Dear Garage Door Company,
Hello. I feel we’ve gone off track here somewhere. I’m sure you can tell by the tone of my voice during our phone calls that I’m getting a little upset, but I’m not sure you know why I’m upset. I don’t want you to think my wife and I are difficult or demanding people, and I really want our relationship here to be mutually beneficial – you get some money and I get a garage door opener that works.
Here’s the skinny:
We moved to our happy little acreage in the boonies just about three years ago. In that time we’ve had at least five people out here trying to fix the Linear D050 that’s hanging up there, and we’ve replaced the entire unit once. I’ve spent way, way too much time up on ladders with a pocket full of tools, scratching my head, with very disappointing results. The garage door has been a constant problem.
My wife has developed some severe health issues. She’s slowly recovering now and is hoping to go back to work next week (she’s been unable to work for quite some time now). But she’s not nearly strong enough yet to hoist that garage door open and closed by herself. Though I work from home, there are times I’m simply not around to open the door for her – so if I’m gone for one reason or another she’s effectively stuck here at home until I get back. We tried simply leaving the door open for a while but that doesn’t work now that the snow is blowing, and there are quite a few gentle woodland creatures hereabouts who attempt to take up residence in our garage.
It’s surprising how scary and upsetting some of the gentle woodland creatures can be when you startle them in your garage. It’s also surprising how fast a startled hippie can run when confronted by scary woodland creatures up close.
So, we called yet another local pro to come fix our garage door opener, but he was really rude to us and said he couldn’t get out to do the work for a week or two. That obviously wouldn’t work, so we called your fine company. I’d found your number taped on the back of the garage door, so I figured you were involved in my garage’s past at one point or another… The nice lady who answered the phone was very polite and cheerful indeed, and said they could have someone out that very afternoon to fix our woeful problem. I asked the cheerful lady on the phone if they’d be able to start repairs that day. “Oh, of course! The guys have everything they need right there in their trucks!”
Hurray! Huzzah, even! With a feeling of giddy glee I felt I might finally be able to put this problem to rest! My door will be fixed!
That afternoon we were having a small Thanksgiving/Birthday celebration for Beloved Wifey, but I was very happy to put my fork down and run outside as I saw the cheerful white truck pull in the driveway – we really need a garage door that works. The Door Guy turned out to be a very polite and knowledgeable guy indeed, and immediately spotted the problem. “You need to replace that unit with another one that’s a lot more expensive, this one’s shot.” Well, okay, at this point I’m fine with that, though I’m a little disappointed that he didn’t get on a ladder or examine the existing opener other than to look at it from fifteen feet away. I told him to go ahead and replace it. “Well, I don’t carry that particular unit in my truck,” he said, “I’ll have them order one and we’ll get it installed Monday or Tuesday next week.”
Well, poop. That’s disappointing. Okay. “Well, poop. That’s disappointing. Okay,” I said.
The nice man started scribbling on a Job Invoice. “That’ll be… um… four hundred and fifty-four dollars. Unless you wanna go with the Deluxe Super-Duper Extra Torque model that will last twice as long, then it’ll be about a hundred more. I’ll need at least half the money now.”
The thought that ran through my head at that moment was, “That’s about twice as much as I was expecting, and about three times as much as I can afford. Beloved Wifey has been out of work so long… But if I pay the WHOLE AMOUNT right now, maybe the nice man, Alex, will be even nicer to me and will get here sooner and will do an extra-good job and we’ll never have problems with the garage door opener again. And we really need this done quickly.”
Hands shaking, I wrote out a check for the entire amount, hoping I’d find a way to get the money somehow. “Here you go.”
“Okay, great!” said the nice man. “Someone will call you first thing Monday morning to set up a time on Monday or Tuesday and we’ll be out and get this done for you!” He smiled, got in his truck, and off he went in a cloud of dust.
Back inside I went. I told Beloved Wifey what had happened and what the plan was. “Wait,” she said. “Wait, you gave a complete stranger four hundred and fifty dollars – and they didn’t do anything? Do you really think they’ll be back? Are they a reputable company?”
I had to admit I’d never heard of the company before I’d called them. “But I’m sure they’re reputable,” I continued. “I mean, he had a truck with a logo on it, and he gave me this fancy invoice and everything.” I paused for a moment. “And I’m sure they won’t cash the check until after they’ve finished the work – they just need it as a guarantee so they’re not stuck with the bill for the parts if we back out.”
