The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Beware of China in your dishwasher

dishwasher waiting for plates and potsI have a soft spot for Graham. He fixes our cooker, washing machine and dishwasher. I trust him. He has tinkered and fixed our stuff for years.

He trained as a TV repair man. Electronics were his world until everything changed. TVs got cheaper and were just jettisoned when they died. So he switched to domestic appliances. He is the best guy to know when the honeymoon warranty period is over and things start to go wrong. Today I found out that he is also the key man when things go wrong within the warranty period.

Our dishwasher must be at least five years old. It sprang a leak last week and was taken away to his hospital in Burwell for four days. I was amazed to see exactly how much washing up we generate each day. With a miniature sized sinkette, we had to dry up between stacking the draining rack. Generally three times after supper.
“It was like the retreat from Moscow.” Danny blurted out as he fell into bed.

The dogs felt the impact too. No plates and pots and pans to lick clean. Each evening they stood in an expectant row and watched us as we grimly stacked everything on the worktop. By day three they had got a bit crouchy, not understanding what they’d done wrong.

This morning I used the same mug for tea and coffee.

When I lifted the blind today and saw a strange car in the drive with a large white block in the boot. I chased the dogs into the back garden and opened the front door wide.

Graham is a bright spark and a great raconteur. As he lifted our workhorse over the step we swapped news.
“How’s business?”
“Really good. How about the world of decorating?”
We exchanged stories over cup of coffee. Graham’s business has recently expanded massively.
“It’s all down to China.”

I was curious and discovered that most manufacturers are getting their components manufactured in China now.
“They’re cheaper and appear exactly the same but the materials are not so good.”
“How do you know?”

“The manufacturers’ warranty only requires them to call out within 30 days if the machine breaks down. Then they are legally obliged to repair it within six months of the call out. Most people can’t wait that long. I’m called in after a few weeks. Pumps that would have lasted six years in the past are faulty within months these days. You can buy a dishwasher for ?200. People are buying them and fixing them once and then tossing them away. Even Miele are getting their pumps made in China.”

We bought a Morphy Richards kettle a few months ago from Tesco. I didn’t think to keep the receipt. The natty flip up lid froze after a couple of months. We can’t open it – can’t descale it. And with no receipt, we can’t return it. After Graham left I lifted the kettle and examined the labels. Made in China.

At Einat’s house I was using a 30 year old kettle and it worked fine. I tossed away a similar one 15 years ago and for a long moment this morning regretted my foolishness. Hindsight is such a smug creature.

Graham told us to hang on to our dishwasher.
“Yours was actually made in Germany. It should go on for ages and is definitely worth repairing.”

But where did our new pump come from? I didn’t think to ask.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jo

    Sorry to hear about your experiences with your washing machine. They go wrong and suddenly you twig how much you are dependent on them being reliable.

    It is sad that we are becoming such a throwaway society.

  2. Jo @ LittleFfarm Dairy

    Hi Fiona –

    if you’ve seen our Blog recently you’ll be aware of the catalogue of disasters we’ve had with our Hotpoint washing machine; & we’ve since learned that lots of other people have had similar frustrations with said make.

    Our replacement machine – a Zanussi – arrived last week; we refused the shop’s offer of a direct one-for-one Hotpoint replacement as regrettably we feel we can no longer trust the brand. Thanks to your post I now understand why….

    At least the Zanussi has an accessible lint filter (the clogging of the Hotpoint caused floods of seemingly Biblical proportions). This is especially useful for us as farmers owing to the inevitable wisps of hay on our clothing! Sadly the wash programmes are not as comprehensive & it’s a noisier machine; but that’s a small price to pay for something which is (hopefully) going to prove more reliable….we’ll see. So sad we still seem to be degenerating into an even more consumerist, throw-away society though.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Michelle

    Good advice. Thank you.

  4. michelle sheets

    Hi Fiona,
    Just remember, the worst they can do is say no.

    Good Luck!

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pamela

    Love the name – Leaky George.

    It is so good to have ours back and running without leaks again.

    Hi Michelle

    I’d go for German every time. However, Graham says that even the Germans are going to China for their components now.

    Geed up by you, I’m going to have a go at returning the kettle. Thanks for the advice.

    Hi Sally

    You are so right. I’d rather the machines were double the price, reliable and lasted for years.

  6. Dear All, This says a lot about our ‘throw away’ society and we are all guilty because we all love a bargain. But, in the end we pay more: buy cheap, pay twice. Good on Graham for transferring his skills – no wonder youv’e got a soft spot for him. —–Great advice from Michelle.

  7. michelle sheets

    Hi Fiona,
    As far as dishwashers go, thats why I bought a Bosch, you gotta love the Germans!

    Speaking as someone who works in retail, its worth a try to take your kettle back and explain the situation. I have taken back items before with no receipt and just been completely honest. I express my disapointment with the product, and my disapointment with the store for buying such shoddy merchandise. It helps the stores know who the problem manufactors are.

    And if you are really peeved, you can borrow my favorite line-
    “If I would have known your product was going to break so soon, I would have been more carefull keeping track of the reciept!”
    Pair the comment with the approprate cross look, and that usually gets results for me!

  8. The very first dishwasher my family owned was one of a job lot which were shared out by most of the neighbours – having all moved in to new houses together we had become good friends over the years. Ours was slightly “disabled” from the start and was known as Leaky George. However we always felt a little puddle to mop up was a small price to pay in return for washing up after 6 people. Eventually when the small leak turned into a life-threatening haemorrhage Leaky George was retired and a shiny new water-tight dishwasher was acquired.

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