Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New Toys for Big Boys, or All's Well That Ends Well

Hubby and his new "toy"

They say that if you look at a family's finances, it sometimes appears that the woman is spending more because she tends to spend her money on more small items at many places (like me picking up trinkets at the Antique Mall and the flea markets). However, if you add it all up, it is often the man who has spent more because he tends to spend his money on larger, more expensive purchases such as boats, electronic equipment, and stuff for their cars.

While I do believe this statement to be true, based on my personal experiences (I tend to "fritter away" my spending money in small doses while Hubby buys bigger items once in a while), I will disagree with the commonly spread myth that in general men do not like to shop (which is supposedly why they do not "fritter" like we ladies do). My guy, for example, has a very friendly relationship with the guys at our local home improvement chain store, as he is often over there two, even three times during a day when he is working on a project, asking advice, looking for a part, picking up something else they just figured out they needed. This is sometimes a point of contention at our house (I am a planner, who would prefer to make a list, buy it all ahead of time, and make do with just the one trip...what fun is shopping if you HAVE to do it?), though I must now admit that this good working relationship has recently come in handy and has been of benefit to us all.

Prior to our moving to our current home, we just had .6 of an acre to mow, and thus only needed a push mower. Once we purchased our 15 acres (five of which we maintain), we knew our exclusively push mower days were at an end. Finances being what they were at the time, with the house needing many repairs and a barn to be built, plans for a tractor were put on hold and we went our in search of a riding mower, or lawn tractor, as some like to call them. We found what we thought was a good deal, based on a few recommendations and a strategic rebate offer, and invested in a ****. I won't say what brand it was. I don't want folks coming here and making comments, but it was a commonly sold brand and its color was neither blue nor green nor red nor orange nor brown nor black...I think you can figure it out from here.

Within the first week, there was a problem. The folks at the store assembled it improperly, so when Hubby went out to mow for a long period of time, a missing screw or two (or three) allowed the hood to slip, overheat, and melt on the engine, causing the mower to, uh, smoke a lot and quit working. Hubby took it to the licensed dealer, they supposedly fixed it, and weeks later, he was back mowing. In the meantime, the lawn went un-mowed and got quite wild. A few weeks after getting it back, something else happened, and back it went. Another month or so of overgrown lawns, and we tried again. Nope. Still broken. 

Well, by now, thankfully, the grass had stopped growing as it was autumn, and the mower that was finally returned was put away carefully to winter in the garage. Come spring and it was brought out only to find that it wasn't really fixed correctly. Argh. Another season of almost constant belts falling off, parts going loose, fluids leaking, etc., and the whole time I was imagining my annoyed neighbors driving by, wondering why our family can't get our lawn mowed. After all, our oldest son does lawn and garden work for most of them. Why does our yard look the worst on the entire road?

Suffice to say, I was beyond annoyed (I wanted to wait for a tractor in the first place), and the kids were all sporting connect-the-dot puzzles in mosquito bites on all of their legs and arms from all of the bugs that were breeding in our long grass. The horses sure would have loved it, if there was fencing around the yard, but no such luck. Thankfully, this summer, before the warranty expired, Hubby finally had his fill of trips to the store to get the machine repaired and decided to take it back and report it as a lemon. After all, it had been in the shop more than being used by a factor of at least two, if not three or four.

So, Hubby took it back and asked that the store we purchased it from honor the warranty, or report it as a lemon, or something. The store shook their heads and offered to send it to a special company factory that would finally FIX IT RIGHT...guaranteed! Snicker. They sent it off, it came back a month later...still broken. Hubby didn't even get it in his truck...he lifted the hood and saw a problem right away. They sent it again. Keep in mind that our lawn is not getting mowed during this time, unless we drive over to pick up my dad's mower, or use the push mower (which had its own troubles as it was old). 

By this time, everyone knew our story at the store, and when it arrived back the second time, Hubby dutifully brought it home and mowed exactly ONE stripe of lawn before it started smoking. He reloaded it, took it back to the store, and told them it was still broken. They could hardly believe it. In fact, one newbie manager did not believe it and asked Hubby to drive it over to the field by the store and mow a strip. On the way over to the grassy spot the mower started pouring smoke and POOF! it exploded smoke and fluid everywhere (nobody was hurt). Well. Yup. It's broken.

Here's where the benefits of a great relationship with the local home improvement store workers comes in. Even though the company who produced this lemon of a mower refused to do anything at all to help, the folks at the local store agreed to replace the mower immediately. Wow!! Of course, by now, Hubby had had his fill of mowers of this brand and refused (politely) the offer, asking for his money back so we could just get a tractor instead. Well, they insisted they could not do that, BUT they'd be happy to replace our old mower with a classy John Deere of comparable size, or they'd let us add a bit to it and size up one class. This is what Hubby chose to do and as you can see from the picture above, he is very happy with the outcome.

I am certainly happy with the outcome, as our house is no longer the only one on our road that needs mowing. I am so grateful to the wonderfully honest and principled folks at our local store who did right by us, and grateful that Hubby was persistent and got the right folks to do the right thing.

Though sometimes I wonder if his persistence might have had a little bit to do with the fact that I told him the other option for getting our lawn mowed was to buy a herd of goats...and I knew just where to find some...or maybe not.

Any way you look at it, all's well that ends well.



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