Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 8:59 AM

I admit that I haven’t purchased a water heater before. But I expected it to be something like other major appliance purchase: Pick it out, arrange to have it delivered and installed. It’s not rocket science.

There’s a certain store who I will allow to remain nameless. Since their ads tout themselves as some sort of water heater royalty, that was my first stop. I wandered around the store for a bit, and didn’t really see a lot of water heaters. I went up to the counter, where I found one of those annoying “take a number” machines. I took a number and waited. When my number came up and the counter guy got to me, this is what the conversation went like:

Counter Guy: What can I help you with today?

Mom: I need a new water heater. Mine is leaking.

Counter Guy [writes down number on card]: Go home and call this number. It’s our service department. They can get you set up.

Mom [takes card]: But I don’t know what I want!

Counter Guy: They’ll set you up with one, deliver it and install it, and even haul the old one away. You just pay the driver. He’ll let you know how much it is after it’s installed.

Mom: But how will they know what to bring? I don’t know which one I want.

Counter Guy: They’ll ask you a bunch of questions and then bring one out for you. If you have questions they can answer them.

Mom [beginning to sound like a broken record]: But I don’t know which water heater I want to purchase!

Counter Guy [beginning to sound annoyed]: Look. It’s a lot easier than you buying one here and having to haul it home yourself and then pay for a plumber to come install it. Just call the service department. I could answer your questions, but they can do just as well as I can.

Mom: So, I’m supposed to call this number, and then trust that sight unseen they will bring exactly the water heater I want with exactly the features I need and charge me a reasonable price for both it and the installation, even though I haven’t done any comparison shopping? I think not. [hands card back and leaves store]

And with that I drew a mental black line through the name of prince water heater and headed over to Lowes.

At Lowes, I found a plumbing guy who was happy to provide a little customer service. I got to figuratively kick the tires of all the gas water heaters in stock and compare their features. When I had picked out what I wanted, the plumbing guy set up a delivery and installation and showed me exactly what that will cost, including parts. And they’ll haul away the old one, too.

I still don’t get that first stop. That would be like having bought my new refrigerator by calling up the appliance store delivery service and asking them to bring me a new one. And then trusting that I would somehow get the one I wanted, that it would meet my needs and fit the space available, and that the price would be OK.

Very strange way of doing business.

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