Sunday, January 17, 2010

Extended Warranties and Lowe's/Samsung

I used to be a member of the group that did not believe in purchasing extended warranties on new items. It seemed silly to spend money on the chance that a brand new item would have problems early in its life. But problems with a newer appliance that cost several hundred dollars to STILL not fix made me rethink that process.

Last year we acquired a new washer, dryer, and dishwasher (at different times). I bought them at Lowe's, and the salesman assured us that the Samsung brand was one of the top-of-the-line, and I should have no problems with it at all. However, he went on to advise us that Lowe's also offered the industry's best extended protection. Five years of security for just pennies a month and we would be guaranteed to have no problems at all. Since we were investing a lot in these appliances, it really did make sense, and the money I had set aside allowed enough for the warranties. So we trusted Lowe's on both counts.

Fast forward a short time. The dryer started squeaking shortly after installation. Samsung was warranting at that time, so they sent out Mr. Appliance, who replaced the pulley system. Turns out that the factory had never bothered to oil any of the internal parts. Since then, my buddy at Mr. Appliance (he knows me well by now) has been out repeatedly...he's replaced all the pulleys and the main belt AGAIN and has even installed an entire new motherboard because the timer stopped working and nothing got dry! Granted, this cost me nothing, but how ridiculous to have the service folks out 8 times in a year on a NEW dryer!!!

As for the washer, have you seen the Samsung commercials that show the kid stacking toys on the washer and they say that you never know it's running? HA!!!!!!!! We have one of those "ultra quiet" models like the commercial promotes. That thing is so unbelievably loud that it's almost intolerable! And not only does it vibrate, it vibrates THE ENTIRE HOUSE!!!! You seriously think there's an earthquake if you're upstairs, every wall in the house rattles, and even the toilet shakes! Those commercials royally tick me off!

Now we move on to the nightmare. Back in early December, the upper spray arm popped off. When we put it back on, it came off again as soon as the dishwasher started running. So we called Lowe's Extended Warranty department. Sadly, it had been about a month over a year. But the salesman had told us how great Lowe's was, right? *sigh* They assigned this joke of a company called Turner Consumer Services to the job. Google them - every review is horrible. They can't do anything right, and I can attest to this. What's most frustrating is that they LIE all the time! And this company represents Lowe's? So far, I don't think Lowe's is much better.

Turner came out after I had detailed the problem over the phone. The guy was here about 2.5 minutes. He said, "yeah, it's broke." Really?? Gee, I didn't know that. He said he had to order a part and left. Several days later he called to schedule the install. He came out, popped the part on and was here maybe 4 minutes. I wouldn't let him go until I tested it, and guess what? The new part popped RIGHT back off! So he said, "I have to order another part." He left....again. So I waited. And waited. And waited. I finally called Turner Consumer Services to ask when they would be back. She said someone had to call me back. So I waited and no call. I called again and was told the part was on backorder. Then an hour later, the part was on order and en route. Huh?

So I called Lowe's to demand to know when I was going to have it fixed. They informed me that their file said my dishwasher was fixed. They put me on hold and called the idiots that be at Turner. When they came back, they said the part was in and I would be on the schedule the next day. Okay, so in one day the part goes from backordered to ordered to in hand???? Riiiiight. But at least he'd be out the next day, right?

WRONG! I got a call the next day....."Uh...I just opened the box and we got the wrong part so I can't fix it today." Okay, let's establish something. The first part was flat and about 8" long and 1.5" wide. Small, right? The new part was an entire internal arm setup, about 6 FEET long and with several components. Call me crazy, but does anyone believe that there is any chance in the world that those two parts would come in the same size box????

So I called Lowe's again. This time they sent me to the "complaint department." I supposedly got a supervisor. He said he would get them to work on it and he would call me back on Friday to make sure I had heard from someone about getting it finally fixed. It's Sunday. Do you think he called? Yeah, right. Never heard a word from him, even after I called him and left a message for him to call me right away.

Can you even believe this nightmare???? I've been dealing with a broken dishwasher for over a month now, and I have absolutely no idea if or when Lowe's or Turner Consumer Services is going to do anything at all. I've been told that due to contractual obligations, I'm stuck with Turner Consumer Services. What's funny, though, is that another rep at Lowe's checked their orders and found that they never ordered the part I needed. Never. So we've proved they lied, but we're still stuck.

I guess the lesson here is don't bother with the Extended Warranties. From what I understand, only about 5% of appliances require service in the first few years, so it's a gamble anyway. Take the money you would have spent on the warranty and set it aside in your checking account. Then if you DO need a repair, find a reputable company and get it fixed. Reputable...Lowe's apparently has no idea what that means. If you buy the warranty, you're forced to take whatever low-life, works-for-nothing-and-worth-less-than-that company they choose to send you. And you are stuck. Completely stuck. It's really not worth it!

