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Jason Perlow

Your Home Appliances are Junk

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I wrote this for ZDNet today. Submitted for comment.

 

"This is the bottom line based on what I have learned: Your appliances are total crap.

Not only will they not make it to the stated 10 years warranty, and not only will the appliance manufacturers figure out how to not honor it out of the box, but you'll be lucky in most cases if the current models being sold by these large manufacturers will make it to 3 to 5 years of use without a major equipment failure, tops."

 

junk-appliances.jpg

 

http://www.zdnet.com/article/iot-sucks-but-your-home-appliances-are-unreliable-slabs-of-junk/

 

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ElainaA   

That is certainly not my experience. With one exception, all our major appliances were new when we built our house 27 years ago. We have only had to replace any in the last 5 years. The original dryer is still just fine. (Did you only mean kitchen appliances?) The original stove and refrigerator lasted about 20 years each. The dishwasher was not quite new when installed - it was a model way too expensive for our budget. My husband's company had installed it in a new home a year before. When the home was sold the new owner pulled out all the appliances (very expensive! one year old!) and replaced them. My husband brought the dishwasher home. It lasted about 15 years. 

 

I see that in your article you are talking about newer models and primarily high end models. Everything I have is very middle-of-the-road. No bells and whistles. The newer appliances we have, mostly around 4 to 7 years old, function perfectly. 

 

We also own some apartment houses. The appliances in some of the apartments have been there over 20 years and work fine. Again, these are basic models. That may be the difference. 


Edited by ElainaA (log)
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34 minutes ago, ElainaA said:

 

 

I see that in your article you are talking about newer models and primarily high end models. Everything I have is very middle-of-the-road. No bells and whistles. The newer appliances we have, mostly around 4 to 7 years old, function perfectly. 

 

We also own some apartment houses. The appliances in some of the apartments have been there over 20 years and work fine. Again, these are basic models. That may be the difference. 

 

 

The article mainly covers equipment made in the last 10 years or less, when most of the manufacturing changes and industry consolidation occurred.

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Toliver   

Jason, well said.

I completely agree with your assessment of the despicable behavior on the part of Alphabet/Google and their murder of the Revolv product. And they want me to buy their Nest product now, instead? Only to have them kill it when they come out with something new and improved? Uhm...No, thank you, you Corporate asshats! >:( (By the way Norton did the same thing a few years ago. They sent out an "update" on an older business anti-virus software that effectively killed the software. I had to, ironically, Google for a fix that revived the software).

 

My mom blithely buys all the extended warranties that appliance sellers offer her when she buys their appliances. It turns out that the "repairmen" who come out to her place to investigate an appliance that is no longer working don't know how to make the needed repairs! It's easier to just order her a new appliance to replace the old one. She hasn't had to buy a new dishwasher in years since the ones that stop working just get replaced with newer versions.

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Actually, if you are going to spend on the order of $600+ on an appliance an extended warranty is not a bad idea at all. The reasoning is that the first time a board blows, the parts/labor costs $400 or more. In the case of the GE Cafe dishwasher we had, which we spent around $1400 on, the $100 extended warranty covered 2 logic board repairs after the first year of warranty (the first year had a logic board repair as well, under original warranty) and on the 3rd visit in the 2nd year they just plain decided to give us a check for $1400 to buy a new machine.

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Shortly after I bought this house — the third week of April, 2010 — I bought a brand new GE range and refrigerator from Home Depot (ordered April 25th, installed  within a week.)

Had several problems with the fridge, both major and minor, before it finally died completely last August. I then bought a new fridge from Lowes.

The GE range is still going, but has some issues. About 3 years ago, rust started developing rust on the bottom of the oven door, that's gotten progressively worse. All markings wore of of the oven knob — I REFUSE to pay $35 for a replacement!

Worst of all, the oven floor has started to burn through in spots!!!! GRRRrrrrr!!! >:(

I don't think I'll buy another range. 

I cook for just myself 99% of the time and when I use burners, 90% of the time it's just one. So I may just buy a 'good' induction burner.

Not yet sure what I'll do for an oven...maybe just a small counter-top convection oven.

