Thursday, November 19, 2009
Sewing Machine Repair: An Un-endorsement
I am not a precious person, and nor do I post negative reviews or posts, but I feel compelled to write this as a constructive warning. I recently took my sister's sewing machine to Chatswood Sewing Centre in Sydney for repair: the stitching was off-kilter and I thought it could do with a professional looking at it instead of me.
But let me tell you a story about rude service and a pretty sneaky racket. For my small repair - I suspected the machine needed a new bobbin case - I was quoted "between $100 to $140" for repair, which I thought was staggeringly high. Needless to say, I am pretty time-poor at the moment, and need the machine to finish a birthday present, so I accepted that quote. Importantly, I was told clearly that if the quote were to change, they would call me first in order to discuss. In fact, that quote and promise was written on the receipt that I got to keep.
So far, this had not been a tale of sneaky intrigue or suspicion.
Two weeks later, and still not having received a phone call from them, I called the centre to enquire about the status of my machine. I was told that the machine had been ready for "ages". Ok... But upon handing over my receipt yesterday, I was told that the repair would cost $157.95. Very gently, I told that woman that I hadn't authorised any extra payment, and that the receipt she was holding clearly stated "up to $140". The woman scrunched up the receipt in her hand without looking at it, looked me straight in the eyes and told me that it was $157.95: afterall, they had installed a new bobbin case and a new bulb.
To cut a long story short, I was very calm, but stuck to my point: I went to law school long enough to know that the receipt constitutes a contract, and that they had changed the terms of that contract without informing me. I was also pretty sure that they were in breach of something in the Trade Practices Act (it's been a while...) And I didn't ask for a new bulb to be installed, so I didn't think it was right to be charged for one. The two gruff saleswomen looked at each other, then back at me and said, "Well, we could take the bulb out?" I said that would be fine, (I think that's known as 'calling their bluff') and was met with an uncomfortable, "Well, there's no one here who can do that today, so you'll have to come back next week." Hang on, come back in a week's time for something that I didn't authorise?
Dear readers, you can see that this story seems to be going in a different direction than I had hoped.
In short, they acquiesced to my firm but gentle insistence that I was going to take my machine home and that I was only going to pay $140. The saleswoman said, "Well, we don't call you if it's only a small amount over the quoted price", but I felt that on principle, they should have called me. (And what if it had been $40 more? Or $100?).
As I walked away (silence had greeted my "thank you - and goodbye"), I wondered this: how many women get bullied by these two saleswomen into paying more than they were quoted? The fact that my receipt was scrunched up with such gusto seemed to indicate that they knew they were in the wrong - or at least that they knew they had exceeded their quote.
So, dear readers, do you have an alternative sewing machine repair centre in Sydney to endorse? While I wish them no harm, and have no ill-feeling, it's pretty clear that I won't be hurrying back to the Chatswood Sewing Centre.