Wednesday, 4 March 2009

My dishwasher’s computer is broken. Again.

I had a dishwasher – one with actual moving parts – that operated wonderfully for over 10 years. It was terrifically noisy – you had to shout to hear yourself above it when it was running – but it cleaned like a dream and didn’t give me a minute’s grief.

Then I came into a little money and thought a new, quieter, more eco-friendly dishwasher was called for, so that’s what I bought: a Defy Dishmaid (the same make as the previous one), but one with an ‘onboard computer’ that did clever things to save water and electricity, and had the words ‘Super Silent’ stamped on its front.

It was not actually silent (never mind superly so), but at least we didn’t give ourselves sore throats by trying to have a conversation in the kitchen after dinner. And so, for 18 months, we were all relatively happy.

The dishwasher stopped working one morning after – of course – a dinner party for 12. (A testament to my wonderful friends who hadn’t made it home the previous night, and who therefore had achy heads: they helped me unload the stupid thing and hand-wash all the dishes.)

I don’t live near a big city so I was forced to scratch around for Defy’s phone number – the head office turned out to be in Durban – and phone them to ask for a referral to an agent near to me. This I was given, and the agent came two days later, and he diagnosed a computer malfunction and he replaced the computer.

And that evening the dishwasher didn’t work. So again there was the unloading and the hand-washing.

The agent came back, three days later. He’d installed the wrong computer, he explained, but now he had the right one. Which he installed.

And that evening the dishwasher didn’t work again. So once again there was the unloading and the hand-washing.

By this time my hands were getting chapped and I was getting tetchy, so I phoned Defy in Durban again, and explained that the agent hadn’t managed to fix the problem, I was still dishwasher-less, and since the dishwasher was still under guarantee, I wanted a new one. They weren’t madly keen, but once I’d shouted a bit, they agreed.

The new dishwasher took over six weeks and several increasingly irate phonecalls to arrive.

But finally it did, and after almost two months of hand-washing dishes, we were in business once again. They’d sent exactly the same model – the Defy Dishmaid ‘(not so) Super Silent’ with ‘eco’ cycle option.

Today the damned thing broke down again - the onboard computer has once again malfunctioned (I know because its symptoms are exactly the same as last time). Defy now has an agent in the big city nearest me, and that’s who I’ve called to come and repair it. The machine is no longer under guarantee, so I’ll be liable for a R399 call-out fee – regardless of whether the agent they send can actually fix it or not. (And if he can fix it, I will of course be responsible for the parts and labour costs.) Oh, and he can’t come until next Wednesday.

Now, I ask you: this dishwasher, very well looked after, ran for about five years. Is it just me, or is this too short for what is, after all, a fairly expensive bit of equipment?

I have an Ocean fridge/freezer that is over 30 years old and counting. It needs gentle treatment and frequent defrosting but it rumbles on gently and reliably, day after day (touch wood).

I also have a Defy oven – I don’t know the model as it’s so old now (almost 20) that the name-stamp has been rubbed off over the years. All it’s ever required in its lifetime is the replacement of some fuses (touching wood here again).

Neither of these appliances has anything computerised about them.

And my original Defy Dishmaid – the one with no onboard computer? When I got my first new, computerised dishwasher, I donated the old one to a friend, and it’s still working - 17 years after I first bought it!

I miss the days when household appliances didn't have their own digital brains, and all faulty ones required was a little percussive maintenance (that’s a good thump or two) to get them working again.

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tonypark said...

I have a dishwasher, Muriel.


I'm 100 per cent reliable (and even wash better and more fastidiously when drunk), low maintenance, and I put the dishes away the morning after.

Muriel said...

Yes, but are you computerised?

James said...


What were your symptoms of the "malfunctioning" computer?

This Dishwasher is DEFINITELY a piece of rubbish. Hasn't been working 100% since the day we bought it, but it worked enough for me to not get it replaced.

Now it doesn't heat up the water!

Muriel said...

My dishwasher would 'turn on' - in that it made a whirring noise - but not actually DO anything. So, beause it sounded like it was working, it often just whirred away for hours until I realised it wasn't operating. It still does it occasionally. Now, when it does, I just unplug it (ie, not just switch it off, but actually unplug it), leave it for 5 minutes, then plug it back in, and it works almost every time. It's a mystery but while it works I'm saying noooothing.

James said...

Thanks for that.

Looks like I'm buying a new motherboard.

With a guarantee of only 3 months. I guess they REALLY trust their own hardware!!!

Muriel said...

James, I spoke too soon! My dishwasher is acting up again - the bottom arm is jamming so the bottom rack isn't getting cleaned. Aaaargghgghgh! But I am cash-strapped so 'new dishwasher' (or even just 'new bottom arm for dishwasher') is going to have to go on the ever-lengthening list of things to get/do when I finally sort out my ridiculous cash flow. Hope you have better luck!

Anonymous said...

Oh no! I did not want to read this! My Whirlpool dishwasher of 14 years has just died and I need to buy a new one. I was thinking of Defy but now I dont know what to do. It seems like all makes have their problems. But I am fed up of washing dishes!