I hope none of my readers ever have to deal with this situation. And even more than that, I hope I never have to go through this again. I just hope someone grows a brain soon and actually helps me. It saddens me that Lowe's would treat their customers this way. We have bought a LOT at Lowe's in the past. It's a good thing they have lots of competition!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Baby, it's COLD Outside!!

Actually, I'm not even sure that "cold" is an appropriate description. It's crazy-frigid here in Kansas City! They're talking about wind chills of -35° by Friday morning, and highs by the end of the week (HIGHS) of 3° and 4°. BRRRR!!!!

With the temperatures that low, we aren't getting out much! I did get to Aldi yesterday with a very long list. I spent $74, which is a LOT for me at Aldi! But...we would probably be okay if I didn't get to the store for the next two weeks. I'm sure that won't happen, but it's nice to have everything we need. Today I managed to get a mystery shop done, but tomorrow and Thursday, I don't have any intention of getting out of the house. I really hope they cancel school tomorrow, because we're supposed to get even MORE snow (we already have about a foot out there) starting around noon tomorrow.

I know that there are areas that are even harder hit than Kansas City - I've been told that Minneapolis has about TWO feet of white fun and that driving involves following the "ruts" in between the hills of solid ice. Yuck! It's bad all over, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants it to all go away and warm to a reasonable temperature.

I remember once a few years ago when I was traveling with a friend to Denver to visit a friend of his and to see a couple of concerts (Suzy Bogguss, if you're interested). It was near Christmas and we had to travel all the way across Kansas. Well, as luck would have it, a terrible snowstorm hit during our trip and we got caught up in the midst of it. I-70 was shut down due to the conditions, but we weren't even ON I-70. My friend was taking an "old highway" that ran parallel to the more popular route, and of course, it had not been paved at ALL. We were in a four-wheel drive SUV (thank God for that!), but it was a full-blown blizzard and we guessed that we were driving through 12-18" of fresh snow. Mark was literally driving on knowledge of the road, as he had taken it many times to visit the Denver area and basically had every turn memorized.

It was terrifying, but there was no where to stop, and we both knew that if we stopped anywhere, we'd never get started again and we didn't have any idea when someone might come along that road. We just kept driving. Somehow we never went off the road, and eventually we reached a junction with a convenience store. It was an oasis!!! We went inside and found many other travelers who had been dealing with the same issues, and we stayed inside until we both felt calm enough to drive again. The main highway was open at this point, at least for a short distance, so we asked about hotels. It was only a few miles up I-70 to the closest one, so we set out. It was slow going, and still rather scary, but we made it to that exit. Of course, the hotel was full. They allowed Mark to call ahead to the next exit and he was able to find a hotel with some rooms. So back onto the road we went, and we made it safely to the hotel. I'm not sure a hotel room has ever felt so great. :) The next day wasn't nearly as bad, and we did get to our destination on time, but it was a harrowing experience that I hope to never repeat. I'm very fortunate that he knew the road as he did had was well-practiced at driving in heavy snow.

For the record, the concerts were absolutely wonderful and I had no regrets about making the trip. I also fell in love with both Colorado Springs and Denver. It was beautiful there, and I enjoyed the difference in elevation and how it felt. I hope to go back there "Someday Soon." (That's a Suzy song, for those who don't know.) It was definitely an experience I will remember for a very long time.

When I started this post, I wasn't even thinking about that trip, but you never know where your words will take you when you start blogging, do you? :-) I just wanted to talk about the cold and ask my readers a question: What do you do keep warm when the weather outside is frightfully frigid? We have space heaters downstairs, where the temp keeps falling to 60° and below, and I burn candles upstairs to make it feel warmer. We have throws on the couches for snuggling and I have been baking most of the afternoon. Cocoa is another favorite, as it warms everyone from the inside out. At the kids' snacktime today, I was reminded of a poem and gave them a familiar treat. Remember this?

Animal crackers and cocoa to drink.
That is the finest of suppers, I think.
When I'm grown up and can have what I please,
I think I shall always insist upon these.

