Credit: Jane Gottlieb

Our family needed a home dryer, so my wife, Jane, an experienced online shopper, quickly found what she was looking for on the Home Depot web page. We paid $1,000 for an LG Electronics Large High-Efficiency Gas Dryer. What could go wrong?

Included in our purchase price were an installation kit, a three-year protection plan, and a promise to have the dryer installed within one week. We tracked our order status each day, and although a week late, the dryer finally showed up and was installed. 

Small problem: The dryer didn’t work. What followed was a three-and-a-half-month corporate horror story. A story that sadly seems to be repeated by others if you take a look at the Goleta Home Depot store’s home page. It has over six pages of one-star reviews in which frustrated, angry patrons scream into the internet void for help and justice. 

This, then, is a short story about how corporate America seems to be falling apart. 

Problem One:  The first and most obvious step was to call Home Depot and tell them our dryer didn’t work. Trying to connect via phone with a live human being there is, unless you’re willing to commit hours of your life, virtually impossible. Instead, you’re on hold for vast chunks of time listening to an unending stream of messages about other wonderful products available to you. It’s the kind of thing that, had I known about it years ago, I would have made my child listen to as punishment.

Problem Two:  Once you are miraculously connected to an operator, you are then put on hold for another long, painful wait in which you once again get to hear the same messages. Finally, when the operator reappears, you are connected to the department that sells your product.

Problem Three:  Nobody in that department ever answers the phone.

After failing to find anyone at Home Depot to speak with, I decided to see if their repair department could help me. I brought a number of snacks and YouTube videos to entertain me as I dialed their number. If there is a circle in hell to torture humans, it will probably closely resemble this experience. After once again being placed on hold and hearing the numerous shopping opportunities my family would have at Home Depot, I was finally able to reach a human who asked if I could please hold. After about 10 minutes, I realized that she wasn’t ever coming back.

At this point, I no longer really cared about the dryer. By now we were hanging our wash on backyard clotheslines, just like our grandparents did before Home Depot existed. Instead, I was now curious if, in the 21st century, the task of returning a dryer could ever be accomplished. It had become my own personal Mount Everest.

The next time I called, I was ready for them. I was able to binge-watch a number of programs on Netflix and catch up on most of my email. I no longer minded being on permanent hold. In fact, I was getting used to it. Finally, a woman came on the line and allowed me to repeat my tragic dryer story. She couldn’t have been more sympathetic, but alas, this wasn’t her area. She would, however, be glad to connect me to someone else in the store who could help me. I told her I would be honored to hold. The incessant noise of the Home Depot pitches was becoming almost soothing. At long last, I had actually found someone who could help me! Well, she couldn’t really help me, but she told me that if I called the manufacturer, they, perhaps, could help me. And so my journey continued. 

I won’t describe my troubled interactions with the LG Electronics phone system. It was as long and equally painful as you can imagine. When I was finally connected to a human, I was able to convince them that their appliance didn’t work. They said they’d send a “technician” out to fix it. We continued to hang our clothes out to dry. After 10 days, one of their fellows showed up, took a look at the dryer, and told us that maybe our duct wasn’t working? Get the duct fixed, he said, and he promised to come back. 

After calling around, I finally was able to find a chimney sweep company that was willing to send a man to look at our duct. He spent quite a while coming in and out of the house, thoroughly entertaining our four dogs. Turned out the duct was fine. He reckoned we simply had a dryer that didn’t work. I paid him hundreds of dollars and got back on the phone.

I was lucky enough to have an online baseball game to watch this time I called LG. By the fifth inning of the game, I finally was able to reach someone and, yet again, tell them our wonderful dryer story. They promised they’d get right on it. 

Two weeks passed. We strung up a longer clothesline. Suddenly, another “technician” showed up to look at our dryer. Our dogs once again were thrilled to have an in-house visitor. He spent hours taking the dryer apart and putting it back together. Finally he told us, “Your dryer doesn’t seem to work.” I nodded, and he left.

After another week of not hearing anything, I again reached out to LG. Once more, I had the joyous experience of being put on eternal hold. When someone finally answered, they informed me they had no record of our dryer problem. Seems that the new “technician” had failed to file any kind of report, and without his report, their hands were tied. So was my laundry, tied by clothespins. This person suggested I call the company that sent the tech guy out. I did so, but after three days of trying to reach them, I realized they probably were never going to answer their phone. (My record for most rings was 41.)

 I gave up on them, and, armed with hours of good books to read, again called LG.

LG promised that they’d send a new “technician” out to our house next week. If he can make it through the now seemingly endless lines of drying clothes and our four dogs excitedly waiting to meet him, he can take a look at our machine. He’ll see it doesn’t work. I’m sure that by the end of the year, LG Electronics and Home Depot will provide us with a brand-new Large High Efficiency Gas Dryer. 

In the meantime, I’d like to thank everyone involved who provided me with this true urban adventure, one in which perseverance and a never-say-die attitude were rekindled within me. Thank you, and now I’m going to take a shirt down off the line and go back to my real life.


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