Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A Fridge Too far

This week I have the pleasure of looking after a friend’s house while they are on holiday. It’s the usual sort of thing; picking up the junk mail, forgetting to water the plants until the last day and then flooding them, putting the appropriate coloured bin out on the appropriate day at the appointed hour and then returning in the evening to replace the unemptied bin back in the garden, because the rules about putting bins out at certain times apply only to householders, and not to the council binmen. Oops, sorry – that’s incorrect. Recycling and environmentally aware personnel, employed by a private company operating on behalf of the Council at the lowest possible price. The reason the tender was so cheap was that the private company figured it could save loads of money by not sending any bin lorries out at all, thus saving fuel and staffing costs – well, it makes sense in a twisted 21st Century accountant’s view, which is the only view that matters to Councils these days.

But I’ve digressed. Yesterday I had a text reminding me to water the plants – as if I’d forget! There was also a curious add-on of ‘Please put the fridge on vacation mode.’ Do what? Just what in hell was that supposed to mean? Do I give it a sombrero and mix a vodka martini (chilled, of course) then play Macarena while it breakdances round the kitchen like R2D2 on Ecstasy to put it into the holiday groove? I’m confused.

"Happy days are here again ..."

So after work I called around to the house and checked the fridge out. Now to me, a fridge is a big white box in the kitchen that keeps beer chilled until such time as I would like to consume it. That’s it.

A proper fridge. Deal with it.

It would appear that I’m missing something, because the fridge at my friends’ house looks like something out of a James Bond film. Apart from the fact that it’s so tall it only just fits into the kitchen, it has an operating console with lots of buttons and coloured lights. How’s this for a quick rundown of its features:

Electronic temperature control
Twin compressors
Water dispenser
High temperature warning system
Salad crisper (what the f… never mind)
Fast chill facility
Vacation mode
Built in anti bacterial protection
Cruise control
Four USB ports
DVD writer …

… and so on. Okay, I got a bit carried away towards the end, but this beast is apparently no ordinary fridge according to the (strategically placed) operating manual that had been not so subtly left out on the worktop adjacent to it.

On the drive home I began thinking – how much of the blurb written by Hotpoint to entice the buyer into choosing this model is true, and how much is essentially total bollocks designed simply to part gullible shoppers from their cash? Here is my interpretation of the so-called features on this model:

Electronic temperature control – A dial with numbers on it. Set it once and leave it forever. Gimmick.
Twin compressors – If you need two, then obviously, they’re not big enough. So put one proper one in. Job done. Gimmick.
Water dispenser – In my experience, all fridges are located within three strides of the kitchen sink, conveniently equipped with water dispensers of their own, called taps. Gimmick.
High temperature warning system. What does this do? Yell upstairs, ‘Oi, I’m boiling down here, turn it down a bit!’
Salad crisper – will someone please tell me what the hell a salad crisper is? On the other hand, I’d rather die in ignorance. Gimmick.
Fast chill facility. Yes, this is called the DOOR. Close it, and the fridge chills down quickly. I mean, you don’t need Einstein for that, now do you?
Vacation mode. This is also the DOOR. If you go on holiday, shut the door and leave all the cold air inside. How hard can it be?
Built in anti bacterial protection. See electronic temperature control. Cold kills bugs – end of.
Airbags, Cruise control, Four USB ports, DVD writer … Okay, okay, I made this up. But the day is not far off when these will become standard. And people will buy them on the strength of this, and not because it can keep your milk chilled.

So what does all this prove – well, to my mind, it means that Hotpoint, and the rest of that crowd, have discovered that by sexing up the traditional fridge into a Chilled Food Environment Facilitator, they can double the price without the inconvenience of doing anything more strenuous than sticking a fancy mission-control ‘console’ onto it, along with some pretty lights and a 600 page manual written by a Civil Servant. And people rush to part with their £399 so that they can then have sleepless nights in Tenerife, worrying that the fridge hasn’t been told and isn’t performing Agadoo in a conga with the tumbledryer and dishwasher.

Is it me? Or do I just need to chill?

Ah, now it all makes sense.


  1. Very amusing, Martin! You do need to chill... our fridge packed in this week, spewing horrible smelling pink coolant all over the floorboards. The people downstairs were not amused. Then the kettle packed in, followed by my anglepoise lamp and as a last flourish, the mighty muddlermobile (new wheel bearing needed...quick smart!). Not a good week..so your blog post gave me a much needed dose of laughter!

  2. It's supposed to come in threes - you've really got unlucky this time to get four in one week. I'm just hoping that my fridge doesn't read the post and get miffed ...


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