Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Washer Saga

Monday we discovered the clothes washer wasn't really interested in working for us anymore. Maybe we should have listened to the warning signs: a rather obnoxious creaking as the drum spun through the spin cycles and the occasional thump which we ignored as a minor unbalanced load which always righted itself. This day there was a hint of a peculiar burnt electrical smell, suggesting a possible calamity in the making, but not quite strong enough to push anybody into immediately seeking out the cause. On lifting the lid, instead of seeing items of apparel clinging to the side of the drum we noted the soggy mess of clothes resting at the bottom. Not a good sign! A quick twist of the dial to start the spin cycle with crossed fingers. Alas, only the feeble whir of a non functioning motor while the drum remained sullen and immobile. Tuesday morning I gave the machine one last chance to properly complete its assigned task and was met with complete refusal.

Now our current situation is clear, we only need to replace the washer for a year or perhaps a wee bit more. Simple enough to drag the broken down machine outside, load it up and deliver it to the transfer station with no recycling fee. That would seemingly suggest a used model with a much lower capital cost and a fast solution to the problem. Quickly Googled ‘vancouver appliances used’ and voilà, a number of nearby stores with directional maps popped up and away I went. First store sold both new and used, so I scuttled passed the 4 figure, gleaming virgin washers to check out the previously owned models. Hmm! The lowest cost unit was still a startling $450 and I was unsure whether I should kick the cabinet to show my interest. The amiable saleslady assured me the solidly rebuilt washer would last 15 to 20 years, and the delivery charge was only $85 plus a small recycling fee of only $50 for our broken down hunk of metal. There was doubt in my mind as I wondered if that machine had even lasted 5 years in its previous incarnation while I also questioned whether a six month warranty would be adequate. I mumbled something about keeping it in mind as I exited the premises flashing a friendly lopsided grin.

Next establishment was solely used and rebuilt wall-to-wall appliances. Humming softly to myself, I sauntered down the aisle until I spotted a $359 washer (actually they all displayed identical $359 price tags....) and I bent down to have a look at its rear. The information plate was well worn but after translating I’m pretty sure the machine was built in Minsk sometime about 1954, however it had only been used sparingly for cold water washes in a Siberian gulag. One of the back room boys came out to see if I needed any help and I pointed to the badly rusted backside of the cabinet. “Not to worry sir”, he said, “All the inner components have been gutted and replaced”. Does this also work in humans or will the outside skin container just give way allowing all the fine medical work to fall out? Something for me to consider. Oh, by-the-way their additional charges for delivery et cetera worked out to a miserly $125 not including taxes.

Once back in the friendly confines of home, it was time to consider purchasing new. Back to Google. From our friendly Canadian department store - known for its practice of doubling prices this week and offering a half off sale next week - a brand new washer for $478 plus $69 delivery plus $25 recycling pickup fee. Not bad compared to the used prices. Then I remembered the fridge downstairs (serves as a beer cooler from time to time) which came from the same store. No matter how carefully the door is closed, we notice it pops open occasionally. We have yet to determine if this is due to weak magnets, the inner fridge being interested in its surroundings or simply its lust for the nearby furnace. Next up was the online offerings of a local big box dealer. With some tempting offers on the web page, I convinced myself to head out to their bricks and mortar site. Surprise surprise! As I passed by the big ticket, chrome encrusted models, there in the middle stood a cute plain-jane machine with a price tag of $358 just begging to be purchased. Then I had the luck to run into a super nice saleslady who began the process of determining the final price. Delivery charge $58 - just move the x up a couple of slots and this now includes the full hookup service. Connector kit $24 - toss that in no charge. Pick up old machine $30 - reduced to $20. Competitive discount - sure, why not? Take another $35 off the price. Easy peasy. Our brand, spanking new washer will be delivered and installed next Monday. Shopping just doesn't get any easier than this.
Somewhere in this story is both a moral and an economics lesson, but I’m too lazy to search. Meanwhile, since the new washer is likely ‘Made in China’ I have to brush up on my Cantonese so I can read the instruction manual.

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