The Fridge Fiasco

The description from the realtor said our house was furnished. That worked out very nicely for us, since our Japan furniture and appliances wouldn’t have worked here anyway. We lived on the floor in tiny rooms where we were perfectly comfortable, but a low table with legless chairs and a futon would not have worked here at all.

The house had chairs and tables, beds and sofas. (We’d never had a sofa before, or a bed for that matter!) I think the place may have played AirBnb for a while because the kitchen had a fridge, electric kettle, a microwave and basic utensils. There were towels, both terry and paper, even some laundry soap and half a roll of toilet paper. We were ready to party.

The problem, though, with taking over someone else’s life, is that it doesn’t feel like your own. Even now, I find myself in the garden thinking I’d better get permission before I toss the creepy asparagus-looking plant. It takes me a while to remember that it’s MY creepy asparagus-looking plant and I can rip it to shreds if I want to. Having always been a tenant, it’s hard to get my head around that idea. I’m still torn between frugal me who thinks the stuff here is fine if not very interesting and interesting me who thinks it’s our house and we can do as we please.

Gradually, we’ve started replacing things. First to go were the jiggly single beds in the master bedroom. We are now the proud owners of a king sized bed with space for us all, including the cats. This was never an issue in Tokyo since we slept on the floor. When the cats pushed us out of the futon, we just rolled onto the tatami.

We also had issues with the fridge. It seems that whoever outfitted this house was smitten with Sears because all the appliances are Kenmore. Which is fine. I have no strong feelings about appliance brands.

The Kenmore side by side in the kitchen worked just fine but we didn’t like it. For one thing, I’ve always hated door front ice dispensers, and this one likes to fire ice either over your shoulder or right into your eye. Also, not only does the narrow design make it impossible to put a casserole dish in the fridge–and this is a sin against all things holy–the freezer is too narrow for a pizza box.

So we decided we wanted a French door fridge with a bottom freezer.

We went to Home Depot, picked out the one we wanted, a handsome Samsung with French doors and an internal ice maker, and were informed that it would take between four and ten weeks to arrive. Fair enough.

It did arrive, about six weeks later, along with three burly fellas who wrestled it into the kitchen and the old one into the garage. The fella who appeared to be in charge told us to hang onto the Kenmore. “They don’t make them like that anymore. You’ll be lucky to get five years’ use out of the new one.”

Batter up.

As I was putting our old jars of pickles and mayonnaise into the shiny, new fridge, I noticed that the ‘insulation’ in its shiny, new walls was Styrofoam.

Strike one.

We were pleased with the internal ice maker, glad that we wouldn’t have to put on goggles to get ice anymore, but it didn’t take long for it to assert itself. The ice tray emptied itself into the ice bin. And then it emptied itself again…and again…and again. The lever that was meant to tell it when to stop had gone walk-about, never to be heard from again. So the ice maker just kept making ice and making ice and making ice until the unit filled up and jammed itself.

Strike two.

Soon, ice and then snow (yes snow! in Hawaii!) started to accumulate inside the freezer, the ‘self defrosting freezer’. Soon we discovered that its interpretation of ‘self defrosting’ was to turn itself off and let all the ice and everything else inside melt, leaving behind a small lake and some rather sorry looking blueberries.

Strike three. You’re out.

I contacted Samsung and booked an appointment for repairs. The day came and went. Nothing happened. Then Samsung called and told me to call the repair person directly. I did, and left a message on an answering machine. Days went by. Nothing happened. Samsung called again. I told them about all the nothing that was happening. They offered a refund. I didn’t argue. It took a few more phone calls and several emails but in the end they did refund the cost of the unit.

Just for giggles, we dropped into Sears to see what they might have to say. Sam (not his real name) the Consultative Sales Associate we spoke with, said Kenmore doesn’t make the size we need anymore but he could order a Samsung for us.

“No thanks!” says I. “We have a Samsung now and it’s a hunk of junk.”

Sam shrugged and said, “I work on commission so I shouldn’t tell you this, but they’re all hunks of junk. The insides are all made in the same place. You pay for the brand name on the outside but inside they’re all the same junk. On top of that, they’re all computer controlled–you can’t get one that isn’t–and it’s too humid here for computers. Compound that with salty sea air and volcano dust and they conk out within a couple of years, if you’re lucky to have one last that long.”

To be fair, the fridge works fine despite the Styrofoam and is what we wanted. We just have to make sure the ice bin doesn’t get full. And we keep a small cadre of rags and mops handy. The image of dancing brooms from Fantasia makes it all seems fairly normal. And in the end, we got a new fridge for free, sort of.

So we’ve made peace with our hunk of junk Samsung. Lesson learned? Take the money and run.