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Tharp case still makes me cry

I initially blogged about this case as it unfolded, then re-titled the blog and condensed my comments. As far as I know, nothing has ever ...

Monday, May 23, 2016

Beware of Toro lawn equipment

Toro sure has a clever name. Their advertising is Bull, and their customers get gored. Most of the time, I wound up pushing their "self-propelled" mower myself, which is where the "Personal Pace" kicks in. Mowing speed depends on the terrain and the customer's strength. #ToroSpeak

The self-propel mechanism on my lawnmower became inoperable and neither of the only two Toro authorized repair shops in my area - A-Z Lawnmower Parts in Lexington, South Carolina and Catoe's Equipment in Columbia, South Carolina - could repair it.

A-Z failed twice, and charged me for work I didn't authorize. After their second effort failed, one of A-Z's employees advised me to hold the mower handle with one hand and force the self-propel mechanism down with the other. This is dangerous advice and provides no solution.

The Toro Company offers no help - AVOID THESE BUSINESSES like the plague.

> Update 6/11/2016 - Been sending links to this post, along with a few choice comments, to @ToroCompany on Twitter. Wonder why Toro isn't investigating the matter, intent on finding out why TWO of their "authorized mechanics" didn't repair the mower. TOTALLY INEXCUSABLE. The mower should have been repaired when the first shop, A-Z, had it.

> Update 6/14/2016 - No response from Toro, other than to suggest that I try yet another of their "authorized repair shops." It would be quite a distance from my home, and I know this will be a shocker to Toro, but I have better things to do than arrange to have my lawnmower hauled all over the metro area HOPING one of their "authorized mechanics" will repair a COMMON maintenance issue. I don't have the means to haul it myself, so I gotta pay for pickup and delivery or else ask my neighbor to haul it in his pickup. Toro apparently doesn't care what its customers encounter at its "authorized repair shops." 

> Update 6/15/2016 - How incompetent does A-Z have to be to charge for things a customer DIDN'T authorize, and NEGLECT (twice) to repair the problem that prompted the customer to contact 'em. There appears to be more to this story, and Toro needs to find out what's going on at their "authorized repair shops." Can't blame anyone for concluding that Toro is trying to force its customers to buy new equipment.

> Update 6/22/2016 - An independent mechanic has confirmed that ANYONE could have determined that the problem was worn out gears. All anyone had to do was take off the gear housing to see what the problem was. Time for Toro to explain what's going on. 

> Update 6/24/2016 - The independent mechanic's report (6/22 update) tends to explain why Catoe's immediately refunded the $48 they charged me for 10 minutes worth of work (after my neighbor got me and the mower to Catoe's in his pickup), and weren't interested in dropping by my house to confirm the inoperable condition of the mower, which was locking up and making a loud, rattling sound. A-Z charged me $115 and ignored my request for a refund. Once again, here's the point: Toro needs to explain why neither of their authorized repair shops corrected the problem or offered appropriate advice.

> Update 6/27/2016 - Update 6/27/2016 - The gears (6/22 update) were BEYOND worn out. ALMOST DISINTEGRATED - one part was literally "floating" - would be more like it. Now I'm wondering why Catoe's (the shop I've been using regularly since I bought the mower) didn't replace the damaged gears long ago, because it took quite some time for the self-propel mechanism to get in such bad condition. I had noticed over the years that Catoe's "repair" of the mechanism didn't last very long, and there were shorter periods of acceptable operation each time they "repaired" it. Apparently, there's a "quick fix" via adjusting a cable, but that doesn't correct worn out gears. When I used Catoe's in the past, I had a means of hauling the mower, and when I no longer had a means of hauling the mower, I tried A-Z because they were slightly nearer to my home and charges for pickup and delivery were slightly less. The failure of two of Toro's authorized repair shops to correct the underlying problem - or at least advise me of it - suggests a Toro-involved racket intended to increase sales of new mowers. 

> Update 6/30/2016 - I received an e-mail from someone regarding Toro lawnmowers of yesteryear - here are a few excerpts (emphasis mine):

'The “soft gears” are the “weak link” in the drive system, but you do want them to protect the (far more expensive) transmission from unexpected excessive loads -- as well as the drive gears which interact with these more easily replaced “sacrificial gears.”

Thankfully (and luckily) I never had to go beyond the worn-out wheel gears – after being “ripped-off” the first time at “an authorized repair” shop.

You’re correct.  They just want to “sell you” a new one ...'

Apparently (see 6/22 update), Toro eliminated the "soft gears" and designed a built-in obsolescence as the main gears gradually wear down. Meanwhile, customers shell out regularly - time, money, and inconvenience - for temporary repairs. No wonder Toro refuses to investigate their repair shops.

