A frustrating day listening to robots recite “procedure” and avoid responsibility for their screwups.

General Electric says it may not honor the the warranty on our new water heater because we had an electrician modify the wiring so the damn thing would work and we could take a shower on a Sunday night after being without hot water for more than 48 hours.

Home Depot says it ain’t their fault because General Electric should fix it and, so far, refuses to hold their inept contractors responsibile.

Mc Ghee Plumbing, the contractor who attempted — and failed — to install a working water heater, along with pipes that don’t leak, lied to Home Depot by claiming the problem was caused when we filled the water heater and turned it on too soon (we in fact followed his instructions to the letter). Home Depot says we may not have “followed procedure,” an interesting irony since their installers did not. According to Home Depot’s own stated policy, the installer was supposed to fill the tank and power it up. Mc Ghee didn’t do that and now lies to cover his tracks.

A repairman from GE will be here on Tuesday to assess the problem and replace the burned out heating element. GE, however, says someone needs to pay for the element. Mc Ghee shurgs his shoulders and says: “Who, me?” Home Depot says it will decide what to do once it has heard from GE. They have two choices: Make it right or they will find their water heater in the street after I buy a replacement from someone who stands behind their product and doesn’t offer excuses.

I’ve dealt with a lot of fools, idiots and liars in my time and didn’t think any level of incompetence could surprise me.

I was wrong.