Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Appliance Hell

Warning. This post is not for the faint of heart. If you or your family have suffered the indignities that can only be inflicted by modern appliances - modern being loosely defined as those having motherboards or any other fragile computer circuitry made in a country far, far away - you might be too emotionally fragile to read what follows. Also, if you are prone to appliance flu hypochondria please stop reading and just scroll to the bottom of this post to see the nice bird pictures.

Here goes. About a week and a half before Christmas our washing machine broke. It wasn't like this was a huge surprise. The realtor told me when we moved in that the washer wasn't great and we would probably want to replace it sooner rather than later. To be honest, I wasn't even sorry that it broke. I hated the thing. The only thing I was sorry about was the fact it had broken right before Christmas.

My dislike of the washer was twofold. First of all, it was an itty-bitty apartment sized machine. I realize that this would be the norm for most Europeans, and that I sound the tiniest bit whiny and spoiled by complaining about the fact it was so little. But you need to understand the washing machine we had in Kamloops was so big you could have thrown three teenagers in and had some room left over. I suddenly felt like I was washing clothes in something better suited to a dollhouse. The second annoying bit about the washer was it only gave you one option for water temperature - warm. I think my grandma's old wringer washing machine had more options than that!

The space for the washer and dryer was wide enough to move up a size, which I happily did. The appliance Delivery Guys showed up as promised on the Monday right before Christmas, and I was so happy it was all going to work out. That thought lasted about thirty seconds, which is the time it took Delivery Guy #1 to walk in the house, look at the place in the closet that holds the machines, and ask if we were sure they would fit.

I assured him they would, but said there was a yardstick right there by the machines and did he want to measure. He eyeballed the space and said that he thought they would make it. I felt a sense of relief wash over me. That lasted about thirty seconds, which brought me up to the point Delivery Guy #2 came to the back door, stuck his head in, and shouted to Delivery Guy #1 "It's a no go!"

You see, he had just taken the new dryer out of the cardboard box and the dryer was severely damaged. The left front corner looked like someone had taken a sledge hammer to it. We had just set a new Hammond appliance breakdown record. This poor machine hadn't even made it inside before it had problems.

Now remember, it was two days before Christmas. I was having ten people here over the span of several days. One of those was a dirty laundry generating baby. In other words, I was desperate. I asked if the machine still worked if we could keep it until a new one could be sent out to replace it. I think Delivery Guy #2 could see the semi-crazed look in my eyes, so he phoned the store and got the okay to leave the machine. I breathed a sigh of relief. That lasted about twenty minutes, which was how long it took them to remove the old machines, stack the new ones, and wheel them into the closet where they were going to live happily ever after. Or, more accurately, try to wheel them into the closet.

The problem was, while we had carefully measured the area the machines were going into, we hadn't taken into account the slope of the ceiling behind the stairs, and in order to get into their designated space they had to be able to move past that slope. Words were spoken. Not good words. Words like "tight", "something's scraping", and "impossible". Now the dryer wasn't the only thing that was damaged. A good chunk of drywall had been ground out of the wall. The machines sat partway back, wedged between the sloped ceiling and far wall so tight it was now impossible to reach in and turn the closet light switch off. The Delivery Guys declared they would not push them all the way back, because if they did they would never get them out again. We were told we needed to cut out a piece of the drywall first, then they would come back and exchange the dryer.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Kellen is an expert at repairing drywall. He would be able to cut out the piece so the machines had room to be pushed back into their designated spot. That relief lasted until Kellen arrived on Christmas Eve, took one look at the wedged machines and said sure, he could cut out the drywall, but only if the machines were moved first. This is the point in the story when I stopped breathing sighs of relief. The machines and I were at a stalemate.

There is a bit of good news in the midst of all this. Even though the washer and dryer weren't where they belonged, they were hooked up properly and they actually worked! Better yet, the washing machine seemed so big to me after dealing with the apartment sized one that I felt like I could make a cup of tea and go sit in it if I needed a quiet spot over the holidays. So we carried on, had clean clothes, and I basically Scarlett O'Harad the whole thing. "I can't think about that right now. I'll think about that tomorrow."

