Archive for the ‘Repair and maintenance’ Category
Thursday, October 5, 2006
We visited the local municipal council offices – in the center of town a very short stone’s throw from the Central Park – last month with the simple intention of paying Playa Vista’s regular garbage collection bill… and ended up noticing that even in Boca Chica ‘the times they are a changing’!
Without much thought we went as “usual” to the rear entrance because construction, reconstruction, additions and renovations had been going on for so long it had become normal for us to step over and around building materials and certainly never walk through the main front entrance due to it being constantly blocked and or locked apparently due to the constant program of building works. On reflection it seems to us that the changes are further evidence of the continuing modernization of our little town which, as far as civic administration is concerned, took a significant leap forward exactly four years ago when it was designated as independent from the control of Santo Domingo for the first time and duly elected its own mayor and governing council.
As the seat of operations it is obvious that quite some importance has been attached to this, the principal office, as we looked around with new eyes on this day. At least in the rear bill-paying section each of the small operation rooms seem to be fully fitted with computers, monitors and printers… all in a fully air-conditioned environment and on the day in question, for the first time ever, we received our refuse collection receipt of payment in the form of a computer print-out. We could see down the hallway of the main building that the front entrance was now open and we ambled towards the entrance increasingly taking note of the changes that had taken place and were now on view. We noticed a large conference room on the right furnished with top quality wooden chairs and a very large conference table and then passed towards and through the front entrance which itself had a smart reception desk.
As we spilled out on to the street the impact of the improvements was complete when we stood and took in the fullness of the impressive main entrance area. The large brass lettering of “AYUNTAMIENTO MUNICIPAL DE BOCA CHICA” arcing across the high arch supported on Roman columns leaves you in no doubt as to this is where you will find Boca Chica´s municipal council. The entire frontage, and exterior of the building for that matter, is painted a calming and pleasant cyan color, bordered attractively in white and last, but not least, there are neatly planted garden areas with flowers and palm trees on either side at ground level before you walk up the four tiled-steps to the main entrance.
All this – for better and for worse – an extreme far cry from when we arrived to a Boca Chica that looked a lot like a stage-set for an old wild-west movie almost ten years ago, we reminisced. We trust that the newly elected mayoral government of Joselín Peña, as only Boca Chica´s second, will be able to get down to some serious work in the modern and comfortable environment they now have created and finally give a substantial, objective and positive helping hand in the ongoing renovation of Boca Chica beach and the general modernization of good old Boca Chica… but that, of course, knocks on the door of politics and is a story for a different time.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Ever had a paint job done in the Dominican Republic?
One of our Playa Vista friends recently agreed to rent an apartment here in Boca Chica for his regular visits to this little corner of paradise in order to relax from work pressures in other parts of the world. He was very pleased with his new found home away from home… all apart from the color that is. He stated very clearly to the landlord that it was only the very decidedly pink nature of his bedroom he didn’t like. The rest of the house was absolutely fine in standard white. If he could just have the bedroom changed. Well… he went ahead; selected and bought a can of paint that he thought would be acceptable and noted it was labeled as “marfil” (ivory). The landlord’s son – very much in on the whole escapade, including the original conversation with the landlord – did the work and our friend was delighted with the outcome both the color and the standard of the workmanship.
Seeing that the workmanship was good and for the sake of uniformity he decided to invest some more and have the rest of the apartment also painted the same ‘marfil’ color. He bought an enormous drum of new paint with “marfil” clearly marked on the lid, for about 100 dollars, brushes, thinner and whatever else the landlord’s son would need to complete the job, while our friend took a flight out and went back to his work. Our friend even called and spoke to the landlord’s son to ask if everything was all right. ‘No problema!’ ‘Everything absolutely fine’. ‘Paint job all finished and ready for your arrival’. “All right then, I’ll be there in about a week to see it for myself.”… Kind of conversation.
