Friday, January 30, 2009

OurBaffroom Adwenchur, Parte de Cinco (Involving de Sinko)

Okay, I'm gonna have to stand up for this one and scream directly into the microphone.

Nearly all of the stuff we've ordered so far for the new bathroom has arrived. We have the tub. We have the toilet. We have the Price Pfister shower trim. We have the Price Pfister sink faucet. We have the Price Pfister shower/tub valve that all that Price Pfister stuff plugs into. We're still waiting for the actual sink and vanity, but we're not ready to deal with that anyway, so it hardly matters that it won't be here for another week. We also have yet to order the tile for either the surround or floor (which we'll have to install before putting in the vanity, so maybe we'd better get on it). And despite all our research and planning and phone calls to manufacturers to try and assure that we weren't ordering more chrome-coated EFFING plastic, this too has failed to happen.

Separated at Birth?Let me start with the Price Pfister "Portland" shower trim, which I find to be decent stuff and have no real problem with the materials from which it is made. Okay, sure, the Price Pfister tub spout is visually almost indistinguishable from the $9 metal tub spout we bought for our previous tub that we just tore out. But, I'm not angry about that. At least it's metal. Also metal is the water control lever, all nice and heavy chromed brass. The shower head is chrome-coated plastic, but we knew that before we bought it, not only because it was described as "decorative" on the site we bought it from, but also because a Price Pfister customer service rep told us it was when we called to ask about the composition of their components two weeks ago. This is fine, as we'll be ditching it in favor of a hand sprayer, so, again, I'm not angry.

These are in the same line?Then, there's the sink faucet setup...

Oh, the faucet spout itself is beautiful, sleek, chromed brass of a size and shape that could probably bring down an elk. The fact that the tub spout bears no resemblance to the sink spout in any way despite being from the same "Portland" family of Price Pfister plumbing spouts--not even the drain plugs match--does mystify and annoy me. Again, though, not a deal-breaker and at least the sink faucet handles do match the water lever handle of the tub.

(Stands up, adjusts microphone)

As to the handles themselves, they are also composed of heavy brass. The same, however, cannot be said for the bodies directly beneath the actual physical handles. They are--all together now--chrome-coated EFFING plastic. Chrome, chrome, chrome, bop bop a-loo-bop...

Now, I will grant that no one will ever notice that the bodies are plastic because people touch the handles and not the bodies. Also, I'm not concerned with the plastic not being strong enough because the place within the body where the handle connects to the actual valve of the sink (the valve stem) is brass and directly molded with the handle itself and therefore not in danger of breaking like cheap-ass plastic might.

This matters not, for I am still angry with Price Pfister. Why? Because when we phoned Price Pfister two weeks ago to ask them about the tub components and their status as being A) Metal, or B) Not Metal, we also asked about the sink components and, with the exception of the shower head, we were told that all components in both sets met the conditions of A).

All metal
. Not half-metal. Not three-quarters metal. Not 19 seventy-fifths metal. ALL. METAL.

A return visit to Price Pfister's site reveals even less description about the composition of the faucet components than your average retail site. In fact, on their main page for the faucet, the only part mentioned to be metal is the popup for the drain plug. If you dig around in some of the downloadable .pdf docs it also mentions the lever handles are metal. Plastic doesn't come up as a subject in the Specification Submittals, the Parts Explosion, the Installation Dimensions, nor the Instruction Sheet. NOTHING! (I suspect some of the Code Compliances mentioned in the Parts Explosion might be layered there to somehow imply the presence of plastic. Too bad I'm not a contractor and don't know those codes.)

Another return visit to the site where I bought the sink setup, shows that the handles are described as being metal. And because they ARE metal, I guess I'm not supposed to be able to argue with it. I mean, they are. The handles themselves ARE METAL. I mean just because the handles are described as being made of metal and the handles turn out to be actually made of metal, why on earth should I therefore jump to the conclusion that the handle bodies, which are to me inarguably PART OF THE HANDLE and which clearly looks to be one single cast piece of metal in the picture, are ACTUALLY MADE OF METAL?!!!!!

