My editorial in the March 7 issue, in which I described some serious marital tension caused by a washing machine running amok (http://rbi.ims.ca/4393-504), was a real cliff-hanger. I also challenged readers to share their own designs-that-suck stories—read some of the best in our MAIL column on page 16.
But back to an update on me. I'm happy to report back that my husband and I are still together, having weathered some of the worst atrocities that an appliance can inflict upon a household. After the machine (a two-year-old Kenmore Catalyst top-loader) clunked out in March (prompting my editorial), we had a repairman come out to diagnose the problem.
The exact issue was that the machine would get to the cycle where water should drain from the tank, and the relay for turning the pump on did not get the signal to go. We could watch the timer count down until it was time to fire up the motor to start pumping the water out—and then nothing happened. Have you ever tried to wring out a load of sopping wet, extra-large bath towels by hand?
The repairman tested and confirmed there was electricity available to the motor, then prepared an estimate for $502.45 to replace the microprocessor and electronic timer. He also showed my husband a cool trick to get the machine to drain by jostling the circuit board.
Since we only paid $600 for the washer, and the jostle trick was actually working, we were in a bit of a quandary over what to do next.
In the meantime, my editorial had prompted an e-mail from an engineer from Whirlpool, inquiring about the model and make of the machine. Once he determined that it had indeed been manufactured at his plant, he alerted a field service engineer at the headquarters who called me and offered to swap out the machine. Seriously tempted to take him up on the offer, but not wanting to abuse the power of the pen and focusing my concern on the integrity issue (and since our machine had finally crapped out for the last time), my husband and I went ahead and purchased a new washer—the lowest-tech model we could find.
Literally the day after they carted the old machine away to the scrap heap, Whirlpool called to find out whether I would take the swap offer. They informed me that the only reason they were making the offer was so that they could do a teardown of the machine to figure out what was wrong and let me do a follow-up editorial with readers. I'm sorry the engineers at Whirlpool missed an opportunity to do some forensic work on my machine. But such is life sometimes.
I'm very happy to report, though, that the new machine (another Whirlpool, side-loader this time) is working great. And we really love the cool retro dials.