TWO-LANE LIFE - The Pandemic Dishwasher - By Lisa Hayes-Minney

In my adult life, I have never lived in a house with a dishwasher. I don’t mind cleaning the house—laundry, sweeping, scrubbing the toilet-- but I am not fond of doing dishes. For many years, I have wished for a dishwasher. This was going to be my year.

This summer, Lowe’s had a sale on dishwashers. For the weeks leading up to the end of the sale, Frank and I studied dishwashers. What were the features? What did we want? By August 5, we had made our decision, and Frank went to Lowe’s in Buckhannon to buy it. The model we wanted was not in stock and had to be ordered. It would arrive, he was told, by August 9. Frank came home and began dismantling part of our kitchen to prepare the plumbing and electric for the dishwasher installation.

August 9 came and went. September 9 came and went. On October 8, I called the store to check on the order. “Ma’am,” the customer service rep said, “It isn’t due until October 1.” I reminded myself this was the year of Covid and kept my patience. “Sweetheart, October 1 was last week.” There was a pause, and she said, “No, it’s not here, it’s on backorder.” At that point, I decided I would call weekly.

The next week I called and was told, “I see that it is no longer on backorder, and should be here by October 21.”

October 21 came and went. On October 27, Lowe’s called. “Did anyone call and tell you that your dishwasher was on backorder?” I replied, “I was told last week it was not on backorder and would be available October 21.” She said, “Yeah, it’s on backorder again. Would you like to come and pick another model or get a refund? If you paid by credit card, I can refund you over the phone.” We had paid with a check, and so I said, “Let me talk to my husband about it and get back to you.”

I didn’t want a refund. My kitchen had been partially dismantled for weeks waiting on the dishwasher to arrive. We purchased plumbing parts, electrical needs, etc. So, this past weekend, we went back to the Lowe’s web site and chose our replacement from the selections they had in stock. I called the store and relayed our story. We had ordered one in August and paid for it. We were told there was no knowing when it would be off backorder. Was it there by any chance? (No.) Well, we had chosen a replacement, they had one in stock, and we were coming to get it.

At which point, the man on the phone said we had to pay for the one they had in stock with a credit card to make sure it would be available when we arrived in two hours.

This was a possible meltdown moment. They had $1200 of our money, but we would have to pay for the replacement in order to get it? Unacceptable. But, I reminded myself that it was the pandemic’s fault and did not explain to the gentleman (who could have simply written sold on a piece of paper and taped it to the replacement choice) the level of crap I felt I was wading into over this dishwasher. Okay, fine. We’ll put the replacement on our credit card and get a full refund from our check purchase upon arrival.

On Saturday, Frank traveled to Lowe’s without me. My presence and mood over the whole “purchase the replacement to make sure it’s here when you come” blackmail issue would not have made for a smooth transaction. It is a good thing I did not go with him.

Frank arrived at the store, got the replacement model, and waited for his refund from the ordered model. But because it was more than 30 days from the purchase date, and even though we had never received it, a special manager was needed to authorize the refund. That person wasn’t working that day.

You see, right there was the moment where I would have started biting people’s heads off. That moment would have sent me into a controlled rage. But Frank has far more patience than I. After being told that the special person would be working the next day, Sunday, Frank said he would drive another 150-mile round trip to get our $1200 refund.

Saturday evening, we unwrapped the replacement and began reading the instructions and warranty manual. Sunday morning, while waiting for the store to open, Frank started measuring and working on the plumbing needed. Then, the phone rang. It was an automated call from Lowe’s. The dishwasher we ordered was in. Would we like to come to pick it up?

I was confused. Was this call about the original dishwasher? Or the replacement we were forced to purchase via the web site the day before? I called the store to speak to a person. She was happy and chipper and pleased to tell me that the dishwasher we had waited three months for had finally arrived. The truck arrived yesterday morning.

This happy young lady had just informed me that the originally ordered dishwasher was actually in the building when Frank arrived to pick up the replacement the day before.

I believe it goes without saying that this was another possible meltdown moment.

But, it’s a pandemic, and we’ve all had to lower our standards, and the girl was quite tickled about the original dishwasher being there for us. So instead of losing my cool, I decided to tell her our story. I made it dramatic as possible, noting the eleven phone calls, the three 150-mile round trips required, the black-mail mandated purchase of the replacement, the lack of a refund when Frank arrived. I did all I could do to move her heart and soul without screaming into the phone. I am quite proud of myself for not ripping off her head. She did not seem impressed.

When I finished, I asked the ultimate question, “Can we bring back the replacement dishwasher, get our credit card refunded, and pick up the ordered dishwasher today?” Why yes, yes we could. They’d be more than happy to help us. They would be more than happy. More than happy.

I was more than unhappy—but at least we would be getting the dishwasher of our choice. In literary terms, this story is called “a comedy of errors.” It’s when mistakes build upon each other so much, they create a ridiculous, could-almost-be-funny situation. At some point, I will look back on this and laugh, but not today, and likely, not soon. The time/travel we have spent over this dishwasher is ridiculous, and Lowe’s owes us a discount simply for the frustration. I doubt they will be happy to see it that way, so I’m publicly sharing my unhappy story here instead. Pandemic or not, this dishwasher experience has surpassed ridiculous. It has become a joke--the story of our pandemic dishwasher.

Frank will be leaving for Lowe’s in about an hour to return the replacement dishwasher and pick up the original order. I won’t be going with him. One additional glitch or hiccup might send me over the edge, and I could spoil Lowe’s happiness to help us. I might chew up and spit out that happy girl’s head. I think Frank should demand a discount, but I’ll leave that up to him. All I can say is that this pandemic dishwasher had better make my silverware shine.

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