About Buying Appliances – A Rant and Some Advice

This is slightly off topic for me, but as the lady of the house (who makes many of the buying decisions), and as a homeowner, I’ve gone through appliance buying several times in the past few years.  Appliances are just not made to last any more.  Most of mine have had to be replaced within 5 to 8 years.  This is a sad testament to the modern world. 

Normally, I’m pro-modern-world.  In this case, I’m not.  When we purchased our house from an older couple in the mid-nineties, there was an old refrigerator in the kitchen.  When I say old, I mean OLD!  We called it the Sputnik (like the old Russian satellite)*.  I’d have to say it was from the ’50’s.  Our washer, dryer and stove were from the 70’s.  That means that one appliance lasted 40 years and the other two, 20.

Since we’ve lived here, we had to replace our refrigerator twice (and the new one has issues after 2 years).  We replaced our dishwasher after only five years.  Let’s see how the newest one works (the other day it stopped out of nowhere).  We replaced the dryer twice and are about to replace the washing machine for the second time.  It’s sad that companies seem to build things to last a short time these days.  I believe it’s specifically so you have to buy new ones more often.  Yes, I’m jaded on this topic!

Thank you for listening to my rant!  Now here’s what I’ve learned after being burnt a few times and my advice from all of these experiences.

I’ve followed Consumer Reports advice a few times.  Half the time, I’ve gotten burnt.  So unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend them except perhaps for their assessment of brand reliability.  Though you have to pay to access their info.

Let’s face it, the whole industry is full of scams.  If your appliance breaks down, you have to pay $120 just to get someone to walk into the front door – then they decide how much it costs to fix.  The extended warranties cost so much that you end up covering the price of the appliance within a couple of years.  It doesn’t seem worth it, you may as well buy a new appliance at that point.  What a sad state of affairs!  (We won’t even mention the deleterious effect this has on the environment.)

I have found the site ConsumerSearch to be somewhat helpful in terms of reviews.  When I buy an appliance now, I first check with them.  Then I check JD Power Associates.  They rate brand reliability (for free).  This is how I start to narrow down which brands to consider and sometimes specific models (though the model numbers in stores are often different from what you’ll see reviewed). 

Finally, I’ll check specific stores to see what products many people have given good ratings (though eventfully the manufacturers might catch on and get their employees to rig the results).  I check these online sites: Best Buy, Sears and sometimes Amazon.  They all get many people to rate products.  The hope is that the more people who give high ratings to a product, the better chance it will really be good.

Finally, once you find a product you want to buy, check around for prices.  Most stores will honor the lowest price you find.

Happy hunting and good luck!  (You’ll need it.)

Mama Lisa

*My friend Ray Lee used to joke with us about Sputnik.  I asked him the other day if he remembered it and he said, "Of course I remember Sputnik!  It was me who repeatedly pointed out that it was ‘the only refrigerator that can survive a re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere’.  That thing was solid and rugged!"

Note: It is true that the appliances themselves are better for the environment nowadays, than in the old days – while they work!

This article was posted on Thursday, November 4th, 2010 at 11:45 am and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Green Cities, House and Home, Parenting, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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