Anybody Need an Air Conditioner?

Where have all the air conditioners gone?

Three weeks ago, just before the really HOT weather arrived, I noticed my small window air conditioner may have been laboring more than usual to keep up with the heat.  In fact, I occasionally smelled what I would say was an electrical smell .

I immediately began pricing a replacement and went to a nearby big-box home improvement store that featured the lowest prices...  and was surprised to discover that they had literally skids full of new, boxed air conditioners.... 8000 BTU...12,000 BTU  and they could get more...

I was genuinely surprised to see the large quantities they were laying in.

And I was in no particular rush to buy a replacement until I needed one.  After checking, I decided that I really didn't  need a new unit, but went by the store for another look about three weeks later.

They were all gone.  Every single air conditioner was gone.  Every size, every shape, every brand.

There were literally none left.... and a check of their website indicates that they are all gone in every branch store surrounding my house for 50 miles in every direction.

Now, on one hand, I'm really glad that people who need A/C have them, but I'm concerned about the load that this might/did/will put on our power grid.

Except I haven't told you something that really outraged me:  High above our heads, at the very top of the metal shelves, sat not one, but FIVE skids full of air conditioners, of the exact size and brand that I had been shopping for.

FIVE SKIDS FULL OF BRAND NEW A/C UNITS, STILL WRAPPED IN PLASTIC, UNUSED, UNTOUCHED.

Except that every skid had a big broad swath of red duct tape across the face, with large block letters that read "HOLD FOR C.A.C."    I immediately recognized the letters C.A.C. as the popular abbreviation for a community aid corporation that serves rural and disadvantaged people in our region.

Except that they weren't helping these people.  Instead of selling the units at the current market rate for a new, working air conditioner to whoever walked through the door with cash or a means to pay, these units are being held, reserved, for those disadvantaged folks who desperately need an A/C unit, but can't afford to pay for one...and possibly, can't afford to pay their electric bill.

So there they sit...bound and tagged, held for a group of people who desperately need the A/C... high above our heads...out of reach, both financially and physically out of reach.

Except they aren't being shipped, not being passed out, not being distributed.  They are being HELD... so whenever this social agency gets it's act together, the units will be available to the clients.

In the meantime, the thermometer hit 95 five days last week, with heat indexes above 105 many days.

Now, does that seem right to you?

I don't care if I don't get another new unit...mine is just fine.  I'm just dismayed to see so many needed resources waylaid by.....literally....red tape!

***Updated 8/3/11:

On impulse, I stopped at another branch store of this same chain to see if they had freed up any more A/C units and was surprised what I found. With just minutes before they closed, I looked at their A/C asile and was surprised to find five HUGE 18,000-25000 BTU or so units setting on their shelves as if demonstrators... out of the box. 

As I turned to leave, a clerk also pointed out they had a half skid of 6,500 BTU bedroom A/C units on the sales floor.   So, I appologize if I had been overly critical.  It appears SOME stores still have an adequate supply.  And, yes, they will ship from store to store to fill your order.

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