Welcome to Day 16 of the Top Military Mom blogging spree. If you have a second, please, pretty, pretty please go vote HERE. It’s going to be super tight! >>>>>>>
Ok. Now that I’ve spent one day fetching, two days (helping) building, and one day recovering, I’m ready to tell you all about the swing set and Sams Club.
Sigh. Where to begin?
When we bought this house, one of the first things I said to Jason was, “We’re going to need a new swing-set; that thing is awful.”
This year, I told him we had to do it.
So, I thought middle-of-the-road set, just something more stable, and a little more fun for the boys. Nothing too crazy. But we stumble onto this huge, gorgeous swing-set online, and it’s pretty much the coolest thing I’ve ever seen that’s not at a school or playground. But it’s super expensive and looks like it needs a small team to assemble, so I tell Jason to pick another one. This is about how the conversation goes:
“Really, babe, pick another one, a smaller one.”
Pause. “Nope, the guys here in the CP voted, and everyone says get the cool one.”
“Right… are the guys from the Company going to put it together?”
“Good point, but we’ll ask someone.”
“I’m just not sure one this big is a good idea.”
“But, but, what if this is what I say I want for father’s day?”
Yeah. He pulled it, the trump card. I’m amazed he didn’t whip out a puppy face and say, “but babe, I’m at war…” Point made, we’ll buy the cool swing-set. Our handy-man is too busy for a swing-set, so there goes strike one for this endeavor.
While I’m visiting in PA, Jason’s uncle offers to come up on his only free weekend, and my soon-to-be brother-in-law chimes in his offer too. It’s penned in. They have one weekend free, the last one in June, and we’re set for this monstrosity.
So I order swing-set, taking care to make sure it will be here in time. After all, if it isn’t here, I have no one to put it together, and the chances of me making that happen alone are right up there with me constructing a space-worthy rocket. Yeah, not happening. I see the last possible day for delivery is the 28th, which is the day they’re coming up, so I click a piece of our bank-account away, and print out our confirmation:
The next week goes pretty happily. I get confirmation that it’s shipped and all is well with my world. Monday comes along, and I get an email that the delivery company has it, and that they’ll be calling in the next 24 hours to set up delivery. Perfect! 24 hours comes and goes with no word (it’s now Tuesday, and our family is due here on Friday), so I call them up, no big deal. Yeah, until they tell me they’ll have it delivered NEXT week. They just won’t be in my area until then.
So, I swallow back my panic and explain the situation. It’s supposed to be here by Friday. It said so when I bought it, and if it doesn’t get put together this weekend, it will sit in boxes in my garage because Jason is deployed. So rather than lose my head immediately, I ask what can be done. Is there any way to pay extra to have it rushed here? Is there another company that could bring it? What are my options, because this HAS to get here.
He tells me that he guesses I could rent a u-haul and come get it myself from just west of Rochester. (That’s over 3 hours away). Yeah. I don’t have a tow-hitch on my van, and U-haul refuses to rent for Ford Explorer’s (Jason’s car). This does not make me happy.
So I call up Sams Club, where we made the purchase, and go through a first-level type and then a manager. There’s nothing they can do. Once it’s contracted for delivery its out of their hands. They call the delivery company and then come back on the line with me. Nope, I just have to wait until next week. So I explain to them the situation, and the manager says, “I understand your frustration, but our hands are tied.” All I’m thinking is, man… you give thousands of dollars in business to this delivery firm and you hold no sway? Yikes. Then he asks to speak to my husband who is the primary on our Sams membership… yeah, because I gave his name first when I set it up. When I tell him that Jason’s in Afghanistan, and why do they need him, considering we paid cash for this, so it’s not like it’s on credit, he says he really should only speak to Jason. Yeah, I’ll go ahead and have him use his 20 free minutes a day to call YOU. Right. After I express my displeasure, he offers me a $300 credit to have the set put together since it won’t be here when our family gets here, which makes me kind of giggle. Lowes charges about $1K to have a set of comparable size put together. Anyway, I ask again why it isn’t making it here when they said it would when I bought it. The credit isn’t going to fix the real problem. I don’t want money, I want the swing-set. “Well, that’s just an estimate. We can’t control what happens once it’s in delivery’s hands.” Right. If it’s just an estimate, then why on earth does it say in my order tracking that it will be here by Friday?
No answer, but he understands my frustration. Yup.
Now I’m angry.
I call up Sams locally, who says they have no control over it either. When I ask who sets up their display swing-sets (thinking I can hire them), I get the “I don’t know, someone from the company.” So I explain the situation and ask if they have any suggestions to get it put together. She says, “I suggest you put an ad on craigslist that says your husband’s deployed and you need someone to put it together.”
Really? REALLY!? Putting out a Craigslist ad that my husband isn’t here is exactly what I had in mind, but thank you for your helpful suggestion.
