This post, and its title, were composed in my head on Friday. Because that was the stove's delivery day. I had already called on Tuesday and Thursday that week just to make sure that nothing had gone wrong, since they were supposed to call me before Friday to schedule an exact delivery time and apparently I was antsy. I was sure something would go wrong. On Tuesday, they told me that the stove was delayed. Horreur! I was to call Thursday and see whether it had shown up. I called Thursday morning, prepared to be told it had been diverted to Hawai'i (from California, by the way). I was told it was scheduled to arrive at the DC-area warehouse that afternoon, and I should call to check then. So I did (bringing me to call #3, regarding a delivery with no known problems). So I called. I was told it had arrived. And that that meant it should show up at my house on Friday. I would be called by a robot Thursday evening, to tell me exactly when the stove was coming. So I turned my phone ringer all the way up and reminded myself of all those things about patience I was told as a child.
Twenty minutes later, I was severely startled by my obnoxiously cheerful ringtone. It was someone from the warehouse, informing me that there would be a delay. Impossible! I had paranoically checked on this very thing. I had just been told that the stove was there. The caller explained: by "delay" was meant that the stove was damaged. Uh-huh. Well, the stove was damaged when I bought it; it was a floor model. No, I was told: there was now additional damage - it had had a scratched side, but now there was damage to the front: scratches on the handle, specifically. Severe enough, apparently, that the warehouse was concerned about whether I would want it. (I still wasn't getting "delay" out of this.)
As it happens, we had friends coming by on Friday - a couple who lives in another state and doesn't get to visit often - with their eight children. (Yes, eight. Including twin babies.) Having a stove show up in the middle of this (and then a plumber, if I could possibly schedule him for the same day) would be interruption enough. But a defective stove that needed to be sent back? I asked for photos of the new damage. I was told that this was categorically impossible. At this point - despite my ongoing resolution to be civil to customer service people - I was severely irritated. Fine, you refuse to take photos. But don't pretend that's one of those immutable laws of physics. Your company set this no-photos-at-the-warehouse policy, and now you are making me deal with it. And yes, I am going to be crabby about it. I was unwilling to reject it sight unseen, however; as I may have mentioned, I've been contemplating replacing stove handles in general, and I would rather have a (small) future project than no stove. (Especially because I thought it would be reasonable to expect a further discount due to the additional damage.)
They said that I could reject it upon delivery. So I told them to go ahead with the robot scheduler, and the robot called that evening, and said that the stove would appear between 11:45 and 1:45 - right when we were planning to have lunch with our friends. I figured that this was one of those "they won't be accurate anyway no matter what time you say" things, so I didn't try to change the time. They did, in fact, appear during lunch (happily everyone was already seated and eating). The delivery men kindly unwrapped the stove for me while it was on the lift gate, so they didn't have to bring it in. Which never proved necessary. Whatever was the cause of the damage (I'm guessing someone backed a forklift into it), it had knocked the handle off on one side (it looks like it could have been reattached), and left a 3" wide diagonal dent across the face of the door. A dent about 1/4" deep. It would be the first thing you'd notice as you look at the oven - a really nasty gash, and not reparable by any means that I know. And I can't be sure whether it would affect the insulation of the door (an issue with which I am already more familiar than I would like to be).
In a rare flash of presence of mind, I took not one but two cell phone photos of the stove. In the bright sun, I figured even my cell phone camera would get a good shot. What I did not count on was the interaction between sunlight and stainless steel. The front of the stove is washed out; damage that was glaringly obvious to the eye is invisible in the photos! So I am not sharing them here. Suffice it to say - it looked wounded.
Of course, injury aside, this was my first opportunity to meet the stove in person. I had been wondering whether I would like it as much as its picture. In fact, I liked it more. When I saw that gash, I was sad, because I really wanted that stove. I just knew I couldn't deal with that much damage, so I sent it back, and went inside to finish my lunch. Two more phone calls were required that day before they could process my refund, which they said would come through within a week at latest.
That brought me to my back-up plan: ordering color samples from Big Chill, and buying their pro-style range. I had very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it would un-hitch my kitchen from the stainless steel trend (the Big Chill item is partly stainless, but mostly colored). And it probably has excellent engineering. And it has fantastic burner specs (inside the oven too). On the other hand, it doesn't have any of the programming options of the stove I ordered. (Granted a lot of electronics means a lot of things to break, but I've used lots of stoves with timers and so forth that worked fine for many years.) And it doesn't have the fun retro look - which, as I said, I liked even better in person. And it's up off the floor - a great look in general, but not as great for my kitchen. Oh, and that raised look means less pan storage space - something I was looking forward to keeping. And then there's that little thing about the extra $1000.
But beyond that, there was the fact that the stove I ordered, I had chosen. I had finished. And I liked it. And then it came all the way to my driveway, and I liked it more. And I wanted it to stay, but it couldn't. I didn't want to start all over again, with attendant sadness. But Maytag doesn't make that vintage-style stove any more; the Sears Outlet is just selling off the last few floor models they have left. And they all have significant cosmetic damage and cost more than the one I bought (which had less damage - I can't explain that). So this morning, before calling Big Chill to order the color samples, I decided I would check the Sears Outlet site one last time and see whether another, un-damaged floor model might have shown up.
Sadly, it hadn't. But the first item offered for that model available was one I had previously ignored, because (a) the condition description said it had a scratch on the front and (b) the accompanying condition photos showed a totally different model stove. Such was my attachment to the stove, however, that I decided to try harder. I called the outlet's customer service and asked about that particular stove. The very, very nice person who helped me (Paula) called the store that was selling it and found out that it was the correct model - someone had simply uploaded the wrong pictures. But that person had also uploaded the wrong description. It didn't have a scratch on the front. In fact, it had never even been removed from its box.
Seeing a ray of light shining amidst the stove-y darkness, I asked (very nicely) whether I possibly could have that stove instead of having my refund processed, as I thought that would actually be simpler for all parties. Unfortunately, explained Paula, it doesn't work that way. I would have to order the new stove from scratch - in fact, I would probably have to carry the price of both stoves on my credit card until the refund processed. But, she would like to give me 10% off for my trouble. I told her that was very nice, but this new stove was actually priced more than 10% higher than the one I bought - and although apparently it was in better condition, a scratch on the side didn't matter to me, since I was putting it between cabinets. I explained as nicely as I could - with entirely un-feigned sorrow - that I would like the stove, but I wasn't comfortable with paying more for something with the same function. She asked (being a reasonable person) whether that was the only stove I was considering. And I told her it was the vintage style that I particularly wanted, and it was rather unusual. She put me on hold for a moment, and got permission to give me this stove - at the price of the one I sent back.
So it is to be delivered the Friday after this one. We are, of course, getting further into the time when the area where I live becomes unbearably hot. It would have been so nice to have the stove saga over by now - and to have a new stove up and running even as I type this, before the high has broken 80*, so I could get used to the oven before I start baking test cakes for my friend's wedding. So I could maybe make some French onion soup and pop it under the broiler, before it gets truly out of soup season. (I have not had a working broiler since we moved in the fall of 2011!) It would have been great. But I have to look at the big picture - because of this development, the title of this post is a misnomer, and in fact (God willing), there will be a stove. I fervently hope.
If this thing turns out to be badly engineered, and it doesn't work, or needs constant repair, or has lousy insulation, or (God forbid) I break the glass on it, I will curse my persistence, and look longingly at the pictures of my backup stove. But for now, I am cautiously optimistic.
And yes, I realize that I have now typed at least 1000 words more than any person on the planet could possibly be interested in reading about my (putative) stove. Happy Monday.