Monday morning finally came. I didn’t know what time the company considered “first thing in the morning,” but I really didn’t want to miss the promised phone call, so I got up a little earlier than my normal 4:30 or 5 a.m. just in case. By seven that morning I still hadn’t heard anything, but I needed to get in the shower (the dogs wouldn’t even come close to me), so I put the phone’s ringer on stun and set it on the sink next to the tub so I could hear it if it rang. It didn’t.
By quarter to nine I was starting to get a bit nervous. I mean, “we’ll be out sometime Monday or Tuesday” is a bit vague… I called the number listed on the invoice to see what was going on, but no one answered, so I started canceling my appointments and plans so I could be sure to be available. Dentist appointment, canceled. Meeting with a customer, postponed. Phone conference, rescheduled. It took a bit of effort, but I cleared both days.
Monday morning turned into Monday afternoon, which turned into Monday evening. Still no phone call, no service man in a gleaming white truck. I have to admit, I was starting to get seriously depressed – we’ve been messing with this garage door for years, and now I’m wondering if I had been scammed out of a week’s pay. Beloved Wifey noticed that the check we’d written Friday afternoon was cashed first thing Monday morning. So much for my theory that they wouldn’t cash the check until the work was complete…
Tuesday morning, still no phone call. By mid-morning Beloved Wifey called the company’s office. It turns out they couldn’t get the right garage door opener for some reason. “But we’ll be out Wednesday between two and four in the afternoon.”
Well, crap. I’d already canceled and rescheduled everything for Monday and Tuesday, now I need to block out most of the afternoon on Wednesday? Okay… My work is flexible, but I do have commitments to my customers, deadlines that are important to them, and I’m going to do my best to meet those commitments and deadlines.
Wednesday morning Beloved Wifey had a minor medical procedure that involved anesthesia. We had to make rather elaborate plans and backup plans on to ensure someone was available to drive her back home again afterwards to make sure I was able to be home by two so I could wait for the nice garage door man, and I had to reschedule yet more work stuff. But it all worked out. By two Wednesday afternoon I was standing by the window, boots on, hat and gloves ready, waiting to see the happy white truck. By two-thirty I was outside, pacing in the snow. By three I was getting agitated.
I’ve borrowed four hundred and fifty dollars to pay for this venture so far, and lost two and a half days’ work to make sure I was home at the right time to get this done. I’m going in the hole fast here.
By three-thirty I was back inside, head hanging low. I’ve been taken. I seriously feel like a failure of a man – I can’t even HIRE someone to fix my goddam garage door opener. Not only can’t I fix the problem for my wife, I can’t even manage to pay someone money to do it.
At five minutes to four in the afternoon the phone rang. “Hello, this is the garage door people,” said the familiar cheerful voice. “We’re having a little problem. I don’t think we’re going to be able to do the install today after all.” Seriously, I’m not surprised. I wasted half of another work day so I could be here “between two and four.”
Trying not to weep into the phone, I held back my bitter, bitter sobs. “Okay, why?”
“Well, it will take two people to do this install and one of our guys had some problems driving in the weather.”
Really? We drove in it just fine so we could be here for this big event. “It’s okay if they come later,” I said. “We’ll be here all night.”
“I’m sorry, but Saturday morning is the earliest they can be there.”
“If they’d like to come out early tomorrow morning, that’d be fine,” I said. “I’m usually up by four-thirty anyway.”
“I’m sorry, but I can have them there by nine Saturday morning, will that work?”
No, it won’t work – I’ve already rescheduled half a work week because you said you’d be here Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. And guess when I rescheduled most of it. Saturday morning. “Yes, that will work fine,” I sobbed into the phone. “That will work just fine.”
It’s Wednesday night now. I’m trying to figure out how to move my Saturday morning appointments to a different day. My work is flexible, but I do have commitments to my customers, deadlines that are important to them, and I’m going to do my best to meet those commitments and deadlines. That irritates me.
But what irritates me more is that I feel like I’ve been taken advantage of. I feel disrespected because the company didn’t feel I was important enough to call when they promised to call on Monday – which cost me a considerable amount of work. And again Wednesday afternoon, why did they wait until five minutes to four to call and say they wouldn’t be there because someone had troubles driving earlier that day – why not call me right away? That cost me more time and money.
What irritates me even more is that their website promises “24 Hour Service,” and “No Overtime Charge for Nights.” Except for me, I guess. I don’t count.
But what really scares me is the thought that I’ve been scammed. I’m really really really hoping that at nine o’clock Saturday morning I’ll see a shiny white truck in my driveway and a shiny new garage door opener being installed – but I have the sinking feeling that won’t happen. Borrowed money, lost work, high hopes, all thrown to the wind.
This kinda stuff seriously makes me feel like a failure.