Sometimes I think JP has it right when he buys from the first shop that has the goods he wants. I also purchase things from ‘the first shop’ but often only after I’ve been in several others too – just in case they had something better, cheaper, or in other colours. Is that something that women do more than men?
Early this morning I was ‘net surfing for a spice rack, and at the first shop I found a wooden rack that was generous in size but looked a bit flimsy. The second shop stocked a rack that was different in design but was cheaper and they sold both metal and wooden racks. A third shop had a choice of sizes. Which to choose? and why do I need one? Well, …
Last week both our fridge/freezer and small chest freezer were replaced with an undercounter fridge and a tall freezer. Our inherited kitchen was built with slightly lower than average worktops under which no standard white goods will fit, so a fridge with a removable top was the main consideration in the selection process. Having been assured by the salesman (in the store with the same name as a Indian meal) that the fridge we had chosen had an easily removable top, we congratulated ourselves on how easy it had been to choose both articles. At the paypoint, the same assistant told us that although the fridge was indeed available in white as shown on the display card, they didn’t actually have one and couldn’t get one either. Why was the white option still advertised then, we asked? He mumbled something along the lines of ‘I only work here.’. So, back again to the display area where we chose another fridge, this time available in white and with a removable top.
The freezer we wanted was hinged on the left but ‘reversible door‘ was listed along with energy rating, cubic capacity etc., so we assumed that we could specify that we wanted one with a right-hinged door. Well, yes, we could, but there was a charge for reversing the hinges. If however, it was delivered with the hinges already on the right side, the fee would be refunded. I got the feeling that I was supposed to be grateful for either possibility.
The salesman then proceded to inform us that some fridges broke down after only a couple of weeks and because the manufacturer’s warranty wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, the store’s own extended warranty and added insurance plan would ensure immediate replacement should anything go wrong, with peace of mind thrown in as an extra. When JP mentioned that our existing (second-hand) fridge/freezer was still fully functional after at least seven years constant use, the assistant almost snorted with disbelief and when I thought I saw JP’s nostrils begin to flare, I knew it was time to politely cut the sales pitch short, complete the transaction and leave. We did not buy the store’s insurance or extended warranty and JP’s remarks as we exited the store on the target-based sales practices of large commercial enterprises will not be repeated here but they’re of the same high standard as the public vilification of bankers’ bonuses. ‘Nuff said?
The new goods were delivered the following week. The friendly delivery men removed the old fridge/freezer and said they’d be back after ten minutes or so, choosing to reverse the freezer door hinges in the van where there was more space than in our kitchen. I was beginning to think they’d done a runner but they reappeared fifty minutes later and slotted the freezer into place. The packaging around the fridge was then removed and the fridge left in the middle of the kitchen floor for us to remove the top. Less than five minutes later I was muttering and cursing to myself after finding that the top was necessary to hold the upper hinge pin and hence the door, in place. There was more muttering and cursing from JP on his return from golf, along with us both wondering if time was actually spend rehanging the freezer door or if the men had just had a skive…..? We’ll never know, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt since they don’t get any share of the rehanging fee.
Next day we returned to the store to explain our dilemma and look for another top-removable-fridge. A senior sales assistant told us that to his knowledge, no fridge top was removable and he could not understand why we had been told otherwise by the salesman who was ‘one of our longest serving sales personnel‘. I wanted to tell him that long service did not necessarily equal high levels of job skills and product knowledge but I didn’t. Instead we went to the customer care counter where we arranged for the fridge to be returned to the store.
We now had very few options left: 1) buy a small integral fridge and hope to source a front to match the other kitchen units, 2) buy a mini-sized model or 3), raise the work surface, but since the kitchen is U-shaped, all the work surfaces would need to be raised, leaving a gap between the surface and the base units. Sod’s law dictated that we had also only recently disposed of the tops of the other white goods, after keeping them for seven years! (Just in case we moved again. You know.)
I slept on it all.
As I edged my way around the great white obstacle to spread the now liquid butter on my pitta bread the next morning, I had a radical idea – what if we knocked out the double base unit between the pantry wall and the oven housing? What was stored there could easily fit in the pantry now that the chest freezer was gone. Hmmm. Once JP had had his breakfast cuppa and was sufficiently compos mentis, I outlined my idea and left him to ponder it. Before I could say ‘the alternative might mean a new kitchen’, he’d gotten the toolbox out and begun dismantling the unit. I took this to mean that he agreed to the idea. Too late now for second thoughts, I phoned the store and cancelled the fridge collection, apologising for messing them about. The assistant thanked me for calling early and said the collection crew would be informed. Later, while JP was applying plasters to the newly-formed blisters on his hand, the phone rang. Guess who? The collection crew, asking for directions to our home. They had not been informed after all…
Under the old unit we discovered a spaghetti-like arrangement of electricity cables, so the base of the unit was slotted back into place as a plinth for the fridge to sit on. I sighed with relief that we hadn’t already shortened the kickboard which runs the length of the kitchen. Our new fridge now sits a tad higher than others of its ilk but because it’s isolated from the rest of the work surfaces it doesn’t look odd (or so I tell myself) and the waste bins are now off the kitchen floor, making the whole room seem wider. The wall behind the fridge needs painting but I’m in no hurry. The old fixed shelves in the pantry have been replaced with five adjustable ones of varying depth. The library card-index wooden drawer unit (remember those?) which housed our herbs and spices is now also in the pantry but is more awkward to use, hence my search this morning for a spice rack. I’m still looking, but I think I’ve narrowed the choice down to two, both of which are large and would need to hang on the back of the pantry door. That would mean finding a new home for the broom and dustpan, and the bag that holds the plastic bags, and the duster thingys with handles, and the fly-swats, and the bag that holds the takeaway menus and …. but I’ll worry about all that when a spice rack has been decided upon, ordered, delivered and hung.