Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Swiss Quality...

...MY ASS!!!

I just returned from a little errand-running trip into town. First of all, I felt that I was leaving the flu bug behind and that I needed to get a little exercise and fresh air (Hello, Swissy!). Secondly, I needed to pick up one of my watches that I had brought in to a well-known Basel watch store (that will remain nameless) for a new battery.

But I digress (God, I feel so writer-ish when I write that...)...

Mrs. TBF bought me a very nice watch for my birthday a couple of years ago. Actually, she didn't really buy it for my birthday. However, since we both were at the store when I picked it out, and it was kind of close to my birthday, I just say that she bought it for me for my birthday.

We don't really buy each other birthday gifts.

Of course, when I bought the watch (a well-known Swiss brand, I'll have you know...), the saleslady pointed out the fact that the watch was not only a certified chronometer, but that it also came with a two-year warranty.

The Swiss LOVE to point out the zwei Jahre Garantie! Just about every durable good in Switzerland comes with a zwei Jahre Garantie. Need a toaster? Zwei Jahre Garantie! Need an iron? Zwei Jahre Garantie! Need a Swiss watch? Yup...you guessed it!

Here's the problem...

I've found that everything that comes with this guarantee either: 1) is too inexpensive to actually justify the hassle of returning it if it breaks, or... 2) ends up breaking right after the guarantee has expired.

That's right...YOU do the math.

The watch was bought at the end of September, 2004, and I brought it in to be repaired (it was losing about three minutes per day) at the end of February, 2007 - two years and five months. This watch has now joined ANOTHER Swiss watch I own AND our ex-coffee maker in the "Swiss products that broke right after the guarantee expired" club.

I brought the watch in for repair around the 17th of February. About a week later, one Herr Miller called me from the store, and the conversation went something like this:

HM: Vee haff looked at zee vatch and eet appears by zee marks on zee vatch zat you haff dropped eet. Plus, zee garantie hass expired.

TBF: I realize the guarantee has expired, AND I've never dropped the watch. Look, I just want the watch fixed.

HM: Zee guarantee ees not fallid eef you haff dropped zee vatch.

TBF: It's past the guarantee period anyway. Can you fix the watch?

HM: No. Vee haff to send eet to zee factory. Are you sure zat you haff neffer dropped zee vatch?

TBF: (...getting slightly annoyed!) I'm postive that I have never dropped the watch. Plus, what difference would it make since it's past the guarantee period?

HM: Haff you effer lent zee vatch to anybody?

TBF: What? Who lends their watch to another person?!?!? No, I'm the only person who has ever worn the watch. Look, how much is it going to cost to fix the watch?

HM: Vee are not sure.

TBF: Well, I want you to let me know how much it is going to cost before you fix it.
I have to say that I was pretty proud of myself. The TBF of six years ago would have been extremely annoyed by all of this. However, I've learned that sometimes when you're speaking English with a non-native English speaker (and his English wasn't very good), some things the person says might not come across exactly as they intend them to. I didn't even get annoyed when he told me that they wouldn't send the watch to the factory until I brought in the "offical" booklet that came with the watch so that the repair could be "officially" marked in said booklet. NOR did I become annoyed (although he was pushing his luck!) by the fact that he was now calling me on Friday evening at 5:20 p.m. - the evening before we were leaving for Berlin - and the store was going to be closed the entire next week due to Fasnacht!

Nope...I just let it all go...

So, this past Saturday, I brought my little "watch booklet" to the store, along with a non-Swiss watch (Italian, Mrs. TBF will have you know!) - that I'll be wearing in the interim (5 weeks!) - that needed the new battery. I went back today to pick up the Italian watch.

You know, the one I bought three years ago...THAT STILL WORKS!!!!


Sal DeTraglia said...

My friend.

I believe that the time is approaching for us both to go home.

These kinds of things just don't happen at Target.


J said...

A watch booklet? What's up with that? It sounds like something we'd have here in Germany.

CanadianSwiss said...

You seem to be attracting all the "lemons". We never had all those problems.

Bobby The C said...

I second Sal's emotion.

christina said...

The "quality" of stuff in Germany has also gone right down the toilet in the past few years. And they always try to weasel their way out of it, don't they?

The Big Finn said...

Sal - Talk to Mrs. TBF...

CS - Maybe you're right. I need to try to make more lemonade!

TMS - Talk to Mrs. TBF...

Christina - Whenever somebody mentions Swiss quality, I ask for an example. Usually, they mention watches (mine break) and Swiss coffee machines (ours break). Actually, very little of the stuff we buy in the local stores on a regular basis is made in Switzerland. Most of the stuff in the stores is imported from China just like the crap we buy in the U.S.

The Big Finn said...

J - The Swiss LOVE to keep track of stuff. We needed a bunch of vaccinations a couple of years ago. These vaccinations were given over the course of a year. Each time, the doctor's assistant would ask us for this little yellow booklet that had been given to us to keep track of our vaccinations. They seemed rather shocked when I'd tell them that not only did I not have the booklet with me, but I didn't even really know where it was. It's not like the booklet is required by law or anything.

Unknown said...

I found my newest beloved watch in the Schiphol airport back in 2002 because they had a great deal. I finally replaced my battery last month (Feb) for the first time.

I'm sure you don't want to buy another watch, but you might want to keep your eyes out for watches near the train station in Geneva. Most of these stores were NW I guess if you are looking at Lake.

Aren't spring sales coming up?

Z said...

I commend you on your patience. There seems to be a general decline of quality everywhere, though for some reason, it does shock me more when it has something to do with a Swiss-made product. Stereotype, I know, and I'm trying to get over it.