Boy, that rice cooker looked good when you saw it on the shopping channel at 3 in the morning, didn't it? Just dump in your rice and water and go about your business. With a gadget like that, you'll be the star of every meal. This will really simplify your life. Way to go, champ.
Alas, now it's three weeks later and there aren't enough exclamation points in the world to express your rage. (Read on for actual rice-cooker rage.)
When a good appliance goes bad, tempers rise like yeast in a $99 bread maker. You feel betrayed. You feel cheated. That pretty lady on TV swore that robotic vacuum cleaner would be the solution to your grimy woes but instead, your carpets are filthier than ever and you haven't seen the family cat in a week.
And then there's general appliance delirium (GAD), that affliction that makes you HAVE TO HAVE the newest countertop cooking gadget — think George Foreman grill or that panini maker purchase, sucker — only to realize you haven't touched it in the seven years since you took it out of the box. You did take it out of the box?
If you want to see evidence of the dismal failure of some household appliances — or the failure of buyers to ever use that thing — there are several places you can look. Check out the local landfill, for starters, where you will find mounds as tall as mountains, heaped high with appliances of all varieties. Some of them still sparkle. They look brand new!
Take a gander at Craigslist, on which appliances are their own category. Here's a kitchen slicer and shredder attachment for just 40 beans. It slices, it dices, it shreds and it chops. And the thing either sat on a counter unnoticed for decades or whipped somebody into a fit of frustration so intense, they are parting with it for a third of what they paid for it.
"Like-new" refrigerators for just $25. Washers, dryers, blenders and toasters. Gizmos and doohickeys that some amphetamine gobbling pitchman swore would shave hours off your chore time. Instead, you're selling the thing for a few dollars, because if you can't share the embarrassment or agony, what else are you going to do with it?
Or you could just visit Kim Craig's Auburn garage and behold Bad Appliance Hell. Shelf upon shelf of household gadgets that didn't live up to their promises or, like the Island of Misfit Toys, were never appreciated. Popcorn poppers, espresso makers and blenders, some like new and still in the box! There's a foot bath in there, a couple crockpots and what looks like a Flowbee, the only do-it-yourself hair-cutting contraption you'll ever need!
Craig tells us they are not hers. She's housing them for someone else. Which is what we'd say, too, if we had that many dud gadgets kicking around.
She'll explain later.
When we asked for your thoughts on appliances, the response was loud and clear. Mostly loud. Everybody has fallen victim to the lofty claims and whirring promises of a gadget now and then. Even if you haven't, chances are good you've had a run-in with an ordinary appliance that simply refused to do its job or lost your interest before you ever used it. And with that in mind, here is a little company for your misery.
Victoria Fimiani, Hanover: Beating on the Viking
"I have really bad luck with appliances. Have bought all top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances that seem to (break down) in a year or less. Four refrigerators, two dishwashers, a flat screen TV and a stove. The only appliances that seem to be free from problems are the ones I've gotten out of the dump or on the curb for my camp – and they tend to be 20 or so years old! Very frustrating. Please see attached photo of my son and a friend taking it out on the Viking dishwasher. I will be attempting to use the Maine Implied Consumer Warranty again. I was successful in using it for the wide screen TV."
Sharon Cox, Lewiston: Grrrr TV
"In 2009 I bought a DLP TV. I spent $2,000 I wish I had never spent. When I bought the TV, the guy says to me: 'You won't have to replace this bulb for seven years.' Huh! Every year-and-a-half to the day, no matter how much I use the TV, I have to replace this bulb. It is just a light bulb like we use in our houses, for a big fat price tag of $180. I am really starting to hate this TV – grrrr!"
Jimmy Jolin, a Mainer living in Winston-Salem, N.C.: Touchy stove
"Bought a slide-in range, . . . It had a front-mounted electronic control panel. The button sensors would activate if a shirt brushed against them. The control panel blew out within a month due to multiple buttons being engaged at the same time. Thank goodness I had the insurance on it and was able to have it replaced with a simpler model."
