20 November 2007

Breakdown

Nearly five months ago, the dishwasher ceased to function.

Now, this is just a diswasher, right? You call the repair guy and they come out and fix the dishwasher and all is right with the world, right?

Wrong.

Our house is old by California standards, which is to say that it is older than I am. It was custom built in the 1960s for a retired couple. The bedrooms are enormous, the living areas reasonably sized, but the original kitchen was a tiny galley, big enough to turn around in, but not actually large enough to cook in. I ask you: what fits in a 22-inch oven other than a frozen chicken pot pie?

Mrs. Retired Person obviously had little intention of cooking much else.

Fortunately, there was a large breezeway separating the kitchen from the garage and we eyeballed that and made some measurements and when we bought the house 10 years ago, we bought it with the understanding that we would be pushing the kitchen out into the breezeway.

That was accomplished five years ago (the contractor needed a year's lead time to get the project started. Welcome to California).

Being the research-oriented person I am, I tirelessly tested and read about the appliances I wanted to install. I'm also not the sort of person who buys matching suites of furniture, so I have one sort of cooktop and a different sort of oven and a Bosch dishwasher.

Bosch. The finest of German engineering. All reviewers raved about the ease of use, the quietness, the water saving.

Everyone failed to mention that it had a lifespan of five years.

Actually, I got lucky. A lot of people who bought the same model at the same time watched the expensive repairs mount up from the moment the thing was installed. But I didn't find that out until later.

One bright July morning, the spouse told me that the diswasher had stopped in mid-cycle the previous night, and now would only make a terrible noise, but not do anything else.

This was an expensive dishwasher. So after scouring the Yellow Pages and finding no authorized repair places listed, I called Bosch.

After leaving me on hold interminably, Bosch offered to fix my dishwasher. I think it was $199 for the first 20 minutes and I don't remember the charge for each 20 minutes thereafter, but it was alot. Parts and labor, separate, of course. I tried not to scream, and asked when they could be here.

In three weeks, the man on the phone told me.

I asked for the number of an independent authorized repairman.

He never returned my call.

I finally sought out a list of places that at least sold Bosch dishwashers. Sears. Well, that seemed like a slam dunk. They'd send a repairman out in a week and it would only cost me $65 for the service call.

Only.

So, back I went into research mode to see what was what with these dishwashers, and dear God, the picture was not pretty. Failed control boards, burned out motors, no repair less than $300.

The little man came and he told me that the motor was burned out. They'd have to order the parts, would have them in two to three weeks, and the cost, including parts and labor, would be $565.00.

"I can buy a new diswasher for that!" I cried in outrage.

"And you should," said the repairman. "Because I guarantee you that you'll lose the control board in a year or less and that will be $300 to replace. In fact, you're lucky it hasn't already failed."

So. The broken dishwasher sat.

"Are we going to get a new dishwasher?" the spouse began to inquire at fairly regular intervals. As chief dishwasher, he really didn't want to continue washing plates and glasses and cutlery, too.

I groaned. Epinions had approximately 2,400 different dishwasher models listed. And after the failure with the Bosch, I didn't even want to begin the hunt again.

Eventually, I did start. Where to narrow it down? I didn't want to spend $1000 for another dishwasher, but I wanted one that wouldn't flood my kitchen when I was absent for three weeks. I read professional reviews and pitted them against consumer reviews. Bosch was completely eliminated before we even started. That would be called throwing good money after bad.

After comparing and contrasting Maytag and Whirlpool, I finally settled on a Whirlpool Gold, and we ventured off to buy the dishwasher. I looked at the models I liked, pointed, and we paid.

"It'll be here in two weeks," the little man told me.

That was October 6. Two weeks came, two weeks went. I called the salesroom.

"Uh, a couple more days," I was told.

Ten days came, ten days went.

The spouse called them. He left messages. No one called back.

Next morning, I got a call.

"Ma'am, you wanted stainless or white?" another little man asked.

"WHITE. STAINLESS TUB. WHERE. IS. MY. DISHWASHER?" I hollered.

"I have the vendor on the line. I'll call you right back," he told me nervously.

He called me back while I was intercepting a call from the spouse.

"We have it in stock," said the message. "Please call me back."

I called back and left a message.

Six hours later, having heard nothing, I called again and left another message.

Next morning, I got a message: Please call to arrange delivery.

Last Friday, a very friendly little man delivered the dishwasher. It is sitting in my garage because the place that sells them does not install them.

At 8:30 this morning, the little man who is to install the thing today called and said he'd be here between 10 and 1. I can only hope that by the end of the day, I will once again have a dishwasher.

How many little men does it take to get a dishwasher?

Way too many.

Go listen to some good music: "Breakdown" from the album I Robot by The Alan Parsons Project.

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