I had never owned my own barbeque grill, having lived in apartments most of my adult life. Even though it’s against the law to use grills on balconies or within a certain distance on the ground floor of apartments, a lot of people do it. And, it’s not unusual for fires to start for that very reason.
Silly as may seem, I have on occasion run an electric cord outside and attached a toaster oven in order to cook a burger or two outside. I really don’t know how safe that is either.
The alternative is broiling hamburgers or steaks in the oven. The problem is because of the high heat and burning grease, there’s a lot of smoke, and the smell remains for at least another day. I don’t know if that’s because of poor venting, but I always had that happen in the apartments I lived in, and now I’ve found the same thing occurs here in my house.
Thus, I decided to get an outdoor grill.
I wanted something that wouldn’t take a lot of effort to use or clean up. I saw an electric one that I thought might fit the bill (maybe I was reminiscing for my old toaster oven days). It was small, and, I thought, would just be the right grill for me on a regular basis, or for a few guests from time to time. Then I remembered Hurricane Ike. The majority of the people in the Houston area were without electricity after the hurricane, some for just a day or so, but many for a week or even weeks. However, those that had gas water heaters and gas stoves could at least have a nice shower and something warm to eat.
My house has a gas water heater, but the cooktop and oven are electric, so in the end, I gave up on my initial choice and decided to look for a gas grill. Getting charcoal started and going just takes too much time, so that wasn’t an option for me.
After looking around–both online and in various stores–I found one at Lowe’s that I liked. A 2-burner, in the Char-broil Quantum line, it seemed to be better made than others of similar size that I had looked at. I read several positive reviews online. Some recommended having Lowe’s assemble the grill, which they do for free. I measured the hatchback opening of my car (How many times had I done that before in moving or now that I’m in my house, buying larger items?) and decided I could transport the assembled grill home without problems.
But last Wednesday, I never anticipated the problems I would have getting that grill after I went over to Lowe’s, made the purchase, and happily was told that they would assemble the grill and it would be ready in two days–on Friday afternoon.
Until I bought my house, I was a very infrequent customer of the mega hardware stores. My previous idea was that Lowe’s was more expensive than Home Depot, and perhaps the merchandise more of the high end type. Now that I have the two just down the road next to each other, it’s really good to shop and compare both quality and price because Home Depot is not necessarily less expensive, nor are Lowe’s products that much different. In fact, sometimes, I find exactly what I want, by turning the corner and driving a mile further to Sears Hardware. However, most of the time, I head for Lowe’s because it’s the quickest to get to.
One thing I’ve noticed though is that my neighborhood Lowe’s seems very loosely managed. The staff are nice enough, but they also seem to be having a good time amongst themselves, rather than being focused on their jobs. This is just a generalization, and not something that I see from all of the employees, nor all of the time. There are also quite a few people who are called managers, but from my viewpoint as a customer, how managers are different from the rest of the employees is unclear.
All this “lack of a system” came into play when I went back Friday evening to pick up my grill. When I went with my receipt in hand, the customer service person made a call to the outdoor department and then, looking a bit perplexed, told me to wait. After some time, she got a call back from the department, and then told me one guy couldn’t find it, but another one had.
After more waiting, a “manager” came and told me that my grill hadn’t been assembled, gave me no explanation why it hadn’t been, took some time entering information into a computer behind the Customer Service Desk, and then assured me that the grill would be ready if I came back the next afternoon (Saturday). I told him that I wasn’t in a hurry to get the grill, but that I just wanted to know when to come back to pick it up. Putting his hand on my shoulder (as a gesture of honesty?), he said again that it would be ready the next day.
On Saturday, I decided to call before I went back. After playing “forward you to that department” for a bit, the guy who answered in the outdoor department told me, “Oh, I looked for that grill yesterday” and said he would check. When he came back on the line, he said, “I can’t see it. Let me check with the manager, and I’ll call you back in 2 minutes.” Two minutes ran into 2 and a half hours, so I decided to get in the car for the 3-minute jaunt to Lowe’s.
When I returned this time to Customer Service, the representative looked at my receipt and saw that I was supposed to have gotten the grill on Friday. Right behind her was the “manager” who had told me to come back on Saturday.
(Oh, god, this narrative is getting too long. I think I’m even boring myself.)
Anyway, they told me to come back on Monday, and they would discount the price. I went back on Monday, and it still wasn’t ready, but they wanted to upgrade the grill and went and got a floor model. I didn’t mind that, but the upgraded model was too big for my car, so they said they would deliver it for free, which they did at a little before 9 AM today.
It’s a nice grill–a big ass grill, at least for me–with 3 burners on the grill and a side burner to boot (in the same Char-Broil Quantum line).
I read all the instructions, got the gas tank hooked up, did all the first-time tasks, including seasoning the grill, and finally this evening slapped on a very nice steak that I had bought just for the initiation.
I have to say it was a delicious–very delicious really–steak, all seared on the outside and juicy inside, just like the promotional information says.
I guess I’ll never know why Lowe’s was unable to get the original grill assembled, and this grill makes a bigger statement on my patio than I was planning. But, hey, now I can cook hamburgers and steaks without smoking up the house, and I’m definitely ready to cook if a big storm knocks out the electricity.
Filed under: All About H-Town (Houston), House Buying, It's What I Like, Talking About Food Tagged: | barbeque grill, buying a grill, Char-Broil Quantum, cooking, gas grill, grill assembly, grilled steak, grilling, hamburgers, Home Depot, Houston Texas, Hurricane Ike, hurricane preparedness, Lowe's, new house, outdoor cooking, Sears Hardware, toaster oven