He flew into town and hurried to his new found newly painted apartment thinking to start a relaxing hassle-free stay in town. He stood aghast at the entrance to the apartment, as soon as he opened the front door. The paint job had been executed perfectly it seemed. He was merely aghast because everything was the very same awful PINK that the bedroom had been, all mercifully except his bedroom which, at least, was still ivory. Every other room was the same totally unacceptable pink… even the previously acceptable white ceilings had now been touched up with ‘decorative’ pink center-pieces round the light fittings!
He could at least go to sleep that night surrounded by the only four ivory walls still standing in his apartment while he contemplated how he would go about rectifying the situation. Would he invest another 100 dollars in paint? – ‘probably’. Would he get the landlord’s son to do it again? – also ‘probably’. Would he have the job done while he was away again? – “absolutely not”. Would he personally check that the label indicating the color and the actual color of the paint inside the bucket coincided before the work began? – “very definitely!”
Saturday, September 2, 2006
Have you been missing the umbrella stories? Well they are back… in a strange kind of way.
Just to get you in the mood try this one on for size:
A very workmanlike guy of about 45 to 50 came into Playa Vista one Sunday recently because he had spotted a couple of our worst umbrellas sitting in the corner awaiting some kind of repair attention. He offered to fix them for us. We suggested he could look through our stock and then tell us what he could fix and how much he would charge.
He hooked out about five or six and explained his plan of sewing and/or gluing in various needy places, and that he would charge 300 pesos for fixing all. We thought that would be reasonable and immediately agreed. He said he would need 100 pesos to buy some glue. We duly gave him the 100 pesos and he left the premises quirkily pointing out that he had deposited his little black work bag in the corner. We even put it into safe keeping for him in our office. He returned, with some glue, retrieved his bag from the office and took out some green cloth that he started cutting into pieces and stuck on two gaping holes on two of our very oldest Presidente umbrellas. We seemed to be well on course… meanwhile he had opened up all of the umbrellas and with a growing number of people and vehicles arriving and leaving on this busy Sunday morning it turned into quite an obstacle course for the coming and going cars as they tried to negotiate their way round the umbrellas that were waiting for the glue to dry or for further repair. Well, we waited as the sun beat down and the glue dried. The glue dried some more and we removed one umbrella from the entrance way to the bathroom by necessity while the glue continued to dry and dry… but our repair man had vanished into thin air and by this time conclusively no sign of his little black bag either.
He had gone… a kind of a swindle, but not too bad in that we did get two repaired umbrellas out of it. However, in this country with its low labor rates his half hour of work came a bit steep at 100 pesos.
In contrast if you stroll by or through Playa Vista these days, you will notice three new Presidente umbrellas as well as three new rather elegant and appropriately coordinated red umbrellas adorning the terraza presented to us by Ambev in their efforts to further promote the Brahma beer. We have to be honest and mention that sales of Brahma have been disappointingly slow in spite of an attractive price cut vis-à-vis the old stalwart: Presidente. We will be very intrigued to see if these new umbrellas help Brahma matters along. Time will tell!
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
We are currently in ‘Semana Santa’- literally ‘Easter Week’ – which to the unfamiliar is a great festive time for the locals here in Boca Chica in particular. People arrive in droves from nearby Santo Domingo to enjoy the balmy breezes, the sun and the sand of ‘The Capital’s Beach’ and quite naturally to also escape for a few hours from congested city life.
Of course, this is just one week in the perennial life of sun and sand on Boca Chica’s fine beach, and more than rumor seems to indicate, that currently Boca Chica is finally getting the attention that it deserves… not just from the locals, but from the authorities in the Big City too.In January (see archive Jan 27th) we referred to an initiative from Politur – the police arm of the Ministry of Tourism – an initiative that allegedly has been taken to put some new order into Boca Chica. Our watchwords were ‘time will tell’… and that unfortunately remains the case. The changes we have seen are a reduced number of stray dogs roaming the town, the cordoning off from cars at the ‘Andres end’ of the beach and in addition Politur have laid down the law, several times in fact, to us and all other legal businesses regarding our facilities and practices. They have made very clear the importance of presenting only invoices with the properly registered business name at the top, and that all those invoices when paid must be franked with an official “PAID” stamp clearly flaunting the business name. This is all to help eliminate illegal practices, particularly overpricing. Regrettably we continue to hear of and witness the illegal operators carrying on just as before without even a reprimand concerning their entirely illegal and unprincipled “businesses”. We remain however sitting on the uncertain fence on this one and patiently still keep the subject in the “time will tell” category.
