Monday, December 1, 2008

Madd Money: Adventures In Appliance Land

I have found it to be very frustrating that, when we try to do the good thing, or we try to get an item that we want to make sure last for the long haul, we oftentimes realize that we bought something that, honestly, could have been had many other ways and could have been much less expensive for the outlay.

Let's do the time warp here. Back in 2001, I was working with a tech company at the time when tech skills were very highly in demand, and I was being paid very well to do what I do (don't get me wrong, I get paid well to do what I do now, but tech salaries were on the whole *way* high back in 2001). I picked this time to do a major kitchen remodel, converting a small galley style kitchen to a more functional U-shaped kitchen with new cabinets, new sink, new dishwasher, granite countertops, and a true conceit... a professional grade stainless steel six burner range. When we decided that we wanted to redo the kitchen, this was the one item I wanted more than anything. I made the assumption that a range that was used in professional kitchens would be an awesome addition to our house; if it's good enough to be used in a restaurant, it should be good enough for our house! Not to mention the fact that something this durable should definitely be a good investment over the long haul.

Neddless to say, one of the truisms of life is that if anything can go wrong, it will. And in this case, there has been a series of recurring problems with this range. More to the point, I have had several experiences now with appliance repair people, and their attitudes towards people that own these kinds of appliances. First and foremost, I've dealt with people that think that, if you own one of these ranges, you are obviously going to spend a lot of money to maintain it (think of this range as being the Mercedes-Benz of the range world... many people will spend more money to maintain that kind of car just because of the name). I used to believe that I had to do the same, until the parts that I had replaced and the work that I had done stopped working correctly in a short amount of time. Because of the last experience, I decided to audit a few different people and see what they said and what their recommendations were. In addition, I decided to do a little research on my model and see if we could find out a few things. What became very clear from the research whas that after-market items like burners and ignition switches were frequently rated as good if not better than the name brand parts that came at an extreme premium. Moe to the point, repair people who were qualified to service this range had varying rates of pay and attitudes about how much they were looking to charge to service this range.

The take home from this story is that, even when you make an effort to gtet the best and most durable gear on the market, it's possible to get a unit that's not totally perfect. What's more, if you find yourself in the unenviable position of having to fix such a core item, there are lots of options out there to make sure you can the device to work, and you need not feel like you are calling up someone to fix a Mercedes.

One other amusing anecdote on this front. About three months ago, I had a mishap in our kitchen where I physically broke the carafe for our blender. It's been one of those items where I've said "Oh no, how will we ever live without a blender?!" Still, since I didn't want to necessarily just jump out and go buy a blender, we decided to put some money aside and, when we felt that we needed to go and get it, we would do so with cash already saved. It's been three months, we have the money saved, but we came to an interesting realization... we really don't need a blender. Most of our cooking and things that we make do just fine without it. Thus, at least for right now, we've decided the best replacement for a blender is no blender at all (LOL!).

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