Thursday, April 30, 2009

Three Cheers for the Little Guy

Because my refrigerator is surrounded by 1950s cabinets, I got out my tape measure, took down the dimensions, and hit the road. Although I try to lessen my carbon footprint as much as possible, I have no desire to live without refrigerated food. How hard can it be to get a refrigerator, I thought. The whole thing should take an hour or two. After all, I knew what I wanted; it was just a matter of finding a good price.

I really am naive. I started out at Lowe's for no other reason than the fact that they carry some nice-looking appliances and open at the crack of dawn. I wandered through the appliance section comparing dimensions. Something was off. Not a single refrigerator had dimensions even close to what I needed. I wandered around some more. Several Lowe's employees gazed lazily at me as they drank their coffee. No one approached me. No one offered to help. Could it be that I don't know how to use a tape measure? Am I really that home improvement-impaired? Since no one seemed inclined to sell me anything I decided to just move on and not only get some answers but also spend my money elsewhere.

So I went to Sears. After all, the holy grail was a Kenmore Elite with french doors and a bottom freezer. Once again I wandered the aisles, my dimensions ridiculously different than the dimensions of each and every model on the floor. Once again no one noticed me. Desperate, I found a stockperson and asked if someone could help me, and five minutes later the appliance guy emerged from the depths. "I need a refrigerator that's 66 1/2" tall and 35" wide," I said. "Everything on the floor is at least 69" tall and too narrow. Did they stop making the size I need?" He replied, "Let me see your dimensions," as if I was somehow misstating what I had written. "I guess refrigerators have gotten taller," he finally admitted. "Well, are there any models in the size I need, anywhere?" I asked. He suggested that I just buy the wrong size and see if the delivery people can "cram it in."

"The space is surrounded by cabinets original to the kitchen, and I don't want to remodel. I just want to chill my beer," I said. His response was to go to the desk, turn on the computer, and go to The Sears salesperson then proceeded to troll the Sears website while I stood in the Sears store. Having nothing better to do, I surreptitiously read the printed emails that littered the desk. "It's been a terrible month and commissions come out next week," one stated. "Let's really push some appliances this weekend!" I wondered if my salesperson had bothered to read his email.

"Aha!" he finally exclaimed. "There is one model that will pretty much fit." I asked if there was a sample on the floor. "No," he replied. "But I can order it from the website for you." I thanked him and explained that I do have my own computer and could just do that from home, if I wanted to order an appliance sight-unseen. At this point I despaired of ever finding a new fridge, and decided to see if the one I have could just be repaired.

Back at my house, I began calling repairmen. The first two calls yielded no answer, and no answering machine. My third call, to Ralph's Appliances, was answered on the first ring. I explained the situation. "Sounds like a freon problem," the man who introduced himself as Craig explained. "Unfortunately, there's no way of fixing that. Most people don't make the size fridge you need anymore, but there is one GE model that has the right height and width. It's a little too deep, but it beats hiring a carpenter and dealing with all that. I have one model on the floor in stainless, but can order other colors, if you want. We can have it to you by Friday." Craig! I love you! I hopped in the car and sped off to Ralph's.

At Ralph's Appliances in Nazareth, PA delivery, installation, and the hauling away of the old appliance is included in the sale price. There is no need for a service contract or extended warranty because they service what they sell. My fridge cost less than it would have if ordered online, and came with a special rebate for people who buy from small, local dealers. Again: Ralph's Appliances in Nazareth, PA. They pick up the phone. They help you. If you need an appliance, please help them. And say hi to Craig for me.


tunsie said...

no one wants 2 work 4 the sale anymore.everyone wants 2 get paid 4 doing NOTHING.I remember a friend of mine who use 2 visit his customers on a regular basis not just 4 the sale.he is a very wealthy man.personalized service is something that has fallen off in our society,those who still live by that do very is not rocket science.tunsie

J. SPIKE ROGAN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. SPIKE ROGAN said...

The reason I would go to Lowes, was on days I wanted to be left alone to get what I need.

Thats the best talent pool a urine test can come up with. Perhaps I may have uncovered something.

beths said...

Hurray for Ralph's and for small shops!