Monday, January 19, 2009

Around and Around We Go!

In this post from November, I complained bitterly about my heater's malfunction and the hideous after-hours non-service.

Since that time, we've enjoyed four more service calls to the oil burner -- four!! -- and all within the last week.

The burner inexplicably shut off, but I was able to reset it. It ran for a couple days and I thought nothing more about it until it shut off again. I reset it and scheduled a service appointment for Thursday. The tech arrived, changed a filter, and was on his merry way in fifteen minutes.

The next day it shut off and wouldn't reset. Hmph. I know next to nothing about these things, but I did notice that when I hit the reset, there was no flame in the burner. That was something new. I called, and the same service guy returned, reported that the pump lost its prime, so he bled the line, primed the pump and went on his merry way.

That night (Friday night) The Oracle wakes up and the house is cold. The heat isn't running. Niiiiiiice. I try resetting the burner, same problem as before. I immediately called for service and ended up repeatedly calling service, spending another night waiting for the phone to ring.

The same guy called in Saturday morning and said I was first on the list. My house was a balmy 52 degrees. He primed the thing again, changed a little valve, and voiced the ominous threat that, "We can't keep coming back here to prime your heater. If the new check valve doesn't work, we might need to re-run the fuel line along the floor instead."

During our conversation, I expressed my displeasure at being left hanging all night. If someone is on call, doesn't that mean they're supposed to check in or answer a pager or something? He gave me a bit of a flip reply that, "we've gotta sleep too." Well, shoot, I said. I know and respect that, but something as simple as a return call letting me know you'd come in the morning would have been fine. Then maybe I could have slept, too, instead of sitting up half the night waiting for the stupid phone to ring. He had no response to that.

I have this cursed, infuriating inability to "think on my feet." The best I could do was state that my existing fuel line had been in place for eight years and wasn't a problem until two days ago. The math I hadn't done was that my heater wasn't losing prime until this very technician replaced my oil filter. Our heater ran for over three hours in its effort to recover 16 degrees. My house reeks of oil.

Sunday night, my in-laws are here for dinner, and the stupid heater is off again. The House Fairy takes a look, but he's not all that familiar with oil burners and didn't want to risk tinkering with something he shouldn't. I called for service and braced myself for another long night.

To my elation, a different technician returned my call within two hours. Different Technician arrived within the hour and started working, and he didn't just prime the heater and hit the road. He actually knelt on my basement floor for the better part of an hour and a half trying to puzzle out the source of the air leak. When he left, he admitted that he wasn't sure if the problem was solved. There was one more possibility having to do with the flanges of the fuel line inside the fittings, and he admitted that he didn't want to tackle that job unless it was necessary.

Different Technician and I also talked about the whole "on call" thing. He flatly admitted to me that if he's asleep, he isn't waking up and calling in for messages. I told him that stinks, that their after-hours message leads the customer to believe something quite different. He responded that, gee, the top-dog oil company in our area promises service within 24 hours.

Today I called the oil company and spoke with the owner, politely voicing my dissatisfaction with this round of service calls, asking him to review them and see what he could "do" with them. (As in, cut me a break, mister! At $100 a pop, this is costing me a fortune!) All I really want is no charge for the two prime-and-run non-service calls, since Original Tech didn't bother investigating why the thing lost prime to begin with.

Oh, and I also mentioned that they should consider changing their after-hours message.

Let's see how far I get.

1 comment:

Coffee Bean said...

Oh my gosh! I hate it when this type of stuff happens. We went through it with our water heater a couple months ago. Ugh!

I have got a bunch I have to get done today and I want to think up some good questions... It will probably be later tonight before I get back to you with them.

Have a great day!