Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why DIY - Case Study #1

Household appliances are supposed to make our lives easier. We depend on them to work properly for us, magically keeping our food cold, heating our water, and washing our dishes while we go do other things that we actually want to do. But the ugly truth is that appliances are machines that eventually wear down, malfunction, or just out-and-out break.

Appliances have a nasty habit of breaking when the proper operation of that particular appliance is the most crucial. Refrigerators will break when you've just stocked them with Thanksgiving leftovers. Heating systems blow in the dead of winter. And dishwashers will go kaput just when you've slacked on kitchen duty long enough that the sink is so full of nasty, dirty dishes that washing anything by hand is near impossible. The most appliance-dependent of us will suffer a kind of paralysis until our tools have been returned to proper operation and the status-quo of our daily lives is restored. Want to see this phenomenon in action? Unplug the refrigerator before you head off to work and see how long it takes your spouse to make a frantic call to the refrigerator repairman. Such lapses in appliance functionality are simply intolerable.

Broken appliances suck, but you know what sucks more? Finding a replacement. Even if you're not replacing something that's broken, the process of shopping for a new appliance will quickly ruin any joy you might have otherwise received from the novelty of acquiring it. In the process, you'll juggle your list of "gotta have" features, reliability reports, and price-comparisons until you finally settle on the model that will leave you feeling the least regret.

Appliance shopping is simply brutal, and it's small wonder that at the end of the process many buyers opt to "just have it installed." It's an understandable capitulation. Retailers make a lot of money banking on appliance buyers who aren't willing to tackle the installation. Some people are lucky enough to be able to afford the overpriced installation services. The luckiest see those installations go smoothly. But not for this guy:

Unbridled rage is the only rational response to this situation. Depending on your temperament, and the degree of your DIY nature, this rage will be directed either at the retailer who couldn't get a stupid dishwasher install done right, or it's directed at the homeowner who couldn't be bothered to borrow an electric drill and do it themselves (and then harangue the retailer until they get a refund on the install).

It's OK to want to hire things out. Even for the most avid DIY-er, really, there's times when that's called for if for nothing else than the sake of convenience. But when the system fails us so miserably, do you want to be at the mercy of the installer that takes 14 months, six home visits, and ultimately a call to the local TV news consumer advocate to get it done? Or do you want to unburden yourself from the incompetence of others by Doing It Yourself?

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments subject to moderation per blog rules

Air mattress

From the "got to laugh to keep from crying" files... something to add to the list of universal truths along with "water flows...