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Warning: Retract Thy Free Clothesline Very Slowly

In typical last minute style, I made a trip out to Home Depot to pick up a few things needed to put the final touches on the outdoor summer gazebo my brother and I built for my mother this morning (Happy Mother's Day!). I was pleasantly surprised to find that Toronto Hydro was there, giving away free clotheslines as part of their energy-saving promotion (a timely promotion that comes on the heels of a province-wide lifting of all municipal clothesline bans). I filled out the short survey, chatted briefly about CF light bulb recycling with the rep, and was on my way, free clothesline in hand.

As soon as I got back, I decided I'd suss out the backyard and find a place for it. I took it out of the box and marveled at how cheaply made it looked (what do you expect for free, right?). Anchoring the end to the fence, I pulled the line out of the retractable spindle to see just how much length I had to play with. It was surprisingly long and I quickly found my end anchor point on the house.

I walked toward the spool to retract the line so I could work on anchoring the end hook to the house, and part way in, it stopped retracting on a dime. I let go of the line and walked over to inspect the spool. It was a mess. The line had come out of the spool, and doubled back on itself to form a nasty tangle around the axis that the spindle spins on. I tried to take it on with gentle patience but failed. My fingers wouldn't fit into the casing and the spring loaded retracting action made it impossible to win. I decided I'd have to pry apart the casing a little to get at the tangle. This turned out to be a mistake - the free clothesline suffered an immediate death.

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Before you all start jumping on me for being too rough with it, rest assured that this was only partly my fault. This thing is really shoddily manufactured, and I did follow the instructions by retracting slowly. Maybe I got a defective one, but I'm inclined to think that they're all junk. I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one to break their new free clothesline within a few minutes of taking it out of the box. I'm also expecting that anyone that uses theirs regularly runs the risk of breaking theirs within a short time.

I extend kudos to Toronto Hydro for attempting to help curb our local energy consumption problems by giving people incentive to air-dry laundry instead of using electricity. But I have to give them a disappointing wag of the finger for partnering with Promotion Works and sourcing really cheaply made clotheslines all the way from China. I now have a heap of plastic, rubber, and metal that traveled the world and is now spilled on the lawn and destined for the garbage/recycling instead of drying clothes. Sigh.


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