> Update 7/1/2016 - Talk about sleazy repair shops. A-Z charged $50 for pickup n delivery, and went ahead with other items I didn't authorize (new blade, new starter-rope, spark plug, oil n filter change) and laid on an additional $65. I had told them I thought everything was okay except the self-propel mechanism, but they could give me a quote for anything else before they did the work. Right. Run up a bill for a mower they either knew or should have known was inoperable. A-Z even stated on their invoice that the self-propel mechanism "checked out okay" when in fact it wasn't pulling at all. And BTW, the handle came off the new starter-rope. SPEAK, Toro. Explain what's going on at your authorized repair shops.

> Update 8/22/2016 - Beware of ordering Toro parts. After buying my mower, I thought it wuz kinda strange when every non-authorized-Toro shop I visited - lookin' for a repair shop close to my home - said they couldn't repair the self-propel mechanism on my Toro because they couldn't get the parts. And things got even stranger when the two Toro shops mentioned in this post failed to correct the problem.

Now I know what's been going on.

The independent mechanic I worked with ordered 'bout a $100 worth of parts from Toro in an effort to fix my mower. But alas. TORO'S PARTS WON'T WORK. They only allow the self-propel mechanism to partially function, and only if the mower is running. If the engine is off, the back wheels lock up, so the mower is essentially useless. No wonder Toro's "authorized dealers" didn't attempt to repair the problem. 

Toro is just another crooked American corporation propped up by cowardly consumers who tolerate anything corporate thugs dish out. Meanwhile, Toro contributes heavily to environmental pollution by making sure that lawnmowers that should be operable for many years to come wind up in dump yards. 

I've been e-mailing links to this post and the updates to Toro on Twitter. If they have an explanation, I'll publish it.    

Disgusting facts abt ancient Rome: http://listverse.com/2016/08/23/10-truly-disgusting-facts-about-roman-life/

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Listen up AGAIN, AT&T: One year without home phone or Internet, and I LOVE it

Update 1/31/2018 - Goons from the telephone industry ripped he last pay phone in my area off a wall about 6 months ago, within 24 hrs after I used it. I had given my name and had mentioned how much I enjoy not having home phone or Internet. As pay phones disappear, businesses seem to be helping the telephone industry try to force consumers to shell out big bucks each month to communicate. Here's a link to my blog post about the situation. We need a campaign to increase the number of good ol' coin-operated pay phones. Such an option would empower consumers, and motivate the phone industry to end robocalls. I remain DELIGHTED having no landline, cell, or home Internet.

Update 5/20/2017 - Now over 2 years without home phone or Internet, and I enjoy the advantages more and more as time goes by. Not having a phone sure cuts down on the junk mail. And I've now saved about $2,000.

WOW. Tomorrow, 5/13/16, a whole year will have gone by since AT&T discontinued my "service." And what a year it's been.

The absence of robocalls has been absolutely WONDERFUL. I didn't realize just how stressful the daily, decades-long annoyances had been until they ended. For the first couple of weeks, all I wanted to do was sleep, and being retired, I could afford the luxury. In fact, before the "unwinding" ended, I got downright worried.

Ironically enough, when I had a home phone, wunna the worst robocall offenders was United Health Care. They showed their appreciation for my Medicare Advantage business by targeting me with robocalls demanding that I sign up for regular home health-care visits. Much to the medical fraternity's chagrin, I've been blessed with exceptionally good health, take no medications, and have no interest in United Health Care's supposedly optional program. I'd told 'em so more than once, but the robocalls continued, sometimes ringing my phone for up to 50 times. Much more of that - their strategy, perhaps? - and I woulda needed home health care visits.

What a pleasure it was - after I no longer had a home phone - to get a letter from United Health Care - suitable for framing - angrily informing me in big bold print at the top, "We've been trying to reach you." followed by a demand that I contact them (by phone, of course). Really.

Okay. This venture has also been about the money, but only in the sense that I don't appreciate being kicked around by a crooked corporation that assumes everyone who can afford it somehow has to have home phone (or surely a -YUK - cell phone) and Internet.

Ah yes, the Internet

I've cut my computer use by 75%, visiting the library has been a ton of fun, and a cute girl who works there even sang to me on my birthday. Top that, AT&T.

To sum it all up, this first year without home phone or Internet has been a delightful experience. The bicycling turned out to be so much fun that I've used my bicycle instead of my car 95% of the time. I've learned new riding techniques, saved a bundle of moolah, and look forward to continuing this modern day adventure in self-reliance.

 Update 5/18/2016 - My pleasure to send AT&T and the SC Dept of Consumer Affairs a link to this post.

Update 11/19/2016 - Now it's been over a year and a half without home phone or Internet, and I enjoy my new routine as much - or more - than ever.