On a different subject, but related to the further improvement of Boca Chica, a time-frame was actually bravely put forward by the Minister of Tourism recently. He officially mentioned a period of four months, specifically beginning at the end of the current month to be precise, during which four of the nation’s beaches, including that of Boca Chica, shall have major rehabilitation work carried out principally to reverse the sand and coral reef erosion that has taken place over the years. A European company with expertise in this area has been contracted, and the contract is said to be worth €13 million!
We at Playa Vista look forward to seeing you on a newly revamped Boca Chica Beach within well… four months?
‘Time will tell’ now won’t it!
Saturday, March 4, 2006
We are sure you are all dying to know what is happening to lamp number 25 in our street: Calle Abraham Nuñez… aren’t you?
Now, we all know that our little world is full of surprises and we thought that one day, whenever that might be, we would have light once again shining down from lamp number 25 at the entrance way to Playa Vista. We weren’t entirely wrong but neither were we entirely right thanks to that exquisite surprise factor.
We left you in early February with quite a tale of promises promises promises and following non-accomplishment all starting before Christmas. From February we decided to track the continuing promises and non-accomplishment for entertainment’s sake. Each telephone conversation was directly with Ramon number 1 and his statements on getting the light fixed were noted like this:
February 7th: In one hour!
February 9th: Today!
February 14th: Today!
February 16th: We can’t send the crane just for one light so we are liaising with Politur (the
tourist police) but it will be attended to this afternoon!
February 17th: We are right now with the police on the beach checking all the lights just
around the corner from Abraham Nuñez and we will fix it when we get there!
February 20th: We are coming with ladders (what happened to the crane?) right now, honestly
right this minute!
February 21st: It isn’t fixed? I will investigate why my order was not carried out!
February 22nd: The driver of the maintenance team was injured when hit by a motorcyclist. He
should be out of hospital this afternoon and there is even a possibility that he
could get there tomorrow!
February 25th-27th Independence weekend holiday!
February 28th HURRAH… JOB DONE!
… OR WAS IT?
On the 28th Ramon number 2 arrived with a very modern looking hydraulic crane, spare bulbs, photo cells and two helpers. Within 10 minutes lamp number 25 was reconnected and had a bulb replacement too, for good measure. Wonder of wonders… we actually saw the lamp working for the first time in months!
Later that day as dark descended the light came on and shone brilliantly for… shall we say about… 25 minutes when its splendor was rudely interrupted by one of the country’s infamous power cuts. The electricity came flooding back fairly soon spreading through the cabled veins of the Boca Chica system. It relit everything and all the lamps in Abraham Nuñez… EXCEPT LAMP NO 25!
Surprise? You bet ya!
The next day Ramon number 1 was called again to thank him for sending his men and the, well… 25 minutes of light. Was Ramon number 1 surprised? Certainly.
However the real surprises were still waiting for us in that, in spite of zero attention from anybody at all, that night the lamp suddenly burst into full life again all on its own … and actually shone brightly for the entire night. The really exquisite touch though is that one more night on… and lamp 25 was once again back in the dark!
This story about the ongoing battle between light and darkness is hopefully soon to be continued with perhaps more enlightening news…
Sunday, February 5, 2006
Streetlamp number 25 stands proudly, though somewhat tiltingly, in Calle Abraham Nuñez magnificently illuminating the public road and area between Playa Vista and Hotel Europa or, rather, we should say… it used to. “Interestingly enough” this lamp became profoundly inactive the week that EdeEste (the local electric utility company) decided to disconnect our service because we kept insisting we had not consumed the huge quantity of electricity they suddenly were claiming -five times the usual level, “no way Jose!”- and that we wanted the matter fully investigated. Unknown to us, at that point anyway, the routine here seems to be quite simply that you pay what the monopolistic high and mighty EdeEste request because they do not have a genuine mechanism for thoroughly and professionally investigating invoiced anomalies.
