When my tumble dryer broke, I didn’t have high hopes of the chatbot. But the human was even less useful | Adrian Chiles

From where I’m sitting at this moment I can order some groceries to be brought to my door in a matter of hours. I can get anything from a cup of coffee to a three-course meal delivered within minutes. In terms of personal services that I could summon at a moment’s notice – well, put it like this, I wish I hadn’t checked. I can buy almost anything I want from anywhere in the world for delivery at a set time. Big things and small. Big white things, for example, such as dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers. A couple of clicks and they’ll be on their way, not a problem. Easy. But should my brand new dishwasher, washing machine or tumble dryer require a repair of some sort, that’s a different story. At this point, time seems to slow down like the drum at the end of a spin cycle.

If I may write the most boring sentence I’ve ever written, my new condenser tumble dryer worked fine but didn’t seem to be collecting any water. An unnerving, unsettling state of affairs, I’m sure you’ll agree. I went to the manufacturer’s website and gave the chatbot short shrift by demanding contact with a human, who then materialised. This human, if it was a human, proved to be of limited use. During the early exchanges in this live chat tennis I felt as if I got across the nature of my problem quite clearly. Not so. At the conclusion of the opening rally, the human put me completely off my stroke by asking me what kind of machine I was talking about. I checked. I’d told them that. A dryer. Then the human asked me what it said in the manual about my problem. So I gave up on this human and asked for another, more competent human. And at this point, of course, if you set aside the infernal modern madness of chatbots’ livechats and whatnot, we essentially return to the last century.

An engineer’s visit was arranged for two weeks later. I made arrangements to be in. Then it was rearranged for the day before, and I had to arrange for someone else to be in. And finally the engineer came, couldn’t find any fault, and left again. So I’m giving up on tumble drying, going back to basics, and hanging things out to dry instead.

Adrian Chiles is a broadcaster, writer and Guardian columnist

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Sitting in my current location, I have the convenience of ordering groceries to my door within hours. Whether it’s a cup of coffee or a three-course meal, I can have it delivered in no time. I can easily access personal services at a moment’s notice, allowing me to purchase almost anything from around the world for delivery at a specified time. However, when it comes to repairing big appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, or tumble dryers, the process seems to slow down significantly.

Recently, my new condenser tumble dryer was not collecting water as it should. Frustrated, I reached out to the manufacturer’s website for assistance. Despite initially explaining my issue clearly, the response I received was not helpful. After a series of unproductive exchanges, an engineer was scheduled to visit two weeks later, only to be rescheduled the day before. Ultimately, the engineer found no fault and left, leaving me to resort to old-fashioned methods of drying my laundry.

In the end, I have decided to give up on tumble drying and go back to hanging my clothes out to dry. It’s a reminder that sometimes, simplicity is the best solution.

Adrian Chiles is a broadcaster, writer, and Guardian columnist. If you have thoughts on the topics discussed in this article, you can submit a response of up to 300 words for consideration in our letters section.