Tuesday, August 13, 2013

JCPenney Keystone Kop Kooks! Avoid them like a plague.

This would be funny if it happened to someone else.
In 2008 we bought this very comfortable love seat recliner - pictured below. It is called, by Caye, Phundamental Console.
 You will please observe that the left footrest is extended - this is important. It was manufactured by Caye Upholstery, LLC.  Avoid them too.

In January, 2013, we purchased a single recliner.  The model is Jillian. It's a piece of doodoo but I blame myself.  I sat in it for about 20 seconds on the store floor. It was well used and the recliner control was worn and easily manipulated.  When I got the new one,  the control was so stiff that I had to call a neighbor to help me manipulate it.
Note that these two pieces of furniture look nothing alike and, even without the model numbers and names, a verbal description on the phone should clearly distinguish them; like red vs brown, single vs double, etc.

In April, the cable on the console broke.  It is a tiny cable, about 8-10 gauge  and it connects the finger pull on the arm to the ratchet release that pushes the foot rest out.

The only way we can use it extended is to turn the sofa upside down and release the ratchet manually. In the picture it is so positioned.  The problem is that every time some sits in it, they push the rest back and it is locked in the position shown on the right seat. 

I called JCPenney and they were very courteous. By way of side-note, they are always courteous.  When they end up telling you they have just ripped you off, and no one will, or can, help you, they are extravagantly apologetic.  Their employees get minimum wage and are incapable of deviating from their script regardless of the degree of outrage you express. Anyway, they gave me the phone number of their service department. I called them.  I couldn't give them the exact date of my purchase but I didn't expect it to be under warranty and was willing to pay for the part and the service.  I gave them the model number, manufacturer and serial number.  I was placed on hold, for a long time.  Then the agent told me that the piece was no longer under warranty but the part was.  I was elated. It was probably worth $5.  They told me that the part would be shipped and as soon as it arrived, I was to call them back and they would send a technician out to install it. I was even more elated, the entire process never took much longer than two hours!

As the date approached for arrival, I got a phone call from JCPenney service and the woman asked me for clarification,  "was the part  a cord or a cable?" I was confused.  "I don't know what terminology you use for it but it is a metal cable to me,  a cord implies a rope, string or electric." She replied that she was referring to an electric cord.  "This is a recliner," I told her, "how could you possibly think it was a cord and not a cable? "Some of the new advanced models have electric cords," she told me somewhat pedantically.  I was getting a little annoyed.  It was clear to me that the part had not yet shipped. I reminded her that they had the model and serial number as well as the manufacturer and there shouldn't really be any confusion.  She must have been a higher paid employee because she digressed from the script and told me in what could only be described as a snotty manner that  she just wanted to make sure I received the right part. She didn't know when it would be shipped - that wasn't her department!

After I hung up, I called the first number I had called and related the call.  The agent had no idea who had called but assured me that they knew what part to ship and it should have been shipped two weeks ago.  She told me she would call the manufacturer and call me back.  She gave me her name and the order number.  The day ended and no one called me back.  The next day, I called and related the order number and it was as if they had never heard of me.  She asked me the date of purchase, etc. and placed me on hold.  Twenty minutes later she told me that the sofa was purchased from their outlet warehouse and that the sofa was no longer under warranty.  I asked to speak to the Valerie, the agent who I had talked to the day before. Valerie was on break but they would have her call me back.  The day ended and Valerie never called me back.

I called again the next day and asked for Valerie.  I finally got to talk to Valerie and she had things under control.  She told me to just ask for her because she was on top of it. She told me that she couldn't call the manufacturer the day before because they were closed but had talked to them today and the part would be shipped the next day and I should have it in two weeks.  Don't forget to call us as soon as it arrives, she reminded me.  I was still a little concerned but happy.  The arrival day came and no part.  I called and was assured that it had been shipped and to be patient.  I was running out of patience and told them so. 

The next day I received a call from the same woman I had talked to earlier about "cable or cord."  She once again wanted to know whether it was a cable or cord.  I lost it at this point and my voice was elevated (my wife was worried about disturbing the neighbors).  She hung up on me and when I called the number she had called from, no one there knew who or what I was talking about.  I called Valerie and she had no clue as to who had called me but the part  was shipped and not to worry. The part arrived the next day. It was neither a cable or cord.  It was a handle!! It was a handle that might be for the red recliner pictured above.

