“They’re all garbage.”

January 25, 2016

Twelve years ago the deal my wife and I made was that we could leave the brick Edwardian on a corner lot in town and move to the stone cottage at the farm – if – Bet could have her dream kitchen.

So we renovated, putting in a couple of years of cheerful labour, designing the lower floor of the project so that the kitchen occupied the west half and the sink was in the centre of the room on a large slab of American beech with excellent views in all possible directions.

Over a winter I built red oak cabinets to cover every available wall.  The appliances were the final touch.  A fine stainless steel “commercial” range looked wonderful until the oven door fell off during delivery.  It took two calls to Australia to locate a service man in Merrickville capable of working on the thing.

But it’s been great ever since.

The dealer wanted $2400. for a range hood to match the stove.  I baulked and bought a matching high-capacity domestic model for $200. from a Kijiji ad.  The hard part of the job was cutting a 7″ hole through 25″ of stone for the exhaust, but the ventilation system was well worth the effort.

The pride of the kitchen was the three-doored, stainless steel KitchenAid refrigerator.  Getting the 36″, 360 pound monster through the low front door (since replaced) was a comedy of errors for the rather dim delivery guys, but once they had it set up we loved the thing, even when it started to rattle and the service tech from Brockville turned out to be a young woman who had me drag it out from the wall, tearing up the new varnish before she failed to find anything wrong with it.

Last night it died.

Today’s tech from Elgin surprised me by twisting a couple of bolts under the fridge and lo and behold, casters descended to roll it away from the wall.  A few minutes later he told us the fridge is toast.  The compressor is seized, and that part’s not really repairable as the fix involves a very tricky coolant transfer and nobody wants to do it outside a factory setting because of the high probability of failure.

“It’s only eight years old!  How long do they last?”

“Seven to twelve years.  The energy saving rating means they use little 1/8 hp motors in them now.  Ten years ago these fridges cost $3 thousand, and prices haven’t gone up with inflation, so now they’re building them cheaper. The motor and the compressor are a single unit so you can’t just switch the motor if it quits.

“And all brands are the same, all garbage, but at least with our brand you can get someone to come and work on it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a little cheap one or a great big fancy model, your fridge will last you seven to twelve years, and then it’s a throw-away.”

The replacement’s due on Friday.  Anybody want a three-door, stainless steel bookshelf?

UPDATE:  4 February, 2016

The replacement, a Frigidaire Gallery, started up without a hitch and has delighted us with its shiny newness.

In talking with Willy Colford of Duncan’s Appliances, I learned interesting facts about the appliance business and the mechanics of moving heavy objects.

First I’ll deal with the banking.  The Royal Bank charges him between 3 and 4% per credit card transaction, regardless of the size of the bill.  That really ads up on a large item.  The debit card charge, on the other hand, is 30 cents.  Of course most debit cards have a daily maximum of $2K, but a cheque to cover the balance costs only 70cents.  Cash for payment isn’t so great either, as his bank charges 1.7% to handle the stuff.  In Willy’s opinion the enormous annual Royal Bank profits are extracted from small business owners through fees on credit card transactions.

The most interesting part of the deal, however, involved the delivery.  Willy arrived with fellow Elgin businessman Steve Gordanier with the fridge in the back of an elderly GM pickup.  He commented that his regular assistant had to be away and so Steve agreed to help out.

The truck had a well-used lift gate attached, so I suggested he back up the slope and set the gate on the small concrete step attached to the house.  Willy used 4WD to place the edge of the gate exactly where I suggested on the first try.  Having done this maneuver many times over the course of an eight-year renovation, I realized I was dealing with an experienced individual.

Willy measured the door openings (36 1/2″) and decided not to remove the doors on the fridge, just the handles.  “For a 32″ door we have to take off the front doors of the fridge, which isn’t too hard, but the real work is in putting them back on.”  Off came the styrofoam sheeting which covered the entire refrigerator.  Onto the dolly it went, and then onto the tailgate for the short descent to the concrete.  Willy commented that his truck is old, but the bodies on the new models are too high for appliance work, so he has kept it.  “The back of a new Ford F150 is way up here (gesturing).  You can’t deliver appliances with something that high.”  I agreed.  That had always struck me as the biggest disadvantage of modern pickups.

When the first crew brought a fridge ten years ago, the door of the house was only 6′ 1″ tall because of a small light of windows above the opening.  Soon after that debacle I replaced the whole thing with a magnificent oak-and-glass structure just under eight feet in height, then added a matching cedar storm door with interchangeable glass and screen panels.  The 36X36X75″ shiny block rolled right in on the dolly, so the real work of the installation involved stripping plastic wrap from what seemed to be every surface of the fridge, packing up the scrap, and wheeling the thing into its space.  A couple of seconds with a ratchet and the fridge was down off its casters and sitting level on the irregular floor.  Willy’s skill was evident in the ease with which this transpired.

Because we had not bothered to connect the water supply on the other fridge, Willy offered to remove the ice maker from the new one to provide more refrigeration space.  This turned out to be more complicated than I had expected, and it certainly opened up the the interior of the freezer.  A good idea.

Willy left me an Allen wrench to re-tighten the screws on the fridge’s handles in a month.

To reflect upon the deal, Duncan’s price was competitive and delivery was on time.  The advantage lay in the service involved:  free delivery and removal of the old unit are pretty much expected in the country, but the quality of the installation stood out in stark contrast to the amateurish efforts of the guys on the McMullen truck ten years ago.



2 Responses to ““They’re all garbage.””

  1. George Kitching Says:

    How is your freezer doing … same life cycle or better?

    • rodcros Says:

      Our freezer came from a house in Kingston where the empty-nesters no longer needed one. It had raised two boys to departure, so I think it’s well over the age of obsolescence, maybe to the point of qualifying to vote.

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