One new boiler and six gripes

The Tribune (NZ) - - COMMUNITY COOKBOOK - ROB STOCK rob.stock@fair­fax­me­

With a hiss and a bang, my water cylin­der gave up the ghost af­ter 28 years.

I ex­pe­ri­enced the sink­ing feel­ing you get when it’s time to call a plum­ber.

I was about to get a great deal poorer.

Also, I knew next to noth­ing about water heat­ing op­tions.

Haste and ig­no­rance are the ene­mies of good de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

Thank heav­ens for the in­ter­net, and the En­ergy Efficiency and Con­ser­va­tion Author­ity’s (EECA) water heat­ing com­par­i­son cal­cu­la­tor.

It lets you plug in your own num­bers (power costs/us­age/ in­stal­la­tion cost) to come up with ball-park an­nual and life­time costs for dif­fer­ent water heat­ing sys­tems.

Not ev­ery­thing was great in 48-hour quest to rein­tro­duce hot water into my life.

I was about to ex­pe­ri­ence a re­fresher in the less ad­mirable as­pects mod­ern con­sumer life.


Why do trades­men in­sist on quot­ing with­out in­clud­ing GST? Its border­line mis­lead­ing.

I don’t ex­pect a su­per­mar­ket to charge me ‘‘$1.50 plus GST’’ for a choco­late slab, and hand me a cal­cu­la­tor to work out what I need to pay them.

‘‘I have a masochis­tic ten­dency to ask peo­ple sell­ing me ap­pli­ances how long I should ex­pect them to last.’’


The Con­sumer Guar­an­tees Act says goods and ser­vices must be of ac­cept­able qual­ity.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ war­ranties rou­tinely seek to mis­lead con­sumers into think­ing they don’t have to be.

In re­search­ing my op­tions, I came across war­ranties claim­ing the mak­ers were only li­able if com­po­nents failed in the first 12 months.

Rub­bish. A water cylin­der that is of ac­cept­able qual­ity shouldn’t fail in 10 years.

If mine does, I shall head to the Dis­putes Tri­bunal, like a man I wrote about two years’ ago who made con­sumer his­tory when his chest freezer gave up the ghost af­ter seven years.

The maker told him the freezer was out­side its war­ranty pe­riod. The man went to the tri­bunal, which agreed a freezer should last at least 10 years, and or­dered the maker to pay him $560.


A 90 kilo­gramme water cylin­der de­liv­ered by a solo young woman with no idea how to get it off the flat back truck. A war­ranty marked ‘‘Aus­tralia Only’’. A cylin­der I had to ask to be brack­eted to the out­side wall af­ter I read the in­stal­la­tion in­struc­tions.

It seems some­times that busi­nesses have cut back so far, they’re not do­ing the ba­sics right.


I have a masochis­tic ten­dency to ask peo­ple sell­ing me ap­pli­ances how long I should ex­pect them to last.

Ten years for my water cylin­der, my plum­ber said.

He went on to say how things used to last so much longer in the old days be­fore we ex­ported our man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs over­seas.

Ap­par­ently, the $3450 I spent this week will have to be re­peated in 10 years time when I’m 55, and then again when I’m 65, and then again when I’m 75, and then again when I’m 85.

I’m not sure ei­ther my fi­nances, or the planet can take that kind of built-in ob­so­les­cence.

I’d pre­fer a new water cylin­der ev­ery 28 years.


Plumb­ing does not come cheap.

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