 

On June 11th, 2014 I ordered a Frigidaire 12,000 BTU air conditioner. 

I installed it after it arrived about a week later.

It died last week, just about 2 years to the day after it was first installed! GRRRRrrrrr!!!! >:(


Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)
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With respect to the kitchen appliances, I'm afraid the manufacturers know their customers all too well.   

The house next door, built in the early 1960s, had still functioning original or '70s appliances when it was sold by the family of the original owner a couple of years ago.  In 2 years, all the kitchen appliances have been replaced TWICE.  Once with basic white models by someone doing a "mini-flip" of the property and again with stainless steel models installed immediately after closing by the current owners.  

 

Of course there are consumers who expect something that falls into the category of "durable goods" to be...well....durable but when there's no shortage of buyers with an itch to "update" on a regular basis, I can't fault only the manufacturers for substituting cheaper parts and pocketing higher profits.  

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Deryn   

We now live in a 'consumable society'. And we have been thoroughly 'consumed' by it and its real owners.

 

I am thoroughly fed up with corporations that are fleecing us to death one way or another. Either the product they sell is junk (perhaps pretty and flashy but functionally junk and designed to/bound to fail within a certain amount of time) and must be replaced every few years or one cannot use the product without ongoing costs for (very expensive) basic supplies needed to make the product useful (toner cartridges, basic software, coffee pods, CO2 dispensers and flavourings, filters for icemakers and water dispensers, the list goes on and on). I try now only to purchase cheaper smaller appliances (well .. um except things like my freeze-dryer and chamber vac but they only require the occasional oil refill) that don't need 'extras' constantly fed to them in order to do the job they were designed to do and if they go belly up will not disrupt my world too much. Thank you, Instant Pot people! I have had enough fun out of that gadget now that it has paid for itself already anyway.

 

We can thank the internet (and the rotten education system) for much of this as they constantly bombard us with and promote disposability and a 'designer based, keep up with the Joneses' mentality to the nth degree. People have totally bought into all this, especially since you can buy things on credit (or even better, take it home now, don't pay for two years) and never really deal with the true cost as you would when saving was the thing to do and cash was king back 30 or 40 years now. I am so tired of being asked if I want to buy an extended warranty on something that used to have a 3 year warranty (and outlived that on average by at least a year or so) and now has only 90 days ... and often can't make it that far without issues. Corporations know that people (believe me, they study our habits) will just go buy another x, y or z rather than going through the hassles involved in complaining or waiting for repairs even within the warranty period (after an hour on hold listening to elevator mus-ack and robot voices asking us to decide what foreign language we want to use and make 10 choices for a department to speak to and then punch in the serial number of the affected appliance along with the last 4 digits of your social and the password you had to spend 2 hours remembering ... we get to someone who says - after asking again for all the info you just gave the robot - ... cheerily, in very poor English, Hi I am John (obviously a pseudonym so we can never trace them back to India or Mexico) ... sure we will fix that .. just box it up in the original box with the original sales slip, pay for return shipping to us at our repair depot located in another country - plus include your authorization for a 'restocking' or added 'service' charge and we will be thrilled to take your junk back).

 

I am limping along with x number of appliances bought within the past 5 or so years that no longer function as they were intended to though most (in my NS house) at least still work at least partially even if I cannot avail myself of all features (like the water/ice dispenser on the fridge, which works after a fashion though it is too cold no matter what temperature I tell it to set itself to hold). I cannot say the same about the ones in my NC house - there I have a 2 year old built in microwave that failed after less than a year, a cheapo microwave that didn't even last that long (and will be sent to the dump next trip), and a fairly new Maytag washer and dryer that both bit the biscuit within weeks of each other. Interesting .. and that Maytag man who used to be so bored when he had no calls is now too busy to come out to fix them. The fancy-dancy expensive computerized, quiet as a mouse, dishwasher worked for less than 2 months - and was used about 5 times - before it began leaking and clanking and finally (sadly but I am almost glad about this since it was no way to relax after dinner listening to the racket and cleaning up the puddles) ... it said ... nope .. no more .. and it is dead as a doornail.