When finally, after months of what turned about to be futile correspondence, we realized that arbitration in the eyes of EdeEste means: pay up whatever the company dictates and when finally, after making good use of our brand-spanking new propane-gas driven generator and our good old inverter, we were reconnected with the traditional electricity network, sweetened only by the minor token victory that the questionable meter was removed from its former position in the public street and installed inside Playa Vista, we requested that the dear company also investigate the non-functioning streetlamp number 25.
It took two full weeks or more and numerous phone calls to identify that it is not after all EdeEste who deals with streetlamps, but the local council… who ominously do have a reputation for being somewhat slow off the mark even in a country of slow starters.
Many many phone calls and then one fortuitous visit put us in direct contact with “the” man responsible – Ramon. He said, of course, “mañana” with some conviction though, because he explained they had another streetlight that also needed looking at nearby. Mañana naturally passed without any change to the situation whatsoever, and a call to Ramon gave the explanation that they were short of a mechanical crane. The following week the secretary in Ramon’s office made up her own story and said it was because they were out of bulbs in the storehouse! A couple of weeks later and Ramon, after being chased down on the phone again, asked, “Uh hum, exactly where is this lamp then?” A couple of days later hoping to speed things along we also provided the lamp’s individual identification code, “number 25”, as all of you also know now. Some days later Ramon was able to confirm indeed that lamp number 25 was not working. He had seen it with his own eyes.
One obviously good-humored and unusually pro-active day yet further on in time Ramon dramatically announced he was sending his chief assistant the next day… which helped us recall being told in no uncertain terms earlier on in the venture, that Ramon definitely didn’t have an assistant and only he himself could handle a matter such as this. ‘The assistant’ – another ‘Ramon’ – surprisingly, did turn up! When we explained the difficulties we had had with EdeEste and the coincidence of the street lamp suddenly being inoperative the same week we had been disconnected, he said AHAAA… and nodded his head vigorously indicating that he knew exactly from previous experiences what had happened. No light bulb failure, just a simple menacing harassing disconnection by you know who! He said he would fix it the next day… oh yes, mañana again. That was on a Saturday. Tuesday we phoned the first Ramon and asked what the problem now was. He said that there was no mechanical crane available! Amazing how circular the world is, ain’t it?
Quite a performance already and now we are just waiting for the finale: ‘The Ramones and The Light Show’ to get good old streetlamp 25 back into action!
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Inverters and the repair thereof:
An inverter is something commonly found in homes and businesses in the Dominican Republic, but we had actually never even heard of such a thing before arriving in this country and rolling up our sleeves to the task of establishing Playa Vista. For the uninitiated an “inverter” is a piece of electrical equipment used in conjunction with car-type storage batteries as a source of power back up. We have mentioned in the past that although the country as a whole suffers great difficulties with its electrical supply, we are generally blessed in Boca Chica usually suffering only sporadic interruptions. However, even that necessitates a back up and we have an inverter – actually two – with quite a raft of the obligatory batteries connected up.
Our smaller 400 watt inverter, used as a back up to our computers, had for some reason or other failed and with unfortunate predictability sat in a nearby Andres workshop entirely unattended for several weeks with the usual and oft-repeated promise that it would be fixed mañana… we even misguidedly thought the down payment we made for services to be rendered would speed things along! Exasperation finally got the better of us and we transferred the inverter to a recommended repair shop in Santo Domingo. This repair man, Ricardo by name, took the task seriously and within a few days called with the good news that our unit was ready and waiting pick up. Ricardo’s workshop actually looks like a real workshop for inverters if you can imagine what that would be like. He only deals in inverters and has his own hand-made testing board with huge early-last-century-type bulbs to show the result of his handiwork when testing the unit by switching between main supply and inverter which he enthusiastically demonstrates.
