Monday, November 06, 2006

Caveat Emptor - Justice for Jameel, and some Waffles.

For those few loyal readers that actually read this blog daily, you may recall a story I posted about a few weeks back, when I purchased a flat LCD monitor for my wife on an ELAL flight. I wrote that ELAL was moving in the right direction for customer service (which I still agree with and will soon prove)...and I wrote that Newpan, the company which actually sold me the monitor has much to learn.

I also signed that posting as follows:

Newpan will NOT be receiving the Muqata seal of approval for customer service...and they have yet to experience that wrath of the Muqata.
heh heh...we'll see what happens...we'll see.
They haven't heard the last from me...

I wrote a very serious letter to EL-AL explaining that I had a lot of respect for the way they were continuously improving, and (IMHO) they treat their business travelers as valued customers. I also wrote that it's unfortunate that they use Newpan as a business partner, since Newpan not yet learned the value of a customer or understand the concept of customer service. ELAL called me up by phone a day later and said they would see what they could do...

Since then, I flew ELAL, and was given a complimentary upgrade from economy to business, no points required. Though I didn't blame ELAL in the slightest for the monitor mess-up, I'm very impressed that they upgraded me. (Then again, it could have been a pure coincidence that I was upgraded...but I still think my story had something to do with it).

The monitor arrived (a month late), my wife liked it and I forgot about Newpan.

End of story? Keep reading...

Last week I got a call from Newpan, and the salesperson excitedly informed me that my monitor had arrived in stock, and they would be sending it to me that day. I told them their inventory computer system must be needing repair, since they already shipped me the monitor a few weeks earlier.

The salesrep asked if I was happy with it, and I replied "yes", so she brightly said, "OK, so everything worked out well, right?"

I replied, "Exactly, everything worked out perfectly, expect:

1. The monitor came a month late so it wasn't a surprise present anymore.
2. You totally lied when you wrote on your promotional material that if an item is out of stock, that you'll "upgrade" it with an item of higher value or quality since you didn't offer me anything of better value, but of LOWER value.
3. You tried getting me to accept a monitor of lower value for the same cost as the better monitor I had ordered (without even telling me it was of lower value).
4. You taught me that your company's policy is that the customer always comes last.
5. I will never recommend your company to anyone.

Other than that, everything worked out just fine!"

"Hmmm," the sales-rep said, "I understand you're upset, let me call you back in a few minutes."

She did.

"Hi there, I spoke with my manager and he authorized a free gift for you, to help rebuild our relationship with you! [amazing what a letter to ELAL can do] You can either have a hand soup mixer or a Belgian waffle Maker. Since we already own a hand soup mixer, and the value of the Waffle maker was twice that of the soup mixer, I chose the Belgian Waffle maker (and if we wouldn't use it for personal use, I assume it would make a great gift to someone).

"Excellent!" The sales-rep said, "You should be very happy with us now...have a wonderful day..." And she hung up.

The waffle maker arrived 2 days later. But the story isn't over yet.... something that bakes/cooks/comes in contact with food, it needed to be toveled (immersed) in the mikva.

The waffle iron parts weren't removable, and the instructions clearly said, "WARNING: Do not immerse in water!"

Hmmm...what to do? I called me friendly neighborhood Rav who offered me off the top of his head, 4 possibilities: (please note, there are different opinions concerning if electrical appliances need to be toveled, and if my memory serves me correctly, R' Moshe Feinstein held that a toaster did not need to be toveled)

1. Dunk the entire thing in the mikva (regardless of the warning) and let it dry out of a few days. While the Rav I spoke to personally does this, I'm not a big fan of it.

2. See if the waffles iron plates can be removed, and tovel only those. Sorry, not an option.

3. Sell the Waffle Iron to a non-Jew, and then borrow it from him, permanently. Maybe I could sell it to the Thai worker across the street?

4. This was most elegant possibility; the idea that any cooking/baking/food serving utensil that has been previously owned or manufactured by non-Jews require Tevilah. However, if you professionally disable the utensil to the point that it can't be used any more (i.e., more than just taking off the plug or taking a knob off), and the re-connect it/build it, then you, as a Jew, have completed "manufacturing" the item, and it therefore, does not require tevilla at all.

Being the hardware hacker that I am, this was definitely the most creative option, and the one I wanted to try.