 

I got tired of complaining - it just raises my blood pressure. I refuse to call the repairman - I will just wait till I feel the proper life of the product has expired and then see what is on the market - and hope that sanity will return within that time frame, whatever it may be. On the bright side my 12 year old Jenn-air stove in NC happily goes on and on and my 'no bells and whistles' 8 or 9 year old 'doesn't have an icemaker' Samsung fridge (which still makes me smile when I walk past it - best fridge I ever bought) takes its lickings and keeps on ticking.

 

I am afraid to buy a new vehicle either - I don't want all the computerized bells and whistles - I want basic (and very good) safety features and good leather seats but the dog doesn't much care about having a video going in the back seat, I can manage without nav, and I know how to drive (no accidents on the road in over 50 years driving now) defensively (and I do) so little cameras mounted everywhere and constant warning beeps when someone gets too near me are just unwanted and unneeded junk I can do without .. thanks. My 2006 Honda Ridgeline may not be quite as pretty any more but I don't even trust Honda to sell me (for twice the price I paid for this one) a vehicle that will last 10 years basically without a problem other than oil, a brake job, tires and gas costs. All I want is satellite radio and manual knobs .. not a 6 or 10 inch complicated screen and a million hard to read button labels or gestures to try to figure out on the fly ... and good rustproofing.

 

I can cook on a camp stove or the charcoal barbeque or induction burners if I have to/want to. I can chop and peel things by hand. I 'can' wash clothes and dishes by hand too if I have to and let them air dry (or in the case of dishes, pick up an old fashioned dish towel) . If I sell this place I know people are going to want appliances here but I am not buying them new ones - they can replace them after I am gone if they want to. Refrigeration is more of an issue but a decent basic chest freezer with no computer chips in it should still stand the test of time, one hopes.

 

Yes, I like 'convenience' but I have not forgotten how to do things the old fashioned way - and I have made sure that in most cases I have prepared myself so I could still do that if I had to. If everyone did that, we could (possibly) affect the corporations enough that they might go back to a more old fashioned quality standard. I would pay more to get any appliance that actually will perform as 'advertised' and last for a good number of years. There can be 'lemons' but I am tired of being the patsy that always seems to buy 'lemons' these days - I no longer believe it is just me - we are all targets. :(

 

I want an old fashioned woodstove, an 'icebox', a root cellar and a passle of kids (well, on loan only ... so I can send them home after they do 'chores') to do the dishes!

 

Getting off my soapbox now. Thanks, Jason .. that was cathartic! :) 

 

(p.s. Yes, I am kind of cranky about all this because I just spent over 20 hours in two weeks on the phone trying to find out why the cellphone I was forced to buy so I could still have one working in Canada when I left the States did NOT function at all from the border on - despite the fact that I was being charged as though it was. After at least 10 calls and 10 different people with 10 different skill sets and ideas about why this was happening it was decided that I was sold the WRONG phone even though the list of phones that function up here is published and this one on that list and now can't even exchange it for 3 months unless I want to drive 500 miles one way to do so at my expense ... without a cellphone in case anything untoward happens on the road! Apparently while they acknowledge THEY made the mistake, not me, they cannot and will not send me a new phone in the mail. Meanwhile, in the background these 'service reps' are apparently changing my plan willy-nilly and I keep getting emails saying my 'new feature' has been implemented and my bill is going UP and UP and UP for NO service!)


Edited by Deryn (log)
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15+ years ago I had a microwave burst into flames!!

I pulled the cord and literally threw in out the closest window!!!!! o.O

 

I like simple, I love the simple life. I can live with minimal technology.

If I didn't have a partner, I'd likely go back to my old. off-grid, near stress-free, "Thoreau-like" ways!!! :smile:

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Deryn   

If I still HAD a partner I would go back to off the grid living in a flash.

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Tere   

It's funny, I've never had an appliance go bang on me. Miele dishwasher and washer dryer, both no problems, Neff oven and hob ditto. The fake cheap baby Belling I was using as my sole cooker before the kitchen refurb, ditto.

 

I never buy extended warranty - Miele comes with 5 years as standard and then I think I will just take my chances. 

 

Picked Zanussi for the holiday lets based on service recommends. Also no problems.

