Tuesday, August 08, 2006

freon ain't free

We seem to be in a place right now where lots of things in our house need fixing. We bought the house brand new, and haven’t even lived in it five years, yet in the last two weeks we have had people out to service both our washing machine and our air conditioning. Cool! Spending money on fixing things that we completely take for granted is the best.

(palpable sarcasm)

Example #1: The Laundry Episode
A couple of weekends ago, I was doing some laundry. During one load, I was downstairs cleaning up the kitchen and heard my husband calling me upstairs. I go back up and hear a hideous noise coming from the washing machine. I stop the cycle, then find out that I can’t get it to spin, and that it WILL fill up with rinse water, but it WON’T drain. Picturing our clothes soaking in water for two days just doesn’t cut it for me, so I take each item out of the washer and hand-wring it out before putting it in the dryer, almost breaking the dryer in the process because the load was too heavy. Awesome!

I set up a service appointment for two days later. The guy comes to the house, shows my husband that it’s this little part under the lid, fixes it in 20 minutes and charges us $160 to replace a $30 part. You know, for LABOR.

Example #2: The Air Conditioning Caper
Last weekend (again over a weekend!?!) our air conditioning just stops working. The fan still worked, but the a/c unit outside just went dead. Lucky for us, Southern California is experiencing really nice weather, unlike the 112 degrees it was two weeks ago (and don’t EVEN think I am kidding about that number… it really was, I swear). Bottom line, though, since it’s only been in the low 80s, we can live with it for a couple of days until we can get someone out to fix it.

We find out through our next-door neighbor that a lot of people in our neighborhood have had problems with our air conditioning over the last couple of weeks. So on Sunday, we go door to door asking them what happened, who did you call to fix it, etc. One neighbor seemed to have the answer. It went something like this:

“Uh, yeah, it’s the switch behind the control plate. You just have to get in there and file it down with a nail file. But stay away from the rotogirder because it’s next to the flux capacitor, which holds 1.21 jigowatts of electricity. Hoo boy! Did I get a shock when I touched that!”

Did I hear a niner in there? We look at him blankly, and immediately and telekinetically agree that we are going to call a professional.

But guess what? All the professionals are already scheduled fixing everyone else’s air conditioning that was overused in the recent heat wave. May I remind you that it was 112 degrees.

So we end up calling this emergency air conditioner repair guy, who fixed our friends’ a/c recently and who also overcharged them for doing so. (We were warned.)

He came over today. First of all, he was this enormous bodybuilder with a very thick Russian accent. Who knows? Maybe they have excellent air conditioning trade schools in Russia. Anyway, he checks the fan. He checks the fuses. He checks the switch behind the control panel and the flux capacitor.

He comes back into the house and announces that we need a new conductor and some freon, and that will be $325 please. He fixes it in 10 minutes and is out the door with my check.

I tell my husband the whole story and he is shocked and horrified. And after looking it up on the internet, comes to the conclusion that he probably took me for double what it should have cost. Apparently the freon thing can be a scam – you really shouldn’t need new freon unless you have a leak. Damn Google. What’s that saying? Ignorance is bliss?

Anyway, the air conditioning works again, which is good, despite the fact that we are $325 poorer. Well, technically we are $485 poorer, if you count the washing machine.

Lordy I hope nothing else goes wrong for a while. I guess the moral of the story is, when your friends tell you that the Russian bodybuilder might overcharge you, he will.


Amy said...

It is the ugly truth of homeownership, isn't it? Who's going to get it fixed, well, darnit, you are. Yep, it sucks. I have a toilet that's having issues (again) so I just turned the water off. I'll have to deal with it before the Little Man gets home but until then, it can just sit there. The memory of getting scammed by a plumber is still too fresh in my mind.

Newlywife said...

Regular Russians are okay, but you have to be careful of the ones that are also bodybuilders!

Isn't that always the way? Any extra money gets sucked right up into the house! You could have bought yourself a great pair of shoes and outfit for that money!

undercover celebrity said...

Thanks for this -- finally a reason to be glad that I still live in an apartment, sharing parking spaces with 1,500 other people, hearing every word of their arguments, and wondering WHO, on God's green earth, designed a kitchen without any kind of pantry!

... Ok, who am I kidding? I want a Russian bodybuilder to overcharge me too! :)

Poka Bean said...

precisely the reason we continue to rent. well, that plus the whole not being willing to sell our bodies in order to pay a mortgage in san frickin' diego. but whatever. glad the AC's back up...i cannot have a wilted nephew!