I heard a news story that said that 30 to 50% of all online returns are thrown out. We go through all this folderol to return something we don't want, show up at the return location with our QR code and paperwork, and they turn around and dump it. You can understand; I wouldn't want to be "reconditioned boxer shorts" or "refurbished sweat socks" either.

Nevertheless, when the new coffeemaker stopped working, I wanted to return it. Did I keep the box? No. And even so, I didn't have all those plastic bags of air they use to cushion the thing in shipment. I suppose I could get out the air mattress pump and buy a bag of balloons. No, let's see if I can solve the problem.

Googling the machine's name — XR-0034349dC, or something equally melodious — brought up the Amazon page. In a nostalgic mood, I recalled the day I'd read the product reviews before I bought the unit.

  • Made pretty good coffee for a day, then it melted down into a puddle of superheated plastic that burned through the countertop. I thought we had granite, guess not. Now suing the contractor.
  • Love it!!!! It makes coffee. I love coffee! Would buy again. In fact I have, twice, because it breaks.
  • I was initially enticed by the unit's ability to straddle the two paradigms of coffee making in the year of our Lord 2021, the pot and the single cup. It reminds one of the mythical centaur, both man and horse, yet somehow neither. I am pleased to say that it performs both jobs well, just as I, a classically trained Latin scholar, am able to do both my janitorial work and my hobby translating the manual for the Samsung 32353W dishwasher into Etruscan.
  • Broke before I got to make a cup. Didn't work. OK, I dropped it, but still.
  • It makes a screeching sound that made my dog claw through the drywall to escape, but we got him earmuffs. Helpful hint: Use bungee cords to secure the earmuffs tightly, and distract dog with peanut butter smeared all over a large dish. We find a Frisbee throwing disc is best, as the peanut butter collects in the rim, and the dog is so intent on getting all the bits out he does not notice the shrill scream of the machine.
  • The single-cup feature worked great for six months, then it stopped. Sent it back. Now just drinking Taster's Choice Crystals. Actually I snort a spoonful, then drink some hot water.

That last one: ah hah! That's what happened to me! The single-cup side failed. Why did I ignore this review? Because it had happened to someone else, so I didn't think it would happen to me.

Well, I knew what to do. It had to be descaled. I had to pour some slimy fluid in the water tank to eliminate scaling. How is it possible that I have been drinking water all my life and never had my throat close up because of deposits? And I don't even have a throat filter. My coffeemaker has a water filter. What's it doing?

Then I realized I hadn't changed the coffeemaker's water filter. Why? Because no one changes the coffeemaker's water filter, and — oh, OK, you in the back with your hand up. What.

"I always change the filter at the recommended intervals, to ensure a fresh cup every time."

I see. And do you make quarterly estimated tax payments as well?

"Funny you should ask! The filter is supposed to be replaced every three months, and when it arrives from Amazon — I have delivery set up on a recurring basis — I sit down and write out a check to the IRS."

I see. And are all your socks nestled in a drawer, arranged by color and thickness? Do you have a filing cabinet with the tabs arrayed in cascading order of importance, with the last one saying WILL, containing thumb drives labeled with the names of your spouse and children, containing instructions on the disposition of your estate?

"That's a good idea. I mean, yes, but the thumb drives aren't stored in order of the children's births."

You're welcome. Anyway, the descaling didn't work. That meant it was a cup-lancing needle issue.

Cleaning the needle required using another, smaller needle to dislodge any atoms of coffee lodged in the machine's urethra. I found a safety pin in my wife's sewing kit amongst all the danger pins, straightened it out and worked it around inside the machine. Which, of course, was plugged in to the socket. Great. Wife would come home, I'm on the floor smoking, a safety pin in my hand, but the coffeemaker's just made a full pot. So we've got that going for us.

As far as I could tell, I dislodged nothing, but when I tried to make a cup, it worked. When my wife asked if I'd had any success, I could honestly say, "We have a fully descaled machine with no needle detritus, and I don't have to inflate any balloons."

We're now out of descaling solution, though. I'll have to order that. Right after I buy some filters.