Thursday, March 24, 2011

A case study in the Internet

Our fridge broke.  This is the first real appliance problem we have had in our married life.  I did what my parents would have done, and what generations of folks have done... I called the Kenmore repair man on the phone.   I got all the way through the menus to the point where they were ready to schedule a visit.  The cost, $109.  Understanding cost of business, I thought this was reasonable, but I was still too cheap to actually agree to it.  I hung up, frustrated. 

I decided to go shopping at sears for refrigerators.  Veronica was out of town, and not answering her cell phone, so I convinced myself to buy a new refrigerator without her.  Not the best idea I have ever had, but I was frustrated, and annoyed.  I got dressed, coat on, ready to walk out the door when I had a moment of clarity...

The Internet.  

The answer to everything is on the Internet.  Coat on, keys ready, I sat down long enough to google "Refrigerator not cooling".  The first link was to this site.  Genius!

I followed the instructions for the various things that could be wrong.  None of the first few made sense, until I got to the Start Relay section.  I was hearing a clicking every now and then, just like the guy describes.  I had found my answer.  

I pulled out the fridge

 Opened the back,
 and found the relay that looked exactly like his picture.
I pulled it out in all of 10 minutes, shook it like he said to, and knew I had found the problem!

"What in the world did people do before the Internet," I thought to myself.  Now I knew the problem, and I needed a part.  So I did what all intelligent people who had just been saved by the internet from making a large financial mistake would do...   I drove to sears, part in hand.

I walked up to the 4 old men in the appliance section of Sears and proudly proclaimed, "I need one of these."

"what is that?"  was the reply.

"A Condenser start relay for a Kenmore elite refrigerator," I replied with the confidence of a 40 year veteran repair man.

"How old is your fridge?" the man asked, and I though to myself, now we are getting somewhere.

"7, 8 years old."

"We have 23 models of refrigerators on the floor, and they change each year.  Each one has hundreds of parts in them.   Do you really think we stock parts for all those fridges?"

Ouch.  He handed me a sears card with the service number on it.  Ironically, it was the same number I had called originally to schedule the repair man.  I pushed the issue though.  I said, the guys who drive around in the trucks, they must get parts from somewhere, where can I go to get those?  He told me they used the number as well.

I left defeated. I walked out into the main mall to drown my sorrow in a large Sbarro soda when it hit me.

The Internet.

I opened my phone and searched for "refrigerator parts waterbury ct."  Once again, the first link led me to the site of a local appliance parts store.  I called him and he was kind enough to stay open an extra 10 minutes so I could get there and buy the part for $60.  I got home, installed the part, and watched as our fridge came back to life.

Twice I almost ignored the Internet.  Twice the Internet had exactly the right solution.  Here is the Fridge, in all its glory back to good working order.

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