This is already way too long, so I'll spare you the part of the story that became my Rhett Butler "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" moment. This past Saturday I phoned the appliance store, said that what we have isn't going to work, and could we exchange these machines for an apartment sized washer and dryer. It took a bit of doing, but they have agreed to make the switch. It really helped that they already had to come out because of the damaged dryer. We have to pay a restocking fee of 10% on the washer since we used it, but that's okay. If I had to drive back and forth to the laundromat and spend money there to do my laundry it would have added up to about the same amount.

So next Monday the Delivery Guys will come out and try to dislodge the appliances that are currently residing her, and replace them with brand new itty-bitty appliances. I'm getting a European brand in hopes that it might be designed better than our old ones. At least the washer has temperature control choices, so that's good. But here's the thing that is the hardest to take. These itty-bitty machines actually cost more money than the full sized ones. No matter how I look at it I can't avoid the rather ugly fact that I am paying more and getting less.

On a more positive note, the birds seem to be enjoying our feeders, which hang from a pole on our back deck.


I especially like our new suet feeder. The part that extends down is for woodpeckers to balance against while they eat. I'm hoping to get a picture of one before the winter is over with.


I love how low tech bird feeders are. The day they start putting motherboards into bird feeders is the day the birds around here go on a diet.


40 comments:

  1. Christie,

    I also had a series of utility and electricity problems since December, so I can relate.
    I want to know how this new expensive European washer and dryer look like and how you like them. I'm curious. Nowadays, I like smaller and more efficient appliances.

    Happy New Year!

    Keiko

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about your utility problems. I remember seeing your post on Facebook about your high utility bill. Did you ever get it resolved?

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  2. Oh, man. I'm sorry you've gone through all of this. I can only imagine how you felt when you realized that they were destroying the walls, on top of everything else that was wrong. I remember when we bought this house, the electrical outlets in the utility room were arranged differently than they'd been in the previous house, and we needed a longer cord for the dryer in order to plug it in. I think three days went by while I hunted down the appropriate cord and I felt like I was never going to be able to do laundry like a normal person again. I was hanging wet clothes on every surface. I realize that dryers are actually rare in other countries, and the people who owned this house before us didn't have one themselves (they were European) but when you're used to doing things a certain way, it's a shock. I hope your new washer and dryer work well for you. I hope it doesn't mean you have to do laundry more often either.

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    1. It is so true that we get used to doing things a certain way and then it is very hard to change when things no longer work out how we expect them to. I'm glad you were able to sort out your problem and aren't still hanging wet clothes all over your house! And unfortunately I think the smaller machines will mean I have to do more loads of laundry.

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  3. Why won't appliances just fit where we need them to go??? It's very annoying and I'm sorry that helped extend the appliance drama. I've got my fingers crossed for you that all goes well on Monday. Now I don;t feel so bad about our bathroom fan. It made a horrible noise last night, but I was able to remove, clean, oil and reinstall it all in one night...so not a big deal., bu comparison. :)

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    1. I'm glad to hear you got your bathroom fan sorted out in such a short amount of time. The appliance store has already phoned to cancel the Monday delivery and reschedule for next Wednesday. The saga continues...

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    2. I was afraid it would--but didn't want to say anything for fear of making it happen. That kind of help is the last thing your appliance curse needs.

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  4. I don't want to wish more bad appliances on you, but I really do enjoy your stories! :-)

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    1. I think the stories make for way more entertaining reading than actually experiencing them firsthand. :-)

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  5. Well, obviously I'm used to European sized washing machines so the Magnificent Hulk here took me by surprise...but I soon came to depend on it.
    Only for it to break down just after Christmas.
    Thank goodness for corner shop repair men...we loaded it into the car, took it to town and it came back that afternoon ready for work again.
    Had this been France where customer service is unpatriotic I'd still be hand washing by next Christmas.
    I once had a fridge taken to be repaired under guarantee...two weeks later they told me they had dumped it....

    I feel for you, though....that is the sort of hassle you can live without with a baby visiting!

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    1. Thanks for the laugh about what it's like to have an appliance break while living in France. I'm glad your service is so much better in Costa Rica, and you have your Magnificent Hulk up and running again. :-)

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  6. Why, oh Why, is it so difficult these days to get the appliance we want and need, without the hassles? Happens to us all the time too, so can relate to this story. Thank goodness you had appliances over Christmas, though, or life would have been difficult indeed. love your bird feeders Kristie - do you see red cardinals?

