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What Is HAPPENING Over There?!

, , , , , , , , | Working | January 5, 2022

My spouse and I, after many years of saving up, bought ourselves our first house. The house has a fairly old refrigerator, and when we test the electrical draw, we find that it’s gotten inefficient, so we save up to buy a new one.

We first attempt to buy it online. It’s “Cyber Monday” (in November) and there’s a huge sale on refrigerators, so we’re able to order one for about a quarter of the original list price. Because the deal is so good, they say that they’re low on stock, and the earliest time they can get us the fridge is several months later, in March. We call the energy company to have our old fridge picked up for a $50 rebate.

In January, we get an email from the refrigerator company saying that they cannot fulfill our order and that they’re canceling it against us. We call the energy company and cancel the pickup of our old fridge. Then, we start looking for a good deal on a fridge from a brick-and-mortar company.

Somehow the cancellation didn’t stick, and the energy company shows up to take our fridge in March as previously agreed. We talk to the fridge recovery people, and they look at our client notes and agree that it says in the notes that it should be canceled. Because of those call notes, we’re able to talk our way out of a cancellation fee.

In May, flush with our tax refund, we finally find a fridge we like, and it’s at about half of the original list price. We buy it and schedule to have our fridge picked up by the energy company.

The energy company initially refuses to do it because they think they’ve already picked up our fridge. Then, they cancel pickup because someone read the notes from the old pickup. Then, they come, but they somehow get the address wrong; they end up on the West version of our street rather than the East.

Finally, in June, they get the old fridge and take it. The $50 rebate is applied correctly to our energy bill for that month.

Fast-forward a year and a bit: on July 17th, a group of refrigerator delivery people shows up. This is almost but not quite two years after we placed the original order online.

We explain that we already have a refrigerator and they take it back. They promise that we’ll be refunded within three or four days. Refunded?! We check and, sure enough, money was taken from our bank account to pay for the refrigerator in late April and we hadn’t noticed.

Three or four days pass. No refund happens. We call the online retailer. Customer service is very understanding; they tell us they’ve fixed it, and if we give them three or four days, we’ll have the money.

Three or four days pass. No refund happens. We call the online retailer. Customer service says that there’s an error with the supplier. They forward our call to the supplier. The supplier makes some sort of changes in the computer system. They say it’s good, and we should give them three or four days and we’ll have the money.

Three or four days pass. No refund happens. We call the online retailer. Customer service says that there’s an issue with the supplier. They forward the call to the supplier. The supplier says that there’s an issue with the delivery people. They forward the call to the delivery people. The delivery people make some sort of changes in the computer system. They say it’s good, and we should give them three or four days and we’ll have the money.

Three or four days pass. It is now August. No refund has happened yet. We call the online retailer. Customer service says there’s an issue with the supplier.

Before they can forward it, I ask:

Me: “I’ve done this before. Can you please transfer me to a supervisor who can just give me my money back, and you guys can deal with whatever labyrinthine bureaucracy you’ve got to deal with on your own time?”

They transfer me to the supervisor.

Supervisor: “Yeah, I can fix it. This is going to be easy.”

This is followed by some frantic typing.

Supervisor: “Um… I think I can fix it, but something weird is happening.”

There’s more frantic typing.

I’m a bit unnerved by this response.

Me: “Something weird?” 

Supervisor: “Yeah, the number keeps changing on me… It shouldn’t.”

Further frantic typing follows. Then, she speaks once more.

Supervisor: “Okay. Well, at least I’m not going to be making this any worse.”

My eloquent and confused response is:

Me: “Uh… what?” 

Supervisor: “You’re going to get a lot of weird emails. Please just disregard them.”

It’s meant to be reassuring, but her tone is tense and afraid.

I stay quiet through more typing and arcane interjections.

Supervisor: “What if I credit it to the account directly?” “No, please don’t revert. Please don’t revert.” “What? Why?! That can’t be right.” “No, no, no! I have to start over again?!” “Okay, easy does it. Easy does it… Please take it… No!” “Why does it think that the ice maker hose was delivered with a different company?” “It’s the ice maker hose!” “It’s not the ice maker hose.” “Maybe it’s the ice maker hose?” “Okay, I can refund the fridge, but not the ice maker hose, but if I try to refund the fridge without the ice maker hose, it cancels out and I lose my work.” “Are you still on the line?”

Me: “Yeah. I’m still on the line. How’s it going?”

Supervisor: “Well, the problem is the ice maker hose, but I don’t seem to be able to resolve this within the system. I’m going to work around the system; I’m going to put in a fake order, apply the payment from the first order to it, and automatically refund it, okay?”

Me: “Uh… okay.”

Supervisor: “Okay. Good. Here goes.” *More typing* “And that was $918.17?”

I check my invoice.

Me: “Yeah. That’s correct.”

Supervisor: “Good.”

She’s literally panting on her end.

Supervisor: “I can see why. I can see why you weren’t getting your refund.”

She gives a slightly unhinged-sounding laugh.

Supervisor: “Uh… So, you should be seeing a credit to your account within twenty-four hours.”

Me: “Thanks. I appreciate the effort.”

Supervisor: “Thank you for your patience. Really.”

She says this with such heartfelt earnestness that I feel awkward and uncertain about how to respond.

Me: “Um… You’re welcome?”

Supervisor: “Is there anything else I can help you with?”

She asks this sounding like she’s just lost a boxing match with a kangaroo.

Me: “No. I’m good. Thank you very much.”

All in all, the supervisor portion of this phone call took about forty-five minutes.

Exactly twenty-four hours later, sure enough, the credit showed up on our account. My spouse and I also double-checked to make sure they didn’t accidentally take more money from us, and they have not yet.

I want to thank that call center supervisor, who apparently wrestled some sort of arcane crocodiles to make sure I got my money back. Thank you. I hope that you have easier cases going forward.

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