Wade's World

Just leave it where Jesus flang it.

Friday, August 26, 2005

WTF?: A Continuing Saga

I just wanna order the goddamned kitchen cabinets!

My wife and I recently bought a new house as is our duty pursuant to the Northern Virginia Housing Bubble Act (2004). It's a great house. Really! But there were a few things that we wanted to change, such as painting, getting rid of the new white carpet covering just about everything, and updating some of the fixtures, etc. Basically the normal stuff that every homeowner does to make the new domicile "Home."

When we first started our little homemaking projects we were warned, as I guess everyone is, that one thing would lead to another, and indeed it has. While the house itself has more than enough space for the three (soon to be four) of us -- over 3,000 sf -- the kitchen is terribly cramped and hasn't been renovated since the house was built in 1973. We pondered the idea of (i) expansion, but deemed it too expensive, and of (ii) entirely renovating the kitchen, but that seemed too disruptive as well as an unnecessary expense if we planned on expanding the kitchen at any time in the near future. Instead, we decided to update the appliances and make due with the space for as long as possible. Like, say, until we move again in ten or twenty years. Confident and resolute in our plan, we endured the unnecessarily complicated ordeal of choosing, ordering, having delivered and installing a brand new duel-fuel range and a new dishwasher.

Other than having to install these items myself, this was the easy part.

In order to install the dishwasher, it was necessary to remove a portion of the countertop. Yes. You read that correctly. I took a power saw to the countertop and lopped off that portion covering the dishwasher, just so I could remove and install the new one. You see, the kitchen floor is actually about three-quarters of an inch higher than the floor under the bottom of the appliance, so there is not enough room between the kitchen floor and the countertop to fit an item such as a standard-sized dishwasher. Luckily, the counterop is made of wood composite and laminate covering so cutting it off was easy. But ... you know where I'm going with this don't you? ... now we need a new countertop. And since we need a new countertop, then we might as well get a new sink. And getting new countertop and sink just doesn't make sense with old cabinets, sooooo.................

As I mentioned above, an entire renovation was not what we had planned on, but now there was no turning back. Accordingly, having done most of the preliminary research already, we went to our friendly local Big Box Store (which shall remain nameless) and made an appointment to pick out cabinets, etc. Now some of you may not know this, but you can't just take some measurements and pick out the cabinets you want. Instead, you have to go through a slow, deliberate (deliberately slow?) process whereby you have your "choices" systematically rejected and your patience worn down to the thickness of one-ply, toilet tissue.

Unfortunately we also made the mistake of seeking a fast turn-around time on getting this project started. In order to do this you have to talk to the "Expediter Lady" (that's what our Initial Appointment Guy called her). This is a woman who is kept well away from all the customers in a closet with a rusty steel door marked "Mops." She calmly listens to you explain that you and your wife are having a baby in two months, and therefore the 8 to 12 week schedule isn't really working for you, so could she, maybe, hurry it up a little, before she dashes all your hopes and dreams in a conversation that goes roughly as follows:

ME: "We were sent to you by the Initial Appointment Guy to see about getting our cabinets ordered and installed on an expedited basis."

EL: "That project will take about 8 to 12 weeks."

ME: "Yeah, we know. That's what the Initial Appointment Guy said. We really need it done faster than that, so what do we need to do to expedite the process?"

EL: "There's nothing you can do, that project will take 8 to 12 weeks."

ME: [Blink. Blink.]

EL: Staring back at me. Expeditiously.

ME: "But your the Expediter Lady, aren't you?"

EL: "Yes."

ME: "So don't you, y'know, like, 'expedite' this whole process? Isn't that what you do? Isn't that your whole raison d'etre?"

EL: "Yes, but ..." she pauses and cocks her head to the side a little, giving me a puzzled look because she thinks maybe she's been insulted. "Ordering and installing kitchen cabinets takes 8 to 12 weeks."

ME: Now wondering just what it is she "expedites" since it sure as hell ain't kitchen remodeling projects. "Well what if we do the installation ourselves? Then how long will it take to get the cabinets in."

