Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cold Excuses For A Broken Refrigerator

Excuses...

It's much easier to make up excuses than to get the work done but it's one sure fire way to lose your reputation too. 

It took nearly 6 weeks of pure torture to finally get the prepaid motorhome repairman to FINALLY finish fixing my refrigerator! For most of us, a refrigerator is real important. Luckily I had mine limping along working erratically either freezing the produce or melting the ice trays. I shifted my menu to include living out of cans and boxes as much as possible. I had to turn my fridge on and off, to try to keep it an even temperature, but even this was not working out so well. 

The control panel on the fridge was shot, so it worked randomly varying between not-at-all and freezing everything. 

The mobile RV repairman came in early January to diagnose the problem and order the part. He insisted I prepay for the part in cash, saying that it was too costly for him to take credit cards. I should have seen it coming... excuse number one...

He wrote up the bill with labor that included the final installation and the cost of the part. I prepaid for the part and some but not all of the labor. This due to the fact that neither of us had correct change. I should have seen this as excuse number two...

A business that doesn't take credit cards nor has change available.

But he promised the part would arrive in 1-3 days. From interviewing him over the phone before he arrived, and again in person, for some fool reason, I felt confident he would get the job done. 

He made an appointment to come back in 4 days to install the part that he predicted would be here by then. 

4 days come and go, no repairman, no phone calls. Day 5, I began calling him. By day 7 he actually returned my calls. He claimed that the wicked snowstorm in Indiana had trapped my part up there and it had not arrived yet in Florida. 

I believed him and there was an awful winter storm. He made another appointment to come repair the fridge. 

Now I became a hostage to my motorhome, because he would promise "I will be there between 1pm and 6pm on such and such date."

That day would come and go, no repairman, no phone call from him either. I would make numerous calls to his voice mail, trying to track him down. 

Eventually he claimed the part had finally arrived, but he was backed up silly with more work. I was miffed because I had prepaid him, and felt like I should be towards the top of his work list.

More appointments, more no-shows, more phone calls, more excuses. At one point he had the flu, another day somebody died, another day he claimed he was here and I was not, which was not true at all. I was here in bed with a horrid fever but all my window shades were up. My dog puts out a serious alarm whenever someone comes around and no way I could sleep through that. 

Another day he claimed I wasn't answering my phone. That's funny, everyone else was able to call me or leave voice mail, but my phone recorded no voice mails from him nor any listings of his number calling mine. 

I was tired of being a hostage to my motorhome, waiting for a repairman that wasn't coming, when I needed to be out walking the dog or had opportunities to do other things. I began leaving notes on my motorhome door, in case he really did come by, I posted my phone number on the note, with things like "Walking dog, Call 555-xxxx" leaving my correct phone number and so on. 

I hated leaving notes like that, it's like telling a thief  "It's OK to break in now, I'm not here and neither is the dog."  

Luckily, campgrounds are notoriously safe but I try not to do stupid things either that might attract trouble. I don't have much of anything worth stealing, but then again, I would rather not be a victim. Like many people, I've had my share of opportunistic thieves cross my path over the decades.

If you are an RV owner, then you probably know about the numerous fires that faulty refrigerators have caused. Many were recalled because of this, but best I could tell, mine was not part of any past recalls. Just the same, a malfunctioning absorption type refrigerator uses propane or electric to heat up to cool down. It's complicated to explain, but RV refrigerators are different from household fridges. Too much heat due to malfunctioning, can lead to fires. 

Because my fridge was clearly out of whack,  I tried to remember to shut it off at night, so I wouldn't wake up to a fire. 

Fires scare me. 

The first year I owned this motorhome, the fire department came to my rescue, but it turned out the smoke and burning was actually a stuck brake caliper. (I was driving when I saw smoke and smelled burning. I pulled over to call the fire department, even when I cancelled the call, they came anyhow.) 

Other Fiery Adventures I'd rather forget: 

In 1976 on leap year day in February, my home burned to the ground and nothing was salvaged. It still haunts me to this day because my pets perished with it.

About ten years later, in the 80's I owned two homes, one I lived in and one I planned to renovate. I was engaged to be married but a few weeks before the wedding, I called the whole thing off claiming I "changed my mind". In reality, I found out the wonderful man I had been engaged to had a very deep dark sinister side to him that he had carefully hidden during our lengthy courtship. I told him I had cold feet, was cancelling the wedding, cancelling the engagement and breaking things off permanently. I didn't tell him about the awful things I had learned about his past. His handicapped mother and two of his three sons lived with him and came as a package deal, so I had tons of heart strings to deal with all around. I was trying to be delicate in not mentioning to anybody the true reasons I had broke it off. 

Astonishingly a few days later,  his sinister side erupted when he burned down my second home and was charged with arson before he could burn down the one I was occupying. Evidence in my basement suggested he had made a failed attempt already.

In the 90's, a yacht I was working aboard at sea caught fire in the middle of the night but luckily we all survived. 

