Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Stooopid is as Sooopid Does...

A few days ago, when I awoke it was pretty damned cold in this house and I suspected there was a heating and/or air conditioning problem. We here in the Southwest use heat pumps for furnaces, a rather primitive/advanced way of heating our homes. It's ineffective, but adequate for our usually less than extreme winter season. A few days ago I noticed that the fan on my compressor was making one hell of a racket and knew from experience, it was the bearings in the fan motor were going out. The night before I noticed it had quieted down, never a good sign for something that was bad, as they about never correct themselves, but just cease. The 67 degree temperature inside my house was a damned good indication that a little ceasing had taken place and as much as I hate spending more money on this old house of 16, I really had no choice.

I was speaking with LJ on the phone and she suggested a heating and a/c company that she had used in the past when without notice, an actual light bulb lit over my head and I said, I think I've got this handled. I suddenly remembered Paul, my trusty mechanic telling me that if I ever had a heating or a/c problems, his new brother-in-law Bill was in that business and was currently, like so many of us in financial straits. He was also on the verge of having his truck repossessed, creating a need for ambition. I'll bet that Bill would really appreciate a new customer about now. I looked for the card that Paul had given me and found it without too much trouble and called Bill. He answered with a friendly hello. I told him who I was and he said he could help me, even when I asked if this is a pretty small job and can I do it myself? He said it was easy enough, but buying the correct motor was going to be the problem. I needed to get it from a Rheem licensed dealer and they weren't available to the public. He asked me what model I had and I went out to the unit and read him a number off of the id sticker on the frame. He said he would pick one up and bring it over as soon as he finished the little job he was on.

About 4 hours later, he called and said he was about 10 minutes away, was I home? An hour later he pulled up in front of the house as I was coming out of the backyard and waved him in, although he sat in his truck for about 10 minutes talking on the phone. As he got out of his truck, I heard him say, "Okay Dude" to the caller and hung up, indicating a personal call that kept me waiting. Without any introduction, Bill pointed to my gate and said, "this way?" As we entered my yard, my 2 large Great Danes greeted us and that didn't create any mention either. I guess Bill was just all business. Carrying my new motor, Bill looked at the unit that I had and asked if I'd told him it was a Rheem on the phone and of course I said yes. Then, under his breath he said the words, Dumb-ass. Puzzled I looked at him and asked, you or me? Occupied, he said "me", meaning him. It seems that Rheem had a side mounted motor and he bought a back mounted motor, supposedly to save me money. (I doubted that I was going to reap any benefit from Bills shopping abilities. I was beginning to understand why Bill was in financial trouble. A little background on Bill and his lovely wife, Paul's sister. I met Paul some 20 years ago and he had a younger sister who I met shortly after meeting Paul. The most noticeable thing about Paul's younger sister, was the Harley Davidson tattoo that spanned her entire back, from neck to butt and shoulder to shoulder. If I were making the choice to get a tattoo, I might have chosen something a little more feminine, like two ninjas battling. That's just me. She was also young enough to have been Bill's daughter as bill was older than me and his wife Suzy was in her late 30's, yet apparently a match made in heaven.

Bill disappeared without saying anything for about an hour and returned proudly with the correct motor and another phone call as he entered my yard and again without a greeting. He went right to work, talking to a buddy as he worked. The job consisted of removing the old motor, showing me it had ceased and screwing in the new one, after a couple of modifications. That gave Bill the time to tell me the story of the time he was doing a similar job and caught the customers house on fire, but because of Bills quick reaction time, he grabbed a garden hose and put it out without too much expense to the customer. Suddenly, I was in fear for my life!

Bill finished the job and told me to turn on the heater to see that it worked. I suggested he turn the power back on to insure smooth running. With a slap to his already fattened forehead, he said the inevitable, oh yeah! With a click of the breaker, we had a heater working and my gratitude.

Bill went to his truck and was back on the phone. I wanted to catch him before he wrote up the bill. I stopped him in front of the house and heard him say, hold on Dude, as he looked up and told him what I wanted. I told him that if he wanted to kept this on a cash basis, I could do without a receipt as long as he guaranteed his work. he said cool. Bill came into my house, without knocking and told me the job was going to be $250 and that he was able to save me 100 bucks because of my cash agreement. I wasn't born yesterday and had also replaced that motor before, and by a total stranger and he didn't charge me anywhere near that much. Less than a hundred bucks jumped to mind. Shocked and surprised, I asked Bill with a highly pitched voice, "How much was that motor?" Stumbling and not making any eye contact he started saying 50 some dollars when he caught himself and said $225. I almost laughed out loud! Shaking my head, I handed him 13 twenty dollar bills and asked for $10 change. Confused, he looked through my money and said there wasn' t a 10 in here, then handed me back 20, saying he was giving me another discount. In other words, he wanted me to believe he was doing the job for $15. Right!

So, what do we have here? A guy that could have had a new customer, that could have referred his friends to him, that also needs a new a/c system probably pretty soon, that is never going to call Bill again. I wonder why he's having his truck repossessed!

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