A matter of very few days went by after getting our newly fixed computer-inverter back into service when our principal inverter also decided to join the non-conformity club. Swiftly, side-stepping Andres this time, we plunked the next inverter immediately on Ricardo’s worktop imploring him to give the job priority as it was of such central importance to our operations here. He duly obliged again. He immediately assessed the situation, gave us a prognosis and set to work to try and repair the circuit board where the problem was. If this were not possible, he said, it would have to be a new circuit board which would not be easy to get and naturally incur more costs. To our surprise and delight he fixed the board within 36 hours and even more importantly kept us informed by telephone all the time.
There could very well be something in the saying ‘problems always come in threes’, because problem number three obediently arrived within a few more days – admittedly during a period of storms and rare considerable irregularity of power supply – and the inverter failed to work again. Oh no… was our professional repair man not as professional as we were beginning to label him… we thought? We rushed the inverter back to his work bench and he immediately set himself to analysis mode. Again, precise communication over his analysis: it was a damaged relay. He could fix the relay but there would be no knowing if that would last two weeks or two years so a brand new relay would really be the order of the day to achieve complete satisfaction. At the point of this conversation it was already inconveniently late on in the afternoon and he had no idea how long it would take him to find the appropriate relay. By the time our “company” car (see Sept 9th blog) arrived home from the trip, Ricardo called to say he had located the relay and it would be fitted by the following morning ready for our pick up. On this occasion mañana surprisingly meant mañana, because the next day Ricardo showed us the newly fitted relay – quite a sizeable chunk of electronics – much bigger than normal and therefore more durable he explained… but unfortunately costing more than the regular and original relay at RD$500. “So how much do we owe you all together?“ “Just the RD$500 because” he acknowledged, “I have only recently repaired the unit and should perhaps have given the entire inverter a more thorough overhaul at that time”. Now there are quite a lot of repairmen who would argue quite a different line… not just in Andres but all over the planet!
Thanks Ricardo, you have got a new steady customer in Playa Vista!
… By the way our man can be found at #42 Avenida 30 de Marzo
And on the web for good computer file back-up.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Boca Chica is a very small town and is not a place for shopping for much more than the daily essentials. We are however very conveniently located to take advantage of nearby Santo Domingo for any serious shopping or specialist services. Our overall impression is that you can get pretty much any product or service that you may be used to back in North America or any European country although the choice might be slightly more limited and the price almost invariably carries a premium.
One of our more important tools for getting some of our administrative jobs done here is our ‘Larousse’ Spanish/English – English/Spanish dictionary. After many years of constant use the all essential spine sadly became separated from the main body. A repair in the form of rebinding was called for and, as signaled above, Santo Domingo was easily designated to provide the service.
Santo Domingo’s old colonial zone is a warren of all kinds of buildings containing a myriad of micro businesses as well as residences and offices. You can walk around and peer into many an open door and see exactly the kind of operation they have inside. It didn’t take us long to track down a bookbinder thanks to a recommendation from another mini company huddled in the colonial lair where they print our invoices. The company recommended was ‘Leo Antillas’ and can be found at Calle (Street) Mercedes #305… a mainish and straightish road running parallel to the more well known ‘El Conde’. Fran, the actual bookbinder, beckoned us in to what at first glance seemed to be just a small stationery store. He then beckoned us behind and then behind again and yet further back into the depths of the increasingly narrowing building. We finally seemed to be in Fran’s exclusive bookbinding operations room and we were so far away from natural daylight now that we took a nervous glance around wondering about the dangerous cocktail of piles of paper material and lack of escape route in the case of fire which we actually mentioned. Fran, presumably after so many trouble free years, nonchalantly answered “Oh, I would just have to break down some of the metal security bars covering the windows to get out”. As further discussion of the matter didn’t look as though it would lead anywhere more helpful, we thought it easier to pass immediately on to the subject in hand.