Yet, this became even more challenging than I expected. Not only were the screws on the bottom of the waffle baker very special screws that needed a unique flat-head, horse-show type screwdriver, but you needed to remove the "warranty-buster" sticker as well.

Coming to the rescue was hardware-hacker par excellance, my good friend BoneCrusher, who had the right screwdriver, and took the whole thing apart.

OK, so we removed the warranty sticker...I'm not too worried about that....and we hope to use the waffle maker this coming Friday morning.

Lesson Roundup:

1. Fly ELAL
2. If you feel that a company has wronged you, don't hesitate to call them or write a letter of complaint.
3. You don't have to dunk your toaster in the mikva.
4. If you are going to try and give poor customer service to someone, I suggest you don't start up with the Muqata...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


aliyah06 said...

I had no idea #4 was an option....made my day! Thanks! (How are the waffles BTW?)

The Observer said...

I've done #1 many times, all without harm to the appliance. Mind you, these are always cheap appliances, so don't ask me what happens to anything with complex electronics. (But tell me, you with the fancy dancy toaster, what is it that you need a $100 toaster to do, that a $10 one won't satisfy you?)

I tried #4 once with a travel kettle. Now it leaks. And apparently there are some Rabbanim that hold that this isn't an option anyway.

DTC said...

I guess that we'll wait and see about the results of Friday's test before officially inviting everyone to the Muqata for breakfast.

VIVA Jameel! (ok, does anyone know how to translate that to Flemish?)

Anonymous said...

Not paskening but there are poskim who maintain that an electrical appliance that is plugged into a socket is treated as mechubar le-karka and does not need tevilah.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post touching on so many issues! :)

I will see if I have anything to add to the halachik segment...

Anonymous said...

Wuss, you should have dunked the whole thing. I toveled my George Foreman machine and it worked fine.

And what a coinsedence that you just happen to take some photos of the wafflemaker, inorder to blog about it.

Jack Steiner said...

This sounds far too complicated.

YMedad said...


And only three years ago this happened:-

the Simon Wiesenthal Center spotted calls for a boycott of Israeli fruit on the Belgian wing of Oxfam's Web site and freaked. A graphic of a ripe ruby-red dripping a lone droplet of blood hung over the words, "Israeli fruit tastes bitter. Say no to the occupation of Palestine. Don't buy fruit and vegetables from Israel."

LkwdGuy said...

IIRC, R. Moshe's tshuva goes something like this:

There are two catagories of utensils
that require tevilah,

A. Anything used in the preperation of food

B. Any kli seuda

R. Moshe holds that since the bread is completly edible before it enters the toaster and the toaster only serves to improve the bread,it is not classified as a utensil that is used in the preparation of food.

Your waffle maker would not be eligible for that same heter.

I have not seen this tshuva in awhile so please apply the regular blog/halacha disclaimer* to this entire comment.

* In case you were wondering, here is the complete text of the Blog/Halacha Disclaimer.


Chana said...

This is hilarious, and I echo Jack, FAR too complicated for a waffle-maker. You can make waffles in a toaster oven, for goodness sake. ;)

Anonymous said...

Mighty clean and neat counter top - I'm truly impressed.

Sarah Likes Green said...

lol... makes for a good story but the waffles better be worth all the hassle.

mmmm.... waffles....

(i must let dad know it's not necessary to dunk elecrical items in the mikva.)

Anonymous said...

From what I recall from my studies in the Rabbanut semicha program, most do not rely on the 'kavua' heter...but I will check my notes...:)

Lion of Zion said...

thanks for remninding that i need to follow up with eldan on a charge i am trying fight. of course the customer service rep did not email as she promised she would.

how about starting a service. if you get me back my 50 shekel i'll give you twenty percent.

(there actually was a website that fought your parking tickets for you. if you won they charged you 50% of the fine)

kasamba said...

Jam, you are a roll, which by the way makes yummy sandwiches in your wafflemaker- to take on board your elal flight!

Jack Steiner said...

That is it, breakfast is at Jameel's house. Come one come all and enjoy some fabulous company along with a couple of waffles.

smb said...

umm waffles

queeniesmom said...

Thanks for a great laugh at the end of a very trying day.


Scraps said...

