This week I awoke to the sounds of our refrigerator gasping as if it had just jogged ten miles up hill with a full freezer. When the repairman arrived and told me what was wrong, I told him to go ahead and fix it. He reminded me that I would have to pay cash as they didn’t extend credit. “No sweat,” I replied and handed him the warranty. He had difficulty holding back the smirk as he handed me a bill for $375.00 along with the warranty that had expired the day before.
Two days later our washing machine tried to duplicate the deluge in our laundry room. If there is a water shortage this summer, I’m afraid that I will have to take responsibility. Since we got our refrigerator and the washer at the same store, we were unfortunate enough to get the same repairman as before. As he sloshed through the garage and into the laundry room, I told him how glad I was that I had taken the extended warranty offered on the washing machine. “Hmmmm,” was all he said. Later I was stunned when he gave me a bill for $235.92.
“Extended warranty is only good for the motor,” he grinned, “You lost the pump. Ain’t that funny?”
I’d have hit him, but I learned early in life that when you’re my size and a 6’5”, 300 pound person makes a joke – no matter how feeble – you at least smile.
After he left I went to my file cabinet and pulled out the WARRANTIES file. Since it hasn’t been cleaned out for nine or ten years, it provided a glut of information about when we had purchased appliances and the length of time they were under warranty. When I compared this to checks to repair shops, a pattern began to evolve.
The computer chipped out one week after the warranty; the printer printed its last three days after expiration and the plasma television managed to hang on for nearly a month after the guarantee lapsed before it blacked out. The microwave nuked itself three weeks after the warranty and the dishwasher wiped out six weeks after any chance of financial aid from its manufacturer. I don’t think that American industry is clever enough to have planned obsolescence this well programmed. I do think it’s the machines’ way of getting back at us for making them do all of our work.
One major exception to this is my car. The warranty expired a year ago and the car continued to operate just fine. My last payment was yesterday and today, on my way home from the grocery store, the transmission fell out.