Sure, the partially metal faucet handle will probably work just as good if not better than one completely made of metal. I DON'T CARE!! I'm the guy who's gone the extra mile to be a good consumer, here. When the usual sources failed to provide the needed information, I phoned the MANUFACTURER and then they too failed me. But the fact that I had to phone them at all is the real crime. How hard is it to list what your shit is made of? The vagueness of the description on the part of not only Price Pfister but nearly every online retail company I've looked at while shopping around, strikes me as an ass-covering move. They hope you'll go ahead and buy the chrome faucet set that they've been able to make more cheaply by using plastic for some parts, but they know that you probably don't want those plastic parts so they just don't list the composition of ANYTHING substantial
so you can't accuse them of lying. (C'mon, Price Pfister, you list the EFFING popup as being metal but not the faucet?)

I tell you, it's a conspiracy against
DECENCY!!!! What the hell kind of cheap-ass, fast-food culture, corner-cutting (nay, corner-violently-SEVERING), customer-deceiving world are we living in where THIS kind of thing is standard operating procedure?!!

Pfuck a monkey!!!

(Breathes heavy)
(Goes away and takes long walk and plays "stick" with dog)
(Comes back)

After penning the above and getting good and worked up about it, I realized I didn't really have anywhere to go with this story beyond that. We've waited so long for all these parts to come in and can't really install the tub without some of them. Because of that, I'm pretty sure we're both willing to suck it up and get over the plastic handle-bodies just to get the project moving again. But while I'm willing to get over it, I can't just let it go--if that makes sense.

I decided to phone Price Pfister again to let them know they had a very unhappy customer due to what I'm calling The Deceptive Practices of the Plumbing-Fitting Industry in Which They are Clearly Willing Participants. I doubted it would do any good, but at least my complaint would be heard by someone who might be able to roll it uphill to those responsible for the situation.

I spoke to a nice lady in customer service and politely and calmly told her the chain of events that led me to call, spelling out how we'd first called Price Pfister about component composition before ordering two weeks ago. She asked again what model I was talking about. I told her.

"Oh, no, those are made of plastic," she said, referring to the handle bodies. I conceded that she was correct, they were plastic, but noted again for her that this is not what Price Pfister had told me two weeks previously, nor was it reflected in ANY of the documentation available on their site nor any retail site I've found so far.

The customer care rep then explained that "everybody" makes those parts out of plastic.

"Not Delta," I told her. In fact, the faucet handles were about the only thing Delta had gotten right.

The customer care rep then asked to clarify that my basic complaint was that I didn't want faucet handle bodies made out of chrome-coated plastic. I replied that no, I did not, nor did I want any components made of chrome-coated plastic. She then asked if I had made any attempt to look at my choice of faucet set in a store to test and see what they were made of before ordering. I explained that I had indeed gone to Lowes to do exactly this but that the Portland model was not sold at my local store, hence why I had phoned Price Pfister to ask in the first place. (I've since been back to Lowes and found that all the Price Pfister faucets on display had completely metal handles. Apparently my set is the odd man out.)

The rep then tried to explain again that it was far more common these days for companies to manufacturer components out of plastic. I told her that I understood this and had had many problems finding ones who didn't--hence, again, why I had PHONED THE MANUFACTURER to ask in advance of ordering.

The phone rep then started up again on the commonality of chrome-coated plastic, so I had to interrupt her.

"Ma'am, as far as I'm concerned, Price Pfister is completely free to make faucet handles out of whatever materials they so desire. I just really REALLY prefer it greatly if they would make note of which parts are plastic on their website when they do and that they don't tell me plastic parts are made of metal when I call and ask them point blank."

The customer care rep, adopting an appeasing tone, agreed wholeheartedly that my complaint was a good one. She could see from her own display that this was indeed the case, the website didn't mention it, but she didn't know why. However, she assured me that she would shortly alert her supervisor about it. He couldn't do anything about it himself, of course, but he could pass the word along to those above him, who could then pass the word along to those who who could make decisions and maybe, just maybe, they would do something about changing the website. She also admitted that it didn't speak well of Price Pfister customer service if their representatives were giving out false information. Mine, she assured me, was a valid point. After reiterating all of the above twice more, she paused and I was finally able to bid her good day.

It was not a satisfying call. In fact, it left me feeling like I'm the only person this matters to. And maybe I am. I mean, looking around my office now, I see an awful lot of plastic, some of it even chrome-coated. None of it's cracking and flying apart. It holds up, it's sturdy and will be around long after we're all dead. Why should it matter?

It matters because it's not what I wanted, it's not what I was told I'd get when I asked, it's therefore not what I paid for and to my mind it's not right.


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