Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Buying Appliances, or the Saga of the Loaner Fridge

Our new home did not come with the major appliances of Fridge, Washer, nor Dryer. These are essentials. We didn't even officially own the house, but we had a closing date and we were trying to be efficient and think ahead and budget accordingly. Plus we figured that it was the 4th of July weekend, and the stores all have giant sales at that time, so we should try to save some money and get it on sale. Good plan, right?

Now, I have never bought a fridge before. Our last fridge was a hand-me-down we got from my sister, after she moved in with a boyfriend who already had a fridge. It originally came from my parents, who bought her a used fridge from one of those major stores that deal in refurbished appliances. And anyway we left that fridge in California - my dad took it when he cleaned out our California house before the sale went through. I understand it lives in their garage now.

The fancy washer and dryer dryer I loved in California also did not make the trip - I couldn't imagine storing them indefinitely so we sold to my parents, who were going to put their older and less-fancy non-matched pair in our California house and the house would sell with the washer and dryer. I understand that swap never quite happened and my parents also have an extra washer and dryer in their garage.

We determined we would buy a new washer of the same style, but the dryer we would go downgrade one level from the model we previously bought. Downgrading dropped the price about $300, and the dryer was actually larger, plus we never would have used the extra drying cycles the other one had.

All right, washer and dryer were settled. So splorp! and I embarked on a fridge buying adventure ... How exactly do you go about shopping for a fridge?

We tried a bunch of different things. We signed up for a free trial offer of Consumer Reports and read a bunch of reviews. We went to several stores and stood in front of various fridges, and talked about what we liked and didn't like about them.

Our new house had a stainless steel dishwasher, and the stove had stainless and black. So at first we looked into matching that. And choked on the prices everywhere we looked.

Seriously, what is it about fridges that makes them so freaking expensive?

We eliminated the fancy designer (stainless) finishes, and that knocked a couple of hundred dollars off the top. Then we decided to go with black, since that would mostly match the existing appliances.

Then we weren't sure exactly how big was the fridge opening in the cabinets. So we pondered that.

It came down to a couple of things:

1) We were not putting a second fridge in the garage. There were only 2 of us, and we couldn't justify plugging in an extra fridge that we would use for ... what, exactly? Storing sodas? We don't have parties that we would need the extra space.

2) We did not want the in-door water and ice dispensers. All the research we did said those were the most likely items to be malfunction.

3) We did not want a side-by-side model. Our parents both had those models, and everyone disliked the fact that the horizontal space was very limited, and it was difficult to put large platters or pots in the fridge.

4) splorp! did not like the bottom freezer design. He's 6'2". Bending over to see what's in the freezer or get ice is a pain when you do it over and over (this also eliminated the french-door style fridges where the fridge is on the top).

So, standard freezer-over-fridge style it was! And in black (unless there was a great deal on stainless - which there wasn't).

We browsed around on the internet to see what kind of appliance deals we could get with the holiday weekend. After a lot of surfing and sending links to fridges back and forth, we found one nifty model that was a traditional style fridge, but it also had a water dispenser inside the fridge. You just push a button.

Now, the water here in Austin tastes terrible to me. But I had given up on getting a water dispenser when we eliminated the in-door dispensers because the break so often. But a dispenser inside the fridge seemed like it was less likely to have moving parts to break, so I was pretty excited.

Hmmm. Not a lot of reviews for this fridge. It seems to be pretty new - like brand new this year. But the brand was good, so we printed out the best prices and went to see if we could check it out in person.

We flagged down a very helpful lady who took our print-out and checked for us. Turns out they had no floor models of the version we wanted to see. Urk. What to do?

The big box home improvement store we were at offered free delivery on all our appliances, plus the barbecue splorp! wanted to buy. Plus they matched the price on the print-out we had - their in store price was abut $200 more than their own online price. They checked inventory, and there were none of the fridges in stock currently, but the projected delivery date said it was no problem to deliver in 2 weeks after we closed on the house. And they can deliver on a Sunday.

Great! We say. Fantastic. We hand over a credit card, and call it a day.

We close on the house - no problems. Delivery day comes (it's a Sunday). We get get a call that they can come right now to deliver the washer and dryer. What about the fridge? and the grill? Uh, they'll check on that and be right there. But the fridge is not on the truck. They have our order - but it shows the fridge is on backorder. And being a Sunday, the store employees who are working to find our fridge cannot get anyone on the phone. So begins a multi-day saga of where is our fridge?

The next day, Monday, I am at work and get a call from the store. There is a backorder on the fridge (this much we knew) and their supplier never bothered to call them and tell them. Which is why no one knew about the backorder until delivery day.

Grrr. OK. So what do we do now? We have just under a week until we have to turn in the keys on our apartment, but we're not staying at the apartment, we've moved in to the house. So, they come up with the idea to give us a loaner fridge. It's new, it's a floor model, but it's not the fridge we ordered.

Um. OK. Let's do that. At least we can make and store food until our fridge gets sorted out.

Well, it was a good thing that we agreed to a loaner, because we had it for almost 2 and a half weeks. That's right. Almost a full month after we placed our order, and more than 2 weeks past our delivery date. The fridge we ordered? Was stuck on a barge coming from another county, and then had to be shipped across the US to us. Grr. All that planning for nothing.

Homeowners (again!)

It's official! We're homeowners again.

All in all, it was a relatively painless process. The seller agreed to give us money off the purchase price instead of doing any repairs, so that was a good deal. Plus she gave a "flooring credit" for carpet replacement. This is not actually a check we get after closing (that's not legal) but instead it means she paid for our closing costs and title insurance. Instead of money changing hands we got to keep that money in our account.

Some people choose to take the seller's money and go do other things with it (like a vacation), but we actually put it towards the flooring. Of course, we didn't exactly do carpet. Not exclusively. We did do carpet upstairs, but we upgraded to hardwood bamboo floors downstairs, and we had tile installed in the master bathroom upstairs (that was previously carpet -- carpet in a bathroom = major ick factor).

We moved in on splorp!'s birthday. At least, we moved the extra bed and enough toiletries and clothes to last a week, and then we hired a moving company to move the rest of our furniture and boxes.

Moving into our new home was actually very quick, since we purged a lot of "stuff" prior to the big move from California. And since we were going to rip out the carpeting anyway and didn't see the point of actually unpacking only to pack it back up when the flooring guys arrived, we just had the moving guys put most of it into the garage. Only a couple of things went upstairs.

So we're happily settled in. The dog has a backyard again (YAY!) and I no longer have to do 6am, 7pm, 8:30pm, and 10pm potty walks. It's sooo nice.