Free Markets, Free People
About a year and a half ago, I bought a Citizen Skyhawk A-T EcoDrive watch. It’s the really nice one, made of titanium, solar-powered, and calibrated to the Naval Observatory’s atomic clock every day. It pretty much has all the bells and whistles a watch can have.
At least, it used to. The outer bezel fell off less than a year after I purchased it. Now, when you pay for an $850 dollar watch that you sort of hope will be the last watch you’ll ever buy, you don’t expect bits to just…fall off. Then the inner bezel fell off.
“OK,” I thought. “I’ll take it to a watch shop to have it fixed.” But I can’t. No one is allowed to fix the Skyhawk A-T except the Citizen Service Center in Torrance, CA. “Well,” I thought again, “This is becoming…inconvenient.”
But I really wanted it fixed, so I submitted to the process, which first requires you to go to the Citizen web site and fill out a form to create a work order. Then I packed it all up, took it to the post office, and sent it off to Torrance, insured, via Certified Mail, in December.
Anxiously I awaited. As the dark, cold winter passed, I prepared to greet the warmth of spring with a freshly restored Chronometer. Then, in late March, I received a text message from UPS telling me my watch had been delivered.
Oh, frabjous day!
I raced home from work, ran into the house, and there was the package from Citizen. I opened it to find my watch…in exactly the same poor shape it was in when I sent it. There was an invoice as well, saying that I’d need to buy a new bezel for $60, but they were returning my watch untouched because I’d never responded to their service messages.
Um, what service messages? I hadn’t heard a single thing from them since I’d sent the watch off. No phone calls. No emails. No letters. I was a bit…upset about this.
So, I lovingly re-packed it, but this time, I sent along a $60 money order, along with the repair invoice, and a little note, informing them that I did wish them to fix it, and here was the $60 the had requested.
Two days and $25 in postage later, the watch was off to Torrance again. “This, time,” I thought, “I’ll get my beautiful watch back again, whole!”
Weeks passed. Spring Training came and went. The baseball season started. The Astros worked assiduously to become, once again, the worst team in baseball. I checked the mail regularly, in case Citizen sent me a note about the watch, but, sadly, received nothing. Once again, it was as if I’d sent my watch into a black hole.
Then, today, May 23rd, I received another text message from UPS, telling me my watch was back from its second sojourn to Torrance. I was hopeful, but apprehensive. In what state would my watch be now?
When I got home, there was the package from Citizen. I picked it up and went into the kitchen, where The Lovely Christine was making dinner.
“I love you,” I told her, pulling out my pocketknife in preparation for slitting the packing tape open. “I’m telling you this now, while I’m in a good mood.” I kissed her on the back of the neck, then continued, “Because if I open this package and my watch isn’t fixed, I’m going to be incandescently angry.”
Thirty seconds later, I was incandescently angry.
Once again, my watch was unfixed. Once again, there was a little note saying that I hadn’t responded to their inquiries, which, once again, I had never received. But, my $60 money order had been returned, so I’ve got that going for me.
So, now, instead of wanting to send it back for a third time, I’m wondering how easy it would be to take a hammer and pound a titanium watch perfectly flat.
I honestly don’t know what they want from me. Since they sent my $60 back, it clearly isn’t money. Perhaps I missed some fine print about sacrificing a small animal, or selling my soul to Satan.
I’m at a loss.
UPDATE – 24 May
I got a couple of calls and emails from Citizen today. They say they are sending me a pre-paid UPS packing label, and that they will fix my watch and send it back to me. Free of charge.
So, we’ll see how that works.
UPDATE – 5 Jun
My watch is back from Citizen. Shipped and fixed free of charge. I finally have my Eco-Drive back on my wrist again!
I’ve been off the internet since 3pm yesterday because of a system outage via my provider. I called their “helpful” help line and got an automated recording – after I provided my phone number – saying the outage would be fixed by 6:31pm. Not 6:30, but 6:31.
Well 6:31 came and went and still no ‘net. I waited an hour and called again. Same recording and the same time for it to be “fixed”. I finally figured out how to get a human on the line and waited 30 minutes. A very nice lady finally answered and I told her my problem.
She looked up the problem in my area and said, “yes, your area still has an outage.” I asked, “how long do they anticipate the outage to last?” She looked and I heard, “oh, my. Your outage won’t be fixed until 8pm tomorrow”.
I had her repeat the time because I wasn’t sure I’d actually heard it properly. “8PM?”
Now that is customer service – /sarc.
So here I sit in a local wi-fi hotspot (the only one in the store at the momemet) drinking a nice cup of joe and trying to get some content up.
Sorry for the delay.