Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fair Warning

Be wary any time you contemplate the purchase of anything where the words 'easy to install' are boldly printed on the packaging and instructions.  Just know going in that some key component will be left off of the list of items contained in the package, or some critical step in the installation process will be skimmed over in the instructions.  It's a given. 

In the days before the Internet, you were left to your imagination and ingenuity to work around these little problems.  At least now there is usually a web address listed somewhere on the packaging and, if you're fortunate, the web address will have additional instructions and sometimes a video demonstration of the installation process.  If you're not so fortunate, well can always fall back on your imagination and ingenuity. 

I purchased two sets of 'easy to install' roman shades for our living room last week.  I was initially impressed with the instructions because they included a paper template you could cut out and tape to the wall in order to mark the screw holes precisely for the hardware.   I've used homemade paper templates for such tasks for years and was impressed to see a manufacturer include one with the instructions.  I read the instructions.  Seemed reasonably clear.  English might not have been the first language of the person that wrote these instructions, but other than a couple grammatical errors, the steps seemed logical and fairly clear. 

The instructions started with a section titled 'Carton Components' which clearly listed each item, the quantity included and a diagram for easy identification.  The items listed were 2 end caps, 2 mounting brackets, 1 shade assembly, 6 screws, 6 drywall anchors, 1 wand clip, and 1 wand.  Yup, all there. 

There was a separate section titled 'Additional Tools Needed' which listed only three items ...a Phillips screw driver, power drill and tape measure.  So far, so good. I gather my tools and move on to the actual instructions.

Step one:  "Slide end of wand assembly over spring in shade assembly. Tighten the screw one quarter turn past when it stops."  Okay...

First thing I notice is the screw is tiny ...and black ...impossible to actually see if it's a slot or a Phillips head.  Use the old 'touch and feel' method ...definitely not a slot.  Go get smallest Phillips screw driver I own (think eyeglass repair) and proceed to turn screw ...and turn and turn and turn some more.  Screw is turning, not tightening.  Grrr. 

Re-read instructions.  No clues there.  Re-read packaging material. A-ha ...a web address.  Go to computer and log onto website.  Oh good, there's a link for a five minute installation video ...this is encouraging.  If the 'how to' video is only  five minutes, how hard can this be?  Now we might get somewhere.  The first two minutes of the video is a sales pitch on all the virtues of their product.  Yeah, yeah, yeah ...get to the installation part!

And there it is.  The missing piece of the puzzle. She is using an Allen wrench to tighten the screw on the rod assembly ...and she refers to it as 'included' in the packaging.  What?!  What wrench?   I pause the video and go back to dig through the packaging.  It wasn't with all the other hardware, clips and brackets.  And then I see it ....taped discretely to the bottom edge of the shade.  All the other small components ...screws, drywall anchors, clips and caps had been packaged separately in a little cardboard box that was plenty big enough to hold the wrench too.  Why they taped it to the bottom of the shade, I will never know.   

Mission finally accomplished and I guess all's well that ends well.  It just baffles me though that in an age where product labeling is so highly regulated in all other areas, there are apparently no minimal guidelines a company has to follow before they are allowed to use the words 'EASY TO INSTALL' on their products. 


  1. After the fact it is, mostly because it all worked out okay.

    When Yeoldfurt got home from work a little while ago, I told him I hoped he liked the new shades ...because they sure were a PAIN to get hung. Fortunately he likes them ...or maybe he's just smart enough to SAY he does. LOL

    : )

  2. LOL....we bought an easy to install dishwasher that my husband worked on for a solid week after we moved into the house. After one particularly late night working on said dishwasher, I woke him up at 2am to tell him my water broke. He said 'So don't use the dishwasher' and went back to sleep.

    I learned 2 lessons from this experience:

    Never buy something that is easy to install.

    Never wake my husband in the wee hours with important information.

  3. As a mom of 7, I well remember the days of assembling toys and such on Christmas Eve...which came in packages clearly marked "Easy Assembly". Yeah...they LIED! Now I only have to deal with household items...I stay away from ANYTHING that proclaims how "easy" it is to assemble or install!

  4. Ah yes, the ol' "easy to install" demon. I've went a round or two with him before as well. ;)

  5. Hello, Lamb and Craftivist...

    All I can say ladies is, who do they think they're fooling??! NOT us anymore, right?

    : )