Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Twice in Two Days

I don't rant a lot on this blog, but for the second time in two days, people in stores have essentially told me I don't know what I'm talking about, when in fact I do.  And that irritates me.  So I thought I'd share.

Case No. 1:  I'm keeping my eyes open for a good used sewing machine for my daughter, who has put her $6 thrift store Kenmore through its paces this past year but now is having more issues with it, issues which do not warrant a $$$ repair bill.  

So I went to a local charity-run thrift store in which I'd seen a 1960s Singer 600E Touch & Sew languishing there for several months.  One of my main machines is a 603E T&S, so I am familiar with this type of machine.  The sign said, "Sews Great."  I know mine at home does, and these are all metal parts machines which, if maintained, will sew on for many more decades.  So I went to check it out, but it wasn't in the store any longer.  I inquired and was told all the sewing machines had been moved to the warehouse down the block, but I could go there and they'd let me in to check it out.

Well, it was there in the warehouse all right, same sign and everything on it, but on closer inspection, number one, it was filthy.  Not a deal breaker yet.  The bottom had started to separate and was taped back on.  Okay, I might be able to fix that.  The bobbin cover had slid off completely and was sitting there loose (they can be tricky to replace, but it's doable).  I plugged it in and threaded it up and started to sew.  The tension seemed messed up from the get-go.  Yep, total birds' nest on the bobbin side.  The combination of all of the foregoing factors had me nixing the prospect right then and there.  For the price they were asking, it ought to purr like a kitten, and it was not.

One of the ladies there told me the repair person came in once a week, and if I wanted to leave my name and phone number, she'd let this person know I might be interested in the machine if she could fix the issues and get it back so that it "sews great" as the sign indicated.  Okay, fair enough.  I left her my name and number.

She called yesterday.  Said the machine was sewing just fine now, that someone must have monkeyed with the knobs when it was at the main store, but it was okay now.  Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I said I'd be over to see it again.

Got there, still filthy machine, the bobbin cover had been taped on.  I asked what was up with the tape and she said, "I don't think that's the right cover for it."  I said it was the correct cover but it could be tricky to replace when it comes off.  She shrugged.  This is the "repair person," mind you.  An older woman, 70 years old, if she's a day.

I had brought along my own swatch of fabric to sew, just an odd cotton jelly roll strip, and I tried to sew a straight stitch.  It seemed okay with that, but the tension still felt tight.  I reduced the setting a bit and tried sewing again.  Bird's nest.  Nope, not fixed.  It made noise too, so something else was going on.  It was obvious that I would have to take the machine in to have it serviced, if I bought it.  Might not be the end of the world if the price was right.  I showed the repair lady the sewing samples, told her about the noise, etc., and asked if the price was negotiable.  Nope, not at all.  Um, okay.  (By the way, I put the bobbin plate back on while I was trying it out.)  But it's still making birds nests on the bobbin side.

"Well!" she exclaimed, noticing that I had turned the tension knob, indicating that was most definitely the reason right there.  "The tension is supposed to be at 3.  You should always keep it at 3, never change it," she admonished.  Huh?  That's why there's a dial with numbers from 0 to 9, so you can adjust it when the situation warrants.  "No, you should never adjust it," she repeated. 

**record scratch**

What??  So I suggested to her under what circumstances one might need to adjust the tension.  She just shook her head like I was out of my damn mind.  Finally, I said, "Ma'am, I've been sewing on a machine like this for over 30 years, and I know what I'm talking about."

Her response:  "Well, I sew on a Kenmore, and I don't know much about Singers."  

No kidding?  Surrounded by a small roomful of machines, only about half of which were Kenmore, she was the repair person.

So I thanked her for her time.  On my way out, she asked if I wanted to look at any of the other machines (most of which had notes taped to them as to what needed fixing.  If the machine I was looking at said "Sews Great," and didn't, thanks).  Buh-bye. 

Case No. 2:  Joann Fabrics had 40% off their quilting tools, rulers and the like.  I wanted a dresden plate ruler, and I saw online that it was on sale.  Instead, I drove to the nearest Joann 30 miles away, picked up a ruler (and a couple yards of fabric) and went to check out.  The ruler rang up at full price, which I brought to the clerk's attention.

She asked me where in the store I'd gotten it from, and we walked over to the wall of various quilting rulers where, underneath a sign that said 40% off quilting tools, I'd picked it off the metal hanger, leaving two identical ones still hanging there.

She called over the store manager at that point and told her that it was supposed to be on sale but was ringing up full price.  The store manager proceeded to direct my attention to the words on the sign, pointing out with her index finger that it said "quilting tools," and then she told me this ruler was not a quilting tool.

Huh?  What would you call it then?  I suggested she perhaps ring up any other ruler on the same wall and see if it came up 40% off.  She said, "Yes, but those are quilting tools.  This is not."

