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August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
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Once Upon A Washer

Eller-120613

In the olden days, when you bought an appliance, it lasted forever.

The hideous Caloric oven that came with my house was forty years old when it finally baked its last challah and went up to that big scrap heap in the sky.  My twenty-year-old refrigerator, while not the most energy efficient model, was working just fine when we redid our kitchen and replaced it with a newer model. My old washer and dryer weren’t particularly glamorous looking when we replaced them during the aforementioned home renovation, but you know what?  They did their jobs and never once gave me any aggravation.

Okay, maybe I’m waxing a little nostalgic.  The older appliances didn’t last forever.  But they certainly had a life expectancy that was longer than that of the average firefly, which is more than I can say for today’s models.  Call me crazy, but I want appliances that are reliable.  I don’t want my oven to tell me what time it is and I don’t need to know the precise temperature inside my refrigerator.  I promise you I am a huge fan of computers, but not inside my appliances where they break on a regular basis and drive up the cost of repairs a zillion-fold.

Is anyone else alarmed by the way extended warranties are sold on just about anything and everything? It means one of two things – either someone has found a great way of getting consumers to part with more of their hard earned dollars or manufacturers have no faith in their own products.  Neither of those options is particularly heartwarming.

Presumably we have all done our homework when we buy major home appliances and I can tell you that when we recently replaced most of ours at Chez Eller we were confident that with carefully chosen, all new appliances, it would be a long time until we next spent quality time with our favorite repairman.

Yeah, right.

Our refrigerator broke a few months after we installed it.  And that was just the first time.

Given that we were still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, that repair didn’t cost us anything, although the repairman did manage to leave behind a calling card that we would rather not have had – a gouge mark in one of our new kitchen cabinets.  Six weeks later, it died again and this time we insisted on a different service person to fix the problem.  Not only didn’t this one damage our house, but unlike the first one, he actually fixed the problem.

It was several months later when the icemaker died and two years until we started having dishwasher problems.  Remember how for years we were told not to rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher?  Apparently that advice is now passé since newer dishwashers no longer have food choppers.  What is the point in having a dishwasher if I have to remove any particles that won’t fit through the mesh screen buried deep inside my dishwasher?

But worse yet was our washing machine.  Highly recommended by a local retailer, just one year later, the same saleslady warned my daughter away from that model. From day one, the washer sounded like an airplane taking off in my house but after almost three years it took on a new persona – that of a monster crunching loudly on gravel and clocking in on my decibel meter app at almost 100 decibels.  My friendly repairman broke the news to me gently:  the machine was notoriously unreliable, structurally defective, about to break and not worth fixing.

Call me crazy.  But having to replace both a two and a half year old washing machine and its matching pedestal was just not okay.  Despite warnings that it was a lost cause, I called Whirlpool, determined to rattle some cages until someone agreed to fix my washer.

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One Response to “Once Upon A Washer”

  1. You just had some bad luck and bought a bad appliance. Most will last ten years, but if you're one of the people who gets the one that dies the next year, you'll wish you bought the warranty that most people feel is a waste of money (when nothing dies within the coverage period). You're definitely right about all the tech and other devices that get attached to appliances and other things. The fridge doesn't need an internet connection. Cars don't need all these electrical motors to operate every simple thing our hands could do just as easily and quickly. There is a market for appliances and vehicles that have as few breakable components as possible, but we keep marching down this path where once one of the unnecessary components breaks, the entire machine stops functioning…or forces the cost of production and the pricetag to go up. And what's the deal with all the toys that require batteries? Are kids too lazy to pull a string these days? We've got to put batteries in everything, making everything useless once the batteries are dead….maybe that's the goal. Corporations, in their drive to increase sales, have utilized planned obsolescence in ways that are harmful to the consumer and the future. They all say they promote green practices, but we know the truth….they produce things in ways and encourage lifestyles that fill landfills with plastic trash and worn-out batteries. And I agree that you shouldn't have to do the dishes before loading the dishwasher. Whatever happened to "keeping it simple"?

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