Saturday, March 24, 2007

At Our Earliest Convenience

A year or more ago, we bought a recliner for my tired old bones to use from one of the local Macy owned department stores which came with a fabulous 7 year guarantee. The guarantee is held by an independent company which I believe likely farms out its work to some local area firm. What it's exact name is I'm not sure but "911" is part of its name.

The recliner is wonderful. Thanks to back surgery involving fusion of L3, L4, L5, and S1 and fixation with titanium rods and screws there is literally no position I can be in in a bed and not hurt. However, I can comfortably sit in all three recliner positions. Sadly, recently a spring broke. I called the guarantee company and they said someone would call me within two weeks and arrange a service call. Unfortunately, they wrote down our house phone number incorrectly so the call came in on my cell phone, which, unfortunately, I had turned off.

I called this local company back as they said to do and twice got their voice mail and twice it said they would call me back "at their earliest convenience." I was shocked. Try telling your significant other that you will do the dishes or call her or him back at your earliest convenience. See how far that gets you.

So far, their earliest convenience hasn't been even remotely close to my earliest convenience for a return call. So far, it has been three days and the earliest their earliest convenience can be will be Monday. However, given my smart ass response on my second exposure to this "earliest convenience" stuff it would probably be a mistake for me to expect a call on Monday. Since I am not sure I want someone repairing my recliner who, surely trying to be polite, doesn't realize that "at our earliest convenience" is not more polite than "at our earliest opportunity." So, I went to Home Depot and found a passable substitute for this broken spring and will try repairing the chair myself. Then I can wait comfortably for their earliest convenient access to a telephone to come about.

One thing can be said on the behalf of the "911" people. Most people who say that they will return your call at their earliest opportunity are probably lying. They probably mean that they will return the call at their earliest convenience. Perhaps, these are the only honest service people in town and I am just too snoty to realize it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

How the devil can hide in those little words eh? Hope your back is getting some relief!

1:37 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...


With a little help from my son-in-law, I have repaired the chair myself. I bought a comparable spring and my son-in-law helped lever it into position. Now i can wait for their earliest convenience.

9:20 AM

Blogger Mrs. Geezerette said...

What I really like is when my cable company gives me this window sometime during which they will show up at my house to do their repairs or installation. Usually it is a four-hour window. Oh, but I usually have a choice. I can either have a window that runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or one that runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. There might be a third choice. Cable companies are all about choice and convenience.

What I want to know is what a person is expected to do if they have a job and can't find anyone to take their place and be at their home during this four-hour window ready to receive the cable people? Take off half a day from work?

I am tempted to let the cable company know that I am establishing a window sometime during which I will pay my cable bill. Say a four-month window.

11:40 PM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

Usually companies have Saturday hours. Until you acquire a significant other and can arrange for one of you to be available, you need to make Saturday hours a condition for purchase. Try DirecTV. I believe I have had them out on Saturdays.

8:22 AM

Blogger Christian Campbell said...

It's a bit odd to refer to one's own convenience. The whole point in invoking 'convenience' is to defer to someone else, acknowledging their interests and priorities while clearly indicating your own.

Really, who says he will do something at his own earliest convenience? The deferential thing to do there is to indicate that you will somehow alter how you would perform but for the request.

1:17 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

Christian, you have it right. It is the oddest thing I have seen in advertising.

7:06 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

I think when a person says "at their earliest convenience" they simply mean their very next free moment. Its not rude, it is simply being honest while keeping in mind you still have a business to run. Most Companies should call you back "ASAP (as soon as possible)", which is the same as saying, "At our earliest convenience". Now the company you experienced this situation with... I would say that they just do not know how to run a business correctly or they just aren't really concerned with keeping customers. Either way I hope you get a new chair and maybe some new perspective. good luck

9:48 AM


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