There have been a couple of situations this spring where I encountered an unexpected need to get something repaired or replaced. One of these involved what I consider extraordinary bad luck and the other one was just odd. Letís begin with the unlucky one.
Itís been over 10 years since Iíve had to file an insurance claim on my car, and that involved a minor fender bender resulting from one of those classic parking lot accidents where two cars (one of them mine) back into each other while leaving parking spaces. The latest claim happened in late April. One morning, I noticed a crack in my windshield that was roughly eight inches long and growing. I called my insurer and they helped me set up a replacement where the technician came to my house and did the job in less than an hour. Easy enough, right?
Sure, only less than two months later I was driving toward North Berwick on Route 9 when I passed a loaded gravel truck moving in the opposite direction. I heard (and felt) a ďthunkĒ at that point and looked up to see a silver dollar sized gouge in my new windshield. I decided not to file a claim with my insurer this time, since I wanted to keep my premium payment somewhat less than the United Statesí debt, so I took the car in and had yet another new windshield installed, paying for it out of pocket (mine). That was two weeks ago, and Iíve managed to keep this windshield safe from damage. Letís hope this one has a longer life than its predecessor.
Now, for the other situation. I have a dehumidifier in my basement that runs in the summer months, during peak humidity. Iíve had one since 2004 or so. The first lasted until July 2017, when it finally died, and I replaced it. The new one worked well the rest of that summer and last year also.
This year, however, I started it up in early June and, when I first went to empty out the bucket where the extracted moisture collects, I couldnít get it to move; it was jammed. Nothing I tried worked. I didnít want to force it open for fear that I would damage it further, so I decided to call the technical support line of the manufacturer to see if they had any advice on what to do. Thatís when things got odd.
I placed the phone call on June 10. I got a recorded message, telling me that if I was calling about a dehumidifier, I was to send an email to an address they provided. I was told to include my name and physical address, a phone number, where I purchased the machine and when, the model number and serial number. Someone would get back to me, the message said.
I sent the email as instructed that afternoon. The next day, June 11, I received an e-mail reply, with a letter attached. The letter apologized for any inconvenience I had encountered and offered step-by-step instructions on how I was to proceed. Namely, using the form letter theyíd sent, I was to remove the serial tag from the machine and affix it to a specified spot of the form letter (easy enough) and attach a copy of the bill or proof of purchase (ditto).
Next, I was to sever the plug end of the machineís electrical cord (making sure the machine was unplugged before I did so), take a photo of the severed cord and machine and attach a copy to the letter. I did that, even including the clippers I used to sever the cord in the photo. I thought that gave it a personal touch. I have to say, I felt vaguely like I was carrying out an execution; it was kind of creepy.
Finally, I was to sign and date the letter and return it to the address provided via certified mail. I was further told NOT to dispose of the old machine until Iíd received a new one (OK, but wasnít it useless with no power cord?) Lastly, my letter would be processed within three to seven business days of its arrival.
I put my letter in the mail on June 12 and, after checking the Postal Serviceís handy tracking system, learned that it arrived on Saturday, June 15. So, my personal processing clock would begin on the following Monday, the 17th.
Time passed and I heard nothing from the manufacturer. On June 25, Susan and I were having coffee before heading off to the gym when she said ďHey, shouldnít you have heard about the dehumidifier by now?Ē I counted the days and commented that the 25th was the seventh business day, so if I didnít hear anything, Iíd call the next day.
Later that morning, a UPS truck pulled into my driveway and the driver placed a large box at my doorstep. I knew instantly what it was. My new dehumidifier had arrived on the seventh business day.
Itís now humming happily away in my basement and I took the old one to a place that recycles old, failed appliances. They didnít ask why the electrical cord had been cut.
Thatís my story and whatís odd about it is that, one, I never spoke with a human being throughout the process and, two, no one ever asked what was wrong with the machine or why I had called in the first place. I guess it didnít matter.