Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sears Does It Right…

A lot of people are acting like Sears is on it’s last legs, like it’s not sustainable… whatever.  I hope not.  At least for hand tools.


They were the first to offer a lifetime warranty (guarantee?) on hand tools, and in the last few years Home Depot (Husky), Lowes (Kobalt), even Harbor Freight (Pittsburg) have followed suit with various results (I’ve seen good and bad, notably Kobalt really took care of me recently), but Sears/Craftsman has always been good for me.


I’m usually not abusive to my tools, at least I rarely use them incorrectly unless there is no other way to get what I need to do done, but I am pretty big and can put forces on them that probably are not reasonable.  When I was a kid my dad would keep a nice pile of ratchets and extensions on display on a windowsill that I broke.  Usually I’d lean into a ratchet too hard, and pop, an extension would twist into 2 pieces (notably, I don’t think it was ever a craftsman extension).  A few times I’ve had a ratchet head explode or just rip the teeth out of it (only once a craftsman, a really old fine tooth ratchet that I found at a garage sale that I loved).


That said, I’ve broken A LOT of tools and although I wouldn’t consider any of the craftsman tools that I broke to be defective, I’ve always GREAT warranty service from them… just walk in and they replace it.  If it doesn’t exist anymore they do their best to give you something comparable or better.  They’ve also agreed to upgrades (sometimes charging the difference, sometimes not).  Never a hassle, never a question (sometimes a little joking around).  I like it.  I don’t want it to go away.

This brings me to the reason that I decided to write this:

Recently I was working on the Trans Am and had a stack of wrenches and some other stuff sitting under the hood.  Byron stopped by to give me a hand and knocked them into the support area in front of the radiator where the stuff ends up sliding down into the bumper.  Usually he’s pretty good about going after them, but this time both he and I forgot to.  Later I was driving to the gym and heard a THUNK, TING TING, Ting ting ting… as my 1/2” box end wrench left the car and bounced down the road.  I went back but couldn’t find it…


Yesterday, (on my birthday, happy birthday too me Winking smile ) I stopped by to see if I could get another.  I was talking with the guy at the counter about it and told him the stupid thing I did and he’s like “well, if you’re replacing an existing wrench I’ll cover that under warranty… I mean you had one, it’s a ‘no questions what happened to it warranty,’ obviously you intended to replace it… so here”



WOW!!!  I don’t know if it’s really your policy or if they guy there was just doing me a favor, but wow… Thank You!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Maryland MVA–You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Tomorrow is my birthday… Yay for me Winking smile


The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration felt that they should celebrate the occasion by expiring my license and forcing me to come in and renew… Yea, it’s not that unreasonable every few years.  I decide to check their site to see if there is anything special to bring in, what the nearest locations are and check the wait times. 

I basically had 2 reasonable choices:

- Beltsville- ~6 miles/14min drive (as per Google maps)- 13 minute wait time/18 waiting (as per the MD MVA web site)

- Columbia- ~14 miles/17min drive (yea, somehow if you get just barely out of this area driving becomes reasonable, even in what I’m pretty sure is a more densely populated area like Columbia)- 13 minute wait time/14 waiting.


I decide I’ll head to Beltsville… should take about the same and I’ll use a little less gas.  Good plan, right?  I have someone coming tonight to pick up some car parts I sold but I have 3 hours before he’s supposed to be there… NO PROBLEM…


I get there and start wondering- the parking lot is full.


I should have just turned around and went home.


