Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lesson from a scale lifetime warranty gone joyous

When I play solitaire, which I only do on vacation because I get lost in it, I always assume I will lose. When I applied for jobs or went on dates, I went in with the attitude that these were one-time meetings that would not bear fruit. There's a pessimism in my genetic makeup; I am thrilled when life works out otherwise. Beneath the pessimism, though, are superstition and hope; the dark attitude actually provides no protection.

Escali scales proved otherwise. Despite my waiting and losing hope, despite a snarky email, despite thinking all was lost even after I had sent the scale back to Minnesota to be fixed - because a few weeks is like an eternity in the Internet age - Escali shipped a new digital scale, explaining in a business form that the old scale was beyond repair.
People really are nice in Minnesota.

Shrieks heard round the block
I screamed with joy when the box with the new scale arrived and screeched with more happiness the next day when I told a friend at work who has been privy to the whole broken scale saga that the nice people of Minnesota are truly nice and not just in reputation and small talk at the airport.

The scale came to my door in the midst of Passover cleaning, after bread making had ceased. And it is Passover now, a holiday when one enjoys unleavened treats, a vacation from bread, so I have yet to try out the new scale. (I just did a bat mitzvah class talk on the whys and wherefores of the distinguishing bread from matzo. Very intriguing.)

Uplifting moral
Original moral of the story: Keep your receipts because no matter how many emails and how good a person you are, the company will not believe that you came by their product legally and under warranty - even lifetime warranty - protection unless you have the evidence to prove it.

Revised and actual moral of the story: Keep your receipts, but do not lose heart if you fail because you never know if there is an angel in Minnesota or elsewhere to give a hand or a new scale. Indeed, this can be true even if you send the company a snarky email that deserves to be met with a "screw you" response. Maybe all of that cold and snow, the sweaters and long underwear, the tea and hot soup, make for a kindness I was unfamiliar with while growing up in 60s New York City.

Almost posted
The following is the post I almost posted, literally with my finger poised over the "publish" button, but taken back to give just a brief moment of time before I sent this darkness out into the world. How right I was to hesitate. How wrong I was to have written these words.

Three strikes
I called the Escali scale company three times. The first time, they told me Yes!, you are certainly under warranty and fill out our online form. Form filled out, two weeks pass, no response and I called for a second time. The second time, like the chorus of a bad song, they told me Yes!, you are certainly under warranty and fill out our online form - and, get this, check your spam folder because our emails often end up there. Now that's a customer-friendly practice. I waited patiently yet again for my email response; I checked my inbox and my spam folders; I got distracted with work and travel and a few weeks later I called again. After all, people in Minnesota are nice, they go out of their way to help, right? I called a third time and the sweet young lady waited while she sent the email to me with the warranty information, received in my inbox on the spot; now all I had to do was read the warranty and mail my scale back.

Not so fast.

Turns out that when you receive a wonderful digital scale with a lifetime warranty there should be a giant warning that says in giant red letters: Keep your receipt. Do not ever throw it away or this lifetime warranty language will be meaningless, no matter how carefully you keep the box, the packaging, and the little leaflet that came with it and no matter how clean you keep the digital scale that you finally ordered after researching all of the options and no matter how much the lifetime warranty aspect of the deal figured into your selection.

Being in a snarky mood once I realized that the lifetime warranty was like a mathematical formula where you keep getting half way so that you never actually arrive at your destination, I wrote an email that demonstrated I was not born in Minnesota, but in a place where sarcasm and nastiness are somewhat appreciated. This will take years of meditation practice to make up from. [I get some credit for waiting to post this, but not much. Just to demonstrate the extent of my tantrum, the actual email to Escali follows.]
My email to Escali
Dear [Escali staff person name],
I spent a good part of the weekend looking for a proof of purchase for the P115C Escali scale I purchased about a year ago. I dove into the nether reaches of my Amazon and credit card accounts. I can't believe how much information is permanently stored, but alas I found nothing (my husband says I have no finding skills, but that usually refers to losing my glasses). I called King Arthur Flour to see if I actually purchased the scale through its catalogue as I had a purchase on my credit card from them at about the right time, assuming, of course, that I actually remembered when I bought the scale. Definitely after January 2013, but I would have to go through baking notes to get more specific. No, that King Arthur purchase, which I had forgotten, was a late holiday gift for a friend.
All I have is the scale and no proof of purchase other than the fact that since I did not receive it as a gift or steal it, the scale, now broken, is legally mine and unfit either for use or for repair. I have the original packaging, but alas, that is insufficient according to your warranty sheet.
The scale, when it worked, was marvelous, and a few weeks ago, when it broke, I was on the phone with a friend I had not spoken to in almost 25 years. No wonder, mid-dough preparation, I probably leaned on the bowl, which was sitting on the scale, a bit too much. After all, you talk to a high school friend and you act about as mature as you did in high school, which, in my case meant baking triumphs and accidents that will go unmentioned (except for the terrible peach pie made with peanut oil that said friend's mother took to an event, something that was forgiven, but certainly never to be forgotten).
I am tempted to send the scale to your company as it is presently of absolutely no use to me. I would like to send it for repair in accordance with the warranty, with your permission, of course. 
Otherwise, the scale will go into the garbage, I will purchase a scale from another company and I will likely write a snarky blog post on my bread blog about my sad scale warranty story. Really, I would much prefer that Escali live up to the warranty and fix my hitherto wonderful scale.

I await your response.
Thank you, 
Signed me [my name here]
Say it ain't so
Embarrassed to say this, but it was such a good scale that I [was] actually considering buying a second one (comparing it to some others) and this time placing the receipt in a safe place like a safe deposit box or in the box with the scale so that I am sure every time I use it that if something goes wrong, I will be able to ship it to Minnesota to be fixed. And by the way, escali means scale in Esperanto, according to the company website. Esperanto is a language that was somewhat promoted by Yiddish speakers and called a world-wide Yiddish, a culture that would appreciate a snarky email.

Don't you know
No response, not even in my spam folder, until three weeks later, a lovely Minnesota email. Those people are so nice, they melted my native New Yorker heart. This Wednesday, after Passover is over and I put away the holiday pots and pans, counter covers, and all manner of stuff I store in the basement for this one week a year, and take out of the pantry the toaster, the bread box, the bread cutting board and other accoutrements of everyday life, I will, with some trepidation, turn on the new scale. Right after, I will run downstairs to the freezer basement and defrost my sourdough starter, which will take about a week to be made ready to raise a bread. I can't wait to mix a dough with the new scale and smile with the thought that it is a scale that means kindness in any language.

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