October 12, 2014

if it ain't broke, don't fix it

A few years ago, my parents decided to give us a very generous Christmas gift. It was an early gift. It arrived in November. Our dishwasher was loud, old, and ugly. They decided to replace it. After putting Coach through graduate school, giving birth to six children in 9 1/2 years, and moving into a bigger house, we weren't in the habit of replacing appliances just because they weren't our favorite. It was a luxury that we were excited about, although I recall feeling somewhat guilty. Perhaps there was something else that needed attention or another way we should be spending the money. My parents insisted that we needed the dishwasher. Once a top of the line dishwasher was installed, it felt great to be pampered.

The following December when the dishwasher was only 13 months old, it failed. The problem could be fixed by a new part. A part that wasn't stocked on the fix it man's truck. The dishes piled up while we waited for the part to arrive. Once the new piece was installed, the next problem surfaced. The power board was out. It was only when the new part was in place that it became obvious that the appliance couldn't run because there was no power. Again we waited. A new power board arrived after our family became responsible for filling a landfill with piles of paper products. The new parts to replace newish parts in a one year old top notch dishwasher were going to cost us a fortune. Ah, noting like the gift that keeps on giving.

I braced myself to pay the fix it man, but first I made one phone call. I spoke in strong, carefully chosen sentences to someone in customer service at the manufacturer. This conversation was brief. I requested to speak to his boss. Eventually I explained to someone who mattered at this well known name brand company that we were going to require new parts on the company's dime. They explained that the product was no longer covered by a warranty. I countered that if they couldn't stand by their product after 13 months, then I would need to share my frustrations with everyone I knew. The new board would arrive shortly. The cost covered by the company headquarters. I also was informed that I couldn't contact them again. This was a one time deal. I took the deal.

About 15 mos. later I was dealing with piles of dirty dishes, sticky toddler sip cups, and crusty silverware all over again. Apparently I was the proud owner of a very pricey un-dishwasher.  Thanks to another service man visit, our testy appliance was up and running again. Costs kept adding up. Six months later, same thing. After it was serviced a few more times, I got about one solid year of clean dishes before this past Saturday morning. We were greeted with a dishwasher holding what appeared to be clean dishes, but standing water in the bottom and no power. Familiar, but unwelcome signs.

I don’t get it. I tip toed around the thing, never wanting to upset it. I followed all of the tips my service man shared with me. At his suggestion, we began investing in very pricey dishwasher soap pellets. The powder soap we were accustomed to was doing damage to the appliance. Odd. A product made specifically for dishwashers, but not safe to run through a cycle. We ran the hot water in the sink prior to hitting the start button. The board could burn itself out if it needed to heat the water up to the necessary hot temperature.

Could this be the last straw? How much more money do we invest in it? Of course there is the old saying, ‘They don’t make ‘em like they used to.’ I guess not, but they sure charge a hell of a lot more for ‘em nowadays. I wonder how long that old clunker of a dish washer would have lasted if we had insisted to my folks that we were going to turn down their gift and stick with it. I’m not sure if we should cut our losses and invest in a new one. Different brand, of course.

Too bad they don’t make a dishwasher that could hold the multitude of dishes a large family soils daily. Drawback: where to fit it? It would stand a foot taller than the standard kitchen counter top, because it would require an additional rack. In place of the taller, impractical-but-awesome dishwasher of my dreams, I have developed a great skill for loading our current model. If I am not the loader (which is rare), I typically end up readjusting, rearranging, and reorganizing the dirty dish layout in order to squeeze the rest of them in. It’s a gift. Really.

I contacted the service man today. Although I should have his number on speed dial, but I once again had to wrestle with all of the paperwork on my desk to locate his contact info. I unearthed the receipt from his last visit. It was dated: October 18, 2013. It’s as if they installed a timer on this thing. This might be the day that I start shopping around for a dishwasher that might produce dishes with a lemon scent. I‘d prefer that to a dishwasher that behaves like a lemon. Lesson learned: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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