“Now, this Larousse dictionary… would it be possible to rebind it”? “Certainly” he said, pointing into the corner to another Larousse dictionary as if he was familiar with binding this precise book on a daily basis. “How long would it take and how much would it cost?” “At most about three days and RD$150 (about US$5)”, was the surprising answer. He certainly seemed sincere, it was definitely a bookbinding place and if we were prepared to risk our paranoia about our valuable dictionary being trapped in the inner sanctum of the colonial zone while fire rages around then we figured it would be worth trying his services out.
We delivered the book on Tuesday and we were told it would be ready Friday.
It certainly was ready and what a wonderful job the man had done. We were aghast at the splendor of his workmanship at the princely sum of $5 for a book that would cost well over a $100 to replace. Fran had made it look brand spanking new. To be honest the cover was now better than when first purchased. It had a classy glossy royal blue cover embossed with the name of the dictionary in imperial gold! As if that wasn’t enough, Mr. Fran had in addition cleaned up the entire area of the edges of the pages which over the years of those countless fingerings and thumbings had turned very close to black in places… brilliant!
At the risk of being accused of massive understatement it could be said that it’s not every day we have an uplifting experience of excellent craftsmanship in combination with decent pricing (like this), but here is the proof that it can still happen even in the Dominican Republic.
Well done that man Fran!
Friday, September 9, 2005
The Playa Vista “company” car is in fact usually driven and maintained by our chief helper Carlos alias ‘Flaco’. However, from time to time we avail ourselves of the “ease” of use to go on the occasional Playa Vista mission to Santo Domingo. We even took the unprecedented step of briefing our men on the Sunday for an early start on the Monday morning, by arranging that Flaco would be here with the car promptly at 9 a.m. together with our main maintenance man and, for the occasion, appointed chauffeur Eduardo.
Sure enough… at a smidgin before 9 a.m. Flaco responded… but not by appearing with his car. He was calling from a car repair shop. He had encountered a small technical problem. At 10 a.m. Eduardo did appear, as it now turned out well in time for any eventual trip to the capital. At about 11 a.m. Flaco and the car appeared. “So we can go now can we, Flaco?” we asked. “Oh yes, no problem… only one little thing”, said Flaco in complete earnest, with the motor still running, “the car doesn’t start once it is turned off!” “What?” we dumbfoundedly responded. “Don’t worry,” he consoled us again. “Really it’s not a problem, you just keep it running and simply drive to a well equipped gas station to get a new battery for about RD$1500 (advice of his mechanic friend in neighboring Andres) and then you’ll be on your way!” “All right then,” we frustratedly responded believing we could soon make up the lost ground.
We all piled into the car, and as preparation is not the strong point in these parts of the world there was actually only just enough gas in the tank to get us up the hill to the nearest filling station. As we pulled up to the first vacant pump, inadvertently Eduardo turned off the engine for the fill up. OOPS! This now meant the car wouldn’t start again, and they of course did not sell batteries at this particular gas station. Nevertheless…life sure is full of surprises, isn’t it? Firstly… Eduardo, who is our only trusted all-round handy-man for a reason, of course knows something about cars too, and he found a pair of pliers and screwdriver that just happened to be lying under the passenger seat and started fiddling around in the engine area with the electrics. After many fiddlings and attempted ignition key turnings still nothing happened, even after the dismantling of the expensive stereo system and electricity-thirsty amplifier that Flaco had installed under the driver’s seat.
Thankfully Eduardo wouldn’t give up, and as we were just over the road from an old pal of his he conveniently borrowed a battery from him to test if this was really the problem. It wasn’t. The engine remained entirely lifeless even after connecting the fresh battery.
Fortunately Eduardo remained anything but lifeless for he continued probing and discovered that by attaching an extra wire between the battery and who knows what strange part of the car, surprise surprise, got the engine to spark into vibrant life! Just as Eduardo put the finishing touches to his handiwork the heavens opened, but of course we were now safely inside the car, electric problem fixed for far less than RD$1500 and now bound for Santo Domingo – ‘only’ 3 hours late – although accompanied by such a tremendous downpour that speed as well as visibility was severely impeded.
