Frosty Fridge Serves Up Ale-Flavored Ice Lollies

The whacked-out temperature controls on EE Mike Kotecki’s Viking fridge were keeping things just a little too cool

m100382-sub-beverage-centers-full-overlay.jpg The whacked-out temperature controls on EE Mike Kotecki’s Viking fridge were keeping things just a little too cool: “We moved into a new, used home two years ago that had a built-in bar in the living room. (Talk about closing tactics!) Anywho, it had a very nice 15-year-old built-in “under-cabinet” Sub Zero beverage refrigerator, that, as far as I could tell from the constant hum, cost about $400/month to keep my beer and tonic cold. So, I went out shopping and soul searching for an energy-efficient replacement.

There were several hundred “dorm” units that would have done quite nicely for $100-$200 as you may imagine. However, being a new nothing-but-the-best home owner, I figured that I needed the top of the line Viking stainless steel unit with the frosted glass door, mood lighting and pull-out wine rack. It served me very well for exactly one month past the two-year warranty. Now, when I wrote the check for $1,500 to buy this, the last refrigerator I will ever need, I figured that I could just Krazy Glue it in the cabinet since a work of engineering like this will certainly never need to be serviced. However, I noticed–as I’m mopping up the frozen Sam Adams slurry that was oozing from the door onto the carpet–my thermometer in the refrigerator, scratch that, freezer, read 4F. I called “Customer Service” at Viking and the gal was neither customer- nor service-oriented. Considering myself a bit handy and figuring that statistically, I’m probably not the first person to call her with this issue, I asked for a probable diagnosis and part number(s). You know, something simple like: control unit, thermostat, thermistor, potentiometer, etc. “Nope, these issues require professional service,” she said. Next thing a very pleasant Viking-authorized gent with a righteous plumber’s crack drove 30 miles with the service kit of stuff to convert my freezer back to a refrigerator. The kit included a control unit, thermostat, thermistor and potentiometer. I then had the challenging task of convincing Viking that when a guy has to replace most of the electrics in a 25-month-old, $1,500 mini-refrigerator, that it really ought to be under warranty.”



  1. D Valentine: Sadly when the manufacturer has your money, he applies warranty times to the millisecond.
    This isn’t always true – I had an Apple eMac that was out-of-warranty and basically ceased functioning about three weeks after the extended warranty expired because of a capacitor flaw, and I was pretty easily able to convince an upper-level CS rep to give me a Customer Satisfaction Authorization Code to take to the local repair shop and get it fixed for free.

  2. Interesting!
    We have just fixed an Ice Cuber for a local Restaurant -bought in April at £600, it failed after 2 days. We got involved early August after it became apparent local “white goods service man” spent more time with the bottle than he did with his business!
    After 2 months and 3 replacement control pcb’s we have it working –
    clearly caused because control board comes in 8 (visually identical) versions (air cooled/water cooled + 2 different refrigerant gas versions). Each board differs only in the way the PIC Processor chip is set up but no-one had thought the storeman at the manufacturers spares centre ought to know this!
    To add insult to injury, the Manufacturer offers no parts or labour warrenty for kit sold outside the UK mainland. We in Channel Islands.
    An expensive exercise for the client -the repair cost now being about 50% of the original equipment cost!

  3. Sadly when the manufacturer has your money, he applies warranty times to the millisecond.
    In the past I have had enough bad experiences with several well known brand names to realise that purchase price does not correlate with build quality, reliability, or after sales service..
    My solution on most domestic items is to buy cheap, run them till they break, then replace. A common practice now. The local tip is full of nearly new white & electronic goods awaiting transport to some far off country for recycling, or dumping where landfill taxes are lower and environmental concerns less.

  4. In the UK you would probably be on good ground legally. Regardless of warranty periods, products are legally required to be ‘suitable for purpose’ – and a short life for an expensive product is not considered ‘suitable for purpose’. It might depend on the cost/complexity of the repair.

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