The kids loved their snack, even though they don't know the poem. :-)

So please share how you are keeping warm and cozy in this VERY cold time. They say it's the worst winter in 20 years. I believe it!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Great Deal on Webkinz

It's been one of those days so started out with my son up at 2:15 a.m. not feeling well and moved along to taking him to the local Take Care Clinic along snow-packed roads with snow falling like crazy. Ugh. At least I wasn't being a paranoid mom, though, as his strep test turned positive very quickly. If only they could have gotten me the prescription half as quickly. That. Took. Forever. Seriously - I have been reminded why I only go to CVS for my prescriptions. Walgreens is disorganized, slow, and not very friendly, either. And they LOST my prescription between the Take Care Clinic and the pharmacy. How do you DO that?? But that's another story, and really not even worth discussing! At least we were the first ones in the door at the Take Care Clinic, and would have been in and out very quickly if not for the pharmacy.

While we were at Walgreens, my kids were looking at the toys, and the girls discovered some special packs of Webkinz that had both a regular pet and the Lil Kinz that matched. Considering that most Webkinz I find cost about $14.99, the set for $9.99 seemed like a great deal. After forcing them to sit for almost two hours during Trevor's clinic visit and the ridiculous pharmacy adventure, I told them I'd go ahead and buy them. I'll just pick up an extra mystery shop or two this month to pay for them. :)

At the checkout, I was stunned when the packs rang up at $5.00 and $4.99! They were half-price, along with the Christmas items! Even the cashier was shocked, and said she was going to have to get some at that price. She even called over another associate to share the deal with her. If your kids love Webkinz, you definitely need to head over to Walgreens for this deal. They had some in a sidecap display in the toy area and others in a bin in front of the Christmas merchandise (what was left of it, anyway). I wonder when they will go 75% off? That would be worth another trip to get some for gifts. I plan to go back later in the week just to check!

If you happen to read this and visit your local Wags for some cheap Webkinz (think birthdays, or even Christmas this year), let me know! It's not often that you find them this inexpensively. Happy shopping!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolve to Eat Breakfast

Today is the first day of 2010. Whether you call it "twenty-ten" or "two thousand ten," it's the dawn of a new decade. It's also the time for those wonderful New Year's Resolutions. Did you make any? I prefer to think of them as goals, and I have a few in mind, but haven't put them to paper just yet.

If you're also still planning out your resolutions for the year, I have one that you definitely need to add to your list, both for you and your family. Resolve to eat breakfast this year! Eating breakfast is the best way to start out the day.

One of the best choices for breakfast is a nice bowl of General Mills cereal. They already make many of the best kids' cereals on the market, but now they are making them even better! General Mills has made a commitment to further reduce sugar in cereals advertised to kids under 12 to single digit grams of sugar per serving. The company has already been reducing sugar in cereals while increasing key nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, and providing whole grain.

And there are plenty of other benefits to enjoying a bowl for breakfast:

* Ready-to-eat cereals, including presweetened cereals, account for only 5% of sugar in children´s diets.

* Ready-to-eat cereal is the number one source of whole grains in a child´s diet today.

* More frequent cereal eaters tend to have healthier body weights and lower Body Mass Index measures.

* Studies also demonstrate the benefits of eating breakfast. A 1998 study showed that children who eat breakfast tend to perform better at school. Compared to children who skip breakfast, children who eat breakfast score higher on tests, are less likely to miss class or be tardy, have fewer reported discipline problems, and make fewer trips to the office.

For more information about kids and cereals, please visit Cereal Health and Wellness.

Did you also resolve to save money this year? Then I've got a deal for you! Right now if you visit here you will find a $1 off coupon for one of four General Mills cereals. How great is that??

Eating breakfast is a simple way to improve your overall health and well-being. Resolve to commit to a morning family meal, and make General Mills a part of that. This is one resolution you will enjoy keeping!

DISCLAIMER: I received four coupons for a free box of General Mills Cereal through MyBlogSpark for posting about General Mills' commmitment to kids' nutrition. No other compensation was received. The facts are from General Mills, but the opinions are strictly mine and you will always find General Mills cereals in my pantry! :-)

Fiber One Winners!!

With the holiday season, participation was sadly low for my recent Fiber One Yogurt giveaway. But that's good for those who took the time to enter, isn't it?? :) This morning, I went to to generate two numbers to choose my winners. If I knew how to do it, I would post the screenshots of the generator, but I have no clue how to do that. If you know, and would tell me in a comment or email, I'd love to learn!!

My winners are:

#1 JDaniel4's Mom and

#7 Annie Jones

Congratulations, ladies!!! I will be sending you an email very soon to get your mailing information and your prize pack will come directly from MyBlogSpark. I hope you enjoy your free yogurt, as well as all the fun goodies that come with it.

Thanks so much, and I look forward to more giveaways in the future. Hopefully the timing will be better and more folks can get entered!!

Happy New Year to all!!!!