Temas Especiales

16 de Jan de 2021


Don’t go looking for a free lunch

Far be it for me to start the new year of on a cantankerous note, but experiences related to me during the seasonal festivities do need ...

Far be it for me to start the new year of on a cantankerous note, but experiences related to me during the seasonal festivities do need airing, if only to spur some of our “service” industries into providing just that. Time was when in officer cadet school, Royal Mariens sergerant majors were able to make “Sir” sound like “cur”. But that was ok, Later one came to realize that they were the backbone of combined ops.

But when you are paying hard cash for service, when you do not receive it, it’s harder to take.

What’s making me hot under the collar as I write is air conditioning.

A couple of weeks before Christmas the family decided it was time to start installing air conditioning units in the new apartment, in spite of the breezes coming in from the ocean. (The breezes are also carrying high levels of dust from work on the Cinta Costera, and a newly ascending apartment tower, specially designed to cut off our balcony view of Paitilla, but that’s another story. At least we can still watch the traffic jams on Avenida Balboa.)

Before heading off to the stores to check out prices, I was warned by a colleague to “beware the installation charges,” and she retailed the story of a relative who had ordered air conditioning units, without being appraised of the installation costs. A long battle ensued.

So when I visited Lumicentro with my wife I thought I was ahead of the game when I discovered that Panasonic units came with “free installation”. Of course they cost more, but then, as we all know, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But at least we left knowing that everything was covered. A call to Panasonic gave us the information that all could be accomplished in four to five days. But first a sub-contractor had to visit and evaluate the job. The contractor did not arrive on the promised day, but in response to a phone call, guaranteed to be there at noon the next day. That happened to be December 24. Another no show. When he finally showed up on the 26, it was to inform us that although all the holes and connection points were pre-installed, as the distance for cables was more than 15 feet, there would be extra charges. We would need to pay for an extra 30 feet, plus extra installation charges. The free installation of one unit was now approaching $300.

Panasonic was called and promised another contractor. Two more no shows. Finally we got an independent contractor, who informed us that a total of only 24 feet of cable was needed ( a different type of ruler?).

In the meantime the second Panasonic sub contractor arrived, but after two days we received no quotation.

Eventually we abandoned Panasonic and it’s free installation and returned the unit to Lumicentro. They were shocked and understanding. But perhaps they shouldn’t have been shocked as we had heard of another customer who lived in Chorrera and had purchased four units, only to wait in vain for an installer to appear, as the contractor wanted to wait until he had another customer to attend to in the same area.

The order was cancelled and the units returned.

We did get a sympathetic ear from Lumicentro management and the promise of referral to a trusted sub-contractor, if we purchased units of another make.

In the meantime, we are enjoying the ocean breezes and the samples of Cinta Costera dust. Unlike lunch, they are free