What?  But the same thing is on sale online, which she could check out herself if she wanted.  She argued that might be a special online sale item.  I begged to differ.  Again, it's on the wall with all the other rulers, under a sale sign, and it is a ruler. 

Finally, holding up the dresden ruler, I showed her how one would use it (as a TOOL) to cut along the edge of the fabric in order to make a quilt piece of a particular shape, just like any of the other rulers that she conceded were quilting tools.  

Her response:  "Okay, I'm not a quilter."  Really?  "But I guess I can see what you mean, so I'll do a manual override."  Which process took eons involving a manual calculator—at least I think that's what she was using, but it could have been an abacus for all I know.  At least I got it for the sale price it was supposed to be.

I don't like to seem like a pain-in-the-butt customer, but I don't like to be spoken to like I'm stupid either.  And I know people in retail can't know everything about every item they sell, and the repair person at the thrift store is probably paid minimum wage or maybe is only a volunteer.  But sheesh!

/End rant.


  1. I think you have a point. The idea that the customer is always right is stupid but the customer isn't always wrong either. These people shouldn't have been so strong in their opinions because when pressed they readily admitted a lack of knowledge. If you know that you're not knowledgable then you could use the opportunity to actually learn something when you come across someone who does know. It's a shame when people don't do this. I'm guessing that they'll pass on not much more knowledgable than they are right now.

  2. I once went in our local Singer repair shop, because I was interested in a machine that would do more decorative stitches than the one I currently use. Their machine that "worked great" was sitting in a puddle of something (oil I think) and while the needle moved up and down, it did not catch the bobbin thread, so no actual "sewing" got done. Needless to say, I didn't buy it, or any other machine in that shop.

  3. I feel the frustration. It's not like you were being disrespectful, but you were certainly treated that way. Really! Sheesh is right.

  4. Everyone is entitled a rant every now and then. And yours was definitely warranted. I mean, seriously? That is absolutely ridiculous at the JoAnn's. What makes a dresden ruler not a quilting tool? I'm still puzzling over that one.

    And that poor old lady doing repairs. Don't adjust the tension, ever? As you pointed out, why the knob that turns, then?

    Yes, rant totally warranted indeed.

    xo -E

  5. Reminds me of the time I went to the grocery looking for animal crackers, and the clerk told me to check the pet department. ☺

    PS...I think you're one of the smartest people I know in bloggyville. If I had a quilting question, you'd be one of the first I'd turn to and ask. ☺ Happy Thursday!

  6. I have a feeling the ONLY thing that is wrong with that sewing machine is that it has the wrong bobbin in it. That has happened on my machine several times, and that is what the problem was a bobbin that was maybe 1/16 of an inch shorter than the one I usually used, even though the package stated it was for my machine. I took those bobbins back to the store. Some other bobbins end up going in the trash. I know how 15 bobbins I know work good, and those are the only ones that go into my machine.

  7. I'm sure I would have slapped someone! You're entitled to a rant after all that silliness.

    **record scratch** <<< This will keep me giggling all day!

  8. Those encounters are frustrating on so many levels ... including all your time wasted.

    Maybe a good rant is like that attention-adjusting knob ... you gotta use it sometimes.

  9. First of all, I agree with Vicki about "record scratch" - I actually heard it in my head when I got there! And the tip about the wrong size bobbin may be right on track - we had the same problem with one of our donated machines, and that's all it took to clear it up. And maybe someone should tell that "fixit person" that Kenmores used to be made by Singer! Kenmore is just the name Sears slaps on the sewing machines they sell, no matter who makes it for them. Rant totally deserved, and you ought to contact Joann's about the service you got - as many surveys as they send me after I shop there, they seem to want to know about problems! Hope your day/week is better after a bad start!!

  10. This does sound like my trip to Joanns this week... except my problem was fabrics were actually on sale and they were not marked as such and after I had it cut and they rung it up they told me I could not use my 40% coupon because the fabric was 25% off... uhm, then they tried to ring it up as 15% off the 25% off and I had to explain that was not the correct mathmatical solution....

  11. Oh...another good question is why oh why do these types of issues roll in one after another? Makes you think road rage may be warranted. I think Joanns is a necessary online if you can wait :)

  12. Wow, simply wow. We are all feeling your pain, unfortunately. At least you finally got the ruler at the right price!

  13. That sort of palaver makes me so mad. I refuse to shop anywhere that people are rude. And I hold grudges.

    Glad you got the template in the end.

    Feel free to rant away - I like a good rant myself!

  14. I really hate when retailers change the rules on you. Definitely gives you the right to rant. Good for you that you stuck to "your guns" so to speak and got the discount.

  15. WOW! It was your lucky week for the clueless talking out of their asses wasn't it?


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