Buyer Beware

Let me tell you my tale of woe and mind-bending frustration.

My husband and I are currently in the market for a television stand for our living room. As our living room is one of the nicer rooms in our house, we thought we’d get one of those electric fireplace stands. We don’t need it for the heat, but we think they’re really nice looking, and our daughter would sit and stare at the fake flames all day, no joke.

The town where we live is not overwhelmed with places to shop, and even the places we do have are smaller than their other counterparts and rarely stock what we’re looking for, so last Friday we took a drive. We drove to New Glasgow, and there we visited their Canadian Tire store.

The fireplaces were on display when we first walked in the store and we began browsing. Almost immediately we were joined by an associate who turned out to be the hardware manager, we’ll call him P. P was very nice and helpful. He showed us that he had a couple of fireplaces on sale, and in particular he led us to the end of the display and pointed to a lovely little display with glass-door cupboards and a 1500 watt heater. P made sure to impress on us that this particular model was on sale, and pointed to the tag that was placed in front of the display…Odessa Fireplace: $399.

After a bit of deliberation my husband and I decided that, yes, we liked this particular model very much. Our only issue was how we were going to get it into our car. No problem, said P…if you take it out of the main box it comes in smaller chunks that will easily fit in any vehicle. “Alrighty then,” we said, “Let’s do it!” So P picked up the tag that was in front of our fireplace – the one that read Odessa: $399 – and used the product number to go into the stockroom and find the fireplace. We paid, P took the smaller component boxes out of the main box and loaded them in our car, and we drove all the way home, which (did I forget to mention?) is about a 90 minute drive.

It wasn’t until my husband was halfway through putting the shelving together that we realized something was amiss. “Wait a moment,” he said, “This is a completely different color than the one we picked out!” It was true…the fireplace we’d picked out was a darkish brown, but the one we were currently assembling was almost black. I immediately called the store to complain that we’d been sent home with the wrong color. This is where things got nice and confusing. I gave the girl on the phone the product number on our receipt and she looked it up… “Ma’am,” she said, “This product only comes in one color.” I argued for quite a while, telling her that I didn’t care what the computer said, the item we had in a dozen pieces on our living room floor was a completely different color than the one we’d picked out. It was during this argument that I began to realize something: when we’d been unpacking all the parts, I hadn’t seen any glass for the doors. Soon we realized the (even stupider) truth: we hadn’t been sent home with the wrong color…we’d been sent home with an entirely different fireplace. My husband looked on the Canadian Tire website and found the one we’d actually picked out…it was labeled Orleans: $799. The tag that had been in front of our fireplace, the one P, the hardware manager, had pointed to several times and used to find the product in the stockroom, belonged to a completely different item.

P had gone home for the day. We would have to call back in the morning.

When I got a hold of P in the morning, initially he was very apologetic. He told me that he would make the trip himself on Monday to drive down the fireplace we had actually picked out and swap it for the one we had taken home. Okay, fine. I could deal with that. But a few hours later, things changed significantly. P called me back and said he had bad news. He said that the fireplace we had actually picked out wasn’t on sale (uh…no sh*t…did you even bother to look at it before speaking to me?) and that he could make it on sale, but only as low as $499 and I would have to pay the $100 difference.

Now, maybe some people would have taken it. Maybe to some people $100 isn’t a big deal. Truly, it’s not that big a deal to us. But it was the principle of the thing. This man brought us to that fireplace, he showed us the sale price several times. He was the one who got the item out of the stockroom and failed to notice that the picture on the box was a completely different fireplace. Every step of the screw-ups that ended with us driving 90 minutes home with the wrong item was entirely his fault. And now he was telling us that we were going to have to pay extra to get the item we had originally picked out, the item that he himself assured us was on sale for $399.

We told him this was unacceptable and he told us that he would have to wait until Monday to talk with his district manager to see if the price could be lowered anymore. We found that unacceptable as well, but decided to deal with it and see what would happen. In the meantime I called the corporate hotline. The man who answered the phone listened to my tale, sympathized with me, and told me that, unfortunately, corporate can’t force an individual store to honor a price mix-up, but he would send a fax to the district manager suggesting that they do so.

Monday morning I gave them until 10 am to call me. No one did, so I called and asked for P. He told me the answer had been no. It took all my strength to say good-bye before hanging up on him. But the best part? About two hours later the district manager called…to tell me no again.

So, to reiterate: the hardware manager f*cked up six ways from Sunday, sent us home (a 90 minute drive) with the wrong item (which, just for the record, was ugly as sin), and then refused to honor the deal he had originally told us we were getting. The district manager then reiterated that they were refusing to honor the deal, because apparently Canadian Tire can’t afford to lose $100.

And that’s why my husband and I, after returning the ugly-ass thing they had sent us home with, have decided to boycott Canadian Tire. Because when a multibillion dollar corporation refuses to honor their own f*ck-ups over $100, that’s someone that I really, really don’t want to do business with.

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