So, my uncle has a great idea. Call a freight company like FedEx and see if they can have it delivered. Excellent. Before I call FedEx, I know I’m going to need a weight for the swing-set. Back I go to Sams Club, on hold again. I get customer service, and after giving him every piece of our personal info again, I can then get a weight on the delivery. With the number in hand, I call up FedEx and find out it’s going to be about $252 to have it delivered to the house. Score. Done. I schedule the shipment and hang up, feeling pretty victorious and settled. It’s going to be okay, our kids are going to get this fantastic, slightly guilt-ridden present from us.
Then I look over the release form I have to email to the “delivery” company in Rochester, and take a peek at the weight Sams gave me for the set. Huh. 207 lbs. At the time, I was only concentrating on the fact that the guy found the weight. I even asked him twice to confirm.
207 lbs is the weight of a person, there’s no way it’s the weight of this swing-set.
I call back Sams Club AGAIN, and get a girl who profusely apologizes and says he only gave me the weight of the last box. Yeah. Total shipment is 794 lbs. Sams Club is now 0 for 2 today.
I then call FedEx and find out it will be $572 to have it delivered to my house now that the weight has, oh, you know… quadrupled. So I’m feeling pretty destroyed at the moment, because that’s just a bit more than we had in mind. Even with the $300 credit from Sams, it’s another $272 to have it delivered. UGH. So the FedEx clerk hears my, um… concern, and says, “Why don’t you have the company pay for the delivery?” I told her that I figured Sams didn’t use FedEx, since they have those giant trucks and all. She assured me that Sams had a corporate account that they use all the time, and using their discount would be cheaper than the amount they wanted to credit me. I just have to get Sams to call and put it onto their account.
I’m now about 4 hours into this process and feeling pretty good! There’s a solution! There’s a way for everyone to get what they want, it costs less, and there’s no anger on either part! Have to admit, I’m feeling like I just made peace in the Middle East and I’m ready to crow. It’s all going to work out!
So I call back Sams, and ask for a manager to start with. Here’s where I get cranky, folks.
She must have been having a bad day. Every person at Sams I’d spoken to may have been unhelpful, but this woman was flat-out mean. First, she asks me what’s going on, so I tell her, right down to the person who got the weight wrong and the FedEx fix solution. Then she responds with a snarky laugh and, “That freight account is for internal use only. There’s no way we’re going to use it for a member’s personal delivery.” So my logic kicks in, and I remind her that it’s not a personal delivery, it’s a business transaction for merchandise I bought from them, which is not being delivered on time. She responds with “It’s not going to happen.” Okay. I’m taking punches, but I’m not down for the count. Not yet. So I ask if this is for internal use only, can they send my swing-set internally to the Watertown Sams and I’ll pick it up there? I could definitely manage that.
Nope. Nada. That’s against their store policy.
It’s against their own store policy to ship stuff to their stores… Yeah.
So now I’m pretty cranky, and I’m telling her that this will cost less for their company than the credit they offered, and she says, “I can’t even be discussing this with you without the primary member. Is he available?” I say again, as I’ve told every other Sams person, that he’s in Afghanistan, and WHY does she need him? I’m on the account as a member as well, and if she pulls up the phone conversation where I set up the account before verifying it online, she’d see that I’m the one who set it up, and put his name first. So she tells me that as far as she’s concerned, this matter is finished until she can talk to Jason. Maybe I kind of lose it here. I believe my exact words were, “As we’re speaking, he’s flying in Afghanistan. So would you like me to give you his only 20 free minutes a day? Can I have them patch you through to his headset? Or can you take my power of attorney?” She tells me that if I want to discuss this today, they’re going to need to talk to Jason.
Up until now, I’ve been annoyed, angry, upset, and have felt like they’re killing the cool thing we’re trying to give our kids, but now??? Now, I’m insulted, and I say something I never have in these 11 years of this life: “If this is how you treat your service members, I’m disgusted. You’re telling me you won’t take a power of attorney and you will only speak to my husband all because he’s listed first on our Sams membership?”
And she says, “Well, the purchase was made on his debit card.” Oh, for the checking account that we SHARE, the one I have a Power of Attorney over? Yeah. She still won’t talk to me.
You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.
And now I’m on hold for another 10 minutes as she gets me HER manager.
So he comes on, and I go through the entire spiel again. All of it. He once again says they won’t use their FedEx freight account to send it, and there’s nothing he can do about it. When I ask him what I’m supposed to do with a giant swing-set that isn’t going to be delivered on time, he (in the most condescending voice imaginable) says to me, “Well, maybe you need to think outside the box a little.” This is where I snap.
Now, please don’t judge me for the gracelessness I’m about to show. I’ve had it up to HERE at this moment 4 1/2 hours into dealing with this, and I fire back, “Don’t talk to me in that tone of voice, or condescend me like I’m new to this. It’s our 4th deployment in the last 11 years, and I’m well aware of how to think outside the box. I made arrangements in the form of family driving from 4 hours away to think outside the box. You people are screwing up my box by not doing what you said you would.”
He says, “It’s only an estimate, regardless of what the orders pending page says.” Then he reminds me that they’ve credited the $300 and as far as he’s concerned, they’ve fulfilled their end of the deal. This is over.
So I say, “So even though I’ve found a cheaper, easier way for you to do this, and everyone to be happy, you’re saying that you won’t help me.”
