Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Maytag Repairman

Alert readers of this blog will remember the numerous problems associated with the icemaker in our last refrigerator, a Whirlpool. Solutions ranged from cleaning switches, replacing thermocouples, and finally, replacing the whole damn icemaker, twice! The refrigerator itself worked fine for over 20 years although the compressor ran about 23 hours a day. It was a smallish unit with the freezer at the top making every item that wasn’t on the front of the shelf near impossible to reach if you are an old man with a bad back. Every so often, when the bones allowed, I would stoop down and find all sorts of surprises at the bottom rear including a few new multicolored life forms.

The day came and the decision made to replace this antique. The new model, a Maytag, had the freezer at the bottom (no doubt designed by an old person) with ample space up top. It was well lit with multiple bulbs for weak eyes, another blessing. A special vent in the door was discovered to keep milk up to and beyond the expiration date, an event never seen by the Whirlpool. Icemaker? Oh yeah. This baby had a dispenser in the door right alongside a chilled water spigot. If you were mixing a drink, it was one stop shopping with ice and water right there at your fingertips. Hoo Boy. Life was good.

But then, a few months later, I began to hear a strange noise coming from the new Maytag. It was a tap, tapping sound. Only lasted for few a seconds, but the next day, tap-tap…tap. The sound, I noticed, was heard only during start up when the compressor came on. But as the days went by, the tapping grew louder and more frequent. Well sum bitch.

Being under warranty, I call the Maytag repairman—in this case, a woman who takes calls—and describe the situation. I explain that the unit doesn’t make this weird noise in every case but there does seem to be some sort of unnatural act going on in there. The Maytag repair-woman makes it crystal clear that if she sends someone out and they don’t find a problem, I will be billed for a service call. What? So it’s a roll of the dice? If he hears the problem I’m covered, but if he doesn’t and the warranty expires I’m screwed. Is that about it? The answer was, you are and you will be.

I gamble and the repairman comes out. He’s about the size of the guy in the old lonely Maytag repairman commercials, maybe bigger, actually about the size of Sasquatch but not as hairy. I have doubts he can bend over far enough to inspect the parts. I hear a lot of tinkering around back there; battery driven screwdrivers, wrenches and such. Small pieces fly out and hit the floor. I hear grumbling. Finally, like a bear coming out of a winter den, the guy emerges with a scowl and a diagnosis.

“The whatsis was installed wrong. It had liquids where gases should have been and something something was backing up in the whosis and causing the noise. No charge.”

“Uh, okay.” The no charge was the only part I understood.

Two days later the trouble in the whatsis was back.

I reach Sasquatch. “I’ll call the factory,” he says. I wait and watch the warranty days tick away. I get a call. It’s my new friend Sas.

“The factory knows of the problem and has issued a special repair kit. I’ll be out as soon as we get it in.”

Sure buddy, I'll never hear from you again.

A week or so passes and sho nuff, here’s Sas ringing my bell. He crawls behind the fridge and twenty minutes later, all fixed. That was a month ago and no more tap-tap…so far.

Conclusion: Maytag’s aren’t what they used to be and the repairmen are lonely no more.

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