Saturday, October 16, 2010

A refrigeration odyssey

We had the pleasure of test driving a new refrigerator for the past month. Now, as I sit here waiting for its replacement to be delivered, I thought I would share the story as well as some uneducated opinions on fridge design.

Our tale starts with car shopping. Or, rather, a determination that we would hold out with our beaten-up, wet-dog-smelling ten-year-old Honda Odyssey for another year instead of buying a replacement. That left the budget wide open to take care of a few other major purchases. I had recently realized that our old secondary fridge, in the basement, was leaking air around the sides, causing a mold farm that Louis Pasteur would have been proud of. It was time for the beast to be retired to the scrap heap, and at long last we'd be able to replace our wimpy little kitchen fridge with a shiny new model, relegating the current one to basement duty.

Our first (and only) stop was the Sears Scratch 'n Dent warehouse. We found a shiny black French Door style Samsung with all the bells and whistles for about $900 less than the retail cost, and immediately snagged it.

Unfortunately, once it was delivered, we discovered a few problems that weren't exhibited at the warehouse when it was on display. For one, the giant gash across the front was definitely NOT there when we picked it out. Plus, the leaky water hose, while handy for washing the floor or keeping the dog hydrated, was not what we were hoping for. And the sound the motor made at 11:00 the first night, similar to that of a small plane landing in our kitchen? Yeah, this guy was headed back to the store.

After a little bit of online research and shopping around (yeah, I know, something we should have done to begin with), we decided to spend a little extra money and spring for a new model, rather than another scratch 'n dent. Sears made us an offer we couldn't refuse to exchange the Defecto Fridge for a better model at a discount. So here I sit, waiting for a shiny platinum side-by-side model to show up at the front door.

Okay, so the observant reader in you may have noticed we've switched from black to platinum, and French Door style to side-by-side. See, this was a great opportunity for us. For the month that we had Defecto Fridge in our kitchen and despite my wife not getting the endless collection of my "My God, It's Full Of Stars" jokes, we realized that having a giant black behemoth in our already too-dark kitchen made it all that much more cave-like. So now we go to platinum which, by the way, is the new trend over stainless steel because it's doesn't show fingerprints. We also realized that this whole trend of French Door fridges is complete and utter whitewash by the refrigeration industry. Sure, it seems neat at first to not have to bend down to get the milk. It also seems like a sweet deal having a giant platter-sized drawer for all those Martha Stewart style deli trays you will constantly be pulling out for those classy guests you're always having over. In reality, here's the downside to having a French Door style fridge:

-You can't store anything taller than a relish jar anywhere but on the door, without removing a shelf. And the doors will hold approximately 1.5 gallons of milk, one bottle of ketchup, a container of apple juice, and a bottle of Hershey's chocolate syrup. No more.

-That giant platter-sized drawer will stay empty for much of its life as you hope some day to have friends to invite over for deli.

-The fridge has an alarm that warns you if you accidentally leave the door open. Which is handy because they don't close by themselves. But what's not so great is the fact the alarm isn't loud enough to hear unless you're standing right next to it.

-The freezer on the bottom is big, but annoyingly clunky to open. There's an upper drawer in it, but as soon as you put anything taller than a gallon of ice cream in the bottom that upper drawer will be blocked.

For all those benefits, a French Door fridge appears to cost about $600 to $1000 more than a side-by-side. Save your money and,once you find friends that you want to entertain, take them out to dinner.

On a final note, I should comment that while Samsung apparently makes an excellent quality refrigerator, their technical translation department needs some help. Some fun examples from the instruction manual:

"After taking out the Ice Bucket and cleaned, please make sure to install after removing the frost and moist."

"Please contact your service agent's."

"To get best performance of product, Temperature of frozen food during defrosting can shorten its storage life

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