Commentary: Got Crib?By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Wednesday, December 28, 2005
I have but one question: do retailers value consumers at all?
|This wooden piece is completely broken off from a crib part labeled "F Back Assembly".|
In November, I penned a bit of a diatribe that chronicled my unsuccessful attempt to order baby furniture – a crib and a changing table - from a Berkshire Mall-based Sears store. Problems arose when I told sales associates that I planned to pay for the purchase at the time of the order using cash. The big glitch in my plan was that the company doesn’t accept cash for this type of order, instead forcing people to use a credit card…a Sears credit card.
Long story short, after some debate and discussion, I stopped “wishing big” at Sears and walked to the J.C. Penney store, where an order for a crib and a crib mattress were placed and cash was accepted.
Actually, cash was required, because a Penney company policy requires that any items ordered and not paid for via credit card be paid in full with cash in advance. The policy did not bother me at the time; I had already planned to pay in advance, and I was provided with a receipt that clearly indicated payment in full was made.
I was also provided with information that stated that the crib was on back order and would be shipped on or about Dec. 2. The back order status and Dec. 2 ship date did not pose a problem because the baby for whom the crib was purchased has an expected arrival date of Jan. 10.
Some of you have already guessed where this going, haven’t you?
On Dec. 3, I called the Penney toll-free customer service number to inquire whether my crib had shipped. I spoke to a young man who offered me some information; he claimed that the company had “accepted delivery of 30 cribs" and while he couldn’t say for certain, it was possible that the crib I’d ordered was among those 30 and would be shipped.
Another section of "F Back Assembly" arrived with a large crack in the wood.
Of course, days passed and I heard nothing more about the crib. I contacted the company twice more on different dates in mid-December. I was told that the only information available was that the cribs were back ordered with a ship date of Dec. 2 [although by this point Dec. 2 was long past] and there was no way to acquire any additional information. I was not overjoyed with this vague assessment. The company had my money. I did not have the promised product, nor was I able to get any indication of when I might expect to receive it.
Excuses, now those I was offered [“it’s Christmas,” “we’re so busy,” “there was a high demand for the cribs and the manufacturer couldn’t keep up,” etc.], but it’s awfully tough to tuck an infant into a bed of excuses.
On Dec. 23, I received a trio of telephone messages that stated the crib was ready for pick-up at the J.C.Penney store in Bennington, Vt..
My husband went to retrieve the crib, and after being made to show photo identification and explain his connection to me, he was told that the crib couldn’t be found on the premises. However, another store employee conducted another search and found the very large box that held the crib components.
The box was taken to my daughter’s home. The box was unpacked.
The crib is damaged.
Could I be having any more fun?
The damaged crib meant more phone calls to the Penney’s toll-free customer service number. I have choices; I can pack up the crib and return it for a full “credit,” [and what does that mean, my money back or a “store credit,” which does not interest me], or the helpful folks at Penney’s will find out about acquiring a replacement for the damaged crib piece.
It would seem easier to acquire a replacement part, but here is the dilemma: the woman to whom I was speaking [a supervisor] does not know if the piece can be acquired. She also does not know how, or when, I might ascertain a) the availability of a replacement part or b) when I might receive it if it is available. The best she can do, she says, is to put in an order for the replacement part and see what happens.
News Flash for J.C. Penney: I just now [11:49 a.m., Dec. 28] spoke to a representative of the firm that manufactures the crib. The piece is presently not available in white, nor is the piece even at the “manufacturing stage” within the company. The representative was reluctant to put in an order for the piece under “back order” status because there is no way to know when it might become available.
I’m guessing that a replacement piece won’t be coming any time soon. And I am offering praise to the representative of the Modus Furniture firm for returning my call within 90 minutes and providing me with actual information that I can use.
A full view of the broken crib component
And with that information in hand, the crib will be repacked and returned to the Penney store by week’s end.
I am expecting a full refund of my money.
And I still need a crib, white, sleigh-style, preferably able to be converted into a toddler or youth bed. If you are a retail merchant in the western New England area that accepts cash and can actually provide such a crib, call me. Soon.
Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 802-823-9367.