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Turning Up Heat for Missing Oven Booklet

December 17, 1987|DON G. CAMPBELL | Times Staff Writer

Question: I recently bought $3,000 worth of appliances from Pacific Sales in Torrance. One of my purchases, a Tappan O'Keefe & Merritt combination oven/microwave, arrived without an instruction manual, which I need for the microwave. The wall adapter for the unit was also missing.

Pacific Sales suggested I call Tappan. Tappan told me that I should get a book from Pacific Sales, because it would take six to eight weeks for me to get one through the mail, and they could pull one from a unit in storage and then replace it with a new order.

I called Pacific Sales back and was told that the missing booklet was Tappan's fault, and while Pacific Sales would order me one, it would also take six to eight weeks to arrive. They would not pull a leaflet from another unit.

Shouldn't a customer expect to receive instructions on a purchase that has automatic starts/stops, microwave settings, no directions on what power setting is for defrosting and different settings, such as Cook One and Cook Two? So far I have been able to guess at a few things, but I would like to fully use what I purchased.

--J.E.

Answer: I can't say I blame you. It's a bit like going to the hospital with a broken leg and having the emergency-room crew hand you a pair of splints.

Spokespersons for Tappan (a subsidiary of the Electrolux Group in Columbus, Ohio) are quick to admit that the instruction manual should have been enclosed with the microwave and are at a loss to explain why it wasn't. They'll be happy to send you a replacement--and it won't take six to eight weeks because it will be mailed first class. But they need to know the model number, which they were prepared to get from you.

If you haven't heard from them, you might give Tappan's public relations manager, Paul Hellinger, a call at (614) 272-4135, and be prepared to give him the model number. (And also mention the missing wall adapter, which I neglected to bring to his attention.)

John Zorich, sales manager at Pacific Sales, doesn't know who gave you short shrift when you called "because for 28 years we've bent over backwards to be helpful in cases like this."

At the same time, however, Zorich concedes that there is a hesitancy--not only with Pacific Sales but with other distributors as well--to break open a carton for any reason. The store immediately loses control over all the contents of the carton once it has been opened, and the dealer has no real defense against claims (like yours) when missing parts or booklets, or what-have-you, are reported by customers.

Also, if someone in the store "borrows" the instruction manual from another carton to oblige you, who is going to be responsible for replacing it when Tappan does send the replacement?

"The trouble is," Zorich adds, "the customer expects the merchandise to be new, and when you give him a carton that's been opened, he's got a right to question whether it really is new."

Q: Both J.C. Penney and Sen. David Roberti (D-Los Angeles) sent me birthday greetings. Where did they get information on my birth date? Do I want a card from a department store asking me to buy goods from them--on my birthday?--D.T.

A: We live in an increasingly inquisitive society, and you may have noticed that you can hardly make application for a dog license without having to provide your own name, address, birth date, shirt size and puppy-chow preference. Why so much information is required for such mundane purposes remains a mystery.

Both J.C. Penney and state Sen. Roberti go to the same public-record sources for their information, according to the senator's press secretary, Steve Glazer. The most reliable: the voter registration files, where your birth date is a must piece of information to establish the fact that you, sure enough, are old enough to vote.

And in this computer age, shuffling out the names of everyone with the same birth date--and living in the right congressional or marketing area--is a piece of cake. Of all the direct-mail pitches we receive, receiving birthday salutations strikes us as being one of the more palatable ones.

Q: Some time ago, The Times printed an article about a "reverse-annuity mortgage" available to senior citizens who find it necessary to increase their income without moving from their homes during their lifetime. I have been unable to obtain information about it by calling L.A. financial institutions. Who can I contact for further information on this type of mortgage?--G.J.

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