Coffee MakerIn days gone by you would purchase an appliance or electronic device and it would come with a user manual that included troubleshooting tips and care instructions along with a how-to-guide to the item you bought. If you were really organized you took your receipt for that purchase and stapled it into the cover of the user manual and put that manual with all your other manuals. You would do this so that if something went wrong with your purchase within the warranty period you would have proof of your purchase date. Nowadays you’re lucky to get a hard copy manual at all especially if you’ve bought something that has software associated with it.

So this week a client asked me to have her coffee maker repaired. The coffee maker has a built in grinder and she was getting an error message associated with the grinder and therefore couldn’t make coffee. I’m a big opponent of combo products, but that’s an issue for another day.

I picked up the coffee maker and took it home to look at. I had no user manual and didn’t know what the error message meant or what might be raising it. The coffee maker’s web site wasn’t very useful and links to the user manual pdf didn’t work. However the manufacturer’s web site did tell me that most of their products had a limited 1 year warranty, with some having longer warranties on specific parts.

I asked my client when she bought the coffee maker – “sometime last year”. So my next question was “do you have the receipt?”. She wasn’t sure but thought maybe she could find the purchase date by searching through her purchases on the Amex web site. Another option might have been checking with Williams Sonoma where she made the purchase to see if they store customer purchase info in their computer system.

In the meantime I found a pdf of the user manual at ManualLibs and proceeded to scan it for information. I eventually figured out that the grinder was clogged and needed a good cleaning. I cleaned it and made coffee to verify that this was indeed the problem and was really pleased that I had been able to fix it.

So here’s my advice when buying appliances and electronics –
Create a directory on your computer named user manuals. If you don’t get a user manual with your purchase, and even if you do, check the web for a pdf version and download it to the directory. Scan your receipt or take a picture of it and store the image in the same directory. This way you’ll know where everything is and have easy access to what you need should a repair be necessary.