to take that call.
Me: It’s okay. Now, about the dishwasher.
Store: Which one did you want again?
Me: The new Frigidaire.
Store: Oh yes, that’s right. Have you seen it yet?
Me: Yes, you just showed me.
Store: That’s right. I’m sorry. I talk to so many people in a day it is hard to keep things straight sometimes. I am expected to do so much. Much more than I used to do. To tell you the truth, I just started in this department a few days ago and I’m still trying to get used to things. (Phone rings) Do you mind if I take this call.
Store: Ok. I’m sorry that took so long.
Me: It’s okay. I think I’m going to look elsewhere. Thank you for your time.
Off I go to another big retail store and the conversation goes something like this:
Store: Can I help you?
Me: Yes. Do you have the new Frigidaire dishwasher? Store B has it for $….
Store: Yes we do. We can match their price.
Store: Now, is your current dishwasher hardwired or a plug-in?
Me: I don’t know.
Store: You have to know that information.
Me: What is the difference?
Store: If it is hardwired we won’t install it. You have to have a general contractor to install it.
Me: ….and I would have to pay for that?
Store: Why yes.
Me: How would I know if it is hardwired or not?
Store: You have to pull the dishwasher out.
Store: What we can do is deliver the dishwasher to your house (for a fee of course) and pull out your old dishwasher. It if is hardwired, we will leave the new dishwasher there and set you up with a general contractor to install your dishwasher.
Me: (Getting agitated) Let me see if I have this straight. You will sell me this dishwasher for a great price…..but you will not install it if my dishwasher is hardwired. You will deliver this dishwasher for a fee and leave it in the middle of my kitchen if, when you pull out my old dishwasher, you find that it is hardwired. Let’s say it is hardwired. I take it that you will not disconnect the old dishwasher then. So now I have a old dishwasher and a new dishwasher in the middle of my kitchen while I wait for you to hire a general contractor to come in and install my dishwasher. Is that correct?
Store: That’s usually the way it’s done ma’am.
Me: …and I have to pay for the installation. Is that correct?
Me: …and tell me again how much this dishwasher is costing me.
Store: All the major chains work like this ma’am. We are no different from the others.
Me: …and that makes me want to purchase a dishwasher from your chain how……?
How irritating it is to purchase a new appliance only to find that you have to spend the money saved to hire a contractor to finish the deal. How can big business get away with selling something they don’t install? When did we, as the consumers, allow this to happen?
I’ll tell you when I allowed this to happen. I allowed it the very first time I purchased an appliance from someone other than my local businessman. I have no one to blame but myself.