Broken fridge nightmare in remodeled kitchen
Originally appeared in Bay Area News Group publications on March 27, 2015
“Things never go the way you expect them to. That’s both the joy and frustration in life.”
– Michael Stuhlbarg
It began when I went to the freezer for a yogurt pop and found it as a liquid mess. Other foods were partially defrosted. Checking the refrigerator section confirmed we were in big trouble.
We quickly found a reliable appliance repairman who substantiated that it was time to replace our 10-year-old refrigerator. What sounded like a simple solution soon turned into a series of unforeseen, frustrating events.
Fortunately, this happened on President’s Day weekend when major appliances go on sale. We did our research with the help of Consumer Reports, and intense comparison shopping online at all the major appliance stores in the area. As a result, we bought the 2015 version of our old one from a well-recommended outlet store thinking we would get an even better discount there than at its retail location. The best news was that we could have it within a few days.
What we did not realize until we got home was that, despite carefully measuring, the new refrigerator was one eighth of an inch too wide and half an inch too high for the custom-designed slot in our remodeled kitchen, a terrible mistake in hindsight. When we called our contractor, he said it was too many years for him to remember our kitchen exactly but he thought enlarging the opening would be difficult without damaging cabinets; we might be better off buying a smaller refrigerator.
After sleeping on it, we cancelled our order. For numerous reasons, no amount of research found an acceptable alternative. Finally, we spoke to our contractor and came up with a way to accommodate the original refrigerator we wanted without damaging the surrounding cabinets. We also discussed the repairs time frame as we were now living out of picnic ice chests.
With a solid alternative plan, we returned to the retail store ready to order only to find that so many of that model were sold during the weekend event, delivery had gone from four days to a full month.
“But wait,” proclaimed the major appliance salesman pointing us to another section, “I can get you this other model in only a few days.” Not surprisingly, the fridge he referred to was $500 more, and even larger, than the one we wanted. Despite that, because it could be delivered quickly, we agreed to purchase the Rolls-Royce upgrade.
With construction quickly done, we anxiously awaited our new refrigerator and a return to normal life.
The truck arrived on schedule, but, during the requisite inspection, the fridge door’s rubber gasket fell out, so we did not accept delivery. While the driver was reloading his truck, we received a call from the same company that “our fridge” would be delivered in the next 15 minutes. This confused us, but we thought they had mistakenly double-scheduled. The driver said not to ask questions and just feel lucky.
Instead, it was more bad luck. This time it was the cancelled fridge and it arrived with a large gash in its side. We sent it back.
Our call to the retail store salesman brought worse news. A replacement for the second, more expensive, refrigerator we had ordered was no longer in stock. There would be at least a two-day delay before anyone would know when, or even if, it would be available. Our theory was that the Port of Oakland shutdown had caused this uncertainty.
Several days later, the salesman called to say we will get the new fridge we want, but delivery was nearly three weeks away.
Now approaching a month of being fridge-less, we eagerly anticipated the end of our ordeal. The truck came as scheduled, but, yes, you guessed it, this fridge came damaged with a huge dent. After I unleashed some fury at the delivery supervisor on the phone, we were promised a “perfect” refrigerator in two days.
It came and it was perfect. We could stop eating takeout and shop for “real” food again.
When planning where to locate a refrigerator, Consumer Reports suggests leaving one inch clearance all around for air circulation. Nonetheless, kitchen designs invariably show refrigerators completely enclosed by cabinetry. Besides lack of air flow, this does not take into consideration that the standard height and width today may not be the same when you replace your appliance. This is something the kitchen designer overlooked for our remodel.
During that same remodel, when we purchased a professional, six-burner range, the salesperson counseled us to make sure the range hood was six inches wider for both safety and efficiency. We did so. Nevertheless, I rarely see homes with range hoods extending beyond the width of the range.
We learned that buying major appliances from an outlet store is risky. Contrary to our belief that we would be selecting from new fridges with minor problems, most of the refrigerators we saw at the outlet store had major issues and were not brand new. We learned later that a significant number had been used for just short of one year (length of the free warranty) and then returned.
Consumer Reports gave the new refrigerator we ended up buying a very high rating of 85. Hopefully, whenever we need to replace it in the future we will not need to further modify our kitchen.
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 1
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 2
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 3
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 4
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 5
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 6
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 7
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 8
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 9
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 10
Journal of a Remodelee, Part 11