Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Complete Washout : Washing Machine reloaded!!

People who had read my previous post are aware of the sinister story of my whining washing machine (Siemens WM-10-16).
After 3 weeks of eager wait and several phone calls, the Siemens service engineer arrived at our house. But wait - we have to start from the beginning i.e the service centre.
I called up the Siemens service centre diligently. With three weeks practice, I had become rather proficient in doing this. For the uninformed, this is more complicated than it sounds. 
The call centre has two numbers, both are almost always busy. The trick is to continuously keep dialling them - something like an advanced version of "Fastest Finger First". So I store one number on my mobile and the other on my land line and keep on dialling them simultaneously with my both hands. On the 16th or 17th attempt, I usually succeed. 
This time, on the 15th ring, a bored-voiced lady with a typical Delhi-ite English picked up and informed me that my earlier service call number 5936 has been "upgraded" to 6016 and henceforth I should refer only to this service call. That sounded bizarre - I always thought the software companies usually do such things. Nevertheless, I prodded on and wanted to know about the "actual" status of this service call. To this, I was told that the famous gasket (which has to be imported from Germany after placing a call request on Bangalore and a purchase order on Mumbai) - the root cause which has made the machine inoperative for past three weeks, has finally arrived and has been handed over to the service engineer. The lady also told me that the name of the service engineer is Mr. Harit and I should make a note of this. On requesting for the service engineer's phone number, I was told that it is against the service policy of Siemens to give the mobile number of the service engineer. On asking as to when Mr. Harit would arrive, I was told that this is left to the discretion of the concerned engineer and the service centre has no control over this. At this point, I asked rather pointedly about what do they expect me to do with the name of the service engineer. I gave several suggestions like chanting his name in front of the idols that my wife worships everyday or recite his name in a sing song manner to my daughter as she falls asleep but the lady at the other end of the phone could not give a satisfactory reply. She merely murmured that she thought that his name would gladden my heart. I thanked her profusely for this supreme service and kept down the phone. 
Then the man came. It was a cold afternoon and there was a thin layer of fog still lingering in the Gurgaon atmosphere. His arrival, nevertheless, was like a bright sunshine in our flat and the smile my wife gave to him was probably the same on or at least from the same series which she used during our first year of marriage. This happy moment was short lived as Mr. Harit, upon seeing the machine was taken aback and he immediately called up the service centre and started conferring with someone senior in a secretive hushed tone. After several minutes of muffled discussion, Mr. Harit informed us that the problem, in fact is far more severe than merely a gasket. It definitely involves changing the drum but would probably need a step-by-step root cause analysis, which, unfortunately, has not been done. He, therefore reinstalled the machine without fixing the gasket and urged us to continue running the machine before it completely breaks down. At this point, Mr. Harit will arrive again and make a detailed analysis and order out the necessary parts. 
One has to grant the consistency of a German machine. Barely had Mr. Harit left our house, the machine started misbehaving. On the first day, it did the job but with a noise which would have shamed a turbo-charged jet engine. On the second day, it refused to spin and dry the clothes but chose to entertain us with a tap-dance and move away from its original position. On the third day, it simply refused to wash and thereby resumed to its state of complete inoperativeness. 
Again a round of rapid-fire speed dial and bingo - on the 21st attempt, I was through. The summary of my desultory conversation with the same Delhi-ite lassie can be summarised as below:
1. The drum is damaged and needs replacement.
2. This would cost 9k + taxes + service charge
3. The official delivery time is 3 weeks. This has to be calibrated with reality as the official delivery period of a gasket is 10 days but it took 3 weeks to deliver. 
4. This will not ensure that the machine is restored to its former glory as the "root-cause analysis" is yet to be done.
Thus the last of my ties with Siemens will disappear tomorrow. It took us 15 minutes to decide on buying a new machine, 15 minutes to check the net, 1 hour to drive down to the nearest shop and buy a new machine. This time, the specification was simple
a) the machine should be movable
b) the service centre and engineers should be accessible
c) the engineer who comes to install it should not talk about centrifugal forces and cosine component of the gravitational force that it exerts on our floor. 
There were several ones which fitted the bill and we picked up the one we felt was least intimidating. 
Let's hope this one will not be a complete washout like the last one!