The ordeal is ended: the last Warners' Stellian post (let it be true!)

celebrate.jpg As I mentioned last week, our refrigerator has been returned to us and, save for a slight hiccup, is cooling and freezing and dispensing water as though it were new. I’m very happy that the whole thing is over. I was sick of it a long time ago, and I’m sure all of you out there were sick of hearing about it. But thanks for paying attention.

Often, when someone is in the midst of a bad situation, negative feelings are amplified and run rampant. It’s easy to exaggerate and blow things out of proportion. And since I’ve posted weekly updates (or rants, depending on your perspective) on the ordeal and pulled no punches, I felt that I should take a moment to reflect on the situation, my actions, and my inaction.

Did I take it too far?

To date I’ve published 17 posts (including this one), which comes to about a post a week, that were essentially play-by-play descriptions of my negative experience with Warners’ Stellian. I even went as far as to create a specific blog category to make it easier for my readers to find and peruse them. I linked to and shared links with others who had similar experiences with WS. I worked a little bit of SEO hoodoo in order to show up on relevant Google searches. Essentially, I did my best to saturate the Internet with my story and opinion.

So my first question is, did I take it too far?

Did I not take it far enough?

Over the course of this 4 month process, I talked about the problem with many people, both via my blog and at gatherings of friends and family. I heard many stories of similar situations, and I was given quite a bit of advice (for which I’m grateful).

I got input about possible legal action. I considered, and am still considering, writing a letter to the owner. I was urged to elbow my way through the front lines of customer service and demand satisfaction. I was even encouraged to take my story to the local news and sic the consumer watchdogs on WS.

I clearly wasn’t aggressive or confrontational in this situation. I didn’t attempt to get past the service rep on the phone, I didn’t harass the guys that came to my house, and I didn’t threaten legal action. I played by their rules.

So the next question is, did I not take it far enough?

Why I did what I did

There are a few reasons why I handled it in the way I did.

1) I’m not a strong-arming dick

There are a few personality traits that I don’t have. I’m not a haggler, I’m not a manipulator, I’m not a steamroller, and I’m not a dick. And I’d need to summon at least a couple of those traits in order to force a company into action against their will. It just doesn’t come that easily to me. It takes a lot of energy for me to turn on that kind of behavior, and I’m just not very good at it.

2) No time, no energy

When the trouble started, I was just starting out on my new career of stay-at-home dad. I spent my day entertaining a 1 year-old and feeding a 3 month-old. So I didn’t have much time during the day to place angry phone calls, and at the end of the day, I was either exhausted or the service department was closed. Bottom line: I was just too damn tired to get creative or work up the fire to go head-to-head with them.

3) Writing was easier and possibly more influential

Writing about something is more suited to my strengths. I have a standing appointment with a few hours on Saturdays (when Warners’ Stellian’s customer service is closed), so I had time to do the writing. And since I have a blog with a few hundred views in a good month, it seemed that I could have more of an influence by writing about my experience.

4) Plain old curiosity

Since it was clear that it was going to take a while, I kind of just wanted to see where this would go.

Did I make the right choice?

A few facts:

1.) At this point, my site comes up #7 for a search for “Warners’ Stellian Review” and #19 for “Warners’ Stellian”. And I’ve noticed quite a bit of traffic coming to my site from these and other searches as well.

2.) I got the attention of the company. At first, all I merited was a handful of defensive comments, but ultimately, I received a call from the customer service manager as a direct result of a post on this blog within hours of its publishing.

3.) But most importantly, I reached dozens of people that know me personally and trust my opinion. Yes, merely dozens. But they are all users of appliances and are (or were) potential customers.

I think my chosen course of action had the more significant impact.

Am I passive/aggressive and evil? Dishonest and hyperbolical?

Passive/aggressive? Maybe. But as I said, it was just easier for me to write about the situation than it was for me to call them up and demand to get my fridge fixed.

As far as the accuracy of my account: while my emotions and opinions did come through pretty clearly in my writing, I took pains never to exaggerate the situation. I tried to document the facts as accurately as I could. I didn’t edit things for effect, and I did not fabricate a bit of this. I tried to present both sides and tried to give the benefit of the doubt as much as possible.

The Verdict: Don’t buy appliances from Warners’ Stellian

I want to buy from a local company, the logic being that I’d get better service, more individual attention, and a sense that I actually matter.

If Warners’ Stellian is going to take pride in the fact that they are a local company, they’re going to have to do more than just tout that fact. In order to compete with a big box store, they’re going to have to provide a customer experience that’s better. Yeah, I’ve been jerked around by places like Sears and Best Buy and the like. But that doesn’t mean Warners’ Stellian can point to them and say “But these guys are bad, too!”

The truth is, if you’re lucky enough to get an appliance that works as advertised, then it doesn’t matter who you buy from. But if you get a lemon or have serious problems, then you’re going to want a company that has a good, efficient service department. And after having gone 4 months without a properly functioning refrigerator, I think I can say that I’ve experienced the fact first-hand that Warners’ Stellian has a long way to go before they get there.

I won’t be buying any more appliances from them.