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    1. It does seem to be a common story with these appliances that don't last more than a year or two. It is so frustrating. I'm sorry you have experienced the same problems we have.

      We don't have red cardinals in BC. I wish we did - I love them!

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  7. oh my goodness. You absolutely have my sympathies. I hope the changeover goes well.

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    1. Thanks Sarah. The changeover is off to a rocky start. I got a call from the appliance store right after I put up the blog post letting me know they won't be delivering them Monday after all. They are hoping for next Wednesday. At least I have working machines while I wait for the replacements!

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  8. you certianly don't have a good track record on appliances. Good luck with the new ones

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    1. No, our track record is pretty bad. But it seems like there are a lot of other people out there who have also had horrible luck with appliances. I honestly don't think they make them the way they used to.

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  9. Oh gosh how awful for you Kristie, and just before Christmas too. Thank goodness you at least were able to use a washer during that time. I think we all just take these appliances for granted and when they break down its as if we've lost our right arm. How did they manage all those years ago I wonder? Hope it all gets sorted soon. Have a great weekend in the meantime.
    Patricia x

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    1. Yes, having a working washer and dryer over Christmas was a small bright spot in the midst of our latest appliance nightmare. I think in the past, before there was such a thing as an electric washer, people didn't change clothes nearly as often. Maybe even just once a week or so, so there wouldn't have been nearly as much laundry to do. But still, it would have been a horrendous task.

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  10. Appliance hell! I do sympathise! We often have episodes like this..... recently it was a freezer whose door kept swinging open for no reason. Now we have a dishwasher shelf that is behaving badly.Good look with your new machine!!!

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    1. Your freezer door scenario sounds bad. You must have been worried about losing all the food in your freezer if the door stayed open like that! I hope your dishwasher comes around and starts working properly. I could tell you dishwasher stories that would give you nightmares. :-)

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  11. why are appliances so difficult? And why do they always give out right before a holiday? Must be some sort of appliance karma.
    hugs,
    Meredith

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    1. I think they are so difficult because they aren't made very well any more. I really believe that. As far as why they die just before Christmas, that remains a mystery. If it's karma, it's bad karma, that's all I can say. :-)

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  12. That sounds like a nightmare, but I'm glad you managed to get washing done during the Christmas period. Do you still have the large machines still, I would love to see how big they are compared with ours!
    Sarah x

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    1. I still have the large machines. I'm not sure I can get a picture that will show their size in comparison to the apartment sized models. When the delivery guys come there should be a moment when the two sets are out on the back deck at the same time. If there is I will take a picture. Of course, that would only be if they are actually able to unwedge the big ones and get them out of the house!

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  13. Ruth in Ontario, CanadaJanuary 9, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    I can sympathize with the frustration over a small washer and dryer! When we lived in the UK, our flat came equipped with what I called a Barbie-doll sized combined washer/dryer, i.e. you washed one itty-bitty load (or quarter-load by Canadian standards) and then turned the thing to dryer mode. If I was lucky, I could get one queen-sized sheet washed and dried in 4-5 hours - yes, ONE sheet (oh, and a pillowcase - let me not exaggerate). I did laundry every single day. If we went on holiday and came home with a week's worth of dirty clothes, it took me a week to catch up. Mind you, it was a small machine even by British or European standards. It was a luxury when we spent some time in a self-catering cottage with a bigger washer. I only had to do laundry every second or third day! And did I mention that the so-called dryer had two temperature options, hot and hotter. I actually scalded myself on the metal rivets on my jeans when I took them out. And the jeans had shrunk horribly, of course...

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    1. Of course, you have to know there is a small part of me that has no sympathy for you being stuck with a combo washer/dryer simply because you actually got a chance to live in the UK. :-) Karsten and Diana had one of those combos at their place in Saskatoon and hated it. With a passion.

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    2. Ruth in Ontario, CanadaJanuary 10, 2014 at 6:16 AM

      When we lived in London (2002) there were NO YARN STORES, if you can believe it. There was, however, the Ehrmann Tapestry shop within walking distance, although it closed shortly before we left. Unfortunately we never made it to Shetland, for which I am still kicking myself 12 years later.

