Monday, August 13, 2018

It's been a long month

The Fourth of July wasn't so long ago, but it feels like another era—the era of Old Kitchen. That was when I wrote about overcoming my conditioning to order appliances. The Fourth--a Wednesday--was the day I committed to New Kitchen by ordering appliances. The following weekend, I bought some floor tile and agreed to a proposal from my friend's friend's contractor. The following Wednesday, I chose cabinets and counters.

Saturday morning, while my kitchen was being demolished, I shopped (unsuccessfully) for backsplash and can-lights. Before I got on a plane that afternoon, I came back to No Kitchen.

Which, while I was in Vienna, went to No-Kitchen with better walls and floors.

The appliances I ordered on the Fourth were supposed to be delivered on the 20th, when I would be in Vienna (and Innsbruck). Lowes had instructions to call the contractor to arrange delivery, and assured me not once but twice that everything was on schedule. But Friday came and went with no appliances, so Saturday, I checked my messages from Austria. There was one from Thursday saying that the appliances were set to be delivered the next day, and then another saying that the dishwasher I ordered was out of stock, so they would cancel the order.


It took them until July 19th to ascertain that the dishwasher I ordered on July 4th was out of stock? And they were cancelling the order? That I had placed with a 40 percent discount? After I'd already had my perfectly good (but loud AF) dishwasher pulled out? Like hell they were. But it was nighttime on the East Coast, so I went about my day in Innsbruck and called them in the hour or so I had before we had to leave for dinner.

You would think that once they had fucked up at this level they would go out of their way to fix it, but instead, they kept putting me on hold, transferring me to different people, and, ultimately, offering me lesser dishwashers for the same price (or trying to sell me more expensive ones). I was having none of it. They put me on hold for 15 minutes after I'd told them I'd have to go in 5, so I walked away and let it go for the time being. I called central customer service the night I got back; they patiently listened and told me someone would call me, but nobody ever did. I tweeted at them, and they also promised that someone would get back to me, but nobody ever did. They nonchalantly cancelled an expensive order that I was waiting on--there could be no counters until there was a dishwasher--and didn't seem to give a single fuck. Oh but did they fuck with the wrong person.

I got a robocall at 9:30pm that night saying the range they were supposed to have delivered on Friday was coming the next day, and I should be home to receive it. Because most people can just randomly be home on such short notice on a workday. When they called me the next day with a more precise time--I was on the way to a meeting it had taken weeks to schedule--I told them to try again later. Still no word from anyone about the dishwasher. In the meantime, I'd been shopping around for potential replacement dishwashers, but there were just no (other) quiet dishwashers for a price I was willing to pay.

I woke up very early on Tuesday morning and googled "file consumer complaint." The state attorney general seemed to be the place for that--seemed extreme, but they were offering themselves up for that kind of thing. So I screenshot the email from the day before planned delivery saying that both appliances were on their way, among other things, and filed my complaint. Something was bothering me that morning--not in the sense that the whole situation was bothering me, but in a "something else is going on" way. I had a few minutes at work, so I searched on quiet dishwashers at Lowes. Previously, including in Austria while I was on the phone with the store, I was looking on my iPad. On the desktop site, I could see how many models were available at a given store. And I saw that three models were sitting at a store not at all far from me. I made a call. I was promised a call back by 5pm the next day. The second the clock hit 5pm, I called again and again patiently walked the supervisor (yes, telling them that there's a complaint out there is a way to get a supervisor on the line) through the situation. She--like the one the day before--seemed genuinely horrified. One had told me that the store closed the case because they offered me a better dishwasher for the same price; I pointed out to her that the dishwasher in question was lower-rated by a full star and consistently reviewed as having a bottom drawer that rolled out and was impossible to get back in. She could see that. The second person I talked to resolved the issue: she sold me a dishwasher for the price I'd paid, to be delivered from the store in question (she apologized that it wouldn't come earlier than Sunday), and arranged for a gift card for my troubles.

The next day (Thursday) the store manager from the original store the order was sourced to calls me and is all, "huh, what? what happened?" and he was apologetic but it was too little, too late. There were multiple fails here--the initial cancellation, but also the fact that they did not take it seriously enough to fix it until I made them fix it. And then, the dishwasher wasn't delivered Sunday; their truck broke down (but they didn't bother to tell me, and I had to call twice to find out). By Tuesday, though, I had both appliances. By Thursday, I had a call from the executive office assuring me that they were taking the process fails seriously.

Week one--which I deliberately scheduled for the week I was in Austria--was the demolition and basic reconstruction. They tore down the walls and redid the electrical, lighting, and plumbing. Week two ended up being fighting over appliances. It was week zero that I chose counters and cabinets, but they didn't make it in until weeks three and four, respectively. The cabinets were love at first sight; the counters were a lot harder; I almost left when the vendor pulled out a sample of something I liked. She initially tried to sell me on something white, that "popped," but white kitchens are anathema to me. I didn't want my kitchen to look like a hospital room; I didn't want it to look like it's sterile and unused. I wanted it to be a working, living space.

Anyway, two or three weeks of No Kitchen. No Kitchen was dark times—eating on the steps, washing up in the half-bath, stepping over the contents of the kitchen that were strewn all over the living room. And the stress of anticipation! Wondering whether the countertops were as nice as the sample in the store, wondering how on earth I was going to match them with backsplash, wondering whether the appliances would work.

By the end of week three, I had cabinets and appliances. I had a sense that my kitchen was going to look good (until I started fretting about whether the counters would match).

The counters looked good. I couldn't wait to put stuff on them (but not too much stuff! They looked too good!). And now it was off to the tile store with a sample of the counter, to shop for backsplash. I'd ordered a few samples online but none worked out.

Having picked an ornate, busy counter, it was hard to find a tile that wouldn't clash or overwhelm (that wasn't also boring AF). I ultimately did it, but not without going over my price range by a factor of three. It was worth it. The tile I found didn't just *not clash;* it perfectly transitioned from counter to cabinet. In that process, and throughout the kitchen remodel, I experienced that same voice of my mother's: I can't believe your spending so much money! I had to constantly remind myself that I was spending responsibly. It would have been irresponsible to skimp on this.

It looks a bit less amazing now with stuff on the counters. Have you seen those kitchens online with nothing in them? My kitchen wasn't ever going to be that way.

I spent the better part of the weekend moving things back from my living room, which had turned into a construction zone. A few people have come by to look at it; all have loved it, unless, as my mother would say, they're just being polite. It does look fantastic, though. And I've enjoyed the 'collaborative' aspect of going through the experience with other people excited about the progress and the results.

Meanwhile, I had a plumbing crisis that my contractor fixed this morning when he came by for the last finishing touches (and to fix a roll-out drawer that I'd already broken). There are pictures online with stand mixers in roll-out drawers. don't do it.

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