All change

Sink on tank
Sink on top of the tank

What a difference a day makes. Last week, on the last day of August we bought a new toilet. We paid for it at the front of the store and the salesman sent us around to a side entrance to retrieve it. To our good fortune, the young man who got it out of the stock room opened the box and that’s when we discovered that the tank was broken. He explained that we could wait for a new one to arrive at his location in 3 weeks or if we were willing to pick it up at their store in Narbonne, they had one on the shelf and he would reserve it for us. Visions of a city by the Mediterranean Sea, only 30 minutes away with the item we wanted in stock made the decision for us. That’s when things got lost in translation.

With an exuberant Oui we said that we would gladly accept a refund and then drive for half an hour to get what we came in for anyway. And that’s exactly what we did, taking the paper work with us, handing it to the salesman in Narbonne along with our debit card. In hindsight, he seemed a bit surprised but took the payment anyway and gave us a receipt that we took to the stockroom to claim our purchase. Only after we got home did we realize that our local store had not issued us a refund on our debit card; only an in-store credit, so we had now paid twice for this toilet. Now, it is special, but not worth two times its normal price.

The next day, September 1, we returned to our local store expecting to see all the same faces we were familiar with from several visits we had made during August. It was as if there had been an entire turnover of staff overnight. Not a single person looked familiar yet every employee clearly knew what they were doing while helping other customers so they certainly weren’t new. Only then did the significance of the date, September 1, strike us. Generally speaking, at many businesses in France, a lot of staff members get to leave during the prime vacation month of August while others must go in July or September.

Perhaps it was to our advantage that the gentleman who helped us had apparently just returned from a month away and was ready to deal with challenging situations. He explained that, unfortunately, he was unable to refund to us the money, just as it said on the in-store credit that was sitting on the counter in front of us. However, if we could provide him with our bank account information, given the unusual circumstances, he would request that the headquarters office of his company give us a refund. Relief!

So what’s so special about this porcelain prize that we paid for twice? As in many homes here, our new house has the bathtub/shower and sink in one room and the toilet but no sink in the other. While we love the convenience of that separation we would have preferred a place to wash our hands in the same small room and now we will have it. Everything is still in the box but here you can see the top part of the tank that’s a sink where the wash water simply becomes part of the next flush. Pretty ingenious, huh?

2 thoughts on “All change

  1. No worries Bob, even if they hadn’t given you a full refund, I’m sure you’ll have plenty more to buy at the hardware store in the future! But it’s good they did. Luckily your French was good enough to understand and explain the situation. I thought it a major coup when I was able to get my first product refund – a little success in the French language. After that, I was confident to get other refunds, exchanges and discounts.

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