I was livid at this point and called Valerie.  She was very apologetic and exuded efficiency. They would replace the recliner with a brand new one.  Three delivery dates came and went and no recliner. Now we are in the month of July, late July, six months later.  Finally I was given the exact day for delivery.  The trucking company had no instructions for picking up the old one but I got that cleared up. The day of delivery came.  The driver called me early in the window I was given for delivery.  He would be here in five minutes.  He was. A knock on the door. I answered. They were delivering the Jillian - the red one pictured above.  I felt my heart fibrillating, or something.  I knew I had to kill someone, but I wasn't sure who.  Surely not the two polite young men who were just doing their job. He made some calls and told me that the order number they gave me was for a Jillian.  I told them to take it back to wherever they got it.  They took it somewhere. 

I called the service department and Valerie was on her day off.  I gave them the order number and the woman started all over - when did you purchase it. I lost my cool.  My voice wasn't elevated but it was deadly.  It dripped with venom.  Let me talk to the boss, I hissed.  Can you hold please?  Twenty minutes! Finally a woman answered.  How can I help you, she asked.  My voice became a little more elevated and still dripped with venom.  I gave her a brief rundown and she was quick to respond.  She was a FLOOR SUPERVISOR!. A brief conversation and the problem was solved. I was to go to the nearest JCPenney store and buy a recliner of my choice, someone would pick up the old one and I was to get a refund for the purchase price of the original. It would be a check in the amount of $702.  I thought I had payed more but I'm not complaining because it was out of warranty and all I wanted originally was a $5 part.  JCPenney has come through! I asked the FLOOR SUPERVISOR how the store would know what was going on and she said give them the order number.  I told her that the order number last time got us a Jillian replacement.  No problem, she said, I will know!  I will personally make sure you are reimbursed the day the old one is picked up.  To be sure, I repeated that the old one was made by Caye and was a console two seater. No problem.

The very next day, early the very next day, we drove to Montclair and went to the furniture department of the JC Penney story where we had bought the Jillian.  The only problem was that they had no recliners and no store in the area had any recliners and they didn't know when they would get any.  It was the same woman that had sold us the Jillian.  I told her the situation and she told me she would call the service department and ask them what to do. The FLOOR SUPERVISOR I had talked to was not at work yet.  I was to go home and wait for them or the Montclair JCPenney to call me.  No one called. I called the service department.  The FLOOR SUPERVISOR was not available.  I'm on the edge.  Someone needs to help me, I hissed.  I thought I was quite scary.  Finally, I talked to someone higher than the FLOOR SUPERVISOR. That order number is for a Jillian recliner she told me. The console was bought years before from our outlet store and there is no warranty. Now I'm over the edge.  I was so loud and angry (no profanity) that I was scaring my wife.  "ALL I EVER WANTED WAS A STINKING PART FOR THE STINKING CONSOLE SO I COULD GET SOMEONE TO FIX IT"  I screamed, "AND I WAS TAKEN DOWN THIS SIX MONTH PATH OF BROKEN PROMISES AND FRUSTATION." 

The JCPenney super supervisor was above the fray - obviously paid over the minimum wage.  She told me that all they could or would do for me is to refund my money for the Jillian. I screamed some more but decided that I hated the Jillian so I would take the deal.  The Jillian was to be picked up on a certain date and they would put the refund on my CC.  I don't have that card anymore, I told her.  Major problem. Since I bought it with my CC they could only refund it via my CC.  How about my new CC. No, it has to be the same one. I demanded to talk to someone else.  I seemed to me that the JCPenney inflexibility was not possible.  She told me that she would check further and then call me back.  I screamed NO, that nobody from JCPenney ever called back and I want an answer now.  Twenty minute hold.  OK, she said, we CAN give you a refund by check.  It would go out on Monday.  OK.  Five minutes later she called back and told me that the check would go out the next morning. I'm so beaten that I actually felt like I had won.  OK, thank you.

The next day, I received a call from JCPenney.  We can only pay you the price in cash, the tax will have to be a gift certificate. I'm fighting a desire to hit someone. No one is around. I finally agreed.  This time I never said thank you.  I said I'm going to give it to the closest drunk in the area of your store and tell him it has to be used that day.  She laughed.

Here's what I am thinking of doing.  If the check comes before the pickup, I'm going to show them the console as the piece they are supposed to pick up - or not answer the door when they come to pick it up. I'm sure they will never know the difference.  Is this dishonest?  


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Conservatives vs. liberals historically

The Declaration of  Independence
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

First paragraph makes it clear that it reflects the liberal view: equality of opportunity and affirms the purpose of government which derives its power from the people and exists for the purpose of protecting their rights; safety and happiness.

