Monday, August 31, 2009

Customer Service

Customer Service can sometimes be an oxymoron, like "Petite Size 14" or "found missing" or "plastic glass." I've had some trying times wth customer service, as we all have. But, I have a nice story to share.

A bit of background. I tend to take on projects myself, and rarely ask for help. I guess that could be a whole 'nother blog..."Therapy 101: Learning to Ask For Help!"


Outdoor space in NYC is a rarity and I am lucky to live along a row of houses 5 minutes out of midown Manhattan, that have "postage stamp backyards" measuring about 15' x 40'. Suburbanites might gasp, but this is actually enough room for a grill, some outdoor furniture, in my case a huge weeping cherry tree, an herb garden and a hunk of lawn. I have quite the microcosm out back--mourning doves, dragonflies, slugs (no bare feet after dark!!), lady bugs, seagulls, yellow jackets, bumblebees, (I divorced the wasp...)

My garden tools were taking over my boiler room/tool closet so I looked into buying a storage shed. Even the smallest ones at Home Depot and Lowe's were too big, and they were made of plastic, thin metal or faux wood that looked "Barney Rubble-ish." I found the perfect natural cedar shed online at Smith & Hawken. It had a slim silhouette, plenty of storage and I could tuck it away under the cherry tree.

The shed arrived in about 6 heavy boxes and the delivery guy could only do "sidewalk delivery." A fast $20 was not going to sway him. I muttered to myself, "Whatever, I can do it on my own." It's not the first time I've dragged heavy stuff through the house, down a flight of stairs, out into the yard.

I spread out six 40 lb bags of soil (that I carried through the house, down the stairs and out to the yard), leveled the area and put down large square garden pavers to keep the shed off the dirt. I took a quick break for Advil and Tiger Balm. I soon realized that I could not hold up the walls myself and simultaneously do the I called in for re-inforcements. Most of my friends are married, with kids, and the single ones are also uber busy. Michelle was home, and readily agreed to come over from Cobble Hill, Brooklyn to help...even though she was very newly pregnant. I felt really guilty asking her, but she assured me she was fine and definitely wanted to help. Well, we sweated our way through, and got the shed all put together in about 4 hours. When the bubble in the level was dead center, we had the best high five!!! Level & Plumb---whooo hooo! Girl Pow-a!!

After some lunch and cool drinks, Michelle left and I loaded up the shed with my rake, shovels, the weed whacker that doubles as my lawn mower, citronella candles, birdseed, etc...and sat back very satisfied. There were 2 rainstorms that week and I went out to revel in the scent of new cedar when I saw the roof had buckled!! "NOW WHAAAAT???"

It didn't "go back" to normal after either storm when the sun came out, so I sent Smith & Hawken an e-mail and some pix. Customer Service called me all chirpy and said "Whoa, this is the first time we've ever seen this." (That alarming line is usually reserved for my doctors!)  "If you pack it up, we can send a new shed!" PACK IT UP?? Unscrew 4 hours worth of work, lug it all back upstairs and through the house? And put it into what? I had thrown out the boxes, triumphantly.

I said sweetly, but with the vein in my forhead beating, "Well, unless you're going to ship me a MAN to put it back together...I think I just need 2 new roof panels!" They don't really have 'replacement parts' but after some calm conversation (I am in Sales, after all), she agreed to send a new roof. When it arrived, I could see that the roof slats were just stapled to the frame. Shoddy workmanship, in comparison to the rest of the shed! I hammered 100 nails around the frame (I'm sure my neighbors were thrilled) and I used silicone seam sealer around the perimeter. I felt so competent. I screwed the new roof into place and I gotta say, it ain't goin nowhere.

Now, if the sides fall out, I'm giving up. One year later, the shed looks great, it's weathering nicely and it holds all my tools and outdoor entertaining stuff.

I hear that Smith & Hawken is going out of business. Coincidence? I don't know, but I hope that nice lady gets another job in Customer Service.

She was great.

1 comment:

  1. i love your shed even more now!! You are so savvy Dale.