You make me laugh, Jameel.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

aliyah06: We haven't tried making waffles yet! I'll let you know how they taste...(And yet more info for another blog posting :)

The Observer: It's a rather quality electrical item with lots of electronics on the inside, so I wouldn't want to risk dunking it.

DTC: Thanks for the public breakfast invite (seems like you started a roll with EVERYONE deciding to announce a public breakfast...) Let's first wait and see how the waffles turn out (this could be an easy "out" -- if I say they didn't taste good ;-)

anon1: What if the plug isn't grounded?

mevaseretzion: my pleasure! Always great to mix halcaha with slice of life posts...(and if it's entertaining then it's a winner)

Holy Hyrax: Dude -- how often do you dunk $100 appliances? And yes, option 4 worked the best for blogging...(though I could have taken pictures of the mikveh keilim but don't think that would have been as interesting)

Jack: Complicated - but spiritually satisfying (and I like opening up things). I used to open phones as a kid all the time to convert them from pulse to tone dial. I'll blog about that sometime...

YMEDAD: Hah...I remember that...but the ban was on Belgian chocolate, not their waffles!

lkdwdguy: Thanks for the halachik disclaimer! (You hear that people - check with your OWN rav!)

Chana: HELLO? You are SOOOO American! Waffles aren't only FROZEN and then "made" in a toaster oven! This waffle maker lets you pour the batter into the waffle mold (which is a part of the waffle maker) and it bakes them! I don't even think you can get frozen/ready-made waffles in Israel. (You can add this to your list of reasons to come to Israel -- so you can eat real waffles :)

Shmilda: It's BoneCrsuher's counter-top! (Though our's is rather clean too) Hmm - I should figure out how to make that into a posting as well.

Sarah: Ask your local Rav! (But it's important to always unplug any electrical appliance before dunking it in the mikva...) Hmm - that would make an interesting post -- about the person who forgot to unplug the hairdryer she dunked in the mikva, to blowdry the sheitel which was from Indian hair...

Ari K: Good idea - sort of an "Ask Jameel" consumer advice column? Maybe I could pay "Ask Shifra" for a franchise license...

Kasamba: Two flights ago, I plugged in my laptop on the plane to an outlet near the door (when I flew economy). Maybe I could bring the waffle maker and make waffles on baord for everyone? That would definitely be a first, and would try the limits of ELAL's patience ;-)

Jack:'ll be here this Friday at 9:00 AM?

SMB: Well - hopefully they'll taste as good as we hope they will!

Queenie's Mom: My pleasure!

Scraps: Such praise...and from the Scraps Patchwork blogger...I'm not worthy!

Lady-Light said...

The way I learned it from my rabbanim in the States, you don't really have to take the entire appliance apart, just (as you mentioned in your post)unscrew a screw or two; it is symbolic of rebuilding the item: a shinui before using it for the first time; we know that in reality someone else, possibly a goy, built it--but we do something to it in order to symbolically show that it was put together by a Jew. The same thing with selling hametz for Pesach (we know it's really ours and still in our pantry; only technically does it belong to a goy, who wouldn't care a fig if we took something out of his hametz!)Doing these things makes us more aware of the Torah and it's laws. Of course, that BLOG/HALACHIC DISCLAIMER applies...

Anonymous said...

Nutty stuff. There is no need to toivel if there is any, even minor, financial loss. But; I'd take the machine apart just for kicks!

... Is the Window to Our Soul said...

Glad to hear about ElAl improving their service. So is this a new National trend?

When I was 17 (many years ago), I flew by myself from Israel to the States. The flight was late and I missed my connecting flight to Florida. I just didn't know what to do. It was late at night, I barely had any money, and the ElAl management were absolutely bastards about the whole thing. No hotel, no apology, no help in what I was supposed to do next, any info on my luggage getting to my destination, how I was supposed to get a new flight, etc. Nada.

It was the evening of the 4th of July, so almost almost everything in the terminals were closed. I ended up sleeping on a cold plastic seat, practically with noone else around except for the Puerto Rican janitor, ex drug addict who had found Jesus and wanted to tell me ALL about it.


Anonymous said...

I'm not impressed yet. Get back to me when the thing's actually reassembled and you've proved that it still works. I know how you guys operate. You get no credit until the maple syrup (real maple, thank you very much) hits the waffle.

Search the Muqata


Related Posts with Thumbnails