Opinion: Read the Directions; At Least Check for Shipping Bolts

by | Sep 16, 2022

By Brian Ricca, EdD

The Ricca family has faced a few challenges, transitioning from our life in Vermont, particularly when it comes to our home. Our new home needed a good deal of work, and needless to say, it’s not done yet. Fortunately, we live in it, have what we need, and take it one day at a time. 

One of the necessary items for a family of four, including two teenage boys, is a washing machine and a dryer. The former owners had these appliances in the master bathroom, so we also kept them there. Unfortunately, the master bathroom is under construction, so we prioritized the area for these critical appliances. The tile was down, the grout was in place, we waited patiently, and then with the help of a licensed plumber and electrician, the washer and dryer were installed! 

We started the first load of laundry in our new home with great anticipation. Laundry is one of those chores that happens in the background. You put the dirty wash in and go about doing something else until it’s time to switch to the dryer. Then when the dryer is done, the real work of laundry begins: the folding! It’s mindless enough to do while watching TV, but still, it’s the most time-consuming part of the process. 

Fortunately, My Wife had the foresight to teach Our Boys how to do laundry when they both reached double digits, so we allowed our children to have the honor of the first “spin.” As we did our work in the house, thunderous noises came from the master bath. Way louder than any washing machine I’ve ever heard. The machine also moved. A decent amount. However, the fact that it was working, that we had one, and we were doing laundry in our own home really overrode any concerns we might have had. 

Unfortunately, the same thing happened when our second son ran his laundry and when we ran ours. There was something wrong with the washing machine. We were crushed – and I’m not exaggerating. This was one thing we had going for us: laundry in our own home. 

So with great reluctance and steeling myself for more than an hour on hold, I dialed the 800 number on the manual to speak to someone from Samsung. When I finally reached a human being, I described what was happening. The noise, the banging, the movement. As you might surmise, the individual I spoke with did not have English as their first language, so it was sometimes difficult to understand them. 

The Samsung representative asked me to compare how the inside of the washer felt to the inside of the dryer. They were about the same – although the washer should have had some “give” with the drum. When I reported that I could not push the inside of the washer at all, the customer service rep sent me a link with permission to use the camera on my phone to see for themselves what was happening with our machine. I clicked on the link, and within a few seconds, the individual on the telephone had eyes on my washer. 

After some more questions and directions to me, I was asked to move the washer out to get a look at the back of the unit. Fortunately, one of the men working on our house was there and could help me. We pulled the machine out, and I showed the Samsung employee what the back of it looked like. When the individual on the phone first said “shipping bolts,” I could not understand them. I asked them to repeat themselves, and I clearly heard those words this time. Directing me through the wonders of internet connectivity, this person asked me to point my phone in each of the four corners of the back of the unit. I found four large, black plastic covers that, after taking off the cover, and unscrewing the six-inch screws, allowed me to return to the front of the washer, push on the drum, and feel some give!

Shipping bolts are precautions that manufacturers put in place to ensure that the drum of the washing machine does not move at all during the shipping process. They are to be removed once the unit has been put in its final location and before any water lines or electricity is connected. Looking back on the manual, it did direct me to do that right there in Step 2. 

I’m a directions guy. I was that teacher. Early in my career, I gave the dreaded “Directions Test.” You know, the one where I tell my students to read the directions carefully. The directions say something like, “Only answer Number 10!” That mistake was one of many that I made as a baby teacher…

There I stood, admiring a quiet, humming washing machine that didn’t dance across my floor. It’s the small things in life you have to take stock of and be grateful for. 

Like reading directions. And shipping bolts. Or the lack thereof. 

Brian G. Ricca, EdD, is the superintendent of East Greenwich Public Schools.


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