My Whirlpool Experience

microwaveBetween the thawing of a frozen bagel and reheating 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.

Being a technical kind of guy, 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.”

Me: “Huh?”

What kind of jargon-filled mind dreams up something as inane as an 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.

Me: “Yes.”

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?”

Me: “Huh?”

Machine: “Say yes or no.”

Me: “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?”

Machine: (silence).

Me: “C’mon. Be nice. Give me a clue. How long do I have to wait?”

Machine: (silence).

Again I gave it what it wanted.

Me: “Yes.”


At first I thought I had been transferred to the Whirlpool daycare facility because it sounded like children shrieking and banging frantically on empty coffee cans, but I was wrong.

My call had been routed to the Experience Center on-hold music system whose audio quality occupied territory well beyond dreadful. Why was I not surprised? Their micro-wave quality was just as dreadful.

The cacophony forced me to hold the receiver a foot from my head, until after ten excruciating minutes, 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 being tortured 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.”

Author: Almost Iowa

66 thoughts on “My Whirlpool Experience”

  1. I wonder if Indians calling a help line are redirected to a help center in England, speaking only Cockney English over a bad connection? It’s only fair.

    1. I once worked with a Chinese gentleman whose name was Johnny. One side of his business card was printed in English and the other in Chinese. I asked him if his name was really Johnny and he said of course not but that I wouldn’t be able to pronounce it

  2. Oh how I can relate. I once had a dishwasher die- trying to remember, but I think it was a whirlpool, after 13 mos and the warranty was done at 12 mos. Of course. I let the woman, who was unfortunate enough to answer my call, have it. They did come out and fix it for free but they told me to never call again. Appliances are not what they once were- and neither is customer service! -Ernie

  3. Dang, you have written what we all wish we had said to those stupid centers….nothing is more dehumanizing than talking to a machine when we have a problem we desperately need addressed. If only…..

    1. It’s like one of those times when you think of something really clever to say after the fact. Which means, whenever we call an “experience center”, we need to think of something clever to say first..

  4. What a fun post! The ending made me smile. I think that we’ve all experienced frustrating experiences when trying to deal with help lines (e.g., Experience Centers).

  5. Change the name and insert xxxx – we’ve all experienced it. That’s why we get so excited when we occasionally reach a human who speaks the same language we do and can help us. 🙂 I’m so ‘mature’ I remember when we actually employed departments full of people under the title of ‘customer service.’ I think most appliances today should come with a ‘best use date’ of about two years taped to it because that’s what appears to be programmed in anyway. 🙂

    1. I once had the exact opposite experience while trying to diagnose why a very large database was inexplicably crashing. I called the technical help line and told them what was happening and it was like talking to children, so I asked to have my case escalated to the next level where they spoke like confused high schoolers, after working my way through several layers, I finally I got through to a gentleman from India who barely spoke broken English, but by communicating in tech-speak, we quickly solved the problem.

  6. You are so brave to even attempt the Experience Center. As my brother says, “Mircrowaves and printers are supposed to break and it’s cheaper to get a new one than get the old one fixed.” And less painless, I think. Yes or now?

    1. There is a great story about Henry Ford sending a small army of analysts out to the junkyards of America. Their mission was to find junked Model T’s and identify why the cars broke down. After much work, they submitted a reporting detailing every part in the car and how often if failed. When Ford read the report, he threw a fit. One part in the planetary transmission never broke down. “Redesign it,” he thundered, “it’s costing us too much money.”

      1. I hadn’t heard that one. I worked in Quality Assurance for a few years and there are some great stories of attitudes regarding failure rates. *Sigh*

  7. So… did you enjoy your “phone experience”? You may only answer with yes, no, or an explicit phrase of your choice. 😛

  8. Poor costumer service representatives.
    It’s the higher-ups who implement the automated phone services who ought to ‘experience’ them.

    1. Except when the call transfers to India and it is the end of the day there and they are getting pummeled by China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and Singapore.

  9. I see that I’m not alone in thinking almost immediately of our beloved Happiness Engineers. That phrase is so 1984 it makes my skin crawl. I do love that you flummoxed Hugh, though. I’ll spare you the details, but I actually got a VISA card representative to hang up on me a couple of months ago. It was a highlight of my life.

    1. Happiness Engineers. That phrase is so 1984

      He whispers, “I know…”

      The way I see it, there two problems with the term, Happiness Engineer. One, that someone would suggest it. Two: that anyone would accept it.

  10. Ah I do appreciate your attempt to re-establish control. At least they call it experience center instead of happiness engineers. I don’t imagine that Hugh told you there is one beverage that still can be brewed in your 13 month old micro wave. It is called futile-a-tea. It is best enjoyed whilst riding a John Deere pontoon-a-tractor bobbing along in a slightly flooded field. And the frozen bagel is still suitable as a projectile weapon. With a little help from Scottie we can beam it directly into the ear of a happiness engineer to give said engineer a touch more experience. Is there anything else we can help you with today ? Press 1 for yes or 2 for no.

      1. I will send a note to Scottie so he expects the spontaneous bagel beam request. We won’t warn the happiness engineer of the impending experience.

  11. Oh we can all identify with this one 😀
    Over the years call centers and customer service depts of most major corporations have developed so many indirect ways of telling customers, “screw you, we’ve already got your money!” that it has become an art form.

  12. “Say yes or no”
    “You said yes”
    “No I didn’t”
    “Is that correct? Say yes or no”
    “Good. Now … ”
    “I said no!”
    ” … Say yes or no … ”
    ” Noooooo”

  13. So many giggles. “Proud” owner, is the highlight though.
    The machine only made it 13 months? It truly is all about the sizzle any more, isn’t it?

  14. Ha! I think that was worth it. Microwaves are much cheaper these days.

    Maybe they used the same name-your-service consultant as WordPress did when they cooked up Happiness Engineers.

    1. When I worked for the Minneapolis Police Department, we ran a rather large customer experience center, staffed by Happiness Engineers who would from time to time bounce your head off a wall if you expressed your dissatisfaction with their service in rude manner.

    1. I always appreciate it when the call center tells me that there are 45 people waiting ahead of me – but what I really want to know is how poor souls are waiting behind me.

  15. Perfect response! I’ve come to believe that “Your call is important” is this century’s way of saying “The check is in the mail.”

    1. It is…

      And my favorite goes like this:

      Them: “You are a VALUED customer.”
      Me: “Okay, being an analyst I like to quantify. What precisely is my value to you?”
      Them: “Not much.”

  16. “If my call was important why was it not being answered or at least why was I not experiencing blissful silence rather than being tortured by poorly produced garage bands?” You ask the most existential questions, Greg.

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