Thursday, January 20, 2005

Dishwasher Disappointment - A Cautionary Tale

We're having trouble with our dishwasher. Its about 3-years-old, which seems pretty new to me. Its a Kenmore with a digital control panel. Digital control panels make me uneasy, I like a good old-fashionable knob you can pull and turn and push, it feels real to me. If the digital control panel does not work, all the button pushing in the world won't help -- its like being a small child, desperately trying to get the attention of an adult who is busy with other things (okay, now I feel like crap). Our wall oven is digital and so far, its been fine. Sometimes, though, I hit the button to change the temperature and it simply does not respond and eventually sets itself to the original temperature, from which my desperate button-pushing could not change it. After a few tries, I've always been able to coax it to the temperature I want (I've got this really odd feeling that there is some sort of analogy to marriage in all this but I don't know what....). Back to the world of appliances. I like knobs -- if my oven had a knob, I'd just turn it to the temperature I want on the first try ( are knobs, women are control panels. Reminds me of a Washington Post Magazine article with a picture of a light switch and the caption "men" and a picture of the cockpit of a plane labelled "women").

Back to the dishwasher travails. A few months ago, it broke. No fanfare, nothing, we just went to push the buttons one day and nada. We weren't sure the cause, but its possible that the 2-year-old was pushing the buttons and it just couldn't take it anymore. We had a repairperson out who announced the control panel had to be changed. Big money and a whammy. Okay, we get that changed. We were urged to take out the Mafia-esque insurance plan -- the service contract. We resisted having been brought up very conservatively that you buy a product and its supposed to work -- you do not buy a product expecting it to break (such a quaint, simple time in which we were raised). The foreboding pronouncement that 'these things break all the time,' did not sway us.

I guess we are technically on our second problem now. As soon as it occurred, we bought the damn policy -- we're fools but not completely stupid. The second problem was minor -- a problem with the heating element so the dishes were clean and the ceramics were dry, but the plastics and cutlery were covered with water droplets. Not a huge problem, but with two small children we have lots of plastic cups and plates and it was annoying to have to dry them. Actually, it took a long time to unload the dishwasher, a task I don't really enjoy especially when I'm repeatedly interrupted to change diapers, wipe bottoms, refill cups of milk, and clean up sundry messes.

So, DH calls the repair center. We get a repairman this time who is totally into his job, he explained the intricacies of the machine, pointed out additional things that needed replacement (it felt a bit like churning, I believe we pay for parts under our insurance plan). Of course, the parts need to be ordered and another appointment needs to be made, cancelled by them, and made again. So, four weeks later, we get a repair call during which all items are installed. She also told us she installed a new control panel. The dishwasher ran last night, did not drain and we're dealing with a moody, non-responsive control panel this morning. So we went from having a crapped out heating element to a completely broken dishwasher. Not only are we drying dishes, we are washing them, too. Argh.

But I'm really trying to do the whole gratitude thing and it is working because as I bitch and moan about hand-washing dishes, I can't help but be glad I'm not visiting any loved ones in the hospital. I think of my good friend who is getting her first haircut since being diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago.

Yeah, life is good -- but I suggest you not buy a dishwasher with a control panel.


Anonymous said...

P.S. It only needed a fuse. A simple, inexpensive solution, one that I am sure has symbolic significance. Such as, do not throw away the entire apparatus if it can be easily fixed. But, naysayers might say, how do you know which fuse is broken? Where is it located? Can I even find the fusebox? Is it in the manual? -- DH

Marjorie said...

I was wondering if the blown fuse completed the analogy that the dishwasher control panel was like a woman. If you're not careful, you'll blow a fuse and then the whole thing will stop working.