Monday, November 12, 2012

Grown Folks Shoppin’

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono
My washing machine died. I can’t be mad. I had it for 15 years so I more than got my money’s worth. But this meant I had to get a new washer and dryer since I had a laundry center, stacked combo. And shopping for a washer-dryer is not like shopping for shoes. It’s not cute. It’s not sexy. And it’s definitely not an impulse buy. This is Grown Folks Shopping.



I started with Nate at Sears. He was my first salesman and I was his worst customer. I didn’t know anything because I hadn’t done my research. I didn’t think I needed to. I thought I could just sashay in, buy a new Maytag, and go home. I didn’t know that Maytag was no longer the gold standard. I was a large appliance-buying virgin with a lot to learn.

Nate taught me that gas dryers cost more than electric and color cost more too. All machines are available in white, but if you want something cute in red or blue that’s an extra $100. That’s on top of all the other the extra costs:
  • Taking away the old machine.
  • Delivering and installing the new machine.
  • You need hoses but those cost extra too.
I guess the latter is industry standard but it seems oh so shady. That’s like selling me an iPod with no headphones. But maybe I shouldn’t say that too loud, lest folks start getting ideas.

And then there’s the measly one-year manufacturer’s warranty. One year is nothing. We’re still in the honeymoon phase of ownership. It still works and I’m still enamored. I need a warranty for the crunch time: years five through 10. But nobody stands behind their products for that long anymore unless you buy an extended warranty, which runs concurrent, not consecutive.

So an extended two-year warranty on top of the manufacturer’s one year doesn’t give me three years. It gives me two because the first years overlap. Get it? I got it. But don’t like it. No wonder grown folks look so tired and mad all the time. You gotta work hard to make the money and then work even harder to keep it. Bernie Madoff ain’t the only one running game.

So Nate and I had settled on a nice looking Whirlpool and we were about do the deal until I read the reviews. The first one said:
“Run! Run and don’t look back! This is the worst machine in Christendom!”
The second review said:
“If you’ve got money to blow on three major repairs in the first ten months of ownership, go for it.”
That’s how I ended up talking to Sean at Lowes. I liked Sean. He spoke my language. We talked price matching, discounts, and he had the good grace to look ashamed that washing machine hoses cost extra.

He schooled me that Maytag and Whirlpool are the same company ergo they’re both crappy products. I still really wanted a crappy Maytag (brand loyalty dies hard) but the dryer wasn’t in stock. So crappy Whirlpool it was until – that’s right – I read the reviews. Interestingly enough, the reviews on the Lowe’s website were outstanding, stellar, best machine ever. The ones on Amazon? Not so much. I got the feeling somebody was cooking the books. I didn’t think it was Sean, but it changed our relationship.

That’s how I ended up talking to Jay at PC Richard’s. Jay wasn’t a salesman. His name tag said he was a Sales Counselor. I guess PC Richard’s understands that people need support, guidance, and lots of hand holding when making a Big Grown-Folks Purchase.

By the time I got to Jay I would like to think I was a tad savvier. I knew about front loaders vs. top loaders. I knew about energy efficiency and (big ups to me) I even knew the difference between PVC and stainless steel hoses. How ya like me now?

Through independent reviews and grass roots research I chose an LG but I let Jay know up front: “Warranty or no warranty, if I get this thing home and I'm not happy, I'm coming back here. And life is not going to be good for you, boo.”

But so far things are going well, as they should be since we’re still on the honeymoon. Right now I am a clothes washing and drying fool. I’m trying to break this thing while it’s still under warranty so I can get my money’s worth on it.

So what have I learned? Do your research, read the reviews – take them with a grain of salt, but read them – shop around, ask around, and know that the side effect of Grown Folks Shopping is that when you’re done, there’s not a whole lot of money left over to buy shoes.

Thanks for reading The Urban Erma. You can subscribe to the blogcast (yes, I made up this word) FREE on iTunes. And, in case you were wondering, in addition to blogging I am also an amazing stand-up comedian. I do "Thinking Cap Comedy." Basically, if comedy were music, I'd be Jazz. Want to see a show? Check out my schedule at @

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