La-Z-Boy Wicker From China, Ford Cargo Vans, Sam’s Club and Dogs
It is nearly four years since we moved into our home that took over 18 months to build and I decided that we were long overdue for porch furniture. I began my quest online for outdoor wicker last Friday that continued into Memorial Day.
I found an exclusive sectional made by La-Z-Boy for Sam’s Club that had by all indications been deeply discounted. The closest store that truly had the set in stock was in Charlotte which is 60 miles from my house so I called to request a move to the local store. After many calls back and forth between the sending and receiving stores the answer was this: the discount made the set ineligible for the move. I then renewed my membership online in order to complete the buy. This is known by seasoned members as “Click ‘n Pull”, you then await an email stating that your products are ready for pickup.
On Tuesday morning I began calling the local Enterprise Rental Agencies to find either a pickup or cargo van. I was armed with the dimensions of the furniture and searched online for the size of the particular cargo areas for the trucks and vans. I then called Sam’s to see exactly how the set was packaged and was told three boxes that were 37 inches by 37 inches each.
After checking the weather I decided that a cargo van was my best option, picked up the van and proceeded to Charlotte in my white Ford Econoline with thoughts of the days of the DC Sniper in mind.
My Mapquest directions were very clear and soon I was comfortable with driving the van. I arrived without any snags and got in line at the Customer Service desk to pay. I was told that they do not have registers opened and that I can pay at any checkout. This is when my day began to take a turn.
The checkout clerk advises me that my card is expired as of 1/3. I explain that I renewed it yesterday online prior to placing the order that would not have allowed the order to be placed had I not renewed it. She ask if I brought a printed copy of the receipt. Of course, I stated “no” that since the system allowed me to complete the order I thought everything was updated. The clerk advises that the actual update for the store to see the renewal takes between 4-5 weeks! What are they using Pony Express? Are the computer systems not tied together and move information from one system to the other?
The clerk calls a manager that escorts me back to Customer Service. Now I am in a longer line and when I truly get someone that is supposed to be able to lookup my new information that I processed online I find that my name and address are under my husband’s address Ft. Greely, AK in the system. They plug in the NC zip code and it comes up Alaska.
My husband is not a Sam’s Club member. It appears when he changed his address by the post office the Sam’s Club computers got updated and since he was on the past card “we” had moved according to Sam’s. The card had to be voided twice before accepting the correct information. The nice lady then ask if I wanted to add my husband since I could show a piece of mail with his name on it. My reply was “no thank you” for fear we would be voiding however another card.
Loading: three boxes? Yes. Were they already close to 37 X 37 inches. No. The largest box had to be opened and chairs stacked with cushions everywhere.
I am feeling good as I pull out of the parking lot with AC Hammer playing on the radio and knowing I have beat the rush hour traffic. My midday plan is nevertheless going to work with only a few minor glitches I am thinking the plan is really coming together.
Fifteen minutes from the house I phone my trusty friend and neighbor, Sandy, to come and assist in unloading. It is around 2 p.m. and I am thinking there will be time enough to drop the cardboard at recycling on the way to return the van.
Sandy and I unpack and get the furniture in place on the front porch. It is really looking good when we decide to sit down. That is when we find that out of the 6 piece set 3 pieces have rough legs. We are not talking a little bit off. We are talking 1-2 inches!
I called my sister to tell her the issues with the set and she ask if there are leg levelers to compensate for the short legs. I explain that there are none and that they were way past the point of helping if they were. Later in rush hour traffic, needing fuel and a rest area I visualize the worst of the chairs that Sandy and I had moved all over the porch trying to find fault with the porch and not the furniture. My sister’s helpful advice became really funny and I laughed aloud thinking of this pitiful chair that would have made a rocker.
I call to tell the Sam’s Manager that I will be there in 1 hour and 15 minutes and to please have the 3 substitute pieces out of the boxes and ready to inspect before loading. Since the two corgis have been in the garage all day and a thunderstorm is pending I decide to take the younger one, Gunner, to keep him from being frightened. Remember this reasoning for taking the dog as the plot thickens.
I arrive after making the 60 mile trip once again to find that after speaking to two managers that the needed 3 pieces are not unboxed for inspection as agreed. I go by the Exit Door with the “receipt checking person” chasing me stating I would have to go the the Entrance Door to get a sticker. I told her I was expected at the Customer Service Desk, little did I know that nothing could have been further from the truth. Both managers had gone to a late lunch and had not left the observe at the desk as they stated they would do.
I begin with two new managers listening to my plight once again. They take my information and proceed to try to find someone that can function a forklift and rope off the area to retrieve the merchantise. For the next hour I wait to see these two managers appear again. Meanwhile, my 150 mile allowance on the van for the day have been surpassed and I am now into 30 cents a mile and facing rush hour traffic.
Two young men appear to unload the damaged goods. I join them to the van to comfort Gunner. This is when the best of intentions go wrong. The sound of the removal of chairs on a metal van floor far go beyond and very much resemble that of thunder. Gunner was petrified and shaking like a leaf, the very reason I had taken him with me was more terrifying to him than an actual storm.
Finally one of the managers appears to tell me that the furniture has been removed from the boxes and I can now go with him to see it. One of the managers I had spoken with earlier then tries to tell me that had I left the furniture out in the weather that wicker will adjust as the weather changes and it is used. I then ask him if he is aware that this is outdoor wicker that is metal tubes wrapped in a resin to look like wicker? His story does not change leaving me with two thoughts: 1) he either thinks I am stupid or; 2) he is stupid.
The furniture is then loaded in the van scaring Gunner out of his wits again and Sam’s Club made an adjustment to compensate me for the additional fuel and cost per mile on the van.
I start to get in the van and realize Gunner has decided he can only ride between my feet and the brake and accelerator. I carry him twice back to his seat and by the time I get back to the driver’s door he has returned to be under my feet. I then lay a chair between the two seats and proceed home.
Later I pull into the gas stop making a guess that a Ford would have the gas tank on the driver side so the door can hit the iron bar, the pumps or both. This is something that foreign car manufacturers figured out years ago and we are however to catch on! I fall out of the van for at the minimum the twentieth time today and try to guess what size tank so I can refuel to the required half of a tank before returning it. I then look at my cell phone to get the time and it is 6:09 p.m., too late to return today the an today.
This week I have been to the massage therapist twice for a twisted back from driving a van without cruise control and not being able to reach the accelerator comfortably.
My past five years of boycotting Sam’s and Wal-Mart were good ones. I have a renewed conviction from watching my own copy of PBS’s Frontline “Is Wal-Mart Really Good for America?” that it is not. Now I have a daily reminder on my front porch not to get sucked back into what appears on the surface as a good deal. Cost of jobs and overall drop in our standard of living can directly be credited to this company.
I for one do not intend to ever forget the “real cost” involved. I went against my morals and better judgment to sell part of my soul for a “good deal.” Of course, I am not alone, so did La-Z-Boy when they placed their good name on a product made in China for Sam’s Club.