So you might just assume  *ahem* I've had enough adventures with fires, to last me a lifetime. 

Back to the repairman...

Thirty-eight excuses later, I was still being super polite to him on the phone, if and when I could actually talk to him "live" as mostly I was leaving nice messages on his voice mail. I didn't want to irritate him, I just wanted my refrigerator repaired! I wanted to shop for groceries. At the time my refrigerator broke, I had just shopped. I tried to salvage things, but stuff kept going off, forcing me to throw out food, something I hate doing, but when the leftover spaghetti sauce is gurgling and burping in the fridge, you know it's gone bad. Having white cheese turn green is no fun either or discovering plain yogurt has turned blue.

We had a cold snap that enabled me to store some food outside, but the raccoons saw this as a prime opportunity to come have a party. 

At the time I had a lovely neighbor in the campground who kept inviting me to go do things with her, but I sounded like a broken record "I'm waiting on the repairman..."

He continued to give me vague appointments of things like "2-6pm on Tuesday" or "1pm to 5pm on Thursday" and then not showing up nor calling. It would take days to get him to return my calls. He had the flu twice, his mother-in-law died three times, my part was here, but a few days later it was stuck in a snowstorm somewhere else... 

I was seriously considering going to the police to file a report of "theft by deception". THAT would surely put a halt to any repairs at all, while he bailed himself back out of jail and so on. So I really hated to do that, but I was beginning to think I was a victim. I offered to drive my motorhome anywhere to come meet him, but he claimed he was "on his way to see me". 

Devious ideas entered my tiny brain. Heck, I would just rent a plain white van, order up some $10 business cards, advertise for free on Criagslist, then open up my own mobile repair shop. If I saw 50 RV's per week, collected cash from all 50 for "parts on order", after a month's time, I could easily have enough money to go tour 49 states for the next year or two. 

In the interim, I could remove somebody's refrigerator part, claiming it needed replacing, then install it in my fridge, and I would be on my way. 

Hey, this was starting to sound quite good. 

I began to wonder if my repairman had moved to Alaska or somewhere on the funds from me and others who stupidly prepaid for parts on order. 

Next I started calling him early every morning, still getting voice mail each time. One morning I said "I suppose I am getting voice mail because you are driving to my motorhome right this minute and can't answer the phone..."

Strangely, he appeared about an hour later, sitting in his truck outside staring off into space. I went outside, all smiles, opened his door for him, and invited him over to my motorhome.

He began a long boring litany of exotic excuses while I tried my best to drag him to the refrigerator. I heard about his flat tires, his emergency room visits, his flu, his dead mother-in-law (he forgot she died last month too!) and on and on, I just wanted him to shut up and open his tool box. So many things I wanted to say to him about how to run a business. 

I have some grumpy old men to thank for teaching me early on, that when it comes to business, you do as you promise and you don't use real or imaginary excuses to do otherwise. Their diligent tutorship  enabled me to be successfully self-employed for over 30 years. Now if I could just get this battered old body to straighten up and fly right... oh wait... is that an excuse???

I had a silly smile on my face while gritting my teeth something awful as I pushed and shoved the reluctant repairman closer to my cantankerous fridge. I just wanted him to finish the job and depart my life FOREVER. 

An hour later, he had the refrigerator part installed, but he made a big mess, leaving loose screws and unattached wires scattered around the innards of the fridge workings, which I pointed out and asked him about. He reluctantly collected these up with a big sigh, then threw them outside in the grass. Sheesh. Take off points for neatness.

Before I could stop him, he wadded up the paperwork into a tiny compact ball. I wanted those papers, because I am a fool that way, I like having manuals and instructions and proof of purchase and so on. After he left, I carefully unwadded the tight ball of papers, then stored them under my settee cushion to eventually flatten back out again. Is that his filing system? Tightly wadded up balls of paper?

I kept his business card, after writing across it "DO NOT CALL".  

Some people should not be in business at all. I suspect his business will fail soon enough. I just hope and pray my refrigerator holds up, it seems to be working OK now. FINALLY. 

Oh and guess what, he forgot to ask for the money I still owed him per the original invoice. Whether through sloppy oversight or sheer embarrassment, I have no idea. I guess bookkeeping isn't on his priority list either. 


4 comments:

  1. U didn't find him on "Angies List", did you?? :)

    Assume everything is cold now?

    ReplyDelete
  2. U didn't find him on "Angies List", did you?? :)

    Assume everything is cold now?


    The Troutman

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would file a complaint with the BBB but they have probably never heard of him. There is a topic on the Women RV forum to post about good and bad places. If he remembers you owe him more money I would give him all the excuses he gave you about why you can't pay him now.

    I hope your refrigerator is working and you don't have anymore problems. Mine won't switch to propane but I don't want to get into trying to repair it. It's 12 years old and I keep expecting it to quit completely. I always camp with hookup so it's ok for now.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Fridge is cold and it switches to propane when needed, something I enjoy as it keeps foods from going bad for sure.

    ReplyDelete

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