Are You Kidding Me?

If you recall, we have a few issues with Ecolab (the company that leases our marginally functioning dishwasher to us).  And the gist is this...Ecolab charges their customers $75 a month for dishwasher chemicals, whether the chemicals are ordered (or needed) or not.  And to give you some perspective, it took us 16 months to use one bucket of dishwasher sanitizer.  The odds that we need to purchase a bucket each month are about zero, but nonetheless, the $75 charge keeps showing up on our monthly statement.  And I never pay it...primarily because I can't get behind paying a hefty fee for something I don't want or need.  And when the Collections Department calls about the past due fees, I kindly remind them that I won't be paying it EVER, so they should just make a note in my file and stop calling. When our contract with Ecolab ended this spring, we provided written notice that we would like the dishwasher removed.  Even if PJP grows enough to justify a large chemical cleaning order each month, I'm not interested in doing business with a company that is clearly only focused on their high-volume customers and not supportive of the needs and goals of their smaller customers.  And it wasn't hard at all to find a commercial dishwasher company that was willing to lease us a unit for a few bucks cheaper each month and provide a written statement that there are no minimum monthly purchases.  We've been ready for the past few months to make the switch.  But first Ecolab would need to remove their current machine...our space is limited and pulling out the current unit presents a major storage problem.  We considered hauling it out to alleyway but worried it would be stolen before Ecolab picked it up and then they would charge us $85,472 for the lost machine.  So we've been waiting.  And digging out all the teaspoons the machine eats.  And not paying for chemicals we don't need.

And then on Friday, whilst elbow deep in jelly jar preparations, Sydney hands me the phone and tells me that someone from Ecolab wants to talk to me.  The person on the other end of the line was in Kansas City and had a customer in desperate need of a dishwashing machine so they could open for business THAT NIGHT.  And he wanted to know if it would be ok if he drove over, unhooked the machine, and took it back to Kansas City that afternoon.


And just to be clear, the answer was NO.  And upon reflection, the whole request just seems odd.  How did random Ecolab guy know we wanted the machine gone?  And if everyone at Ecolab knows, then why don't they call us and plan a day to remove it?  And how could he unhook it and take it to Kansas City and have in another restaurant on the same day?  Wouldn't it have to be cleaned or refurbished or something like that?  And he said the restaurant had an emergency situation and couldn't open for dinner until the dishwasher was there.  WHAT?  Jeanne and I spent a good hour in the early morning of Monday discussing what that all could mean.  And we tend to have all sorts of interesting situations at PJP Buttonwood, but never have we had a "HOLY CRAP, WE MUST HAVE A DISHWASHER IN HERE IN THREE HOURS OR WE CAN'T OPEN" situations.  (Now that I've said that though, I've probably jinxed us.)

The guy took our refusal pretty well.  But it was awkward, to say the least.  And to cover our bases, we went ahead and filled out the paperwork for new dishwashing company, in the event that an Ecolab truck rolls in and takes our dishwasher away with little warning.  And I have no idea what we will do if new dishwasher shows up and old dishwasher is still here.  But I can bet you this...even if we hooked up both machines, we still wouldn't need $75 a month of chemicals to run them.

But I can bet you that we will still be charged for them.