Better hope your air conditioner doesn’t need to be replaced in the next few months. They’re considered “seasonal items” and many retailers don’t carry them until summertime. I guess South Florida home improvement stores figure people are out buying winter coats.
Did you know this? Well, I didn’t. So you can image my frustration when I tried to get a new one this week.
My father is coming to visit next Tuesday, and the apartment needs to feel like a walk-in freezer otherwise he starts getting cranky. My air conditioning unit makes loud banging noises and a thick block of ice forms on the coils after running for an hour or so. No air, whatsoever, emits from the darn thing.
The last time dad was in town he de-iced the machine with a hair dryer for 45 minutes in hopes of getting it to work again. He was not happy about this, of course, and gave me a lecture about “taking care of these things.” But like many thin-blooded South Floridians I don’t use the air conditioner much from October to March, so I never talked to my landlord about getting it replaced.
Alas, with pops coming to town I needed to do something – and quick. My landlord gave me the green light to replace the unit and I went to Home Depot Wednesday to make the purchase and have it installed. Lo and behold, a sales associate told me he had none. Zip. Zero. Nada.
I thought this man was either joking, too lazy to check or absolutely incompetent when it came to the merchandise in his store. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said. “We live in South Florida, and you’re telling me you don’t have a single air conditioning unit in this entire store?”
After three Home Depot sales associates called air conditioners “seasonal items” and said I would be hard-pressed to find one at any of their South Florida stores, I demanded an explanation. One customer service representative overheard my frustration and said he thought there might be a few in storage. But he needed a SKU number to locate them.
“How am I supposed to have a SKU number when I can’t even look at one?” I said.
“Forget it,” I said. By the time these associates get the units down from their hiding place my apartment will freeze over.
“I would suggest going to Sears,” the associate said.
I thanked him for being “helpful.” And turning on my heel, I walked out, got into my car and drove directly to Sears.
A nice salesman named Walter educated me on the intricacies of air conditioning units. Who knew there were so many options? By eyeballing the choices, I took a wild guess about what I needed and asked him to check the stock before I left the store with my homework assignment of tape measuring, etc.
“We might not have any,” he said. “They’re seasonal items.”
Yes. I’m aware of this.
“But I’ll check for you,” Walter said.
Well the Sears home improvement Gods must have been in my corner, because there were eight in the store. I thanked Walter and went home to measure. Yesterday, I went to Sears and charged $529 on my credit card. I got a call from the installers this morning: The darn thing arrives tomorrow. Hooray! Dad’s going to be happy with the thermostat blowing fierce at 70 degrees. I’m going to freeze for a week.
At least I don’t have to step foot in Home Depot until hurricane season.
What do you guys think? Should stores stock air conditioners this time of year?
-- Jaclyn Giovis, Staff Writer
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