Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Sad Indictment of Modern Life or Why Can't I Get My Stove Fixed?

I hope you will bear with me while I indulge in a rant. If you have too much negativity in your life already click away now. If you appreciate the edict "a problem shared is a problem halved" stick around. Perhaps you can give me some perspective at least.
The subject of my rant is my stove, specifically the wok burner, to whit...


Eighteen months ago I had to stop using the wok burner because it started to throw up flames a foot above the burner. Not safe.
Oh no, I thought, I'll have to call Appliance Guy.
Now, Appliance Guy is a nice enough guy. He looks the part and he can fix appliances when he puts his mind to it. The trouble is that in order to get to the "fixing" bit, you have to get through the "I'm never on time or return your calls", and the "I never stop chatting" bit and the "I forgot to bring x tool bit". I just don't have the time or patience to call Appliance Guy lightly, but would really like three usable burners, so I call him.
When he finally arrives (he's late, of course) he takes one look and says "it's the regulator". Then he proceeds to tell me how difficult it will be to fix. This went on for 20 minutes. While he never said the words, he was telling me loud and clear "I DON'T WANT TO DO IT". For this I paid a $70 call out fee.
Since he couldn't do anything about the burner there and then, we agreed that I would think about my options (ie. fix burner at massive inconvenience to him, or buy new cooktop at massive expense to me) and I would call him. Of course, I procrastinated for about 6 months. Then I called him and said I want to fix it, could he make a time? He uummmed and ahhed and prevaricated and said he'd call me. And didn't. What a surprise.
Life took over and I put the whole issue on the back burner for another 12 months (if I had one, which I don't because it's broken).
Okay, so now I've decided it's time to try and get thing thing fixed once and for all.
Bypassing Appliance Guy, I decide to try and find a repairer who likes to repair things.
My first problem is that I don't live in a metropolitan area, but heck, it's not remote Australia by any stretch. Forty five minutes north is a major urban centre. Fifteen minutes south is a sizable regional town of 35,000. Despite this options are thin on the ground.
My first call was to Grumpy McGrump. Mr McGrump should bill himself the clairvoyant repairer because he could deduce down the phone line that my burner wasn't worth repairing, "because 14 year old stove are gonna go on you anyway". No, he wanted me to bring a photo and measurements of my current stove into his shop (because he is also a retailer) so he could sell me a brand new stove". Er, like fun I will.
I try another repairer. They don't do gas appliances. "Why don't you Grumpy McGrump appliances?" they suggest helpfully. I reply that I wouldn't use Grumpy's services even if he was the last repairer ON EARTH. The "hmmm" I got in reply suggested to me that they understood exactly where I was coming from.
Phoned my last repairer option. Apparently, he is so uninterested in repairing things he doesn't return calls.
So there you are.
So what about replacing the entire cooktop as suggested by McGrumpy? Well, to my mind it seems a perverse waste of money, time and resources to replace an entire cooktop because the regulator on one burner needs to be replaced. Besides, if I replace the cooktop, I can bet that I will also need to replace the benchtop. And I have a lot of benchtop. Kerching, kerching. The benchtop is perfectly fine as it is, thank you. Why do I have to replace a benchtop because the regulator on ONE gas burner is busted and no one with a 150km radius could be bothered to come and repair it?
So here I am wondering what to do:

1. Go back to Appliance Guy in the knowledge that I wil have to hound the bloke with phone calls for weeks on end, wait for him for hours as he is invariable late for appointments, endure hours of conversation as he verbalises every step of the process, all the while not being confident he will get the job done?

2. Toss out my values, and flash the plastic, and start again with a new cooktop and a new benchtop and all the palaver associated with organising tradies to install both?

3. Put it into the too hard basket, and forget about the whole thing.

At this point (3) seems most likely as (1) and (2) are too painful to contemplate. But I really, really would like three burners again. But (1) and (2) are too painful to contemplate. And so I'm caught in this conundrum.
This little situation I find myself seems to crystallise an aspect of modern life that I find irksome: that these days, fixing things is not regarded as a worthwhile thing to do. When even the repairers themselves don't regard fixing things as worthwhile, what hope do we have? How much waste could we get rid of if we could fix things when they break?
Rant over. I feel better now. But I still don't know what to do.
Oh, and by the way, the cooktop brand is MIELE. The only reason I include this is on the off-chance that someone from MIELE is reading this and can contact me with some ideas.

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