And he replies, “No, Ma’am, I’m not saying I won’t help you, I’m saying I can’t do what you’re asking me to.”
Then he tells me he is done with the conversation because what? I’m not Jason. So I cue up my computer, where I already have a scanned copy of Jason’s POA attached to a blank email, and tell him that I only need his email address and he’ll have it in his inbox in about 30 seconds.
“That’s not going to help. It takes us 72 hours to review powers of attorney, so it’s not going to work for this.”
Oh, now I’m LIVID. “You’re telling me that in over a decade of war, I’m the first military wife to call you that needs immediate assistance? That you won’t even look at my husband’s POA, and by the time you “process it”, it will be too late for you to help me at all? This is seriously how you treat your military members?”
“I’m saying that it takes 72 hours to review them, so it wouldn’t help for this.”
At this point, I’m kind of amazed I haven’t started throwing things. This is a HUGE purchase for us. It’s not like the military makes a ton of money, and we invested in Sams with the trust that they would deliver when they said they would.
So I ask for his manager. Heck, I’ll go all the way to freaking corporate at this point, because I’m MAD. Not mad that they won’t deliver it, well, that too… but mad that I’ve given them a way to fix it cheaper and they won’t. Mad that they keep saying I’m not authorized to deal with this because I used Jason’s debit card to buy it (I’d lost mine, and a new one was in transit so Jason laughed and sent me the numbers), angry that Jason’s the only member they want to deal with because I asked them to make him primary when we signed up, and LIVID that they won’t bother to look at a military power of attorney for a soldier at war.
But then he says the one thing that pushes me so far over the edge that I’ve had it. “I understand your frustration.”
No, dude. No you don’t. Unless you’re watching the light in your kids’ eyes die a little year after year when their dad leaves time and time again, and you’re fighting through your 4th deployment, and you make a HUGE purchase to make your kids smile, and coordinate family to come from out-of-state to assemble it, and someone is telling you “think outside the freaking box,” like you’re some kind of helpless, simple-minded damsel, because they won’t help fix the mistake they made…. yeah, you might understand that I’m frustrated, but you certainly don’t understand my frustration. You can’t. If you did, you’d be moving heaven and earth to fix it, or at least be sympathetic instead of stubborn, condescending, and generally snotty. You know what goes a long way? Maybe an, “I’m sorry.”
When I ask to speak to his manager?
“This is it. I’m as high as this is going, and as far as we’re concerned, we have fulfilled our end of this deal as well as compensated you for the late week.”
“So there’s no one else I can speak with?”
“No. I’m it.”
Apparently, he is Sam.
He’s succeeded in making me the one thing I haven’t been… speechless.
So I tell him the only thing I can think of: That I may be done with his call center, but he’d better bet I’m not done with corporate, and I can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts on his refusal to look at a Power of Attorney.
We milspouses tend to circle the wagons. So I got his name, badge number, and took a few days to calm down before I posted outrageous swear-words on the blog.
Sams, if this is really your policy, refusing to speak to the spouses of deployed service members because it happens to be their spouse’s debit card, and they’re first on the membership, then you seriously need to reconsider your policy. What you’re doing to ensure that your employees are transferred to other clubs if their spouses are military is awesome, but you could do a great deal by simply looking at a power of attorney, especially the standard military ones provided by JAG, and using a less condescending tone with us when we call. Trust me, we spouses have enough stress on our plates without adding, “not-nice swing-set dealers” to the list.
You took something that was hectic and a little worrisome, but generally awesome, and turned it into a pure debacle that had me in tears of pure anger. OVER A SWING SET.
Shame on you for treating your military families like second-citizens because some of us are old-fashioned enough to put our husbands first on a membership that we set up, and have the audacity to use a combined checking account to pay for something. Shame on you for being unwilling to take the extra moment to forward a phone call further up the ladder. I’ve talked to other military wives, and I’m not the only person who’s had this problem with you. Ironically, I’m not the only person who’s had a problem with this exact swing-set not coming when you said it would, while you used the same excuse that you have no control over your carriers. I would think this is relatively simple to fix: stop using that carrier.
Oh, and there’s a letter headed to your corporate office, but if they’re as helpful and considerate as your “customer-service” line? Pretty sure I shouldn’t expect much.
As for my kids and their swing-set? After Jason flipped out about how rude Sams was, he told me to spend the extra money and have it delivered by FedEx, so I scheduled it.
But no worries, when I posted on FB about the debacle going on? Wives came out of the woodwork, and instead of FedEx, a good friend took me in her truck to Rochester on Thursday to pick up my monstrosity. How’s that for thinking outside your box? I guess I ended up doing what the delivery guy suggested in his snarky voice when this all first happened:
“Come and get it yourself.”
Don’t challenge us milspouses. When the happiness of our kids is involved, we move mountains, and 800 pound swing-sets too.
***Quick Update, a full post to follow once I hear what their final decision is, but Sams Club has been in contact again today (7/5/13), apologized profusely, and refunded the full swing-set amount! I’m stunned!!! But more important than any money, is that they thanked me for the blog because it brought the POA problem to light, and they’re looking into their policy!****