Thursday, July 31, 2008

The frustrations of globalization

On Tuesday, I took my old Sunbeam water purifier, which leaked every time I used it, to the recycling center. I then headed to the electrical goods store to buy a replacement. A routine operation, you might think.

About half an hour later, I had my new machine on the kitchen bench at home. The machine's design had changed, but its principle seemed to be much the same. It even used the same filter cartridge.

The instructions left a little to be desired, but were probably superfluous. After all, there is not much more to do than fill the machine's receptacle with water and switch it on.

All went well until I noticed that water was leaking from the base as well as spurting into the jug I had positioned under the spout. I switched the machine off and consulted the "troubleshooting" section of the instructions. These said such leakages could be caused, as in the case of the previous model, by an incorrectly fitted cartridge.

I removed the cartridge and reinserted it. No improvement. I called the help line and was put through to a gentleman with an Indian accent. Where was he, I wondered. In Bangalore?

The man suggested I check a screw on the base, which might be loose. It wasn't. Eventually, I took the machine back to the shop, which gave me a replacement.

End of problem, I thought. I was wrong. I couldn't get any water to pass through the second machine, and returned it to the shop the next day. I suggested that someone demonstrate its use to me. Of course, everyone was too busy to do that, although a mere 10 minutes would have been enough.

The store called Sunbeam, which suggested I be given a third machine. The store didn't have one, so I accepted the offer of a refund. And now I have no water purifier.

Was I doing something wrong? I don't know. Perhaps the fact that Sunbeam has outsourced its production to China had something to do with my difficulties. In the good old days, when appliances were made locally, I could have taken the machines back to the factory, and found out whether they were, indeed, faulty.

Three cheers for globalization!


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