Dear Home Improvement Store Lady…

I had a truly graceless moment yesterday evening that took only seconds to erupt but several months in the making.

It all started in April when I visited my sister and brother-in-law in Florida. They had one of those new-fangled infrared grills. I nodded and said, “Oh, that’s nice.” My husband, however, starting poking around its innards and promptly fell in love with its something-or-other shield, and for days after we got home continued to extol its virtues. Being the caring wife that I am, I immediately put one of these suckers on my Father’s Day list for him.

My first concern, of course, was assembly. Having witnessed countless episodes of him and his father, then him and our sons tearing apart boxes of components looking for the crucial “part X” that would enable them to complete their mission, I thought the best gift would be not just a new-fangled grill, but one that was FULLY ASSEMBLED. (Am I right?)

Thus began my search. With my budget set in my head, I made several stops at the local DIY stores but couldn’t find any of that particular kind, and every time I looked for help, the sales people (read: men) were engaged in Tim the Toolman-like discussions with other guys. I started combing through sales circulars and began an exhaustive search of online solutions that would bring me a FULLY ASSEMBLED INFRARED GRILL to my doorstep.

I thought I’d found it when I stumbled across the “Do you want this assembled” box on the purchase page of one of the major home improvement online stores. Eureka! I shouted to no one. Still, I didn’t quite trust the site. I’ve been burned too many times to trust those check boxes. So I called the store and spoke to a man who said sure, I could order online and they’d take care of assembly. It was simply a matter of pulling the order…something like that.

My heart skipping a happy beat, I returned to the website and clicked my way forward. The next question: Do you want your brand-new grill delivered to the store or another address? After picturing myself trying to wrangle a FULLY ASSEMLBED grill in the back of my Hyundai sedan, I typed in my home address. I mean, it’s not like I’m not going to put someone else’s address in there. The site added on the shipping charge of $55, and telling myself it was worth it to not have to rent a truck to get this grill home, I got out my credit card and completed the purchase.

When I got the order confirmation, there was nothing on there about assembly, which made my left eye twitch. I’m naturally neurotic, and a big believer that if it feels too good to be true, it is too good to be true. So I made a mental note to call customer service to make sure that grill would be FULLY ASSEMBLED. Then I promptly forgot…until last night at 7 p.m. when I got an e-mail with a tracking number from UPS for my FULLY ASSEMBLED grill. Huh???

My heart now beating an oh-crap rhythm, I clicked through the website and found the number for customer service number. After working my way through the prompts, I got a live human, a lovely woman whose name I didn’t register. After listening to my panicked explanation, the woman said, “Hmmm, let me check your order.”

Now, we all know that any response that starts with “hmmm” can’t be good. So I waited anxiously until she came back on the line. My trepidation was vindicated when she said, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but you can only get full assembly if you SHIP TO THE STORE.”

“What?” I shrieked, picturing the woman  snatching the headset away from her ear. “Why the heck would I have it shipped to the store? How am I going to get it home from there? I could have ordered free store pick-up for that! I thought I was getting home delivery of a FULLY ASSEMBLED grill.”

The conversation only deteriorated from there — me feeling like an idiot for apparently being incapable of navigating the website’s supposedly simple purchase pages. She did manage to tell me that I had the option of taking my 110-pound box into the store for free assembly. I finally said, “I’m sorry, I know it’s not your fault, but your site stinks. It should have alerted me that assembly was only available if you shipped to the store. Why would I pay to have it shipped to my house, then carry it to the store, then have to rent a truck to get it back home? I thought I was getting store inventory delivered to my house.” (I paused to breathe.) “Your site stinks!”

She told me I should have called if I had questions about the process. I replied, “I called the store!” She responded that their online site is separate from their stores. “They don’t really know about our site. You can always refuse shipment if you don’t want the item.”

Great. After the call ended, I heard my son, who’d been sitting there the whole time, snickering.

I said, “I was angry.”

He said, “Yeah, I heard.”

I said, “I apologized.”

He snorted.

He was right. It wasn’t a real apology. Now I wish I could call her back and tell her I really am sorry for being such an a** on the phone and for making her Sunday evening less pleasant. I wish I could explain what I’d been through to try to figure out how to get a nice gift for my husband. I wish I could assure her that I wasn’t a rookie at online purchasing. But I can’t.

So I’m sending this apology out to the Ethernet, hoping that some way it will reach her. Somehow she’ll understand the quandary that made me lose my temper and take it out on a perfectly lovely stranger (even if she does work for a company whose website stinks).

She’ll have her revenge in a few short days when 110 pounds of infrared grill parts are dropped on my doorstep.

Any good grill assemblers out there???

 

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