Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ballad of the Fridge Fiasco

I offer this post in traditional format, as well as in verse.  Choose your adveventure!

Gather round, children, so's I can tell you
About the crap some people will sell you.
I speak of our fridge from Electrolux
Which is electro-gone 'cause it electro-sucks.
We asked kindly for a refund,
But in spite of all logic, our request was shunned.
A service technician was sent to the scene
And was soon shouting words both curt and obscene.
On his second trip out his temper was hot
And within an hour he quit on the spot.

Now three months had passed, of this we were tired,
Our butter was soft, our milk had expired.
Though weary our resolutions got stronger,
This nonsense couldn't go on any longer!
Christy called Electrolux up on the phone 
and said 'Till we're appeased we won't leave you alone!" 
She threatened to set the fridge on fire,
But they said then our warranty would expire.

When that route proved unfruitful, she called back to see
If perhaps they'd respond to some diplomacy.
She was calm and friendly, said "please" and "thanks",
Disguising her anger and masking her angst.
Still they did not want to give up the loot
But on this demand Christy was resolute.
And wouldn't you know, after efforts laborious,
She hung up that phone triumphant! Victorious!
She got back our money without stooping to beg
And we took our spoils and bought us a Smeg!

Perhaps you remember, we spent a lot of time and energy picking out the few appliances we have in our house.  We wanted everything to be as small and efficient as possible.  We reasoned that having a refrigerator that would fit under a counter top would not only give us more counter space in our tiny kitchen, but also prevent us from having years worth of barely-used condiments stashed away in the secluded corners of one of those mammoth refrigerators that seem to be the norm now-a-days.  We found an under-the-counter drawer fridge online made by Electrolux, ordered it through Lowes and built a counter for it into our kitchen scheme.  

People would walk in circles looking for our fridge, and tell us we were crazy when they opened what looked to them like a freakishly tiny fridge drawer.  We would then expound at great lengths about the benefits of a small fridge, the counter space, I would without fail use that line about the condiments and the mammoth fridge and we would feel kind of smug about it.  And it was true, we were perfectly happy with a tiny fridge.  It didn't get cluttered and we were forced to use what was in there before filling it up again. 

Oh how crushing is the defeat that follows self-righteous gloating...

The fridge broke.  First the control panel, which told us the temperature and allowed us to adjust the settings.  We called Electrolux, who sent us a replacement panel in the mail, and sent out a service tech a week later to install it.  The tech replaced the panel and.... the whole thing shut down.  Not only was the control panel not working, the fridge was no longer cold.  This posed a bigger problem for us.  A couple of weeks later a new part had come and the techs were back to replace it.  Meanwhile we had been living without refrigeration.  When the new replacement part didn't work, the tech called Electrolux and told them we needed a new fridge.  Electrolux disagreed and a heated argument ensued. So heated, in fact, that the service tech canceled his contract with Electrolux on the spot!  Then, he left.

Electrolux told us they would send us a new service tech, but called back days later to tell us that there was noone in our area, so they were going to send us a replacement.  The problem with that, Christy pointed out, is that we'll then have a fridge (a shoddily built fridge we now know) that nobody in our area can fix.  We wanted our money back.  They wouldn't budge.  This is where Christy hit the internet and found thread after thread from people complaining about Electrolux, and particularly their resistance to giving refunds.  One person wrote about fighting the company for THREE YEARS before finally getting a refund. 

Many phone calls followed, Christy being hung up on once for refusing to stop cursing.  She told one operator that she was about to take the fridge outside and set it on fire, to which the customer service employee drolly replied "that won't be covered by our warranty".  In the face of what appeared to be a brick wall, Christy steeled her resolve.  She was going to get a refund or die trying.  Keep in mind that we had been living without a fridge for three months.  With amazing self-control, she calmly called one last time, explained our situation to what had to have been the fifth or sixth customer service employee, and actually convinced them that we deserved a refund!  She didn't yell or swear of threaten pyrotechnics, but merely stated our case in a calm, professional tone.  As soon we had one person on our side, she used that person to coordinate the whole exchange with Electrolux and Lowes.  A day later, we had our money back and the fridge went back to Lowes to presumably be recycled for crap.

Now, shortly after the fridge broke, the idea had germinated that we might want to look for a new fridge.  
A short period of internet searching brought Christy to the Smeg.  Smeg is an Italian company who makes retro-looking fridges with modern efficiency.  Her seeing that we could have a stylish, equally efficient and slightly larger fridge for the same price we had paid for a small and flimsy headache, I think, is really what steeled her resolve for that refund.  Before the money was even credited back into our account for the first fridge, a Smeg had been ordered.

Today, it showed up.  It's larger (9.22 cubic feet vs. 4.74), more efficient (305 kWh/year vs. 414), and unquestionably more attractive.  The first thing we refrigerated: a bottle of champagne to celebrate!