 

I will go touch wood now :D

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I just remembered a dangerous episode that happened with our current gas range and it's so-called 'improved" technology. 9_9

Unlike old gas ranges with a pilot light, where, when you turned the knob to gradually increase the gas to light it....the new stove has an electronic ignition, where, when you first turn the knob, the gas comes on full-blast and then when you turn the knob a bit further the igniter kicks-in (clicking) lighting the burner. Turn the knob all the way to low.

Well, when we were away from home for a brief trip to a store, our big dog jumped up, put his paw on the knob. pushing it in and turning it just enough so the gas came on...full-blast!!!!! YES!!!! O.o

We returned to a house filling up with natural gas!

This is a very tiny house ~400 square feet!

Thank GOD we weren't away from home for long!!!!

We now turn off ALL that we can when we're away for more than  few minutes...gas...water...everything!!!

 


Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)
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gdenby   

My experience, also. Major appliances, once considered durable goods, have become much more unreliable than in the past, and much more expensive to repair, if the parts are available at all.

Going off into nostalgic accounts.

My mother had a 1930s Tappan brand kitchen stove inherited from her mother. As I recall, the frame was cast iron, and there was little insulation, so when running, the kitchen was really hot. Nevertheless, whenever Mom was cooking for special occasions, that's what she used. 60 years of use, and a few decades more after Mom passed, and Dad had to cook for himself.

We were given a Maytag washer in the 1980s that dated from the '60s. Used it for 15 years, raising 4 kids and washing immense quantities of diapers. Have had 3 washers since, all repaired at least every 2 years.

I worked in a workshop that had a 'fridge, don't remember the brand, that dated from 1954. I'm sure it wasn't efficient, had to defrost it every couple of months. But it ran quiet and cold holding lunches etc. at least until 2012 when I left.

We were given a circa 1950 electric skillet, 2nd hand in 1974. Used it every other day for the next 10 years.

Etc.

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Arey   

This is why I hope my Whirlpool fridge and electric range out last me, to say nothing of my dish washer.  We're rapidly reaching the point when some morning , you'll get in your driverless car, and it won't start. Then an electronic voice in your car will say "I cannot start because the  the knob on the toaster in your kitchen that you use to chose the degree of toastiness you  desire is not functioning correctly.  Please remedy this problem before attempting to start me".  Then the "maintenance required" icon will appear on your dashboard.

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Tere   

I will, however, disrecommend LG appliances because they appear to have no concept of "keep spares in for old models".

 

My American style and expensive (£1300 IIRC) fridge freezer was only a week over 2 years old (and hence a week out of warranty) when a particularly stupid cleaner decided to clean the brushed stainless steel doors with a brillo pad. Got told £170 for door replacement which my agency for the cleaner happily paid, and then it was a year long saga involving several attempts at fitting dented doors that had clearly been rejected because there was nothing else available, a rubbish fitter who proceeded to break the handle which was the only thing intact on the damaged door, and the "customer complaints department" who, after a year, offered me the sum total of £50 in damages and refused to give me a refund (bearing in mind their repair guy had rendered the fridge completely damaged and they had completely failed to provide the repair I had paid for). All I can imagine is the Korean head office just don't keep things in stock. It got resolved because I have a LOT of LinkedIn contacts and I eventually emailed my tale of woe to the UK CEO, the UK head of customer operations, the UK head of Marketing and a few other senior people, and also got the consumer affairs lady from the Telegraph involved, at which point the senior people were mortified, said there was a 10 day SLA for customer service, not a year, and offered me a replacement fridge. Which is great and did resolve my issue, but I shouldn't have had to go to those kind of lengths to get there, and not everyone has the LinkedIn resources I do.

 

I have bought LG products since (they do freesat enabled TVs which are unique in the market and they were perfect for my holidaycottages) but I have to regard them as disposable once the warranty runs out. I'd never buy a more expensive product from LG based on that experience.

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16 minutes ago, Tere said:

My American style...fridge...

 

i'm curious, what exactly does that mean? o.O

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Tere   

Brit speak decoded - it's big. And it's in two sections split on the vertical. Freezer on the left, fridge on the right. Integral water / ice / crushed ice dispenser which is not plumbed (there is a reservoir you fill) - this was important to us at the time.

