Thursday, June 19, 2014

Goofus And Gallant

As I mentioned last time, the first task I planned to do in the south front dormer work was to restore the sill. This is because I learned with the north dormer that it's much harder to work on the sill with the scaffold in the way.

I anticipated that the sill work would go quickly, because I already had ready-made forms from the north dormer work. Unfortunately, my WoodEpox had gone stale, because unbeknownst to me the Wily Forest Cat some time ago knocked the tub for Part B off the shelf; it cracked when it hit the floor, exposing Part B to air for goodness knows how long. I went ahead and used it anyway, and the putty was so stiff and unworkable that I ended up with a big mess.

Desperate for some fresh WoodEpox, I bought some at our neighborhood hardware store here in Pasadena, up here north of Orange Grove, which is world-famous for its large stock of new old-house hardware. When I got home and opened it up, the Part A, usually light and fluffy, was hard as a rock, and thus unusable.

I knew right away what had happened: this WoodEpox had obviously been exposed to freezing temperatures, which had fatally crystallized the Part A. I've mentioned many times in these pages that WoodEpox is vulnerable to degradation at temperatures below 60 degrees. This could have happened in transit, or it could have happened sitting right in the local Pasadena hardware store, because we had a few nights of freezing temperatures in December.

So I took the WoodEpox back to the hardware store for a refund. I tried to explain what the problem was to the guy at the front counter, but he cut me off with a wave of his hand. "I've never heard of any problems with this stuff. I've seen demonstrations!"

"I've used it a great deal for over a decade, and I can tell you—"

He cut me off again. "I can't give you a refund because you opened the box."

I pointed to the return policy posted directly over his head. "Nothing about that there." I waved my receipt, which also bore the return policy. "Nothing about that here, either."

"If it were unopened we can resell it. We can't resell it like that, opened."

I didn't see any point in mentioning to him that one of the boxes of WoodEpox on the shelf had been quite conspicuously opened and resealed, or that he shouldn't want to resell damaged merchandise, or that if he just opened the tub of Part A he'd see for himself that it was damaged. Neither did I see any point in asking to see a supervisor; I'd been in this longtime Pasadena institution dozens of times, and knew that to do so was only to invite further abuse.

I was all too familiar with the abusive nature of their front-of-the-store staff (those behind the hardware counter in back are typically pleasant, helpful and highly competent). These people sit like magpies behind their cash registers and hurl snide comments at customers and their purchases. And heaven help you should you actually need assistance: "Ooh, you want a Purdy paintbrush? You need to go somewhere else. We don't carry that kind of fancy paintin' stuff here!"

By this point, my temper was rising to an unsafe level, so I just took my ruined WoodEpox and beat a hasty, silent retreat. Not that I had accepted the situation; two quarts of WoodEpox costs over $70 with tax, and I wasn't about to gently into that hot day with that loss. It's just that I had a Plan B for my Part A that was more-or-less foolproof.

I went right back home and ordered some fresh WoodEpox direct from Abatron, which is my usual practice. Then, I sent Abatron's customer service department a calm e-mail relating just the essential facts of the situation. I'd had enough experience with them to know that they'd see to my getting a refund, one way or another.

They went to bat for me immediately and assertively. It took several weeks of their prodding the store, but they got me that refund. Abatron stands by its products and its customers.

* * *

He who controls the remote, controls the future.


  1. Unbelievable how arrogant shop owners have become. Clearly no service with a smile if it inconveniences them in any way. Floored by all the hoops you had to jump through just to return damaged goods!

    1. Thanks for your support. I expected some resistance from these people, given our long experience with them, but I too was shocked at the utter unwillingness even to live up to their own published return policy.

      Alas, this is the spirit of our times. Truculence is replacing politeness as the default method for dealing with others. It can be quite dispiriting, especially if one is old enough to remember the way things were not so very long ago.

      On the other hand, one decent act can outweigh a hundred rude ones, and I was able to keep my cool throughout because I was confident Abatron would back me up, as indeed they did.


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