EL: "Ordering the cabinets takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks."

ME: "You mean the cabinets will be at our house in 6 to 8 weeks?"

EL: "Oh, wait! You wanted to know when they would get there?"

ME: Turning a lovely shade of crimson and wondering which will hurt less, punching the cinde-block wall, or the circa-1952, grey metal desk. "YES!! YES!! What good do the cabinets do me anywhere else!!!"

EL: "Ohhhh!, That will take about ... mmm, 8 to 12 weeks."

I'm not really sure what happened at this point other than the fact that, without a doubt, my blood pressure dropped once I left that room. Anyway, The end result of this initial appointment is that you fork over $60 so that a nameless person can call you at some unspecified time in the future in order to make another appointment whereby the "Measuring Guy" comes to your house. I should mention here that, before you can even get an appointment in the first place, you have to take careful measurements of your kitchen, including detailed drawings of the layout, etc., which you are to bring to aforesaid appointment.

What you're wondering now is exactly the same thing that occured to us: "Why didn't the Measurement Guy come before we had the initial appointment?" Well that would, y'know, be all efficient and stuff. We can't have that!

Another thing of which we were unaware is that there is only one phone at Big Box Store, and somebody who is NOT the Measuring Guy is always on it. Either that or speaking with the Expediter Lady automatically moves you into the "Never Call" category. Whatever the reason, we did not hear from a soul at Big Box Store until two weeks later when Initial Appointment Guy called wondering why we hadn't arranged our second appointment with him yet. At this point it dawned on us that sending customers to the Expediter Lady was how Big Box Store deals with the potential trouble makers -- i.e. those who ask questions and stuff. As such was our fate, it took yet another few days before we actually had the Measurement Guy come to the house and confirm that, yes indeed, we really can use a ruler, and the cabinets we had picked out fit.

The penultimate step of actually paying for the cabinets was now within reach. All we had to do now was to arrange our second appointment with the Initial Appointment Guy, pick out the various custom features and hand over a fat check. Because my father-in-law and I have been doing all of the installation, we've saved a significant amount on what's been done so far. Installing kitchen cabinets is something he's done hundreds of times, so we plan on doing this job ourselves, for yet another cost savings. All that we really need to do then is to hand over the money. That's all we need to do ...

Ring. Ring.

BBS: "Big Box Store! Kitchen Remodeling Department! How can I help you!"

ME: "Hi. My wife and I are ready to order our kitchen cabinets now. Measurement Guy was just here, and he officially agrees that the cabinets will fit. Can I make an appointment to come by and place the order and give you my check?"

BBS: "Did Measurement Guy explain the installation costs to you?"

ME: "Yeah, but we're going to install the cabinets ourselves. All we really need is for you all to place the order."

BBS: Pause as the lady on the other end of the phone calls up our information. "I'm sorry, but Initial Appointment Guy is on vacation and won't be back until after next week. You'll need to call back and make an appointment with him then."

ME: "Well does it really matter who places the order for us, I mean, can't we just meet someone else and hand you our check?"

BBS: "Initial Appointment Guy has all your information and will need to be the one who sets up the installation for you."

ME: Jaw muscles starting to clench. "But we don't NEED any installation service. I just told you we're going to install the cabinets ourselves. We really want to get this done as quickly as possible since we're having another child in October, so can't we just place the order for the cabinets, give you our money and get the ball rolling. In fact, can't you just do it?"

BBS: tap.tap.tap.tap.tap...

ME: Furiously rubbing temples and hoping against hope that I've finally made my point clear.

HD: Sir, have you spoken with Expediter Lady?
You probably already figured out that, as of today, we STILL have not been able to order our cabinets. We were granted the, apparently, unusual favor of an appointment with someone other than Initial Appointment Guy ... four days later. I tried to circumvent the whole process by going directly through the manufacturer, but they only sell their wares through my friendly local Big Box Store. As it stands now, it looks like we'll be able to finally place our order and get the cabinets delivered.

In about 8 to 12 weeks.


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4:04 AM  

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