December 8, 2009

Power Vent Water Heater, Feel My Rage!

In 2006, our water heater started hemorrhaging water and we had to replace it. We had moved into the house just a few months before, and we knew the water heater was ancient, but it wasn't exactly the first Thanksgiving in the new casa that we were hoping for. This was no ordinary water heater, by the way: It was a "power vent" model that vents to the outside, not through the chimney. We soon learned that we'd be shelling out about twice the cost of a direct vent water heater to get this baby replaced.

Fast forward three years to the week after Thanksgiving, 2009. Our three-year-old 50-gallon power vent water heater stops working. The controller is blinking an error code that translates to "ECO Failure: Lockout condition." Intense Googling reveals that this is a problem only a plumber can diagnose and repair.

Because our water heater has a 6-year warranty, we call the manufacturer, who confirms that we need to hire a plumber. Which we do. The plumber comes out, calls the manufacturer's technical service support, and announces the verdict: Fried motherboard. A new one will be sent via FedEx overnight service, and the plumber will return to install it. Diagnosis charge: $144.00.

(I'd like to take a moment here to ask what in the hell this water heater is calculating such that its motherboard could become "fried" after three years. Has it been commandeered by the government to devote some of its processing power to the SETI project?)

Anyhoo, the next day the part arrives and the plumber returns to perform 15 minutes of installation work. Repair charge: $160.00.

Hey! What about that warranty?

"The PARTS are under warranty, but you still have to pay for labor," the manufacturer tells us. Sweet.

That's $304.00 for repairs, which is around 1/3 the cost of a new unit. So, we resign ourselves to this cost, chalking it up to the price of home ownership. At least we have hot water!, we tell ourselves. For the next 36 hours.


The damn thing stops working again! In the middle of my shower. On Saturday morning.

We refuse to hire an emergency / after-hours plumber ($$$$) so we bathe at the gym until Monday, when we get the manufacturer and our plumber on the phone. Turns out, the manufacturer gave the plumber bad advice, and sent a part that was inadequate to get the job done. So they'll have to send ANOTHER part, and we'll have to pay the plumber to come out AGAIN. Estimated repair charge: $240.00.

For those of you keeping score at home, that's 3 trips from the plumber at a total of $544.00 to repair a 3-year-old water heater.

But hey, at least those parts are under warranty, right?

November 12, 2009


OK, I just overheard a man well into his 40s say "You can do the sickest things with {such-and-such application}!"

Sorry, man, you are way too old to be talking like an illiterate teenager from the year 2002.

September 10, 2009

Pet Shop Boys VIP Meet and Greet Organizer - Feel My Rage!

A few months ago, I bought tickets and VIP passes to a Pet Shop Boys concert that is part of their Fall 2009 North American tour. The organizer of the VIP Meet and Greet sent a letter stating that we would receive details about the time and place of the Meet and Greet about 1 week before the show. No problem.

However, the letter also stated that no photography would be allowed at the Meet and Greet.

Wha...? This was news to me. I double-checked the terms and conditions on the website where I bought the tickets/VIP passes, and nowhere did it mention photography being prohibited.

I was a bit ticked off. Second to the wonderful memory of meeting your favorite band, photographic evidence is an important component of the bragging rights one can rightfully claim after having met such luminaries. I was imagining snapping a photo with Neil on one side, Chris on the other, and me in the middle holding up that day's newspaper as proof of life.

But nooooo.

Thank you, unstated terms and conditions!

I had a few months to get over that annoyance when, the week before the concert, I received an email from the organizer of the Meet and Greet disclosing, as promised, the details of where and when. To my surprise, VIP pass holders were instructed to queue up at 4:30PM, and nobody would be let in after 5:15PM. For an 8PM show. Christ! Some of us have jobs!

Of course, it was my fault for assuming that the Meet and Greet would be after the show.

I mean, I figured before the show, they'd be eating dinner, doing sound check, and making sure their hats and wigs were arranged properly for quick changes between sets.

I suppose that by holding the Meet and Greet before the show, they have a built-in end time. "Sorry, fans, you're great, but we've got to get on stage now." None of that awkward, "Come party with us at the pub down the street before you get back on your tour bus, Pet Shop Boys!"

Again, I checked the website and all of the communications from the organizer, and nowhere did it state that the Meet and Greet would be before the show. Don't get me wrong -- I'm still totally psyched to meet Pet Shop Boys, but the side of me that pays attention to detail and likes to, you know, have important information available in order to make a rational purchasing decision... that side of me is a little irritated.

Carry on.

June 18, 2009

Why Does My New Tempur-Pedic Pillow Smell So Bad?

About a month ago, I sprang for a new Tempur-Pedic Swedish Neck Pillow, because my old one was losing its supportiveness. I took the new one out of the box to let it air out, because it smelled pretty hideous. (I remember having to do this with my last one, too, but I don't remember it taking this long.)

Well, it's been a month, and the pillow is still unusable because it smells so bad! I'm sorry, but when I spend $100 on a pillow, I'd like to be able to use it now, not have to wait more than a month.

Perhaps there's a business model hiding somewhere in there for some enterprising individual: Selling Tempur-Pedic pillows and mattresses that have been aired out (in a sterile environment, of course) for however the hell long it takes so that they don't smell disgusting. I would gladly pay $110 for a pillow I could use today, rather than $100 for a pillow I might not be able to use until Fall. That's all I'm saying.

Image: Tempur-Pedic

May 19, 2009

Build-A-Bear Workshop fined for violating child labor laws

This headline in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's RSS feed caught my eye today.

Build-A-Bear Workshop fined for violating child labor laws.

But...but...I thought the whole POINT was to have the children make the bears!