Light and Re-Light My Fire… again and again and again…

My wife loves the look of flickering flames… a little arsonist in the singer perhaps. So her Christmas gift was to get rid of the wood stove inherited with the house and give her something where she could SEE the flame. Which brings me to regale you with yet another bad experience with a local business (actually two local businesses). Buchanan Fireplace in Medford has spent the last month convincing me any success they have in business is by osmosis or fairy dust.

I went to the Medford location in early December with the hope of buying a gas insert fireplace and having it installed before Christmas. The owner Rob Buchanan was working the store and explained the types of units available and handed me a color brochure. As I made notes on the prices, he explained that the installation was extra; $500.00 for a plumber who would pull a permit, and an installation charge that was $450.00 if his employees did it, but he admitted they were booked through Christmas. Rob suggested a third party installer William Moore, guaranteed that the work would be as good as his own, and said Mr Moore charged $500.00 for the installation. $50.00 more would get me a pre-Christmas installation.

The next day I called Rob and confirmed all the info on the phone. $3476.00 for the gas insert, and $1000.00 installation ($500.00 to the plumber, $500.00 to the 3rd party installer). Rob assured me this was the cost, and I set up the installation at that time. I did NOT get a written estimate via email or on paper; Rob seemed like a straight shooting guy. Mistake #1.

The unit was delivered and installed on the day promised (Dec 20th), but the 3rd party installer Bill Moore then presented me with a bill for $625.00 for a $500.00 installation quote, which I paid (Mistake #2). When I contacted Rob about the extra charge he claimed he never made the $500.00 quote and that any problem I had with that price was my problem and I should work it out with Mr Moore. Rob claimed he had no control over Mr Moore at all. Since Rob contracts work out to Mr Moore, and can stop doing this at any time if Mr Moore’s work is substandard or he is overcharging Buchanan customers, I think Rob controls Mr. Moore a great deal. Rob Buchanan has done nothing but backtrack and deny quoting the price at all and asked me “do you have that (quote) in writing?”. He is totally unconcerned about my being overcharged on his quote and has continued to do nothing about this issue other than telling me it is my problem with Mr Moore.

Mr Moore took his $625.00 payment and left the side yard full of empty cardboard boxes, the old flu piping, and some small sharp four sided aluminum squares sticking out of the ground for a dog or kids to walk or fall on. When emailed and asked if he was picking these things up, he responded I could put them out with my trash. Nice! It took a second email to remind him what customer service actually looked like to people before he returned and took away all the trash two days later. When I brought this up to Rob, he again told me it was my issue with Bill Moore (whom he had strongly suggested using as the installer at the first meeting) and none of his business.

The fireplace began malfunctioning right after the new year. The fire comes up but then blows itself out. When we complained to Rob he surprised everyone and came out himself after work (actually he said he would call first before he came out, then he just showed up) and watched the unit keep going out for about 90 minutes, somehow hoping each time he turned it on it might stay on and he could say it was fixed. He said “I will be back with the Regency rep”. One week later… no calls, no date set. I left one message that went unreturned, then a second message two days later asking when this was going to be fixed. I got a phone call from an employee who wanted to show up at 9:00 AM on the next Sunday morning to replace some parts. 9:00 AM Sunday is a nice time to welcome repair folks to the house, don’t you think? Coffee, Sunday paper, strange repairman…

I called Rob to gripe some more but he said he was waiting on a special part that would not be in until Friday, so the earliest the unit could be repaired was Sunday. At that moment it had been weeks since the unit worked. So we set up Tuesday night for the repair, and Rob got real lucky because I had to be out of the house at that time. He showed up without any parts and claimed the unit could be fixed with an adjustment, which he proceeded to make. The unit then worked and temporarily stayed working. Why it took two weeks to get over to make a simple adjustment, and why he made up the story about the part needing to arrive and the rep needing to be involved is just another strange way they do business.

The unit stopped working a month later… blowing itself out again after being on for an hour or two. One such incident where the unit blew out but the blower kept going so alarmed the wife when home alone she ended up calling 911, fearful of a gas leak. A little overkill, but she was scared and liking the unit less and less.

I took the argument directly to the source and called the maker Regency. It was at this point I began to learn the lousy customer service at Buchanan might be preferable to the bluster of the uncaring parent company Regency, located in not so nearby British Columbia. I asked for the head of customer service; I was directed to the head of Technical Sales. When I stated my unhappiness with all things Regency and Buchanan and asked for a return phone call, I got an email instead that they would get the Buchanan side of the story first. Not happy with that I called directly and was told I would get a call back only after they spoke with Buchanan. So I waited for a call… and waited. I got an email the next day stating that involving Regency in this would only delay things further and I should just work with Buchanan, whose explanation of the situation was the only side of the story Regency “customer service” wanted to hear. Oh, and for good measure, this Canadian customer service professional twice inserted into his emails that their “legal team” would review my postings. They uh, sure know how to keep the customers happy eh?

I called again and was told the Technical Sales/ Customer service guy was in the building but I had to leave a voice mail. I asked him to phone me for the third time. He never called. It has been three weeks.

Rob finally came out and went through the unit and declared it working. Only took a couple of months and an Angie’s List posting to make it all happen.

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