Archive for October, 2008


Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

No one has built a better mouse trap.
I have a mouse running around my house.  I picked up the “Tomcat” traps at Kroger because it was all they had.  They tried to get fancy with the big yellow cheese-looking trigger… then tell you to bait it with peanut butter.  The mouse has cleaned the thing off 3 or 4 times now without it triggering.  Back to the old reliable ones (if I can find them anywhere!)

That’s not the topic of this post though.

Spammers really are relentless.  And stupid.  I have a dormant domain name registered (I think it cost me $1) just to play around with some stuff.  I put the PHPBB forum software on there when I first set everything up.  I got busy with other stuff and really never did anything with it.  I looked this morning and had a couple thousand posts, all from spammers.  All of them.  If you put a couple hundred telemarketers in a room together, you think they’d try to sell each other stuff?  I’m assuming they scripted a registration ‘bot’ somehow… but I thought that software had a CAPTCHA in the registration, but maybe not.

That’s not really the point of this post either.

Cold.  My house is cold, and has been since Saturday.  It was almost really hot on Saturday.
I was getting ready to head out Saturday evening and decided to kick the furnace one while I got ready and ate dinner.  About 2 minutes after I turned it on, all my smoke detectors went off.  I ran to the kitchen thinking it was just my dinner burning, but on the way there saw smoke coming out of a register and smelled burning plastic.  It only took a second to make the connection and run for the breakers to kill the furnace.
I went to check the furnace to make sure nothing was still smoldering.  The outside of the unit had some discolored paint, and that actually made the access panel difficult to get off.  In the meantime, I called the company that had just been out a week before to do the fall check-up.
One of their techs came and looked around inside the furnace.  At this point, I had already gotten the access panel off and could see the damage – burnt wires, melted plastic, melted aluminum, and just general destruction.  He apologized a couple of times, but stopped short of admitting it was their fault.  He said they’d have to order a couple of parts, but they would replace them all at no charge to me.

Sunday gave me some time to stew over the whole thing.  Replace a couple of parts?!  I’ve got burning plastic smell in my house and duct work and I don’t think a couple of parts are going to save this thing.  Even if they do, what else got damaged that is going to fail in 4 months?

Monday comes and they finally call in the afternoon to say they had to order some parts, they should be in Tuesday or Wednesday.  WTF?  I know UPS does overnight delivery.  I also asked about just replacing the whole thing so it doesn’t turn into a “well that didn’t fix it, we’ll order more parts.  Be another day or two.  Well that didn’t fix it, need a few more parts, be another day or two.”  I also wanted to know if they could clean my ducts out.  I called another HVAC company to come give me a quote, called my homeowners insurance to see what my policy might cover, and posted some pictures and questions on a HVAC forum.  Pretty much every response on the HVAC forum was along the lines of “No one in their right mind would put that thing back in service.”  A number of people were baffled that the company arguably responsible for starting it (and almost burning my entire house down) just wanted to replace parts… and might be a few days.  The sales guy from the ‘new’ company was out later that day… obviously he said it should be replaced.

The adjuster for my homeowners showed up Tuesday and looked at.  I have to say I’m very pleased with Farmer’s Insurance.  Fast, friendly, helpful… everything you’d hope for in your insurance company.  He even asked if I thought the company that serviced it was responsible.  I said it sure seems like a big coincidence if not.  The first time I use it since they came to service it, and it burns up after 2 minutes of use.  I’ll let him fight that fight if he wants.  But man was he nice… asked if I needed them to rent me some space heaters even!  After he left, I called The Stupid Company and got a “We haven’t seen the parts yet”  I asked about replacing the whole thing, and what they found out about cleaning the ducts out.  Would you believe I got “Well you talked to so-and-so… she’s out today… I can have her call you tomorrow” ….. WTF?!?  A few minutes later someone else from there called – I’m not sure if it was the owner or just someone in-charge.  He thinks it can be fixed, the smell will go away when they clean the stuff out of the furnace, ducts probably don’t need cleaned… they’ll fire it up and figure it out then.  Seriously.  There’s melted plastic flung all over the inside of the unit, so every time I run my furnace my house will smell like that.  He doesn’t think so, that compartment doesn’t get hot.  Umm… hello?  It’s a furnace, the entire thing at least gets warm when it’s being used.  No thank you.  He finally offers to turn it into their insurance “… but they probably won’t replace the whole thing, might take awhile, and we’ll have to put a stop on the parts until that all gets sorted out”  “Go ahead and do that”  At this point I’ve already decided that I’m replacing the whole thing – we’ll figure out later if I pay for it, they do, or my insurance covers it.  And I’m sure as hell not letting them back in my house after screwing the thing up in the first place and the complete lack of concern or anything resembling customer service on their part.  I give you people $300 a year for the last number of years to make sure something like this doesn’t happen, then you probably cause it?!  Any decent company should be falling over themselves trying to make everything right!  That conversation pretty much sealed it.  I actually know a couple of other people who use them – they won’t after this if I can help it.  I’ll get the cost of a new furnace out of them, even if I have to do it by costing them sales.

Wednesday evening someone from The Stupid Company’s insurance calls.  By now, I’ve already schedule one of the guys I talked to on Monday to install the new furnace.  His price was decent and a number of people I talked to, including a professional home inspector, had nothing but good things to say about them and Trane.  Insurance guy wants to send someone out to look at it.
“You have until Friday morning… it’s being replaced then”
“Oh.  So you’re having it replaced?”
“Yes… numerous HVAC professionals I’ve talked to and a home inspector I trust all said it needs replaced and duct work needs cleaned”
“I assuming you’re not having the same company replace it?”
“You assume correctly.”
“Ummm… ok… yeah… I’ll let you know tomorrow how we want to proceed.”
Guess their insurance sucks too – they don’t have ‘replacement’ insurance, so they only pay off what the damaged stuff was actually worth, prorated by age.  Furnace was only 6 years old, but that’s probably 1/2 maybe 1/3 of its expected life.  At this point I’m just being shitty… I really just wanted them to have to make a claim.  I think my insurance is going to take care of most of it for me, and maybe go after theirs to get some of their money back.  Still… 6 cold nights, stress, missed time from work… just a crappy situation and The Stupid Company doesn’t seem to care.  Hell, on Monday Logan’s said “You want it installed tomorrow?”  So I could have a whole new furnace installed in less time than it takes Stupid Company to get a few parts?!