This parking lot was clearly designed as some sort of driving test, or possibly a psychology experiment… the aisles are barely wider than 2 cars wide and laid out in a bunch of boxes making almost a maze, so if you’re stuck with a non-driver coming at you near one of the ends where you have to turn, well it gets interesting.  Even better, the side lot has the end of it’s lanes blocked off for the line for the “road test” (like driving around the parking lot is really a road test, that really explains how some of the driver’s around here got a license), so if you turn down one of them there is no place to get out or turn around (all the spaces were full), so you end up having to back up into the main lane and, well remember the non-drivers… Yea…


I park at the far end of the lot, walk in the “Driver’s Services” door and am greeted by a Cop policing the triage line (to protect and serve the MVA lines… is their motto, or something like that), which is maybe 50 people long… huh, this is longer than the total number of people that were supposed to be waiting…


Oh well, I’ll play with my phone, catch up on email… Oh look, the MD MVA has a “Wait Times” app… I NEED that Winking smile  let me download that and see what it says.  For some reason I found the “also installed” apps funny enough to take a screen shot of them.  Read into it what you want but it does make an interesting commentary on the MVA’s customers:Screenshot_2014-12-29-15-38-03


2.8 stars… looks like they hired a brain trust to write this one.  Huh.


Lets open this thing and see what it says, I’m betting that a few more people showed up in the 15 minutes it took me to get here.  Ok, show me the nearest MVA location to my current location… um… how the heck is this possible.  Red pins- MVA locations, blue pin- my current location.  I AM SITTING IN A FREAKING MVA OFFICE AND THEIR APP SAYS THAT THE CLOSEST LOCATIONS ARE 4 AND 11 MILES AWAY!!!  I’m not making this up, look:



Arg, what do you expect from the MVA… OK, forget nearest.  I can choose by county… OK, Beltsville… OK, well crud- the app crashed…


Fine, I’ll just restart, at least I know how to find the Beltsville location with this thing now… {crash}, {crash again}.  Well CRAP!  THIS THING SUCKS!!!  Really, you retarded mouth breathing monkeys can’t do better than this???


Fine, now I really want to know what they THINK wait time is.  I open their site, arg, mobile site… won’t tell me anything without downloading the app.  GRRRRR.  Fine, they have to have a link to the full site… um… that’s a big NO.  FINE, I’ll play around with the URL and find it… OK, here we go… (this is actually 2 screen shots combined so you can see the whole chart):


Well, I was right… there’s a few more people waiting.  (at this point I was handed my number by a nice gentleman… B122, and no, I wasn’t rude, I put my phone back in my pocket when I was 2nd or 3rd in line).  WAIT… how does that work???  When I checked before I left there were 18 waiting and it said there was a 13minute wait time, now it’s 23 people (~28% more) and now the wait time is 40 min???  13, 40… carry the 3, square root of something add the remainder… How the heck does 28% more people equal 308% the wait time???  They must be using the new math or something….


B122… B122… B122.  What number are they on?  On their big board there’s F’s, G’s… There’s a B… WAAA???  B81???  I refresh their web site… 21 people waiting… HOW THE HECK DOES 122 - 81 = 21???  (Just in case your education ranks up there with the rocket surgeons that are somehow involved in this cluster… 122 – 81 = 41).  OK, even if they only update every 5 minutes, they checked in like 1 or 2 more people since me… not 20!!!


Now I’m getting worried… This place closes in an hour and a half… a 27% increase in people = a 308% increase in wait time, and there appear to be roughly 2 times the people in line than they can count to (10 fingers + 10 toes + um…).



A little over 3 hours later “now serving B122, now serving B122, now serving B122…”  Hold your horses… I’ve had my butt planted on this steel bench for 3 hours and you can’t wait 10 seconds for me to get to the… hey, it’s the nice gentleman that checked me in… 


So almost 2 hours after the MVA’s closing time I walk out with a spanking new license, I no longer have a corrective lenses restriction (had Lasik a few years before I renewed my license last time but I forgot to say something), and 55lbs lighter (I didn’t lie, I actually told them 4# heavier than I weighed at the gym tonight). 

I can tell you that after dealing with the MVA brain trust for > 3 hours I look quite excited (do you see how I did that- sarcasm) in my new driver’s license picture.  I’m stuck with this one for 8 years.  Arg.

Oh, and the guy that was showing up to pick up the car parts… yea, he was there on time, almost an hour before I got home… Luckily I had everything ready for him so he didn’t have to wait for me.