Adventures in Technology, Part Two

I had a microwave. It weighed something near unto 50 pounds, and it cost me something on the order of $400 when I bought it 18 years ago. (The number of numbers in the previous sentence begins to make this look like a word problem — answer: 44 cents per pound per year!) This microwave was a workhorse, by any standards; never a day’s trouble, still plugging along in its golden years. But it had two significant drawbacks:

1. No turntable. What this meant was that I had to employ the decidedly twentieth-century technology of STOPPING the microwave, OPENING it, and manually TURNING the item being heated in order to achieve anything like a uniform warmness.

2. A mere 600 watts. The implications here are substantive: the average bag of popcorn took 4:30 to pop, rather than the 2:15 of your contemporary microwave.

I’d been thinking for some time about a little update, particularly now that the stores are practically paying their customers to carry microwaves away, but hadn’t ever actually moved on this idea. Then my mother came to visit, and we jointly decided that the time had come. A brief journey to a local shopping establishment ensued, and a shiny new microwave (in Medium Size!) was procured.

Brought said microwave home. Placed on counter top. Followed set-up instructions.

Heated water for tea.

Popped popcorn.

Heated water for tea.

Reheated leftovers. (Rejoiced in the speed of reheating and the uniformity of temperature.)

Heated water for tea.

Noticed odd scorch marks on interior facing panel of microwave, as well as what appeared to be a melted spot on the corresponding part of the oven door.

Unplugged microwave. Called customer support. Was told “no, ma’am, that is in fact not right.” Was further told microwave was now unsafe for use. Was told that I would receive an e-mail message with instructions for return of microwave to manufacturer.

Waited.

Called customer support. Was asked to verify the model and serial numbers of microwave. Was told that I would receive a letter with instructions for return of microwave to manufacturer. Was told, upon further inquiry, that the process of return and replacement should take around two weeks.

Waited.

Received letter ten days later. Letter includes the following reassurances and instructions:

We can assure you that the paint peeling, from the inside cavity of your oven, is an isolated incident and is not inherent with this or any other microwave oven we manufacture. In every effort to resolve this matter fairly as possible for all parties involved, we are prepared to replace your microwave with a new one of equal value.

Please package the unit in any cardboard box that will accommodate the size and weight. Insert packing material to prevent shipping damage. Ship it to the address below (pre-paid by you), including the RA# on the outside of the carton for proper routing.

[address deleted]

Upon receipt of the parcel, we will send a new microwave of equal value (determined by current inventory) to your address. This replacement microwave picks up the balance of the original warranty or 90-days, whichever comes first. This offer expires in two months. [emphasis in original]

Weighed dollar value of microwave against cross-country shipping costs, as well as possibility of receiving randomly selected and possibly “re-conditioned” microwave with vastly reduced warranty.

Packed up microwave and returned it to local shopping establishment, where it was happily exchanged for an identical microwave.

Have thus far heated water for tea. Will keep you posted.

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