Dishwasher Saga: Part II, Finding a Replacement

As I detailed in my previous post, my beloved little dishwasher burst into flames and was beyond repair. It was time to buy a new one.

Dishwashers have changed in 13 years. They’ve got new-fangled ways of drying dishes (“condensation drying”), new finishes like stainless steel and a shiny version of battleship gray, fancy touchscreen displays, and displays that are hidden when the dishwasher is closed to give a nice clean look (marred only by the large logo badge on the bottom).

Toe touches

This is what it feels like to load the bottom rack in a tall tub dishwasher!

So perhaps the newest feature that is abundantly available on all of them are “tall tubs,” meaning that the taller tubs allow for more room on the top rack to place tall mugs and even plates. It does seem quite seductive to be able to put serving bowls and plates on the top rack, though I really never needed to do that with my old machine.

But have you noticed that almost every retailer displays the dishwashers on a 6” platform? Sure, it makes it easier to peer into them to see all those fancy feature. One of the problems with the tall tubs is that when the door is open, the lower rack is much, much closer to the floor. Elevating the dishwasher makes it seem to be the same height as the old dishwasher, hiding the fact that you’ll now be doing hamstring stretches and toe touches for every plate and utensil you put into the bottom rack.

Searching in the First Big Box

We started the search by going to the local big box home improvement store. My husband doesn’t like that store because you can’t get past the first aisle without some perky person with a clipboard asking, “If you could change one thing about your house, what would it be?” Then they try to sell you the service to change whatever you mentioned. We got lucky on this day, though. My husband, my son, and I made it halfway to the appliance section before some nerdy, college-age kid without a clipboard chased us down approached us to ask us a question. He introduced himself as a “marketing coordinator,” and asked what we were looking for. I cut him off by saying that our dishwasher just set itself on fire and all we are looking for is a new dishwasher as I kept briskly walking towards appliances. Like a little puppy, he trotted along side of us and helpfully offered that he could help us find the appliance section (never mind that we could see it that it’s two aisles in front of us), and then rambled on a bit about something, ending with the fact that he heard about rivers being on fire when he was younger. Whaaaaat? That relates to home improvement stores, dishwashers, and marketing…how?!

Oh well, he’ll leave us alone when we get to the dishwashers, right? Wrong. He started rambling about the various features with varying degrees of accuracy. Finally, the appliance sales person comes over and indicates she’ll take it from here. It took a minute or two, but he finally got the hint that she probably knows a lot more than he did. Which is true…though even she stumbled on some of the more basic questions.

I pretty much ignored her while trying to envision my cups, glasses, bowls, and kitchen gadgets fitting into the dishwasher. I wanted my favorite features like that long shelf that folds down in the upper rack that allows me to fill one row with two levels of small items like coffee cups, juice glasses, measuring cups, and water bottle lid. An adjustable top rack is mandatory. A countdown timer is a really nice feature. I wanted to peruse the new features, like washing only the top or bottom rack, different flatware caddies, and fancy new button layouts. I wanted to roll the racks in and out and contemplate the general quality of the dishwashers (none of them matched my old one!). But she just wanted to point out the selling points that I could plainly read on the signs above the dishwashers.

As my head approached the point of exploding from information overload (and general dismay over the lack of quality and truly usable features), we thanked her for her time. As we began to leave the appliance section, who do we run into? Yes, the Marketing Coordinator. He introduced himself, again, and started into his same spiel, AGAIN. He did not recognize us from where he left us 15 minutes ago!  After reminding him that he already helped us find the appliance section without any significant reaction on his part, we departed, scratching our heads.

More Research

We went across the street to the competitor and had a lovely shopping experience. The lone salesman took a moment from helping some customers to ask if we needed help and he’d be with us after he helped the couple. No problem, as we told him that we were early in our search. We were able to examine the dishwashers without distractions. We were able to discern that we didn’t really like any of the dishwashers. None of them seemed to have the useable features, build quality, or — most importantly — good reviews online. I love smartphones for doing research in the stores!

After a few more stores in the area, we went home and looked up reviews and researched Consumer Reports. It appears that the cool new features of dishwashers are stainless steel exteriors (great – my kitchen is white!) and that they’re really, really quiet. It also appears that wash cycles have been extended to two hours and the newfangled energy efficient drying capabilities are roundly panned by new owners.

There were a lot of things I didn’t like about today’s dishwashers which made it hard to choose one. First, this whole stainless steel exterior obsession doesn’t work in a white kitchen. And the stainless steel interior obsession isn’t as bright and clean feeling when the racks are gray. And how does one find the stainless steel spoon dropped in the dark, stainless steel tub?

A Silver (or Stainless Steel?) Lining

While things were looking bleak about finding a suitable dishwasher, at least we had the good fortune to look during the Fourth of July massive appliance sales (it’s what our founding fathers would have wanted, I’m sure). Prices were great! We narrowed our choices to an LG for $599 and a GE for $499. The LG had the fancy “condensation drying” that most people hated in their online reviews. The GE had a hybrid-dry function, the ability to wash just one rack of dishes, and a nice way to organize flatware. I liked one better (and by “liked,” I really mean, “disliked the least”), my husband liked the other. After discussing it for a few days, arguing the relative merits of each one and making a few field trips to look at them in person, we decided that we’d take the Samsung for $399. It has a fancy stainless steel interior, the “condensation drying” that’s supposed to be so energy efficient (makes hubby happy) and a decent build construction. Everything else seemed to be so similar to the others that I gave up caring. It wasn’t my Maytag, but it was a working dishwasher with all the latest features. Except the fold down shelf, the countdown timer, a delay start, a light colored interior, and a one-touch adjustable rack.

Money Saving Tip!

One thing I like about the Discover credit card is the ShopDiscover service. This gives you an additional cash back bonus when shopping online. The cash back value varies by vendor, but is usually 5% (sometimes 10% or more!). I login to my Discover account, click on ShopDiscover, click on the big box home improvement store logo which takes me to store’s website, load up my cart, pay with my Discover card, then wait for the email to tell me how much I’ll get back. In this case, it was $22.80. Totally worth it, especially when I am assured of not having to deal with a “Marketing Coordinator.”

Although it’s not everything I was hoping for, at least I’ll have a new dishwasher on the Monday, the 15th, according to the confirmation email.

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