Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tenacious G and Many Happy Returns

Last September, my mother and I went to a local store to buy a full mattress for her room at the assisted living facility. After much pondering and badgering, she chose a mattress set that suited her sensibilities. Two weeks ago, she called to inform me that her bed had sunk in the middle after only five months of use. The facility manager there told me that the box spring wood had warped.

Would you deny this woman a good night's sleep? (Offending bed not pictured.)
I called the local store. The salesman there said I needed to call the national customer service number. I called the national customer service number and was informed that an inspector would have to go out to investigate the mattress before a replacement could be issued. My mother is 84 years old. What improper use did they think she made of the mattress? I feel certain she did not jump up and down on it. Being a morally upright Protestant, it is unlikely she invited over any rambunctious gentleman friends.

After a week, I called to see where the inspector was. I was informed he would call my house and leave a time he was available. Unfortunately, he left a message during an evening that I was at a professional meeting and I did not notice the blinking message light until 11 a.m. the following morning. His voicemail informed me that tomorrow—which was now today—he was only available from 10 a.m. to noon, which meant his time window was about to close. Woops. I called and left a message. He called back and said he would visit my mother after lunch. I called to let her, and her facility manager, know about it. The inspector visited and I heard nothing more.

Oh, Laura Ashley! Warped after only five months.
A week later, my mother called and insisted I had to call the store "right now" to find out when the new box spring would be delivered. I called and was informed that the box spring was indeed found to be defective and was told that my mother would get a letter in the mail in a week or so informing her that she had a $368 credit to buy a new one. Unfortunately, she would be responsible for an $80 delivery fee. Apparently, the manufacturer was willing to supply a new box spring, but the delivery was contracted out independently.

I will not repeat my reaction to hearing that. However, following my reaction, the woman at the other end asked me to hold so she could see what could be done with the delivery charge. When she returned, she offered to have a box spring delivered the next day at only half price—$40. I proceeded to lecture her on corporate responsibility and the limitations of someone retired on a fixed income. Why should my mother have to pay more money to replace a shoddy product? She put me on hold again, then returned to inform me that this time, only, they would generously waive the delivery fee. Were they expecting more returns?

Since they were sending the same shoddy box spring as a replacement, I expressed the hope that this one would last more than five months. I called my mother back to give her the happy news. She had spent several weeks sleeping on a metaphor for the state of business in this country. I’m sure that can’t be comfortable.


The next day, when the box spring was supposed to be delivered, I received a call from the store. They had put a mattress in their truck, rather than a box spring. When they arrived, the facility refused delivery because they were expecting a box spring, not a mattress. I was informed that the store would have to send a second inspector out to look at the box spring because the first inspector's report stated that he had investigated a mattress.

I asked if they could waive the second inspector since the first one had clearly inspected a faulty box spring. The mattress was fine. After 15 minutes on hold, the customer service rep came back on the line to say that getting the approval to waive the second inspector would take more time; he would have to call me back. At this point, I wondered if it might have helped to bring Henry Kissinger out of retirement for the negotiations.

When he called me back, he told me they could not replace the box spring because its warping was considered normal wear and tear. I pointed out that it had been purchased at the end of September and this was the beginning of March—only five months' time. He put me back on hold. I was now handed over to a woman who informed me that they would only replace the mattress, not the box spring, based on the inspector's report. If Mom had to have another delivery, it would cost $80.

Completely puzzled, I decided to unleash my secret weapon—my brother. At the time of this writing, I do not know what the resolution of this process will be. In the meantime, Mom is still sleeping on a taco-shaped bed.


  1. ...generously, waiving the fee..... LOL, what they're paying this inspector's time to make multiple trips out there, could have paid for the whole stinkin' bed.

    Remind me to tell you about my saga with a GE refrigerator door gasket sometime! It was without a doubt, the most ridiculous experience I've ever had. Jim and I like to think that we are single-handedly responsible for their filing chapter 11 that year!

  2. Now, my brother is dealing with them and is as baffled as I was. It may take many months to sort this all out.