Conservatives are more concerned with government protection of commerce; an important function but only as it exists for the purpose of ensuring the citizen’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Modern conservatives see the “rights to life” as only pertaining to anti-abortion and not to rights to health after birth. Conservatives see corporations as having all the rights of people without the concomitant responsibility.

The Revolutionary war.
Liberals brought it about.
Conservatives remained loyal to the king.

The Bill of Rights.
Conservatives, called Federalists then, opposed the bill of rights. Liberals or Anti-federalists insisted on a promise of it before approving the original constitution. Basically the Bill of Rights articulated individual and human rights.

Women’s right to vote.
“The opposition to women's suffrage in the United States included organizations like the National Organization Against Women's Suffrage and women like Helen Kendrick Johnson. In New York, upper class women who thought they had a behind-the-scenes voice often opposed suffrage because it would dilute their influence. At first the anti-s let the men do the talking, but increasingly they adopted the mobilization techniques pioneered by the suffragists. The antis easily won the 1915 New York State referendum, using the argument that women voters would close the saloons. But the suffragists won the 1917 referendum, arguing that the saloons were Germanic (at a time when Germany was hated); the Tammany Hall machine in New York City deserted the antis as well. Nationwide, male voters made the decision and the opposition was led by Southern white men (afraid that black women would vote), ethnic politicians (especially Catholics whose women were not allowed a political voice) and the liquor forces (who realized correctly that most women would vote dry”

Lend Lease – the program to provide equipment and supplies for the governments fighting the Nazis.
The American position was to help the British but not enter the war. In early February 1941 a Gallup poll revealed that 54 percent of Americans were unqualifiedly in favor of Lend-Lease. A further 15 percent were in favor with qualifications such as: "If it doesn't get us into war," or "If the British can give us some security for what we give them." Only 22 percent were unqualifiedly against the President's proposal. When poll participants were asked their party affiliation, the poll revealed a sharp political divide: 69 percent of Democrats were unqualifiedly in favor of Lend-Lease, whereas only 38 percent of Republicans favored the bill without qualification. A poll spokesperson also noted that, "approximately twice as many Republicans" gave "qualified answers as...Democrats."

Opposition to the Lend lease bill was strongest among isolationist Republicans in Congress, who feared that the measure would be "the longest single step this nation has yet taken toward direct involvement in the war abroad." When the House of Representatives finally took a roll call vote on February 9, 1941, the 260 to 165 vote fell largely along party lines. Democrats voted 238 to 25 in favor and Republicans 24 in favor and 135 against.

The vote in the Senate, which took place a month later, revealed a similar partisan divide. 49 Democrats (79 percent) voted "aye" with only 13 Democrats (21 percent) voting "nay." In contrast, 17 Republicans (63 percent) voted "nay" while 10 Senate Republicans (37 percent) sided with the Democrats to pass the bill.

Actually the aid was already happening. Roosevelt did it without approval from Congress. The aid, arguably, prevented an Axis victory and the end of freedom.  A collateral and important benefit was the end of the depression and proof of the Keynesian theory.

Integration of the armed forces – Order signed in 1948
Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which states, "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin."

Opposed by the conservatives and most of the officers and noncommissioned officers in the  armed forces.  I personally experienced the integration of the 82nd Airborne in 1951 and it was ugly.

Integration of the in schools in 1954.
Violently opposed by the conservatives.

Governor Wallace blocking school house door - 1954
The right to an equal education had been granted to African American students in 1954 by the United States Supreme Court, when it ruled that segregation was illegal. Governor Wallace of Alabama personally stood at the entrance to a Alabama school to turn away black students. 

Unfortunately, three years later, many African Americans were still being forced to go to separate and inferior schools. African Americans also still suffered under "Jim Crow" laws that forced them to use separate public facilities from whites. Especially in the South, city buses, restaurants, hotels, public bathrooms and even public water fountains were segregated.

In spite of the repression, courageous African Americans, as well as some equally gallant whites, challenged segregation. These freedom fighters met resistance from segregationists at every turn. The segregationists fought back not only in the court room, but on the streets, hurting and even killing African Americans and other supporters who spoke up for equality.  A republican governor blocked a group of black students from entering a previously all white school.

September 23, 1957 was no ordinary school day for Elizabeth Eckford and eight other African American teenagers in Little Rock, Arkansas. Little Rock Central High School, like many schools across the country, was segregated. Only white students were allowed to attend. But the Supreme Court had ruled that segregation, or the legal separation of blacks and whites in public facilities, was illegal. And these nine students, who would be known as The Little Rock Nine, would be the first African Americans to attend Little Rock's Central High.

