THE THIRD PROBLEM - AND A SURPRISING SOLUTION
The third of our recent problems involved our washing machine. We'd specifically bought a brand we thought we could rely on, but it was one we'd never had in the states: a Bosch. After several months of making mysterious, ominous sounds during the spin cycle, the washer finally gave out a few weeks ago, on the weekend, of course.
Ever since the noises started I knew it would end badly, but with something as large as a washing machine, what can you do but wait til it conks out? And how can you possibly be prepared for when it does? Luckily for us our Canadian friends told us we were welcome to use their washer if we needed to, but my more immediate concern was getting the washer repaired...and how much that would cost.
Friends stopped by on Monday morning and we scoured both the yellow pages and the white pages searching for a Bosch technician in our area. Maybe they don't have that catch-phrase here like we do (or did?) in the states about letting your fingers do the walking. Our fingers and eyes were exhausted from trying to think of how or where we might find a phone number. Eventually we gave up and I turned to the computer. I looked on the site where we'd bought the machine, Mediaworld. Luckily they have a wonderful resource on the site: you can enter your region, then your province, then the manufacturer's name and you'll get the names and numbers of all the authorized technicians in your area. I copied down all the names, numbers and locations and we decided to call one of the offices in Perugia.
Our friend Giacomo did the talking for us, thinking that our basic Italian might not be good enough to describe the problems we were experiencing. At first the technico didn't want to come to San Venanzo since we're in the province of Terni, but eventually Giacomo was able to persuade him, reminding him that San Venanzo was much closer to Perugia than Terni. For the technico it wasn't too far out of his way....San Venanzo is actually closer to Perugia than quite a few cities south of Todi.
This was on a Monday morning, and the person in the office told us that someone would call us back in a day or two to set up an appointment. On Wednesday the office called to ask if we'd be home on Thursday after noon and of course we said yes.
On Thursday afternoon, just after two, the doorbell rang. It was our neighbor Franco, with the technico right behind him. I'm not sure if the technico had trouble finding the house, or if he just stopped at the bar first to ask directions. Whatever the case, Franco had escorted him right to our front door!
We explained what the problem was: the tub wasn't spinning at all. The technico opened the washer door and rotated the tub with his hand, and the sound of metal clanking around made us all wince. "This isn't normal" the technico told us in Italian. Ya think?!
I told him that we'd been hearing a noise for about 2 months, and also that I was very disappointed since we'd heard Bosch was so reliable. The technico agreed and told us what our options were. He said he'd have to replace an entire assembly, and that it would probably cost around €200. Ouch! He then went on to suggest that we call the main Bosch office in Italy to explain the problem. He said that often Bosch would offer to pay for part of the repairs, and that we'd have the added bonus of being able to speak with someone in English. Again, with technical problems, or if some heavy persuading is needed, I'd prefer to converse in English because I just get too tongue-tied and flustered in Italian!
I found the number of the Bosch office in Milan and called. The person who answered the phone told me no one there spoke English. Perhaps if I called back later?, I asked. No, she told me, no one here speaks English. Before I attempted to describe the problem in Italian I wanted to double-check with the technico to know what terms I needed to use, so I walked back to the kitchen. I explained that no one in the Milan office spoke English, and that really surprised our technico.
Then even more surprising, the technico offered to call for us. After being transferred around and around he eventually connected with someone who might be able to help him...but he'd have to wait until Monday to know for sure. We told the technician to go ahead and take the washer with him. Even if we had to pay the €200 it was still cheaper than a new one (we'd paid €549 for the washer in the fall of 2003). If Bosch decided to cover part of the cost that would be great, but in any event we needed it fixed ASAP! The technico told us to call the office on Monday to speak with his daughter, Silvia who spoke 'perfect English'. She'd be able to tell us what was going on with Bosch.
Of course when we called on Monday no one had heard from Bosch yet. Silvia had talked with the technico so at least she'd know what the problem was when or if someone from Bosch called back. Tuesday brought no news, but on Wednesday Art said something that triggered an alarm in my head. I can't even remember what it was, but I suddenly got the feeling that nothing was being done to the washer because they were waiting to hear from Bosch. "Tell them to fix it now!" I told Art. "Do the have the part in stock, or does it have to be ordered? Have they ordered it?" I know it's just the two of us, but still, laundry seems to accumulate rather quickly, especially since it's still quite warm!
And then today, Thursday, the strangest thing happened. The phone rang and as expected, it was Silvia. We were expecting her call and were hoping for good news from Bosch. What she told Art was really shocking: Bosch would sell us a brand new washer for €300! Did we want to do that? Uh, YES! Figuring that the technico's estimate of €200 might be a little low, I think we were both prepared to pay around €250 for the repairs, and neither of us had any real hope that Bosch would agree to pay anything, so we'd resigned ourselves. My main concern was how quickly they could get it back to us, not the cost. And now, a brand new washer for €300....SOLD!
Silvia told us it might take about a week, so I guess we'll have to take the Canadians up on their kind offer, but in the near future I'll have a brand new washer to figure out! (Whoever buys our house will also benefit, so I guess I'd better be sure to mention this to prospective buyers!) Although our Bosch didn't hold up as well as we would have liked, in the end Bosch came through and made things right...in today's world that's pretty surprising, at least to me.