Monday is laundry day — a rare bit of regularity in my retired life. Faithful readers (all three of you) will recall I had a bit of electrical excitement last fall. (That’s been fine ever since, and I’m happy to have the new smoke detectors. I had no idea they are only good for about ten years. Their tiny radioactive source wears out eventually.)
I’ve known for months I needed a new clothes washer and a new clothes dryer. For one thing, they came with the place, so they’re at least 16 years old. More to the point, the dryer was taking two hours to get clothes completely dry, and the agitator in the washing machine was broken — it only worked with extremely light loads.
Yesterday, it died a definite death.
I was limping along fine with double drying cycles, because I routinely use double wash cycles. That is, I run the washing machine twice (only the first time with soap).
I have sensitive skin, so I use unscented laundry soap and use that second cycle as an extreme rinse. (And I use the Extra Rinse Cycle on the wash, so it amounts to four rinses plus a soapless wash.)
It was probably overkill, but you get into habits, and since I was having to run the dryer twice, it was no big deal.
(I don’t pay for water, which is great for long showers. And for the record, I’m not a believer when it comes to water (or wood) conservation. Those are extremely renewable resources, and eventually technology will get around to making good clean freely available water something every soul on Earth can take for granted.)
((Also for the record: The big trick to a better world is simple. Just get rid of anyone with only profit in their eyes. Take those who lust for money out of power, and things will work a lot better. One tip: Let the women govern for a few decades. They tend to have better sense about these things.))
But I digress.
Where I was for months was double-drying and under-loading the washing machine so the agitator had some chance of agitating.
The mechanism that links it to the motor broke, but there was just enough pressure from moving parts to turn the agitator in kind of a half-assed way so long as the load was light enough.
It was enough to have clean dry clothes even if it did take most of my Monday. (Three loads minimum, double cycle, the time adds up.)
The first load started okay, but after a while the washing machine started screaming instead of spinning.
The scream was from the motor shaft turning inside the thing it should have been turning but wasn’t. The scream of moving metal scraping against unmoving metal with irresistible force.
(Like when I threw a rod through the crankcase of my VW Bug (my first car). That was a very expensive, and very impressive, noise.)
The thing about expensive noises is that the machine making them is usually issuing a death scream.
Obviously it was time to buy a new washer/dryer.
Which turns out to require a bit of education about what brands and types of machines you want.
There are the old standards, Whirlpool, Maytag, GE, and many new manufacturers. I own an LG TV, which makes sense to me, but apparently I can by a washer and dryer from LG as well. (And, in some cases, apparently link them into my smart home network.)
((If I were ever dumb enough to have a smart home network. All I’ve heard are horror stories. And when I learned that crap all needs to be operated by a server in the cloud… well, that was that.))
(((Long ago, in the early days of computing, I (and many others) used to imagine the computerized homes that were now possible, but no one I knew ever imagined such a stupidity as letting a remote server have anything to do with it. Except maybe in a horror movie. Such a Bad Idea.)))
But I digress (again).
Brands, models, and options, are bad enough. (Insert digression about having too much choice here.) You also need to know whether to order hoses and other et cetera a store might be pushing on you.
It’s the kind of purchase you probably need to speak to a human about. It’s probably worth a store visit and a face-to-face conversation.
I started with Best Buy — specifically, their website.
I’ve spent a lot of money at Best Buy over the years. Not so much because I have high regard for them, but because they’re there and generally reliable.
From the website I mostly wanted to pick a package so I’d know what I wanted when I went to the store.
I got into a chat with a BB rep, and she was very helpful. She was so helpful, I actually thought I could proceed with the order online. She suggested I contact their Geek Squad to get some questions answered.
At this point, Best Buy had the sale.
But then the Geek Squad guy reminded me how much disdain I have for them. They had really screwed up the laptop I purchased from Best Buy back in 2003-ish.
And by “really” I mean totally. I picked it up at the store, got it home, and it would not boot. Flipping it over, I noticed one access panel, held down by screws, wasn’t seated very well.
Unscrewing the screws released a lot of pressure on the panel. That pressure coming from a badly mis-seated memory chip. I’d ordered extra memory installed, and they’d completely fucked up that simple job.
Some idiot had forced the panel closed over the mis-seated chip. It was obviously wrong. And clearly not even booted at a test.
All I did was set the chip properly and close the panel (which closed easily), and the machine worked fine.
But fuck Best Buy’s Geek Squad.
And, to be blunt, fuck Best Buy.
My chat with “Matthew” (who I finally just hung up on after long delays and inept answers) determined me to buy my set from Lowes or The Home Depot.
(I mean seriously, Matthew told me hoses were included. I pointed out to him that the website says nope. Useless.)
So, I get in my car and drive…
…to Best Buy, which is a minor pain because they closed the one really close to my place, so it was a little bit of a drive.
Why? I guess I’m a sucker, that’s why. One more chance? (There was a Maytag package on sale that seemed like a good buy.)
So I walk in, find the machines I want, look around, and… none of the kids there showed any interest in my desire to give them money.
I stood around for ten minutes.
And then I walked out.
(When I used to hit BB a lot to browse DVDs and CDs, sales people wouldn’t leave me alone.)
In the future, I will always consider other options before resorting to “Best” Buy.
Next I drove to Lowes.
Similar experience. Found the machines I wanted. Stood around and was ignored.
But this time I was able to find someone in the department. Young-ish gal sitting at a desk. Not much of a sales personality. (What is it with kids today? Why such utterly absent personalities?)
I almost told her to forget it just based on her attitude. When she told me it would take 10-12 days to order, that was it for Lowes. (Best Buy would have installed it tomorrow — another reason I gave them a second chance.)
Final option before I resort to a river and rocks… The Home Depot.
Found the machines I wanted,… stood there for a minute,… and here comes Harold.
Nice guy. My age. Able to converse. Detectable personality.
Sale made, pleasant experience, customer happy. Install is Saturday.
Three stores, three stories. The exact same Maytag washer/dryer in all three cases.
And that’s the thing.
You don’t go to these places for their brand. When it comes down to it, the only things that differentiate on “big box store” from another is price and service.
And prices tend to be damn close. (Harold assured me their prices were directly comparable to BB, and he was correct.)
So it’s really down to service.
And I award huge points for good customer service. (I’ll even pay a few bucks extra.) I think that’s really what sales is all about.
At least it used to be.
Stay serviceable, my friends!