Sometime between the thawing of a frozen bagel and the reheating of a cup of coffee – my thirteen month old microwave stopped doing what it is supposed to do.
It didn’t quit completely. The platter still squeaked, the timer still glowed phosphorescent-blue and the fan continued to rattle. But whatever I put in – came out cold.
I knew what to do when things go on the fritz. I pushed random buttons in the futile hope that a random setting caused the problem in the first place. When that failed, I induced electronic amnesia by pulling the plug.
That didn’t work either.
So I dialed the manufacturer’s 1-800 number.
Here is how that went.
Machine: “Thank you for calling the Whirlpool Experience Center.”
What kind of jargon-filled mind dreamed up a title as inane as Experience Center?
No wonder their micro-waves don’t work. If I wanted a phone experience, I’d call one of the thousands of 1-900 numbers dedicated to that purpose. Besides, I have already had one Whirlpool experience today, why would I want another?
Machine: “Before we get started I’ll need a little information from you. Are you calling from your home phone?”
Me: “I’m calling from my cell.”
Machine: “Say yes or no.”
Gosh, I guess we just established who is in charge here.
Machine: “Are you the owner of the product or are you calling on another’s behalf? Say owner or other.”
Me: (proudly) “Owner”.
Machine: “Would you like to hear a list of Frequently Asked Questions?”
Machine: “Say yes or no.”
Machine: “We are experiencing a higher than normal call volume. Do you want to stay on the line?”
Me: “How long do I have to wait?”
Me: “C’mon. Be nice. Give me a clue. How long do I have to wait?”
Again I gave it what it wanted.
I initially suspected that the call had been transferred to the Whirlpool daycare facility because it sounded like children shrieking and banging frantically on empty coffee cans.
No, this was not true. The call was routed to the Experience Center on-hold music system and the audio quality occupied territory well beyond dreadful. Why was I not surprised? Their micro-wave quality was just as dreadful.
I held the receiver a foot from my head until a voice broke through the racket.
Machine: “Please stay on the line. Your call is important.”
If my call was important why was it not being answered or at least why was I not experiencing blissful silence rather than torture by poorly produced garage bands.
Many miserable moments later.
A Guy Named Hugh came on the line: “Hi, I’m Hugh. How can I help you today?”
Me: “Hi Hugh, I’m Greg. Before we get started, can I ask if anyone at Whirlpool has actually experienced the Whirlpool Experience Center?”
A Guy Named Hugh: “Huh?”
Me: “Say yes or no.”