“But why aren’t your fridge and stove working properly?”
Well, this is part of the fun of our move.
First of all, the background. I had been perusing the online Israeli classifieds for months to get a sense of what a good price for the items I would be needing would be. Before we left, I wrote down some phone numbers of things so we could call about them as soon as we got there. That was very good foresight, and would have worked if we had a way to transport the items we bought home. I assumed since so many people here don’t have vehicles, that we could hire someone to help us move something, or rent a vehicle to move something ourselves. Logical assumption, don’t you think? Well, that may have been logical, but it wasn’t the way it worked out.
When we arrived here, we found on the second floor of our apartment that a number of pieces of furniture had been left behind. The real estate agent told us the tenant wanted to leave it in exchange for the cost of paint for the part of the apartment they hadn’t gotten to. Now, a couple of months before, the tenant had offered to sell me most of these pieces at extremely high rates. (I told you, I was checking the classifieds regularly so I would be able to recognize a bargain or a rip off.) I passed along a message that I’d pay half the price she was charging, or buy the things I needed on my own. No response, which was fine with me. I’m not a stupid, rich, or desperate American.
So when I got there and saw these items, I already knew these were things she didn’t want. Also, it was clear that they started taking the furniture apart and then it was too much work for them to take it all down the spiral staircase, so they just left it all there. The clothes closet was totally taken apart, but no screws or clothing rods were left behind; the bookshelf of the desk had the backing ripped off and they took it with them, the bed was old and nothing I wanted for even a day in our home….and they left behind a stove.
The stove ended up being helpful, since we had no appliances, had arrived Thursday afternoon, and had no way to cook for our first Shabbos. The stove top was cleaned and kashered, and dd16 was then able to cook our first Shabbos meal here. However, the oven was very, very dirty – extremely. It took another two weeks of scrubbing and cleaning before we could kasher and use it. Once we kashered it, we learned that the door doesn’t close fully (stays about 1/4 inch open when baking). We propped something against it to keep the heat in, which was a workable solution, but it was too small for a family our size, and trying to maximize the cooking space in it to suit our needs resulted in foods that were either burnt or undercooked. (This wouldn’t be an issue for someone content to use just one or two shelves at a time.)
Back to our first few days here – I wanted to buy through the online classifieds, but was stymied because we had no way to transport anything home. Dh called a couple of people who did moving, and said it would be between 200 – 400 shekels to bring something from someone else’s home ten minutes away, even if we did all the moving work ourselves.
So when someone recommended a second hand store to us, we decided to look into it. I have a lot of experience and a high level of confidence in buying used furniture and appliances, but only buy directly from the person who used it. I like to see not only the item, but get a sense of the person selling it, why they are selling it – particularly with used appliances that I don’t have a way to know how well they work when I buy them – I buy only if I trust the person. I’ve never had a problem, except with a used vehicle when I put my better judgement aside.
The sole appeal of this store was that we could see what he had, and have it home that day – and at a time when we had no way how to get anywhere to view things, and no way to bring things home even if we could view them, this was definitely a huge appeal. The quality of his things weren’t the kind of thing I usually look for, and because he had about six different storage rooms with things piled haphazardly on top of one another, it was hard to really see what he had.
We ended up buying a fridge, washer, couches, a clothing closet, bunk bed, and another kids bed from this seller. I felt the furniture was a decent price, though I could get much better quality for the same price from a seller directly, but the fridge and washer seemed to me to be very overpriced for what it was. Dh said his priority was to get a fridge that day, and since we needed something, so we bought it.
When we got home, we learned the fridge didn’t close fully, and didn’t cool down well. A mid size bottle of water after twelve hours in the freezer still wouldn’t be frozen. When the food we cooked on Thursday night was spoiled when we served it for Shabbos, because the fridge couldn’t keep it cold enough, I told dh we couldn’t keep hoping the fridge would be usable, since it clearly was a problem. Before we bought the fridge I had asked the seller what would happen if there was a problem with the fridge, and he said he would take care of it (definitely vague about what that meant). So dh told him the fridge hardly cooled anything and we wanted a refund. (He still had made plenty of money off of us with our other purchases.)
Instead, he came to our house to fix the fridge, and the next morning, it was worse. All the food that had been frozen was now defrosted. So dh spoke to him again. The store owner told him to come in and pick out another fridge, but when I got there later in the day after spending hours that morning taking care of school enrollments and going to the Ministry of Absorption, he was grumpy and irritated with me because I hadn’t come sooner. I didn’t get to choose a fridge – he told me which fridge we could take – it was smaller than the one we had bought, too small – but insisted that’s what we could have and he was losing money because of his generosity to us. Right. All we had to do was pay another 200 shekels for delivery, and the delivery guys would bring it over and take the broken one out.
Well, at this point I wasn’t sure I wanted anything else to do with this guy, but hoped that the replacement fridge would be better than the first, even if it was small. It definitely looked a lot nicer, and the seal on the fridge was good so the door actually fully closed. An improvement. We had already spent 1200 shekels and I thought another 200 might be more ‘spilled milk’, but it also might redeem the money already spent. Unfortunately, this fridge also didn’t work too well, and the vegetables we bought on Thursday to last us for the week already look like they’re at the end of their life span, just three days later.
Several days ago I met a retired Israeli policewoman who took a liking to me, and we spent quite a bit of time together one afternoon, going through things she was selling/giving away. She’s a warm and good hearted person, but when I mentioned we were going to be looking for a fridge because I bought one at a second hand store, her demeanor changed as she said, “Don’t tell me you bought from David? That disgusting, dishonest, horrible person!” I told her that dh and I assumed he must be honest or he couldn’t still be in business in Karmiel after so many years. She told me all the locals know to stay away from him (interestingly, even someone I asked directions from today for a different second hand store mentioned his store, and when I said he wasn’t honest, told me he was well aware of that already), that they know his stuff is overpriced, he pushes things on people, and the fridge will break within a week of getting it. She was so upset about our experience, though it seems like it’s typical for at least a good number of his customers.
So we’ve now spent 1400 skekels and still don’t have a fridge that works properly; right now it’s kind of like a cooler. If something is cool, it will keep it cool. And overnight, when no one is opening the fridge, things can actually get cold and in the freezer, frozen. Maybe we can keep it as a backup fridge. I’m working on getting new (used) appliances, but in the meantime, this is what I have!