Friday, June 11, 2010

Oh Dad Poor Dad Mom's Gone and the Dryer's Dead

My new rental house did not come with a washer and dryer.

Since it does have a fridge, I decided this lack could be overcome and that I would be able to find an inexpensive pair with relative ease. I am a Shopping Goddess, right?

The most recent Craigslist Murder made me leery of trying that source, so I decided to price new equipment first, so I could make a smart decision. My girlfriend Jancey , who has lived in Paso for five years and whispers in my ear whenever I have need, sent me to Idler’s Outlet Store (9330 Camino Real, Atascadero, 805/466-6020).

Invariably, a small store is only as good as the help …and I got a dud. Let’s call him Steve. We’ll call all the salesmen I worked with Steve to be non-discriminatory; or Stephanie.

I explained to Steve at Idler’s Outlet Store what I wanted – low-cost pair; dinged or scratched was OK. He took me to a damaged goods side of the store and showed off a variety on non-matching pieces – each part of the set costing around $400 without tax, delivery or installation.

On my own browse, I found a brand new and matching set, branded Estate and made by Whirlpool, for $339 an item. Steve said he didn’t know I wanted an un-damaged set.

Next stop: Big Kmart (3980 El Camino Real, Atascadero; 805/466-7700) a whole new world! The Steve there could not have been more friendly, more helpful, more willing to help me and welcome me to town. He had the same new set for $339, delivery and installation would be an extra flat fee of $65, meaning that if I also wanted that freezer unit over yonder, there was no additional delivery charge. (The freezer looked mighty fine.)

Steve #2 gave me his phone; explained to me that if any one item cost $399 or more I could earn free delivery and suggested I call him as needed.

I called the next morning, because I was so pleased with this Steve and his attitude (and the freezer) that I decided a new set of machinery was a great idea. Steve was out and the store manager would not take a telephone order.

Rather than jump in the car and drive to Atascadero, I decided on more local research right here in Paso Robles, my new hometown. Three different sets of strangers told me to try Dutch Maytag (1501 Riverside, 805/239-4552; Their ad in Paso Robles Magazine had the same set I had been considering, but at lower prices. I called to order them on the phone, chatted with a very nice lady who explained that she needed to call me back. When she did not do so, I called her because she was so friendly. She explained that she had tried to call me but must have taken down my number wrong; she was ready with the total price including tax, delivery and installation and it was not pretty in my sight—almost $800. There was a $45 delivery fee on each of the two pieces, washer and dryer. We did not discuss freezers.

At Sears Hometown Store (944 Spring Street; 805/239-1255;, the Stephanie there was helpful, explaining that while her prices were the same as everyone else’s, if I could wait a week and get a Sears Card, I could buy the pair for $699 plus $65 for delivery and installation.

For a little comparison shopping, I looked at eBay and Craigslist. And that’s where I found it. If I did not get murdered along the way, Craigslist was functioning the very way it was created -- to form a community. The washer and dryer for sale were already second hand and the seller wanted what he paid for them, even though he had owned them for a year and a half (what has its full value after a year and a half?) BUT he was willing to deliver and install and throw in some of the hoses.

The plot got murky when we discovered that his dryer had a three prong plug and my house has a four prong outlet. An Internet search revealed that the code was changed ten years ago but that a re-wiring job was legal and parts could be found at any major home or appliance store. Lowe’s said yup, c’mon on down…and so I paid the $300 cash and waved adieu to the stranger with the beard and his Toyota pickup truck.

My son had come to visit with his laundry, so we needed the washer and dryer. Otherwise I might have waited until the end of June when I understand people in Paso put out old furniture, washers and dryers on their curb for disposal or neighborly sharing. Meanwhile, Aaron was motivated and capable and literally took apart the 'new' dryer and rebuilt it with the proper electrical outlets. It was Frankenstein's Monster and we couldn't have been prouder.

The dryer was used about six times in the last three weeks. Now it's dead. Aaron has tried to bring it back from the dead but says he thinks it's the motor. I must now decide if I will call a repairman or simply buy a brand new machine, as I probably should have in the very beginning.

Of course, it's only two weeks now until the Paso Robles Disposal Day, so maybe I can trawl around looking for someone else's castoff. On the other hand, if its true that you get what you pay for, the Craigslist seller got the deal and I got what we all know can happen to us in these situations.

Next time, I buy new.

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