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Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Inverters and the repair thereof:

An inverter is something commonly found in homes and businesses in the Dominican Republic, but we had actually never even heard of such a thing before arriving in this country and rolling up our sleeves to the task of establishing Playa Vista. For the uninitiated an “inverter” is a piece of electrical equipment used in conjunction with car-type storage batteries as a source of power back up. We have mentioned in the past that although the country as a whole suffers great difficulties with its electrical supply, we are generally blessed in Boca Chica usually suffering only sporadic interruptions. However, even that necessitates a back up and we have an inverter – actually two – with quite a raft of the obligatory batteries connected up.
Our smaller 400 watt inverter, used as a back up to our computers, had for some reason or other failed and with unfortunate predictability sat in a nearby Andres workshop entirely unattended for several weeks with the usual and oft-repeated promise that it would be fixed mañana… we even misguidedly thought the down payment we made for services to be rendered would speed things along! Exasperation finally got the better of us and we transferred the inverter to a recommended repair shop in Santo Domingo. This repair man, Ricardo by name, took the task seriously and within a few days called with the good news that our unit was ready and waiting pick up. Ricardo’s workshop actually looks like a real workshop for inverters if you can imagine what that would be like. He only deals in inverters and has his own hand-made testing board with huge early-last-century-type bulbs to show the result of his handiwork when testing the unit by switching between main supply and inverter which he enthusiastically demonstrates.
A matter of very few days went by after getting our newly fixed computer-inverter back into service when our principal inverter also decided to join the non-conformity club. Swiftly, side-stepping Andres this time, we plunked the next inverter immediately on Ricardo’s worktop imploring him to give the job priority as it was of such central importance to our operations here. He duly obliged again. He immediately assessed the situation, gave us a prognosis and set to work to try and repair the circuit board where the problem was. If this were not possible, he said, it would have to be a new circuit board which would not be easy to get and naturally incur more costs. To our surprise and delight he fixed the board within 36 hours and even more importantly kept us informed by telephone all the time.
There could very well be something in the saying ‘problems always come in threes’, because problem number three obediently arrived within a few more days – admittedly during a period of storms and rare considerable irregularity of power supply – and the inverter failed to work again. Oh no… was our professional repair man not as professional as we were beginning to label him… we thought? We rushed the inverter back to his work bench and he immediately set himself to analysis mode. Again, precise communication over his analysis: it was a damaged relay. He could fix the relay but there would be no knowing if that would last two weeks or two years so a brand new relay would really be the order of the day to achieve complete satisfaction. At the point of this conversation it was already inconveniently late on in the afternoon and he had no idea how long it would take him to find the appropriate relay. By the time our “company” car (see Sept 9th blog) arrived home from the trip, Ricardo called to say he had located the relay and it would be fitted by the following morning ready for our pick up. On this occasion mañana surprisingly meant mañana, because the next day Ricardo showed us the newly fitted relay – quite a sizeable chunk of electronics – much bigger than normal and therefore more durable he explained… but unfortunately costing more than the regular and original relay at RD$500. “So how much do we owe you all together?“ “Just the RD$500 because” he acknowledged, “I have only recently repaired the unit and should perhaps have given the entire inverter a more thorough overhaul at that time”. Now there are quite a lot of repairmen who would argue quite a different line… not just in Andres but all over the planet!
Thanks Ricardo, you have got a new steady customer in Playa Vista!
… By the way our man can be found at #42 Avenida 30 de Marzo

And on the web for good computer file back-up.

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