Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

GE: Where Customer Is King

Necessity is the mother of invention, as well as rolling up your sleeves and doing a project yourself.

It wasn't all that long ago that I didn't attempt any home repair involving a tool more complex than a hammer. In fact, beyond a hammer and a couple of screwdrivers, I had no tools.

I always had friends who, for a couple of beers, were more than willing to show up to fix this, that or the other thing. I would hold the flashlight (I did have one of those.), hand off tools as requested and open beers.

My baptism of fire came when I purchased my house in Boynton Beach in 2001. The little niggling repairs came fast and furious on that older home.

My friends could no longer consume as much beer as all those tasks required.

Gradually I learned how to do things -- mostly by trial and error.

I wouldn't say that I have become proficient at DIY, but a typical home-repair chore only requires two or three trips to Lowe's instead of the half dozen or more I averaged in the early going.

I now take on projects I would have never dreamed of a decade ago.

My current fixer-upper project involves my GE refrigerator. A P.O.S. from the bowels of hell.

Apparently GE has a policy of making a product, selling the product and then feeling no real responsibility to make replacement parts that actually fit.

With every new model, owners of older GE models find themselves faced with the challenge of jerry-rigging the parts for the current model to fit their older appliance. Maybe not; maybe it's just my model refrigerator, but I doubt it.

I went through this with the ice maker shortly after buying my Greenville house. The ice maker was damaged, so I got online and ordered a new one. I got exactly the ice maker for my model fridge. It arrived, and it not only wasn't the same ice maker currently on the fridge, it attached to the back of the freezer compartment rather than the side. I would have had to drill new holes and run a new water line.

Complaining to the Web site where I bought it, I was told that indeed that was the replacement ice maker, which I verified through GE. I boxed it back up and returned it -- out about $20 for shipping.

Today I buy a bag of ice and dump it in the ice cube bin. Better living through GE.

My problem now is with the heating element that keeps the freezer frost free. It crapped out on me about a month ago. I have been defrosting the freezer about every 10 days ever since.

What happens when the heating element quits working is, frost and ice develops on the cooling coils and eventually the freezer stops freezing and the refrigerator compartment ceases cooling.

When this happened, I got on line and started trouble shooting. After determining the problem, I removed the inside back panel from the freezer, pulled the heating element and verified it was the culprit.

Today I got around to trying to order the replacement part and guess what? Yep, the replacement part is totally different from the heating element that went bad. What are the odds?

They're not just less than similar; they aren't remotely alike!

I guess GE is so busy assembling wind turbines and energy-saving poison light bulbs in China, it just doesn't have the wherewithal to take care of its little-fish appliance customers.

After three or four back-and-forth e-mail messages with the parts Web site regarding adaptability and so forth, I ordered the part. They assured me it would be no problem to install.

Where's that hammer?

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