Why Am I Dialing India? Some Thoughts About Trying To Get A Service Call For My New Furnace

While we had the new furnace put in last April, we haven’t really had an opportunity to test it out.  While it might have been sunny and warm during the day this past Columbus Day weekend, the nights were very California-like; the days started off foggy, gradually got hot, but ended up kind of chilly at night.  Consequently when we got up to the house late Friday night, it was 44 degrees outside, and only 59 degrees inside the house.

We turned on the thermostat and yes, the radiators warmed up nicely….but only on one side of the house.  It seems that the Red House has a two-zone heating system which is supposed to heat the first floor then the second floor.  Well, in theory that’s how it’s supposed to work.  We found out that in reality, only half of each floor is controlled by each zone.  Which means, we had heat in the living room and our bedroom (the east side of the house), but no heat in the upstairs bathroom, guest room, and the family room on the first floor (the west side of the house).

Since our first priority was to have something to eat (my hot potato and leek soup), it wasn’t until 12:35 a.m. that I dialed the number for service.  Little did I know that the company we had bought our furnace from, that would be Sears (previously known as Sears Roebuck & Co. and founded in 1886 which makes it younger that the Red House), would be outsourcing its call center to India. Which means at close to 1 a.m. after being up roughly 19 hours, I’m trying to explain to someone in a different time zone about my relatively new furnace not heating one entire half of my house.

Now, considering we survived just fine last winter by sleeping with all our clothes on underneath a layer of quilts, I wasn’t worried that we wouldn’t get through this nippy night, too.  After all, our room had heat, but no other bedroom did.  But more importantly I was angry. If I’m laying out big bucks for a new furnace, that furnace had better well be working!

My New Furnace

Saturday morning I received a phone call from a Sears representative in the United States (Florida to be precise), who apologized for my “inconvenience” and told me she would contact the repair person ASAP. Sunday morning came and went and finally on Monday I picked up the phone again and started ranting and raving about getting someone out to look at the furnace to see why only half of my house was heating up.

But here’s the thing.  At this point I was told by Sears that they don’t offer 24/7 emergency service.  And while they kept trying to contact the one authorized repair person in my area, they kept getting an answering machine and didn’t have his cell phone number.

I thought that was odd and then remembered that I had the cell phone number of the guy who had installed the furnace for me in the first place and could this conceivably be the same person who was now responsible for maintenance, too?  It was.  I called the number I had and sure enough it was the same person.  I told him the problem and asked if he could come over to look at it but he said he couldn’t because he had another job to go to over 100 miles away.  He suggested we “drain” the pipes, thinking there might be an air pocket preventing the water from going through the old steam radiators, so Lynn and I found a couple of buckets, some pliers, and went around letting the water out of the radiators.  We cranked the heat up to 72 degrees in the house and voila — all the radiators started to work.

But here’s the thing.  Living on Long Island, I guess I’m spoiled.  If I have a problem with any appliance in my house, I can usually get someone to at least come out and look at it within an hour or two. In Upstate New York, I apparently don’t have that luxury.  But I’m also dismayed that what I always thought of as the quintessential American company (that would be you Sears, Roebuck & Co.) is using a call center in India! Hello, isn’t the federal unemployment rate still hovering around 9.1%? Couldn’t we transfer some jobs back to the U.S. of A.?  Like this one?

As if this wasn’t trying my patience enough, I was also informed that if I ever have a “real” heating emergency in my home, it would only be dealt with Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

I guess I should learn how to knit.  I may have to start making a bunch of blankets.

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