 

Prices might have come down a bit but it's not dissimilar to this object

 

http://www.lg.com/uk/fridge-freezers/lg-GSL325PVYV

 

I had a much nicer one in Japan but no idea now who made it :)

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13 minutes ago, Tere said:

Brit speak decoded - it's big. And it's in two sections split on the vertical. Freezer on the left, fridge on the right. Integral water / ice / crushed ice dispenser which is not plumbed (there is a reservoir you fill) - this was important to us at the time.

 

Prices might have come down a bit but it's not dissimilar to this object

 

http://www.lg.com/uk/fridge-freezers/lg-GSL325PVYV

 

I had a much nicer one in Japan but no idea now who made it :)

 

OIC

That's certainly not something we have a room for or a need for in this house,

There are several fridge designs available here in America....I had no idea what "American-Style" meant.

:)

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Tere   

In fairness I have lived in the US and these were a reasonably regular occurrence in the homes I visited, but I do hear you and understand there are also under the counter models in the US :) and as you can see this is how LG do the branding. :D

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2 minutes ago, Tere said:

In fairness I have lived in the US and these were a reasonably regular occurrence in the homes I visited, but I do hear you and understand there are also under the counter models in the US :) and as you can see this is how LG do the branding. :D

 

No doubt they're a regular occurrence, but so are all the other styles.

In addition to side-by-side, there is freezer over fridge, fridge over freezer, fridge only, under counter fridge only, under counter drawer style. side-by side up top with drawers below, etc. etc. :)

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dcarch   

Some times it is fun to take the opposite view just to start a fight. :B I disagree that  "They don't make 'em like they used to." 

 

In the old days, they sold 10,000 refrigerators, today they sell 1,000,000 modern refrigerators. There will be mathematically many more failed modern refrigerators. Also, a modern refrigerator today is a much more complicated device, with many more components for breakages. 

 

Given the fact that satisfied customers don't talk, dissatisfied ones complains all the time, especially with internet and e. mail today. So you will hear today a lot more complains even with proportionally fewer appliance failures.

 

"You know, My uncle has a Hobart mixer for 40 years, weights a ton, still working today. They don't make 'em like they used to." If Hobart made 10,000 mixer, 40 years later, 100 of them survived and still operational, those are the ones you will see and hear, not the 9,900 ones which failed and died.

 

dcarch

 

 

 

 

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cdh   

The functional design of modern appliances is also really bad.  The new shiny flat top cooktops with the glass surface and the elements buried underneath?  How does such a thing handle a boil-over?  You'd think they'd have thought about it.  But no.  If a boil-over occurs, it floods the control knobs and shorts them out.  $300 of parts and labor later, I'd much rather have kept the old coil element stove.  But shiny sells.

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Deryn   
1 hour ago, dcarch said:

Also, a modern refrigerator today is a much more complicated device, with many more components for breakages. 

 

 

This is EXACTLY the problem though, dcarch. Simple and solidly built worked better, for much longer (and even with inflation, I hazard a guess, for a cheaper initial price as well). Period.

 

Overly complicated devices that try to do too much (often straying from their original purpose - who really NEEDS a tv or computer inset into the front of the fridge?) and which use very intricate circuitry are definitely going to be more prone to 'error out' - and much more difficult to fix.

 

I know that 'simple and solid' doesn't satisfy the need of today's jaded consumers to constantly be 'upgrading' one's designer look kitchens, nor the 'environmentalists' desire for everyone to use less electricity (though I hazard a semi-educated guess there is a lot more electricity used and pollution created as a result of modern materials including computer chips, etc. used to make these behemoths than there was in creating and disposing of the ones of yore) or the aim of corporations/engineers/marketers to keep their profits growing/jobs by always developing and pushing the next best, newest, 'simply complicated' thing on the market.

 

Progress CAN be good for all, but, in this case, I don't think it has been particularly good for the masses or the environment (even if these new devices are supposedly energy efficient and provide, in some cases, a bit more 'convenience' for some).


Edited by Deryn (log)
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