Relative to the prolonged and unplanned pit-stop start we noted that the day went fairly smoothly, except that being 3 hours behind schedule did mean we rather ran out of time for a couple of the tasks we had in mind. The result of the general delay was that we were still on our way back home at 7 p.m. with dark descending, and rapidly so as it does in the tropics. Within a few minutes we were almost unable to see the road… seemingly because of some other electrical problems… this time with the headlamps! We suggested that Eduardo get behind a vehicle with lights to ease our way, but before long he pulled over without a word, jumped out of the car and somehow switched on the regular lights from under the hood. Easy! “Funny,” said Eduardo sliding back into the now fully illuminated car “Flaco has spent so much on his stereo system but can’t afford a simple switch to turn on the headlamps… it just would be so much easier from inside the car!”
Well, back in Boca Chica and at Playa Vista the good news for Flaco was that his repair didn’t cost him anything… but, as sure as every rain cloud has a silver lining; every silver lining has a rain cloud. The next morning the good Flaco drove into Playa Vista to report that somebody had broken into his car during the night and, surprise surprise, stolen his expensive stereo system. Well… we imagine now it will probably take a very long time indeed before he ever gets around to putting that light switch on the inside!
Friday, June 3, 2005
Rumor has it that Plaza Lama – one of the larger department store chains in the Dominican Republic – is not good at handling repairs of electrical goods that fail after purchase. We would like to scotch that particular rumor, based on our recent personal experiences, and state that they are unbelievably and deplorably atrocious at handling repairs …even begging the question as to what is their function if as a repair center they don’t in fact affect repairs?
We purchased a Sony stereo unit for use in the Playa Vista Bar and unfortunately well inside 12 months it very disappointingly and surprisingly broke down. We naturally took the unit back to Plaza Lama’s repair service center where they startlingly and immediately departed from the norm of accepting liability for component failure within the first year, and in a customer not-so-friendly way declared that if we went off and bought six specified transistor components at the other end of Santo Domingo they would “try” repairing the unit. We should have smelt a rat at this point… firstly because of the oddness of us, the customer, being requested to search for the necessary parts ourselves and secondly because of the half-hearted promise that this “might” result in a repair! The time consuming and inconvenient purchase and delivery of the components back to the repair center, followed by a few days of grace for the technician to try his hand, left the unit precisely as it was: not functioning. Plaza Lama then instructed us to take the unit to ‘Curacao Trading Company’ who we later found out were the only genuinely authorized Sony distributors in this country. When reaching the Curacao service desk they informed us that only with a direct internal request from Plaza Lama, which they certainly had not received, could they take on such a situation. So we were left embarrassingly clutching the unit and facing the further time consuming extremely irritating journey back to the Plaza Lama repair center. We deposited the unit back where we started and felt so extraordinarily frustrated and insulted we got in contact with Sony International directly.
Sony in Puerto Rico – the closest Sony office – immediately took hold of the situation and sent two circuit boards with a CD containing circuitry manuals at the request of the Plaza Lama technician. The boards were fitted… and again the time consuming operation yielded absolutely no improvement in the performance of the unit. Amazingly the technician could not be deterred from his track: after the first two completely incorrect diagnoses he boldly made yet another ‘secure’ diagnosis and request to us for yet another part… which again was not available in this country, but valiantly once again couriered by Sony Puerto Rico for the “technician” to fit. By this stage we were not the least surprised to discover that this, his latest and third diagnosis and repair attempt was not the solution either! To the praise of Sony in Puerto Rico it should be said that they never gave up, but just like us gave up believing that Plaza Lama would be capable of ever fixing the unit. They therefore agreed to send us a replacement unit, again by courier service, so that we, in spite of the astonishing incompetence and downright rude treatment from the technical department at Plaza Lama we suffered for an unbelievable seven months, should be able to maintain the high quality of music we have always craved for the Playa Vista Bar.
A very big thanks to Sony in Puerto Rico… we presume that they will consider very carefully who they will appoint to replace Curacao Trading as their representative in this country, as that particular organization has gone into receivership. If there is any justice Plaza Lama will not even figure on their short list!