Sunday, December 10, 2023

The Great Refrigerator Delivery Water Valve Scam

[ "Let Inga Tell You,"  La Jolla Light, published December 11, 2023] 2023

I recently wrote about how much poorer the quality of kitchen appliances has become, the compensation being a lot of useless features that many people (that would be me) don't even want. This column inspired surprising numbers of emails from readers, some volunteering that their washers or dryers actually play annoying little ditties when the load is done. Frankly, I would probably have destroyed the thing with a sledge hammer the first week. I will not be sung to by appliances.

But one topic I didn't get to address in that column was the Great Refrigerator Delivery Water Valve Scam. AARP definitely needs to add this one to their list.

Refrigerator deliveries in my home have, alas, always been fraught with peril. When my first husband and I bought our 1947 home in the 1970s, the kitchen still featured the original ugly Formica-afflicted 1947 kitchen except for the appliances.

It never occurred to us that refrigerators back in 1947 might be smaller than those made in the 1970s. Let me assure you that they were.

The delivery guys managed to wrangle the fridge into our small kitchen only to discover that it wouldn't fit under the cabinet. So they just plugged it in - the cord was barely long enough - and abandoned it in the middle of our kitchen floor. After some pondering, my husband got out a hacksaw and sawed off the bottom of the cheap pine 1947 cabinet just enough so that we could push the refrigerator underneath it.

And that's how it stayed until we remodeled the kitchen in 1999. Desperate to see the end of gray linoleum (the evil twin of gray Formica), we (I was on my second husband by then) had decided to match the red oak floors from the rest of the house into the kitchen. They came out beautifully. Sanded, Urethaned, and gleaming, they were ready for the delivery of our new refrigerator under its custom cabinet designed to make sure we wouldn't have any height problems again. Not making that mistake twice!

What we didn't count on was the appliance delivery guys not having a strong enough dolly, and hence putting a six-foot-long gouge right across our brand-new floors. The floors had to be completely re-sanded and finished.

As I described in my previous column, that refrigerator, the last of the 1999 remodel appliances, crossed the chill-chest rainbow bridge over Labor Day weekend. Refrigerators have gotten bigger and deeper since 1999 and finding something that would fit into our very defined space and be able to make it through our dining area into the kitchen was problematical at best. We measured our little hearts out and knew this was going to be a matter of under an inch for it to make it. I wasn't sure what we were going to do if it didn't.

The appliance guys showed up, did their own measurements, and declared that we had a full half-inch to spare. Whew! Home free!

BUT as the appliance guys go to move the old fridge from the wall, one of them says, "Hmmm, not going to be able to deliver today, folks. The water valve [for the ice maker] is frozen and I can't turn it off.  You re going to have to call a plumber and have them replace it."

And, pfft! They were gone, our new fridge still on the truck. I was beyond annoyed. Did we truly have such terrible refrigerator karma that three out of three deliveries failed?

Our plumber graciously came right over and immediately declared, "This is such a scam. I see it all the time. This valve turns just fine."   He shows me. "They just wanted to go home early."

I tried to see if I could get the delivery guys back since our refrigerator was still on their truck, but they said they had already re-scheduled us for three days - and a different crew, notably not them - later.

The few days was a Friday afternoon definitely prime time for wanting to go home early so I was fully rehearsed and ready to pre-empt any delaying scripts the new crew might have. I explained the previous delivery situation and emphasized, politely but firmly, with just a slight homicidal air, that this refrigerator would be installed today. And it was.

But here s the interesting part. I mentioned this story to a friend who has multiple rental properties and she said that both times she had had refrigerators delivered, she'd gotten the water valve story too. Have to get a plumber, they'd told her. See ya!

Regaling my physical therapy guy with this story a day later, he suddenly stopped and said, "We had a new refrigerator delivered last month and they did that to us too!"

So, this my public service message. If you re getting a refrigerator delivered and it has an ice maker (which, alas, almost all of them do), try turning that valve yourself before the miscreants come. The thought of thwarting the miserable buggers would warm my heart.




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