Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Dear Canadian Tire

For years we have waited with anticipation for Thursday when the Canadian Tire flyer comes in the Newspaper. My husband's ritual is to separate out all of the flyers, then he reads the paper, browses through the other flyers and then carefully peruses the Canadian Tire flyer last. How he sighed over the titanium tap and die set. He was in raptures over the speed grinder. He positively drooled over the air compressor and the planer was almost an orgasmic experience. There seems to be no end of drills, routers, bits, screwdrivers, clamps, pliers, saw horses, drill bits and other tools both electric and manual that a handy man needs in his arsenal of repair tools. So over the decades he has patiently waited and carefully saved so that when these essential items are on sale he can pounce on the opportunities provided. So you will understand that his workshop resembles a Canadian Tire warehouse with every tool carefully stored in it's own little niche.

One of his more recent purchases was a scrollsaw, bought primarily because there are some jobs that can be done with a jigsaw, but they are done with greater ease and accuracy with a scroll saw. It was surprising when it was first plugged in, to find that it rattled so much that it walked across the table, suggesting that it was in some way out of balance, so we returned it to the store for a different machine. It too, walked across the table. We returned to the store and your most helpful staff agreed to plug in the other machines in the store so that we didn't have to make more trips just to plug them in and see whether they would sit still. We selected the machine that was the most stable and returned home.

Once we had a working machine, my husband discovered many lovely free scrollsaw patterns available on the internet and began a love affair with fretwork.

Lions, dogs, eagles and butterflies were soon appearing everywhere. After very little usage we noticed some metal bits sitting under the saw and were found to be pieces of bearings and a quick call to your service department resulted in replacement parts being sent to us the next day.

Sadly after this we had an endless list of things the went wrong with the machine. The bellows, a little rubber ball that is compressed with each stroke of the blade, puffs out a little blast of air to remove the dust from around the work. Except that the rubber has become brittle and cracked so that it no longer blows air. We called to see about a replacement part in October, but were told it might take some time as the parts were on order. No one likes to stop in the middle of a project so an aquarium pump was purchased and run at the same time as the saw to facilitate usage.

Then the light went out. You can't see under the saw arm without a light to illuminate where you are cutting. Again the staff was very accommodating and the replacement part was received. However, the light, which is at the end of the articulated blower arm has wires running through it which connect inside the machine. The replacement part received is an empty tube; no light, no wires. Another call resulted in the warehouse staff checking all of the parts in stock to find that they are all missing the light and wires. A special order had to be sent to China for new parts to be manufactured. My ever resourceful husband, jury rigged his machine again so that he could see to work and waited for the call back with news about his parts.

About this time the weather got cooler and he decided it would be more comfortable to work inside and he moved the scroll saw into the basement and made fittings so that the saw was connected to the vacuum cleaner. Sawdust in the garage is one thing, but sawdust in the house is a completely different mess. Especially when he's making the scrollsaw work in quarter inch poplar, then making the background frame to set it off nicely, staining it a dark colour and finishing it off by cutting a box out of solid one inch wood and adding a masonite top and bottom which creates more dust.We called again in November to see what was happening with the replacement parts and discovered that since we had told the staff not to send another empty tube without a light, that they had assumed the part was not required and nothing had been ordered. We asked for the parts again and requested a follow up call to let us know one way or the other. We were assured that we would receive a return call the next day. A week later we followed up again because no one had called back.

It was suggested that we just return the saw to the store for a replacement. We had already tried all of the machines in stock and had the machine that did the least amount of table walking which might have been caused by broken bearings and the ones on our machine had just been replaced. We had added an aquarium pump that gave better air flow and added a fixture to hold the vacuum hose, so we didn't want to just replace the machine and have to start again. We again requested the parts and asked them to let us know what was happening with them.

In the days before Christmas when hubby was scrolling some Christmas gifts the knob that holds the saw blade in broke. We again called for the replacement part and were informed that they would not be available until after Christmas. That's not good news when what you have half done is a Christmas gift that's needed in 2 days. The knob has a specific thread and just replacing it with a screw wasn't going to work. We called the store and when we told them our predicament they graciously loaned us the knob off the floor model until the replacement came in.

January rolled around and we didn't see the long delayed parts and made another call mentioning they previous tickets that had been opened for replacement parts. After the Christmas gifts were passed out several request came for additional pieces like the eagle my BIL fell in love with bat wanted a larger version of. That's when we discovered that the special order for the blower arm/light had not been placed. In fact, none of the replacement parts had been ordered, or they had been ordered and cancelled. I suppose the warehouse staff is terrific at sending out what they have in stock, but when their paperwork indicates a part that is essentially defective, they don't seem to have an efficient way of notifying the manufacturer and requesting a change.

After days of talking to various people, all of whom assured us that they would investigate and call us back without receiving a single return call, it was time to talk to a manager. We have a workshop full of Mastercraft products, we are very loyal (and lucrative) customers but 4 months is a long time to wait for things that you have been assured "are in the mail".

The parts are not currently, and may not ever, be available. Scroll saws are obviously not on everyone's Christmas list so while they sell the machines, they may not stock all the replacement parts. Not to be deterred by that, our resourceful manager scoured the stores and found one that had a floor model with all of the necessary parts and had them shipped to us post haste. The NEW replacement parts are still on order and will be sent if/when they are available. AND Both the manager and the representative who referred us to the manager followed up every day until the parts were in out hot little hands.

It took a while, but when it really came down to it you came through. Canadian Tire - you guys rock!


Ladytats said...

your DH does very good work. and an amazing saga. Good luck in the future with your machines.

Heather of Tatted Treasures said...

That's quite an adventure in replacement parts. I probably would have found another company that makes a better scroll saw at some point in the process. But I can definitely understand loyalty to a company that you have loved for so long.

Your husband is making beautiful work with that saw, and when he gets the new parts am sure that will be even more gorgeous. No wonder everyone wants more!

Kathy Niklewicz said...

Once again, you have left me exhausted from yet another 'adventure'! Those beautiful projects involved more work than anyone could imagine!

I was relieved that no fingers or trips to the emergency room were involved. It does seem that there should be a machine out there somewhere that functions properly!

The two of you would make a great team at a Victorian-era 'festival' - him at the jigsaw (but I guess electricity is needed!) and you with your tatting shuttles!

Fox said...

I read this post with bated breath, for like Kathy, I was half expecting to read about a very bloody and gruesome happening concerning moving parts and a machine that had run amuck.

Happily, this was merely another rollicking tale, told as only you can tell it. Thanks for a delightful read.

Your mate does some very fine work.
Fox : )