Monday, July 27, 2009

10 Lessons when waiting for a fix

Our dishwasher is broken. It bleeps and light flashes quickly for four times. The water is not pumped away and after trying to reset the machine, it keeps offering water. Don’t do this at home because after a few trials the floor gets wet.

As always, when something breaks the time is never right. With dishwashers, they break when you need them, or not? In this case we noticed it wasn’t working because there were some dishes to clean. When the machine stops, it really stops. To process for a solution might be quite interesting.

When the machine told us there is something wrong I went to the machine and investigate what symptoms there are:
- Water in the machine
- Clean dishes (it stopped at the end of a cycle)
- 4 Short bleeps and blinking light
- Reset button functions
- Restart shows same behaviour after a few minutes
- Water was offered to machine
- No other noises

With this information I went to the internet and performed a search based on the symptoms and brand of the machine. Somehow I didn’t had the information available about the specific type. I found several threads mentioning several options to do:
1. Clean the machine using some special cleaning stuff
2. Hire a mechanic
3. Do it yourself (some “detailed” information how to do this was also offered in terms like: remove screws, check, be careful)

As it was weekend when this behaviour initially started I couldn’t do anything at that moment. This bothered me and made me feel bad since we got used to this delightful machine.

As a good husband I tried to fix it myself the easiest way, telling my wife to clean the machine by buying the tablets which should do the trick. As the machine was still under guarantee she called the store and heard that if the machine is the problem, only the call out charges has to be paid. If the problem is blockage of the filter, then we had to pay also the hourly fee.

After a short discussion with me by wife bought and used the tablets and it worked for a while. Only now it is broken again. Again we tried to clean the machine which didn't work. It seems that the pollution wasn’t the problem after all.
Lesson 1: If the symptoms are gone after trying a solution, this doesn’t mean that it was the proper solution, it can be coincidence.

Together we made a decision to call out for the mechanic. They were responding very quickly, within 3 days, he will come and check under the same conditions. We accepted the risk that it didn't had to do with the machine and we might have to pay also for the hourly fee. We were able to avoid this by calling in a plumber. Only this would also cost money and no solution is guaranteed.
Lesson 2: When making a decision who should help, call in the proper person based on own investigation and others.

Today is the day, the mechanic will come. The waiting is started as the store mentioned that he would here between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM. "Fortunately" he will give a call in front just 1/2 hour before he would arrive. I have to admit, when the period is there when solutions are entering a certain time window, uncertainty is more annoying when calling in terms of hours then in days. You have to adapt your schedule based on this uncertainty.
Lesson 3: Communicate when an agreement is made on delivering solutions. Time schedules have to become more detailed when the time is right.

While writing, the mechanic called. He will be here within 20 minutes. Now the moment of truth becomes closer, what should we pay after all? And will there be a solution provided? I already prepared myself by being able what I have done to avoid discussion that it is not the machine and that we urgently need a solution for this problem.
Lesson 4: Be prepared when a solution is offered, communication on arguments become more important otherwise you might have to pay for false reasons.

Of course, we have a workaround, doing the dishes manually. Only this is not a proper solution as the dishwasher is using valuable space in the kitchen which will become useless.
Lesson 5: Workarounds should be temporarily, as there are other costs then the usage of missing functionality.

The mechanic just left. As the outcome was not yet clear in the beginning it seems to me important to assist him removing stuff which stood in the way of investigation. I could decide that he can do it himself, only I would spent valuable time from him and since the verdict was not yet made I probably had to pay for it. During the process of investigation and problem solving I was around for assisting and answering questions, trying to avoid not being in the way.
Lesson 6: Provide support which is in your area, avoid discussions and certainly those who area out of your field of expertise.

Within minutes he found the problem. He solved it and also made some adjustments to the "infrastructure" as he couldn't find the cause of it, only noticed that there was something wrong which could be easily fixed which might avoid similar problems in the future.
Lesson 7: If the problem is solved, also take some time for the situation.

After everything was set in the proper place, like the front desk of the dishwasher etc, he performed some small test. he turned on the machine and observed the behaviour. He also listened if it sound right and if the problem actually was gone.
Lesson 8: Let the "problem-shooter" convince himself that the problem is gone. This can be done by demonstration.

Now there was some time to offer him coffee. The mechanic is also human and this was a good opportunity to show respect and recognition. During this few minutes, he was a fast coffee drinker, he explained more about the situation, how it could happen and also a bit about his work.
Lesson 9: Show respect and recognition in a proper way. You perhaps need him again. Don't exaggerate.

At the end, the bill has still to be paid. Fortunately, we had to pay only for the call out charges. The mechanic explained that it felt under the guarantee conditions as he couldn't find the exact cause. He also provided information about situations it wouldn't be part of the guarantee.
Lesson 10: Ask for information about the situation so you are able in the future to narrow your initial decision about what to do.

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