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  14. I have an 8kg Bosch; takes up the same amount of room as my old 7kg one but does fit the duvet inner when youngest does a fountain on them in the night. I love my front loader; would never go back to a top loader no matter how much they fit!
    In saying that when we got our first front loader it also came out of the box with damage; we're not sure how as the box was fine, but the top was skewed and had obviously had impact at some point. They took it back then and there, so I had no washer for another week or more with 2 boys in cloth nappies; not my favourite time.

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    1. Having two boys in cloth nappies and no washing machine sounds definitely sounds like a nightmare! I like having front load machines too. I think they are gentler on clothes than the top loaders. Interesting that you had a damaged machine delivered too. It seems like people would check them before sending them out on a truck for delivery.

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  15. Hope you have no squirrels around! We had one of the nice wooden suet feeders and the squirrels completely chewed it up, so had to go back to the cheap metal net ones!

    Ann in Coquitlam

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    1. Squirrels and bird feeders just aren't a good mix! It seems there is no way to have one without the other though, and to be honest I kind of like watching the squirrels. I just don't want them eating the bird seed. I think our new suet feeder is actually made from recycled plastic. We got it at the Wild Bird shop. Is there one near where you live in Coquitlam?

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    2. You are right, it was made of recycled plastic and it lasted a few weeks before the squirrels had done it in. It was exactly like the one you have.
      I too like to watch the squirrels, we have lots of them, the area we live in have huge trees, in the Como Lake area, so we have quite the wildlife around.
      The Hydro people call the squirrels " Tree Rats". I think, they deserve better!
      We have a Backyard Bird Store in Port Moody, where I get the sunflower seeds etc.
      Ann

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  16. Oh dear.....I'm glad you survived your Christmas holiday....ours was a bit strained here...I don't even know if I can talk about it....maybe you have inspired me. Why aren't you a Downton Abbey fan any more?

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    1. I feel guilty even mentioning our appliance problem when I think of all you went through over Christmas! Maybe it would help if you wrote down what happened. Even if you don't hit the publish button. :-)

      As for Downton Abbey...I hated the way it ended. I knew ahead of time, as did most of North America, that Matthew was getting killed off. But the whole thing left me feeling like Julian Fellowes wasn't even interested in coming up with a good story line. It was almost like someone else wrote that scene with Matthew driving down the road. I will watch this next season, but not with the sense of anticipation I have had in the past. My allegiance has switched to Call the Midwife. :-)

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  17. I remember seeing an absolutely gigantic white metal box with a lid at the top at my now husband's then boyfriend's house in Oregon. I wonder if it was the washer? Needless to say that he did all my washing then. We had to buy a new washer when our old Miele started washing all our clothes at boiling temperatures. It was 23 years old. Having nearly re-mortgaged the house to replace the beloved unbreakable thing with the newer model, I hope it will last just as long. It is standard UK size I think (fits 7kg). I keep my fingers crossed for your new washer to fit and function properly as soon as possible.
    Thanks for stopping by in my place. So glad to meet other like minded women with lots of adopted and birth children. Cx

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    1. Ha! I think you were brave woman to let your boyfriend do your laundry. I have so many handknits and wool items that can't go in the washer/dryer that I don't let anyone near my laundry basket! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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  18. I think that your appliances are in cahoots with my cars. Three months, three different repair bills, and my husband and I looking and thinking the whole thing has to be a joke.
    Fingers crossed that your new machines work out well.
    Happy New Year.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear your cars have gone the same way as our appliances. Let's both hope we have used up all the bad appliance/car karma already for all of 2014! :-)

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  19. It's true that European machines are smaller than your counterparts and until quite recently only took 5 to 6 kg loads. But some newer machines are being designed to take up to 11kg in a machine of basically the same dimensions. Quite how they do it, I'm not sure, though I'll probably find out when our current washing machine bites the dust. :-) They are so essential to us now, aren't they, especially with a baby in the house. When I think of how I washed terry nappies by hand (and everything else too) until we'd saved up enough for our first washing machine, i just don't know how I coped.

    Here's to the safe delivery of your new appliances.

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