As they drove toward the school that morning, the students knew what awaited them--an angry group of white protesters. Just a few weeks before, the nine had walked past just such a crowd to the high school's entrance. That morning, Arkansas National Guardsmen had turned the nine away, and, along with police, stood by while the mob pelted the black students cars with stones, assaulted them, and threatened their lives. But even though they were scared, the nine hadn't given up. Like many of the figures in what came to be known as the Civil Rights movement, they would keep trying.

African Americans also still suffered under "Jim Crow" laws that forced them to use separate public facilities from whites. Especially in the South, city buses, restaurants, hotels, public bathrooms and even public water fountains were segregated.

In spite of the repression, courageous African Americans, as well as some equally gallant whites, challenged segregation. These freedom fighters met resistance from segregationists at every turn. The segregationists fought back not only in the court room, but on the streets, hurting and even killing African Americans and other supporters who spoke up for equality.

The civil rights movement in general:

This has been a knockdown, drag out fight from the beginning with probably the clearest delineation of libeal vs conservative. As recent as the late 1960s, blacks, particularly in the south were prohibited from voting, eating in white restaurants, staying in white hotels and living in white neighborhoods. For an American
Selma Alabama march
younger than 55, it may be hard to believe how black people and, in some parts of the country, latinos were treated.  I witnessed it. Every step forward for gaining access to the advantages that whites had was resisted by the GOP (Eisenhower and Nixon excepted).  White conservatives had their own vernacular: Martin Luther Coon,  MLK day was called “nigger day,” Federal Bureau of Integration, etc.  Speaking out in favor of equal rights by a cop was risking ostracization.  There was no doubt in the conventional wisdom of the right that the communists were behind the civil rights movement and that the NAACP was a communist front organization.

The great crash and the Glass-Steagall Act.
In spite of the overwhelming evidence that the financial crash was caused by a speculation binge that involved commercial banks over-extending themselves with their clients’ money in a totally unregulated market, conservatives opposed passage of such legislation as  The Glass Steagall Act, also known as the Banking Act of 1933, that would regulate such activity.  In addition, the legislation set up the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation which protected deposits by individuals

Social Security.
This was passed over the resistance of the conservatives.

Passed over the objection of the conservatives using their mantra of fear like in this ad featuring future president Ronald Reagan.

Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
As early as 1904, liberals had been trying to keep children out of the work place but it was always opposed by business and their conservative friends in the legislature. In 1938, as part of the new deal, child labor laws were enacted, along with other labor standards were passed as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal. The act was opposed by republican and its provisions have been under attack since.

Minimum wage.
Conservatives have opposed every increase in the minimum wage.

Air pollution .
Government has been aware of deadly pollutants since the early forties and efforts to deal with it have been resisted by polluting businesses and their conservatives in the government from the start.  Los Angeles had a fair public transportation system in the forties but it was systematically dismantled by friends, in government, of the auto, oil, and rubber industries. A good mass transit system is vital to cleaner air.

The current recession.
This recession is a direct result of wall street practices that were made possible by dismantling of the Glass - Steagall Act and concentration of wealth at the top engendered by tax cuts for the upper income groups.  This, along with the oil wars, all supported by conservatives, is the reason for a dangerous deficit.

Efforts to apply Keynesian economics in an effort to stimulate the economy, even though they were proved effective in the thirties, have been resisted and marginalized by the use/threat of the filibuster by conservatives. The conservatives (republicans as currently being lead), have stated that their number one objective is making Obama an one-term president.  In other words, his failure is more important than reviving the economy.

In conclusion.
Looking back over the years, it is difficult to see one thing that the conservatives have accomplished or advocated that has been good for the people of the United States.  To me, the primary value of the conservative politicians in our history was to provide a mass of inertia, a crucible, as it were, through which progressive ideas and movements have to pass in order to become public policy.

Today, the GOP has been effectively taken over by a handful the extreme right calling themselves the Teaparty. Through gerrymandering, more than 50 seats in the house have been assured to be occupied by ultra conservative representatives.  This almost assures that no legislation by Obama will be passed. Supported by the GOP leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, who either supports the Teaparty or is intimidated by them, along with the exorbitant and unprecedented use of the filibuster the mantra of the GOP has become that government does not work and their goal is to make sure it doesn't. 

It’s perhaps symptomatic that the one vote against a declaration of war by congress after Pearl Harbor was cast by Jeanette Rankin, a conservative republican from Montana!