Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It happened again (disposable society)

It happened again today.
For the umpteenth time I hauled what should have been a slightly used, perfectly good product to the curb for a) someone to pick up or b) the garbageman to dispose.
This time it was a Bissell Pro Heat carpet cleaner. If you are in the area and want to pay someone to fix it, by all means, load it up, come to the door and I'll give your the owner's manual.
We bought the thing about and year and a half ago. Correction - we bought the second one a year and a half ago.
We bought the first unit at Wal-Mart, took it home, and a part broke before we could finish cleaning the carpets in our little two-bedroom house.
So, I repacked everything and hauled it back to Wal-Mart where they cheerfully exchanged it for a new one.
About two weeks ago, we wanted to clean the carpets before a birthday party. We have a dog and a cat and -- well, that's why we thought we needed a carpet cleaner.
It wouldn't squirt. It squirted out the upholstery brush, but not out the bottom of the unit onto the carpet as you would want a carpet cleaner to do.
We did what the manual said. My son, our family's mechanical genius -- I mean that -- came on July 3 and partially disassembled it before announcing we need a new pump. He promised to come back and re-assemble it after I ordered the part.
OK.
So, right after the 4th of July, I called Bissell and spoke to someone who obviously resides in New Delhi or elsewhere overseas.
She could not understand my Hoosier English and I couldn't understand her whatever it was she was speaking.
I told her I needed a pump.
"What pump?" she asked.
"The pump that squirts liquid on the floor," I insisted.
"There is no pump," she insisted.
Then she tried another tactic.
"Put liquid in the tanks and I will help you diagnose the problem," she said.
"I know what the problem is -- it won't squirt liquid on the floor!" I said. "Besides the machine is in parts on the floor."
"Put it back together and call me again. Goodbye. Is there anything else I can do for you today?"
Well, I got it back together with only four screws left over.
I called back today.
I did what the lady told me -- this one spoke English.
She said, "I can give you the telephone number and location of your nearest authorized service center."
Here is the kicker.
When I called the Chosen One, he politely told me it probably only needed to be cleaned and the cost would be $30.
BUT, I had to drive to either Lafayette, Shelbyville, Greenwood or Indianapolis from our home in Brazil, Ind.
So, for the cost of buying a new model exactly like the one I tried to fix, I could haul it to the repair center! Lucky consumer me!
Magical Me!
Getting rational: We probably spent as much on the unit as we would have spent to rent a cleaner twice (about the use we got out of it) or have a commercial cleaner clean three rooms once.
It's just irritating that they make things as cheaply as possible to lure people into buying them insitead of making a quality item (to paraphrase Cousin Eddie in "Christmas Vacation") and selling it at a reasonable profit.
Lou Dobbs is right -- there is no longer a middle class and people are really getting fed up as the rich get richer at the expense of workers.
And I don't think raising the minimum wage alone will change things.