You get what you pay for

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 28, 2005

Whenever my kids are troubled, or need a good talking to and the task falls to me, I try to imagine myself as Andy Griffith and think of what Andy would have said to Opie.

Invariably, my kids will rolls their eyes and say, &uot;Oh no, here comes another old saying.&uot;

I like old sayings because they are usually true. That’s how you get to be an old saying. Sayings that aren’t true typically aren’t around long enough to earn the moniker.

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Among my favorites are, &uot;The more you stir #$*& the worse it stinks,&uot; and &uot;You get what you pay for.&uot;

Unfortunately, I don’t always heed this sage advice.

The home that we’ve been in for about a year and a half is 18 years old. All the appliances were originals when we moved in and we’ve had nothing but trouble. My wife, Cathy, is the type who does not to sink money into anything to maintain it. Her motto is if it’s broke, throw it away and get a new one. This is true for hair dryers, refrigerators, automobiles and houses.

So when all our appliances started to fail, her first response was to declare we were going to sell the house and get one of those shiny new, light-filled ones with all new sparkling appliances.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve moved a lot. It used to be fun and exciting when we were young. It’s not fun anymore.

Eventually, to my shock, I was able to persuade her to stay put – under a couple of conditions. The house would get a new roof and we would replace all the kitchen appliances. I was quick to agree. What I didn’t have the cash for I would charge and when I maxed out the credit cards I’d knock over a liquor store if I had to keep from moving. The last move about killed me.

I let her go pick out the appliances. She shopped diligently and decided on a package from one store.

&uot;We’re saving hundreds of dollars over the other stores,&uot; she said, proud of the bargains she had found.

The appliances were to be delivered last Saturday. We were replacing everything except the washer and dryer. She paid the extra money for installation and having our old appliances hauled away – even with those upcharges, it was far less than we would have paid for just the appliances at the other stores.

The truck pulled up to the house on Saturday morning. We knew there were problems immediately when the delivery guy, who was supposed to haul the old stuff away, asked me if I could disconnect the dishwasher and range and pull them out on the floor. He wasn’t aloud to do that. He then looked behind our refrigerator.

&uot;Uh oh, that’s a copper wire back there. I’m not allowed to touch a copper wire.&uot;

So he left the new appliances in the middle of our kitchen floor and spread throughout the adjoining living room.

&uot;The installer will be here soon,&uot; Cathy said. &uot;He’s supposed to pull the stuff out and haul it away.&uot;

While we were awaiting the arrival of the installer, one of the roofers we were getting quotes from showed up. By this time, Cathy had received quotes form five or six roofers and I was impressed with the depth of her roof knowledge. The salesman was unbelievable. She kept asking questions and he kept cutting her off with, &uot;If you’ll wait a second, I’ll get to that,&uot; as he went through his scripted pitch page by page.

I could tell Cathy was getting annoyed with him. It was lunchtime by then and we were getting irritated that the installer had not shown, as well as hungry. We couldn’t get to our food because of the clutter in the kitchen.

As the roofer went outside to take his measurements, I went to Burger King and got lunch for us all. He was still there measuring when I returned.

Eventually, he came back in the house while we were eating, sat in our living room with us and started making his calculations. I called the store and got the number of the appliance installer and called him.

Big surprise, he could not get out there today, and all he had on his list to do was the dishwasher. He then proceeded to explain to me how if it wasn’t on his papers, he wouldn’t get paid for it and he wasn’t going to lift a finger doing anything that wasn’t on his paper.

Another hour went by as we called the store and complained. The roof guy was still sitting there in our living room calculating. We had gone about our lives and forgot he was there. I resolved to go to the store and complain in person so I politely asked him a couple times to pick up the pace. He wanted to make sure it was right. I finally intentionally turned the TV on about three feet from him and started watching a movie. Finally, he was ready, but before he would give us his quote, he asked me to turn off my television.

&uot;I don’t care if his quote was $10, when he said that I wasn’t going to buy his roof,&uot; Cathy said. I felt the same way and we sent him on his way. I turn off the TV for no man.

I drove the 10 miles to the store and asked for the manager. A kid who looked to be about 15 came out to help me. &uot;Is there an adult here I can talk to about my problem,&uot; I asked. There was not. So I explained the situation to the manager, Chip or Skippy or whatever his name was. He said he would locate that installer today and set him straight and call me back later in the day to tell me when he would be there. He also agreed to take $90 off our bill, what we paid for installation.

I left the store feeling pretty good about myself, how I handled the situation.

Needless to say, Saturday evening passed without a call from the store. We called back a couple times on Sunday – still having to eat out because of the clutter in our kitchen. We were assured it would be taken care of by Monday morning even if Skippy had to come out himself.

Monday had about wound down when I returned to the store and stood around about an hour waiting to unload on another teenager. This time, I left with a $300 credit and was assured it would be taken care of Tuesday.

It was Wednesday morning about 10 when someone finally came to haul off the rest of our stuff.

I must say the kitchen looked great and despite the trouble, we were pleased.

On Thursday morning, I got to the office and took my jacket off and my cell phone rang. It was Cathy. She was frantic. The dryer was on fire. She called the fire department. Believe it or not, this was the most pleasant experience we had during the week. Capt. D. Jenkins and the Suffolk fire fighters who came to our rescue were kind, helpful and professional. They put Cathy, who by this time was pretty stressed out, completely at ease.

In Suffolk, a lot of people complain about our real estate taxes being high, but like I said earlier, you generally get what you pay for. The states with the lowest property tax burden – South Carolina and Alabama – are almost like Third World countries. Our property taxes pay for our quality public servants like the fire fighters we have in Suffolk and other dedicated public safety personnel. They are worth what we pay and if you live in the area served by the North Suffolk Public Safety Building, I highly recommend setting your home on fire.

On Friday, I went shopping for a new washer and dryer. Needless to say, I did not go back to where we bought the other appliances and never will, I don’t care how low their prices are. I ended up spending everything I saved on the first appliance purchase hiring a plumber to come and repair the leaks the first installer left behind. We didn’t even bother calling Skippy back.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611, or via email at