My spouse and I, after many years saving up, bought ourselves our first house.
The house has a fairly old refrigerator, and when we test the electrical draw we find that it’s gotten inefficient, so we save up to buy a new one.
We first attempt to buy it online. 2019. It’s ‘Cyber Monday’. There’s a huge sale on refrigerators, so we’re able to order one for about a quarter the original list price. Because the deal is so good, they say that they’re low on stock and the first time they can get us the fridge is several months later in March 2020. (For those of you who may not be aware, Cyber Monday happens in November)
We call the energy company to have our old fridge picked up for a $50 rebate.
In January we get an email from the refrigerator company saying that they cannot fulfill our order and that they’re canceling it against us.
We call the energy company and cancel the pickup of our old fridge.
Then we start looking for a good deal on a fridge from a brick and mortar company.
Somehow the cancellation didn’t stick, and the energy company showed up to take our fridge in March as previously agreed. We talk to the fridge recovery people, and they look at our client notes and agree that it says in the notes that it should be canceled.
Because of those call notes we’re able to talk our way out of a cancellation fee.
In May 2020, flush with our tax refund, we finally find a fridge we like, and it’s at about half the original list price. We buy it and schedule to have our fridge picked up by the energy company.
The energy company initially refuses to do it because they think they’ve already picked up our fridge. Then they cancel pickup because someone read the notes from the old pickup. Then they come, but somehow get the address wrong… instead of our address W our street they go to our address E our street.
Finally, in June 2020 they get the old fridge and take it. The $50 rebate is applied correctly to our energy bill for that month (we were worried about it)
Fast-forward a year and a bit. July 17th 2021 a group of refrigerator delivery people show up… This is almost but not quite 2 years after we placed the original order online.
We explain that we already have a refrigerator and they take it back. They promise that we’ll be refunded within 3-4 days. Refunded?! We check and sure enough money was taken from our bank account to pay for the refrigerator in late April 2021 and we hadn’t noticed.
3-4 days pass. No refund happens. We call the online retailer. Customer service is very understanding, they tell us they’ve fixed it, give them 3-4 days and we’ll have the money.
3-4 days pass. No refund happens. We call the online retailer. Customer service says that there’s an error with the supplier. They forward our call to supplier. Supplier makes some sort of changes in the computer system they say ‘it’s good’. Give them 3-4 days and we’ll have the money.
3-4 days pass. No refund happens. We call the online retailer. Customer service says that there’s an issue with supplier. They forward the call to supplier. Supplier says that there’s an issue with the delivery people. They forward the call to the delivery people. Delivery people make some sort of changes in the computer system, say it’s good. Give them 3-4 days and we’ll have the money.
3-4 days pass. It is now august. No refund has happened yet. We call the online retailer. Customer service says there’s an issue with the supplier… before they can forward it I ask “I’ve done this before… can you please transfer me to a supervisor who can just give me my money back, and you guys can deal with whatever labyrinthine bureaucracy you’ve got to deal with on your own time?”
They transfer me to the supervisor. The supervisor says “Yeah, I can fix it. This is going to be easy.” Followed by some frantic typing. Then she says “Um… I think I can fix it, but something weird is happening.” More frantic typing.
I’m a bit unnerved by this response “Something weird?”
“Yeah, the number keeps changing on me… it shouldn’t.” She says
Further frantic typing follows. Then she speaks once more. “OK. Well at least I’m not going to be making this any worse”
“Uh… what?” is my eloquent and confused response.
“You’re going to get a lot of weird emails. Please just disregard them” she says. It’s meant to be reassuring, but her tone is tense and afraid.
I stay quiet through more typing and arcane interjections.
“What if I credit it to the account directly?” “No please don’t revert. Please don’t revert.” “What? Why! That can’t be right.” “Nonono I have to start over again?!” “Ok easy does it. Easy does it… Please take it… no!” “Why does it think that the ice-maker hose was delivered with a different company?” “It’s the ice-maker hose!” “It’s not the ice maker hose.” “Maybe it’s the ice-maker hose?” “Ok, I can refund the fridge, but not the ice maker hose, but if I try to refund the fridge without the icemaker hose it cancels out and I lose my work.” “Are you still on the line?”
“Yeah. I’m still on the line” I reply. “How’s it going?”
“Well, the problem is the ice-maker hose, but I don’t seem to be able to resolve this within the system. I’m going to work around the system… I’m going to put in a fake order, apply the payment from the first order to it, and automatically refund it, OK?”
“Ok. Good. Here goes.” More typing “And that was 918.17”
I check my invoice “Yeah. That’s correct”
“Good.” She’s literally panting on her end. “I can see why. I can see why you weren’t getting your refund” She gave a slightly unhinged sounding laugh. “Uh. So you should be seeing a credit to your account within 24 hours.”
“Thanks. I appreciate the effort” I reply
“Thank you for your patience. Really.” She says with such heartfelt earnesty that I feel awkward and uncertain how to respond.
“Um… You’re welcome?”
“Is there anything else I can help you with?” She asks, sounding like she’s just lost a boxing match with a kangaroo
“No. I’m good. Thank you very much.”
All in all the speaking with the supervisor portion of this phone call has taken about 45 minutes.
Anyway, 24 hours later we got the money back. My spouse and I also double checked to make sure they didn’t accidentally take more money from us, and they have not yet. We’ll see if they accidentally attempt to ship us a third refrigerator.