Wednesday, August 29, 2007

user-hostile design

The designers of the Kenmore Ultrawash Model 665 appear to think that cold water in the machine is sufficient reason to disable the entire appliance. The 'Clean' light starts blinking in a pathetic call for help, and nothing else responds. The manual directs us to 'call Sears maintenance'. Sears maintenance has a two-week lead time, and a $65 minimum. Washing dishes by hand for the next two weeks sends my evening 45-minute kitchen cleanup into an hour-and-a-half, which pushes bedtime back to well after 11, which means I’m short two hours of sleep every night instead of just one.

Luckily Google is our friend, and reveals the secret keypad dance that may unlock the frozen software bowels of this bugger.

Clean light flashes 7 times, only function available is drain. Start flashes quickly when pressed.
I was told the water temp. going into the machine was too cold and that you should run the water at the sink before starting the machine.
To clear the flashing light code, hit 'heated dry' then 'normal wash', then 'heated dry' and 'normal wash' and then all lights will light up. Hit 'cancel' and it's hi-ho Silver, awaay we go.

This is spectacularly user-hostile. The feature appears to be shared with several Whirlpool machines as well - a good argument for buying AEG.

Update 9/20: $200 for a new heater element. Coincidentally, the warranty period expired just two months ago. Also, there's a recall on some earlier models for fire hazards. Kenmore had a good record in Consumer Reports for repair history but I think it just lost it.

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