Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Thank you for the new coffeemaker

A week or so ago, our coffeemaker went on the fritz (we’ve been having a bad month with appliances). It failed in an odd sort of way that involved remaining on even after we switched it off and the power indicator light went off. This struck me as a potential fire hazard (although I’m not an electrical engineer and don’t know whether there’s really a risk). It therefore occurred to me to report the problem both to Underwriters Laboratories (their seal is on the coffeemaker) and to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Surprisingly, I received email responses from both organizations. UL asked me to retain the coffeemaker and await instructions to send it to them if they decide they need it. However, I received a signed email from an individual at CPSC that included the following: “If you have not yet replaced the incident coffee maker, I would like to collect it from you so that CPSC Engineers can examine and test the unit. I can reimburse you your purchase price and would request that you do not dispose of the unit or return it to the manufacturer until we have had an opportunity to speak.” She had me at “reimburse.”

How cool is that? We get a friendly visit from a federal agent, plus we get a new coffeemaker and the taxpayer buys it for us.

So thank you very much.

And next time one of your appliances does something unexpected, don’t just toss it out and buy a new one. You’re a writer, right? So write—to CPSC. Maybe I’ll get to foot the bill for your replacement unit.

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