Friday, August 26, 2011

Absolutely NOT tickled pink.

I know I've mentioned that I hate doing drywall work.  Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil when you do contracting work for other people.  Now, it's a necessary evil in my own home as I continue to patch and fill plaster cracks.  Some of the wall-to-ceiling ones are pretty bad, so I tried the paper-covered metal inside corner pieces for extra reinforcement.  They're cheap; $2.21 for an 8' section.  The downfall is that they're at a perfect 90deg angle and no corner is ever perfect.  I had to very slightly flatten the pieces a little to take out some of the angle, then they worked great.  I like the stability of metal and not having to be so gentle with the top coats of mud to avoid tearing plain folded paper.  They also don't move when a trowel is dragged down them, like paper ones can sometimes do with a difficult first coat.

Wednesday I went to Lowe's to get the corner pieces, a 4" trowel and a bucket of drywall mud.  I don't like the typical $10 five-gallon bucket contractor mix because it can get a lot of bubbles in it as it dries.  I like DAP Premium but it's $14 per gallon.  It's worth it.  It's creamier, less bubble-prone, and dries more uniformly.  Plus, it's pink when applied and turns white when it's dry so there's no guesswork.  Thursday I opened the new bucket to dump the contents into my empty square bucket I like better.  Something didn't look right. It was bright and almost fluorescent pink; not the bubble-gum color that's the norm.  I turned over the container expecting it to pour out.  It didn't.  I sat it, upside down, inside the square bucket, hit it on the bottom a couple of times, and out slid one big pink glop that retained the shape of its container.  I called DAP to see if they'd changed its formula to require thinning.  The guy said no, it sounds to be too dry and asked for the numbers from the lid to see if there may have been a bad batch run he could trace.  Here's the rest of conversation:

DAP:  On top of the lid there should be a sticker with, or just a series of numbers, stamped on. Give me those, please.
Me:  11194.
DAP:  11194?  Is there a sixth number?
Me:  No; just five.  It's clearly stamped; no smudges or anything.
DAP:  Hmmmm.  You're sure?
Me.  Yes, why?
DAP:  Because here's how you read those numbers.  The first number is the plant number, 1.  The second number is the year of manufacture, also a 1.  The third number is the month, the fourth is the day and the fifth is the batch number. 
Me:  So, the 1 means 2011 like if there was a 0 it would mean 2010?
DAP:  No, the 1 means 2001.  It was made in plant 1, January 9, 2001 and it's batch 4.  When did you buy it?
Me:  Yesterday.

Trust me, I was not happy. Especially since this Lowe's is about 15mi from my house and the problem was discovered late afternoon when I'd get stuck in school and work traffic.  So my work for the rest of the day came to an unexpected halt.  It'll be returned where I bought it as I'm not going to stick a good store with another's lame mistake.  There's a large event going on through the weekend that backs up traffic for miles in every direction near the offending Lowe's so as soon as it's over, I'll be going back with my fossilized construction material and an equally dry attitude.

UPDATE:  I returned the dried out drywall compound last night, and asked to speak to a manager so this wouldn't happen to anyone else.  I showed him the top of the container and explained what the DAP representative told me about reading the code.  He was as flabbergasted as I was as to how something over ten years old would still be on the shelf.  We walked over to the remaining stock and found two more containers with the same series of numbers and only one that was current.  He had no explanation, but I really didn't expect one since neither of us knew the product was expired.  I've always appreciated Lowe's for their customer service, but was really blown away when I took the new container of compound and a putty knife to the register and was told there would be no charge for either because of the mistake and inconvenience.  I went into the store somewhat expecting a disagreement, since a lot of stores treat returns as if they're the customer's problem and not necessarily a faulty or incorrect product.  I left the store a very satisfied customer, glad there are still a few businesses left in the "big box" sector that know how to cultivate their business in a positive manner.  DAP, however, should be more customer and retailer friendly by putting dates that are not encrypted on their containers. 

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