Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Hiring local help fulfills a need

Usually I’m the kind of person who just goes along and puts up with things. But recently I decided I was going to keep complaining until I got results. Be the squeaky wheel!

We had bought an over-the-range microwave from Lowe’s in South Burlington. It was the kind that could be set up to vent indoors or outdoors, and we made sure it could be vented outdoors like the previous one. After it was installed, though, we noticed that there didn’t seem to be any kitchen smells or fan sounds outside where the vent is.

But no worries! I had a piece of paper that said, “Installation Labor Guarantee,” good for one year.

I emailed the installer and he said someone would come over to fix it, but no one did. After a number of calls to the installer and customer service, I managed to get a work order number, but was told it would cost $200 to create a new opening in the wall. I protested that there already was an opening in the wall, which was used by the previous microwave. 

I sent a message to one of the customer service reps with pictures of the outside vent and a page from the installation manual that showed the unit could be installed with outside venting. But it went unanswered. (When you call customer service, you never get the same person twice).

With no results from customer service, I called the installer again and he said, “I’m waiting for money.”

It was now four months since the unit was installed, so my husband and I decided to really be a squeaky wheel and go to Lowe’s in person. An assistant manager came out and met with us. We showed her all the documentation, but she said there was nothing in our file about our complaints. She told us the previous work order had been cancelled and gave us a new one. She also gave us the phone number of another assistant manager. That guy said I should be hearing from the installer in the next 24-48 hours. They were all so polite! But you guessed it — nothing happened.

I called the installer again and he said he had not heard from the assistant manager, but would send someone down. He and I were getting to be phone buddies. My copy of the labor guarantee was now covered with scribbled names, phone numbers, email addresses and work order numbers, but I still believed in it. Of course, nobody showed up.

I called customer service again and now they were telling me there was no hole in the wall at all! So I tried another tack. I went back to the store to see the salesman who sold me the microwave. He said there shouldn’t be a charge for changing the venting as long as there was an existing opening that could be used. He suggested calling the customer service line again.

Now they had me pegged for a troublemaker. The rep said there was never a hole in the wall, and if there was one now, we must have put it in later! There was no record of the pictures I sent, and furthermore, the second work order was cancelled.

After 5 months, the squeak was only a whimper.

I gave up and called Tim Marcotte. He took the unit out and turned the fan around. It took 20 minutes. He was nice enough to let me take a picture of him with his hand in the hole in the wall behind the microwave to show that there was indeed a vent opening there.

Ever hopeful, I sent that picture to the manager at Lowe’s and asked them to reimburse me for the cost of hiring Tim. They probably got a laugh out of that.

Chris Robbins

Middlebury

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