Greg Barker, Lewiston: Sticky situation
"We bought this freaking rice cooker. You follow the directions that came with it and it spews this stuff out all over the counter. It promised all this nice fluffy rice and gave us a glop of maggots.
"It's a countertop model. I can't remember the brand name, but after you put in the rice and water, you're supposed to be able to 'set it and forget it.' What we found out is if you don't put a quarter stick of butter in with it, the rice boils over and this slimy watery stuff leaks out over the top, runs down the sides, all over the counter, and it looks like (something that rice and water shouldn't look like.) Or that foam you see on the muzzle of a slobbering dog. I am definitely glad to get that crappy appliance off the counter and into the Goodwill. I couldn't think of anyone I disliked enough to give it to."
Anissa Roberts, Newport: Toasted
"Before I bought a toaster oven I had three standard two-slice toasters commit suicide within one week of each other. Bread goes in, button goes down, wisp of smoke and *poof* dead toaster with bread that smells of electrical smoke."
Melanie R. Janisch Reardon, Nashua, N.H.: Get what you pay for
"I've had two bum dishwashers, which makes me think it's the house (the connection) not the dishwashers themselves. Each only lasted two or three years and it was the way the water drained that destroyed them.
"I've bought cheap blenders and hand mixers . . . and always regretted it. Yes, it was only $20, but it should last for more than two batches of cupcakes."
Kim Craig, Auburn: Early graves
"I have a garage that is now the appliance cemetery. None of which I bought myself, thankfully. Two ice cream makers (one set it and forget it), two waffle makers, panini maker, coffee makers, sausage maker, dehydrator, pasta maker, beef jerky maker. Worst one: s'more maker. Who does that? My mom has a (TV shopping) problem! All free for the taking!"
Brenda Carlson, Charlton, Mass.: Grilled
"A George Foreman grill. What a PITA. Way too inconvenient to use and clean."
Lori Hallett LaBelle, Auburn: Silver lining
"A battery operated 'sonic' jewelry cleaner. Huh! Cheapest POS I ever bought; the old 'you get what you pay for' applied big time. However, it makes a nifty holder for my .22 bullets!"
Catherine Lavallee, Winslow: Big fridge envy
"I bought a fridge exactly one year before getting pregnant with twins and then had another (baby) less than two years later. When I bought the fridge it was PERFECT for two people. Now that we have a family of five, it is just plain inadequate but too new to justify getting rid of. I was thinking of getting on Craigslist and looking for some empty-nesters who suffer from a too big fridge and want to trade."
Felix Graziano, Bowdoin: Hearing loss
"Every pair of headphones I buy seem to die within a month."
John Snyder: Slice and dice
"Remember those so-called 'safety sharpeners' for knives? I can show you some scars."
Lillian Bennett, Auburn: Mum's the word
"I refuse to talk about the old toaster I gave away to invest in a swanky maroon-colored one with wider slots that burns everything if I don't keep popping it up to check how dry or how burned the toast is."
Sally Townsend Theriault, Rumford: Dire straits
"I had a dishwasher that was installed incorrectly and almost burned up the first time it was turned on. The company that installed it tried to blame it on the company that we bought it from, when it was obviously the way it was installed. Needless to say, they bought me another new dishwasher and installed it correctly with me watching them like a hawk!"
Meredith Kendall, Lewiston: Unfiltered
"I lament the passing of the vacuum bag. Pull it out, drop it into the trash: so easy, so clean. Now I have to pull the thing apart to dump the dust and grossness. Why?"
"The warranty worked well for me," says Victoria Fiminani, of Hanover. "I purchased a TV from WalMart and it stopped working after about a year. The manufacturer went out of business (it was a Polaroid TV), WalMart honored the warranty because I saved all correspondence with Polaroid, receipts, etc.
"They gave me a store credit for the price paid for the TV," Fimiani says, "which allowed me to purchase an even better TV as prices had dropped on flatscreens in the year and a half from the initial purchase. An important detail in the warranty is that you must have purchased the item in Maine – a good reason to buy electronics and appliances locally."
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