Our old refrigerator, which was a by-product of my husband's first marriage, leaked and creaked and either froze produce, entire gallons of milk turned to rock, eggs exploded, or it wasn't cold enough. The dials controlling the temperature worked willy-nilly. We could always count on a small lake in front on the floor. So, at some point in my first years of menopause, when it stopped working as a hot flash reliever; I insisted on getting a new one. You might think at my age that I'd had the experience of buying a new kitchen appliance at some point, but I hadn't. We went to Sears, back when everybody trusted them. We were both raised on the Sears Christmas Catalogue, so there was also the nostalgia factor.

The salesman was good; he smelled the opportunity to get rid of a Maytag clunker, which was also on sale. We had the boys with us, who were playing some game that involved a maze of molten lava amidst the washers, dryers and monoliths of refrigerators. After looking at a few others, I said, "Oh, let's just get this one. It's a Maytag." (thinking of their TV commercials, which always showed a man in a uniform, slightly dejected, the implication being Maytag products never need to be repaired). Remember, I was in menopause and could barely think straight. The new refrigerator was delivered in a Sears truck. They installed it and took away the old one for free.

I should have known when they installed the door on the wrong side, then bent one of the adjustable feet, and laughed, that I would have a love/hate relationship with this new appliance. Our crooked kitchen floor, which slants downward south to north, as well as west to east, makes leveling the refrigerator so it closes correctly near impossible. We solved this by placing leftover quarry tiles underneath the front two feet. I should have known when I saw the ice cube trays that came with it, but I didn't. I was blind with happiness.

During the first year, the clear plastic compartment labelled snack drawer which we use for cheese and deli meats, broke numerous ways. Under warranty, we were mailed the wrong replacement parts three times. There is no cheerful, chubby Maytag repairman. My husband, in retirement by then, jury-rigged the drawer using cord and a metal spring. When the refrigerator's warranty expired, the thermostat went haywire. Sears would take no responsibility because we hadn't purchased the extended protection plan. Maytag suggested we contact a local repair man who was "certified" to work on Maytag products.

I made an appointment and the guy came. First words out of his mouth were,"Oh, no...not a Maytag." He then proceeded to tell me not only everything that he thought was wrong with my refrigerator, but also everything that was going wrong in his life. He ordered a new thermostat, came back a week later and it wasn't the correct part, after I had already paid him over two hundred dollars. Meanwhile I had food freezing or going bad. I called his boss and requested a different repairman and the correct thermostat replacement. He said he'd have to charge me an additional service call fee, which I explained didn't seem fair. I got a bit angry over the phone and asked for my money back or I'd report them to the Better Business Bureau.

Then I called a local father and son repair team, who not only installed the correct thermostat, charged me half the price, then taught me how to keep the coils in the back clean and unclog the drainage tube myself. Handy dandy, happy ending. Plus a check from the first repair company came in the mail, along with a note saying they hoped I would use them again in the future. Fat chance.

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