Lost arts: The bounce pass. The stolen base. Good customer service.

As we were working on our various projects around the house this winter and spring, I kept a mental list of customer service issues we had with the various contractors and businesses we worked with. There were a lot of unreturned phone calls, which are always annoying. To be honest, though, I lost track of my big list because one business’ especially poor performance.

We purchased our swingset on March 30. We set delivery for two Mondays later, at a specific time so that S. and I were both around to monitor things and watch the kids. The model we purchased was missing a couple parts, but the owner assured us that we would have them in a week or two.

The morning of the delivery rolled around, and 30 minutes after the installation was supposed to take place, there was still no sign of the workers. I called, and no one in the office knew anything about us getting a swingset that day. The owner was not in, but they promised he would call to clear things up as soon as he got in. By 4:00, we still hadn’t received a call, so S. called back. She got the owner and he said something like, “Oh yeah, we didn’t get some parts we needed so we can’t do it today. I guess we forgot to call you.” Nice. He said he’d be happy to deliver it on the following Saturday, but we were going to be away from the house that day. She explained how she had adjusted her work schedule to be around that morning, she did not appreciate us not getting a call, and he needed to find a time this week to deliver it when we would be around. The swingset was installed that Friday.

But that’s just the beginning. A few weeks went by, no sign of our missing parts, so S. called. The owner, setting a theme that would continue over the next three months, had no idea who we were and couldn’t track down our paper work. But he would get those parts over to us that week. Three more weeks go by, and the process is repeated. Eventually, we get to last week, with a total of three calls in between. S. talked to him last Monday, and he promised the parts would be at our house by Thursday. He offered some story about how he knew they were making lots of people mad, and they were going to hire someone else to handle the playground equipment side of the company. But no apology.

Friday, we still don’t have the parts, so I called. He claimed he had talked to S. the previous day and he had said the parts would be at our house over the weekend. I quickly reminded him they spoke on Monday, he said they would be in by Thursday, and I was looking at the swingset and they weren’t out there. I said I wanted the parts that weekend, or we’d need to get a refund for them and we’d go buy them someplace else. “Yeah, that’s definitely an option…” was his response. He said he’d check into if he could pull the parts from another set and call me right back. Two hours later, I finally get a call and he tells me that he’ll personally drive them over and install them after work Saturday night.

Quick, guess if he showed up Saturday night? That’s right, no appearance, no call. Finally, Monday morning he called and said he had the pieces and would send someone over to install them. The problem was one of the parts wasn’t the color we wanted. S. told him we didn’t want a mismatched part, knowing it would take another three months to get the replacement. A couple hours later, his guys show up, after a quick trip to Lowe’s to get a matching part, and install them in ten minutes. I cautiously inquired about what the hold up had been. One guy got real quiet and the other guy quickly said, “I don’t know, we just install for him, we don’t work in the office.” Well played, I thought. I mentioned how we had been told it would be a couple weeks when we first bought it. He snickered and said, “And a couple weeks turned into a couple more weeks, and a couple more weeks…” He knew where I was coming from.

After all of that, we finally have all the parts of our swingset. It only took three months and at least seven phone calls on our part to get them. Never got a decent explanation from the owner or an apology for our wait and their shitty service. We still would have been annoyed if they had communicated with us, but it would have been a different level of annoyance. I’m not sure why it’s so hard to do that when you’re trying to run a business. Now, we will tell anyone who asks about a swingset or basketball goal to avoid them, and we certainly won’t call them when we are ready to put a hoop in, which is where they do the bulk of their business.

So much for trying to go with the local business over the big, national chains.