product service

I have to comment on two experiences I’ve had in the past couple of weeks with product service. In both cases I have products that I’ve really loved but with which I had a need for spare parts. One of my prize possessions is my grill – a Holland Grill. For my kind of grilling, it is hands down the best grill I’ve ever owned. I bought the first one in Utah in 1991 and was gratified to find a friend who would take it when we moved. Nancy tells me it’s still in service there. It was the first thing we bought when we finished the lake house – even before the first stick of furniture. So the current unit is 7 years old and performs flawlessly. But when I was cleaning it the other day I noticed that the drip pan and a heat shield were corroding away. Ever try to get a spare part for a 7 year old product. I called Holland Grill and the person who answer the phone said she could help me and within 3 minutes the parts were on order. No transfers to the service dept, no push #3 kind of phone system – just a competent person answering the main phone. The parts came in two days, fit perfectly, and in 10 minutes I was back in business. I did make a minor engineering mod to their design which will make it easier to clean in the future but the basic grill design is a marvel in ruggedness and simplicity. I am perhaps the world’s worst barbecue grill cook but have never, ever, ever screwed up a meal with the Holland Grill.

The other product is a portable, battery powered sprinkler system. It’s made in Bountiful Utah of all places by Orbit Irrigation Products. We must have lived just a few blocks from Orbit and never knew it. The system includes a programmable control head, a 4 outlet manifold which allows 4 hoses to be attached, and up to 4 solenoid operated valves. I bought two systems at Costco a couple of years back. One controls sprinklers in an area not covered by my main sprinkler system; the other waters the vegetable garden. About a year ago I had a fire up at the pump caused by a bug getting across the main pump relay. The fire spurted out of the box and charred the sprinkler controller box and really toasted one of the control valves. Luckily the control head still worked and I had a replacement valve. I was very impressed with the ruggedness of the design. The other day I noticed that the garden sprinkler was just not working properly and getting hung up rather than moving continuously. It had been doing this on and off for a couple of months. I cleaned it, greased it and did more or less everything I could but no long term success. I have never had too much luck with sprinklers and this time had bought one with a lifetime guarantee. So I took it back to Lowes and exchanged it for another sprinkler. I hooked up the new one and it did the exact same thing. I then did what I should have done the first time – checked the Orbit control valve. I remembered there’s an integral filter and figured it was clogged. Nope, I had removed the filter previously. Long story short – the valve was not opening fully. Changed to my remaining spare valve and it worked like a world champ. I went to Orbit’s web site intent on buying a spare valve but the site didn’t have a spare part list – at least that I could find. I called Orbit, went thru a phone system and a perma hold before I finally got thru to a human. The guy listened to my story and within 2 minutes had 2 new control valves on the way, free of charge. Now that’s what I call customer service. I guarantee you that as my rainbirds crater, they’ll be replaced by Orbits.

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Joey spent most of Thursday and Friday sleeping. He called this morning and it sounded like the nausea thing did not got out of hand but every time he got stationary, he fell asleep. Considering that what’s going on in his body is a major regeneration of blood cells after the chemo kills them off, you would expect all his body’s energy is going to that manufacturing job. You have to think that nothing would be better than sleeping through a day when you probably didn’t feel all that well anyway. If this week mirrors last week, he’ll start coming out of it later today and be feeling fine tomorrow.

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