Just over two years ago our washing machine eventually died and went to the great big launderette in the sky. It had reached the stage where we were having a job drying the towels we had used to soak up the drips! The end came when there was a veritable flood in the kitchen and Mrs Grumpy and I, after a quick investigation found the drum was rotten, and decided enough was enough. (And perhaps had been for a number of months!). I suppose we ought to be thankful it had lasted as long as it had as it seemed to be in use almost daily since we'd had it.
A quick look at the Internet and a peek at the Which reports on washing machines showed that Bosch came up trumps as the 'best buy' of the year. Credit where credit's due, we ordered it online and it arrived within a couple of days and the carrier took the old one away.
The new machine lived up to and beyond its reputation and our expectations, being absolutely fantastic and, compared with the antique museum piece that we had been using, was almost silent.
In early April this year we noticed what appeared to be a small rust patch developing on the bottom corner. Investigation of the delivery paperwork showed that our Bosch washing machine was just a week out of guarantee, but the small print had a clause saying the machine was guaranteed for 10 years against rust.
A quick phone call to the service centre and they said that they would have a fitter come and take a look at it. True to their word, I was absolutely gobsmacked when the phone rang half an hour later and a voice said
"I'm your Bosch fitter, can I call and see your washing machine?"
He arrived almost immediately explaining he was already in the area when he got the call out. He took a quick look at the machine and commented that the bottom of a side panel had blistered from the rust patch all the way down to the back. Using his mobile phone camera he took photographs of the problem to send to head office with his written report, and that was that! At the time I thought "what excellent service, it must be the Teutonic organisational talents!" Gordon Bennett, how wrong could I have been!
A week later I telephoned the service centre to ascertain progress. I was told that the full report including photographs had been sent to Bosch and they would get back to us.
Two weeks later, having heard from nobody, I telephoned again, to be told that the service centre would call back "in a couple of days".
Two weeks after that, I rang again and this time was told that they needed to contact another office and would ring me back, which they never did.
Three days later, I rang yet again and was told that they were hopeful they would have a reply within a week.
Two weeks after that, I telephoned again and this time was told it was a bank holiday, consequently there was only a skeleton staff but they would get the Irish rep to ring me back.
The lone operator responsible for the Irish business did actually telephone back this time, which was nice until she blotted her copybook by claiming that they were waiting for the photographs! (According to Bosch themselves, these had gone in with the original report some six weeks previously)
At this point I was rather excited and decided that one of Grumpy's famous letters of complaint was now required!
Looking at the calendar, I see that the letter, going to a Dublin address, would have caught the post on a Tuesday evening. Wednesday lunchtime on checking our landline voicemail, I found a message saying the washing machine was going to be totally replaced and the carrier would contact me to arrange delivery!
When I heard this, I was absolutely astounded on the number of fronts.
Firstly; that a letter is capable of producing such a rapid knee-jerk reaction (why couldn't they respond six weeks earlier, as they clearly had all the information they needed to hand)
Secondly; that the whole machine was being replaced. To be quite frank, I had expected that we would see the original fitter again with a side panel under his arm and a quick whizz, whizz with his screwdriver and Grumpy's your uncle, Fanny's your aunt, there it was, fitted. But to scrap the whole machine left me speechless. I do know that organisations such as charity shops will no longer sell second hand electrical goods because of the safety concerns. But, Gordon Bennett, for heaven's sake, what a waste of time and ever more scarce material resources utilised to make the washing machine in the first place, and then to scrap it in such a cavalier fashion. I would have thought that somebody, somewhere would have been glad to get a few more years of life out of it.
In the first instance, my complaint stemmed from a resentment to plod out a lot of money for a piece of kit that started to rust after only two years. As an engineer, it was clear that the panelling had not been properly prepared in the factory. Poor material preparation meant the paint was inadequately adhered to the metallic 'substrate' consequently allowing the ingress of moisture.
It really is high time these manufacturers came to accept the fact that the basic resources on this planet are limited and will eventually run out. This blasť attitude to mother Earth's resources will eventually bite us all in the backside. And it is no good saying that steel is cheap because the Chinese are overproducing. Steel, along with many other basic materials, will run out very quickly if we carry on like this. It really is high time that common sense prevailed and the manufacturers started to take a more responsible approach making things that could be sensibly serviced and repaired. As an aside, perhaps they'd like to make a start with motorcars!