Blogs & Comment

Assembly required - a consumer's rant

My spouse purchased a ping pong table from aleading discount chain last month. We dont get enough exercise. Ping pong will help, she said.
The price was very low. But then I had to go fetch and assemble it. Well over 4-dozen screwshad to beput in to getthe pieces and legs together into one recognizable whole.
I dont have electric tools. Hey, I need the exercise, right? About the 7th screw in, garden gloves became a necessity to protectblisters forming on the palm of the hand pressing down on the screw driver. My darling spousesure was right about the exercise part –but neglected to mention the no pain, no gain part.
Add in the time value of my labour and I figure we could have bought some top-of-the-line model,preassembled. But when you are the spouse responsible for buying the item, you dont want to go this route.
Of course, the assembled item didnt come out looking quite like the picture on the box or in the instructions. The two halves on either side of the net didn’t meet up together. There is about a 1 inch gap between them. I double-checked and triple-checked the encyclopedic instruction manual.
There seems to be no solution. The panels securing the legs of the two halves together are simply too long to permit the tops to meet up flush. Or the pre-drilled holes for the bracketssecuring the legs to the underside of the table have been drilled too far forward.
I consulted the technician at the 800-help line. He mumbled something about a quarter- or half-inch gap being necessary so the halves could fold up for storage. He also suggested drilling my own holes for the bracket further back. But I dont have power tools. Besides, why should I do it if there is suppose to be a gap?
Well, you can take it back to the store, he ended up saying. Yup, another two hours or so loosening more than 4-dozen screws and bolts, repacking the pieces into the box and hauling it all back to the store. Just what I needed: more exercise and without even lifting a ping-pong paddle.
The cynic might wonder if the manufacturer and retailer are hoping at this point youll give up and keep it. They succeeded with me. No doubt they are aware they dont have to be too concerned about quality when an item requires so much assembly. Maybe someday Ill wise up. Then again, its hard to resist the siren call of low prices.
In fact, I long ago did a post in this blog about a similar experience buying items from the same chain. Back on Nov. 29, 2006, I wrote (no link available because archives no longer go that far back):
A [outlet]opened five-minutes away from my place earlier this year and I had to go see what it was like. The purchased items left me wondering how the retailing behemoth had ever become so dominant: the floor lamp had an uncontrollable lean after three months, the dresser began losing paint around the edges within weeks, and after bringing a vaporizer home and taking it out of the box, I discovered that it was a returned item with soot around the nozzle and water droplets still inside.
Can you guess the retailer? One free ping-pong tableto thecorrect entry drawn randomly from a shopping bag.Must have access to a large pick-up truck. Just kidding!