After years of hearing about Maytag's great, unbreakable products, and the fact that the Maytag Repairman was "out of work," I remodeled my kitchen and installed new cabinets based on the company's appliance dimensions. I had more or less become a captive buyer.
Not long after, my first two Maytag dishwashers had leaking problems, so I upgraded to a higher-end stainless-steel model. I thought I was free and clear from appliance trouble, but no such luck -- Maytag sold out to Whirlpool. After that move, it was one problem after another in my house. The company moved to outsourced production, which included cheap labor, parts, and maintenance.
I had problems again with the new Maytag stainless-steel dishwasher, and as luck would have it, I neglected to buy the extended warranty. That was a big mistake. After one year and two weeks to the day -- when the standard warranty ran out -- it stopped working. After about three days, I got in touch with the designated Whirlpool maintenance company. They came and installed a new electronic starter that cost north of $300. I kept the old part and went online to find that I could have bought the replacement part for $50 from a store in Boston.
This entry was submitted by Dan McCarthy and edited by Jennifer Campbell.
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In general, I agree with you, but on big ticket appliances, I've been better off with the extended warranty. Bought an LG Front Loader washer and matching dryer in early '04. Expected good service from the pair, but with $1600+ sunk in the purchase, the mfr warranty seemed short. We bought the 4 year service agreement. When the initial service agreement expired 4 years later, I re-upped. We had enough problems in the first 4 years that we clearly saved money via the extended warranty And we made money off the second term of the agreement. I was disappointed that we couldn't renew it for a third term. For most of this time, the washer & dryer have served a 2-person household, not a family with 4 kids. One of the repair techs even complimented us for not using too much detergent and for not abusing the door seals. Still, we've replaced main drive motors, a dryer drum, circuit boards, and solenoid valves, among other parts in both machines. My superstitious side will slap me for writing this, but we're now a year past the last term of extended warranty and haven't had a problem. I'm actually very surprised. I do know that at the next significant problem we will probably be looking at replacement rather than repair.
My first washer lasted 20 years without repair -- and then the tub bolt holes corroded out, and we commended its spirit to the recycle yard. The dryer purchased at the same time was still running when we gave it away at almost 25 years of age, having had one belt replacement as the only repair that I can recall.
The new models seem to be throwaways. It's just a bit expensive to toss $1000 at a new washer every couple of years. I'll at least consider the extended warranty on any new washer we buy.
Ann, I generally don't buy extended warranties but hit the jackpot with a laptop a few years ago ($1300 gift card when they couldn't fix my Toshiba laptop due to parts obsolesence after three years of owning it) and $1,000 toward a new Sears treadmill for same reason (also more than five years old) for same reason. But I think it was just luck because generally I don't go for them either.
I think most appliances are becoming disposable items now. The cost of any repair, if it requires outside labor, is usually more than a new unit. Yes, it may be a 39 cent part, and a Sherlock doing it themselves can reap those savings. But the majority of customers need to go the repairman route. Repairmen in turn have had to adopt plug and play repair methods that replace entire components, in an effort to cost effective.
I have noticed more and more people replacing items simply because they want a newer version. Not because it failed. So if customers are looking for short lifespans on style or features, and prefer costs lower than repairs, this trend only makes sense.
Again, being a supplier to Whirlpool, some of the parts are made in Mexico and Asia and then assembled in the US. Careful how you believe "American" made. I should clarify that all the engineering support and manufacturing support continues to come from the US. So in that regard, we try to make sure that the parts made are of the highest quality as designed.
While I was in college (1991-1995), I worked in appliances sales part time for a year. We carried Whirlpool and Maytag, who were fierce rivals at the time. Maytage was known for heavy duty construction - and a higher price tag. What was interesting was that I had a talk with a Whirlpool rep about this. She acknowledged the heavy duty construction, then said check the results of long-term testing in Consumer Reports. And she was right - fewer problems over time with the Whirlpool products. But both were good products.
Maytag went through financial difficulties and was eventually bought by Whirlpool, if I recall correctly. And they don't appear to manufacture their own products anymore. I'd guess Whirlpool would still be a good brand to buy, and they still manufacture in the US - although they probably outsource low-end products.
One company I find particularly disappointing is GE. We moved into a home with all GE stainless steel appliances. They've all had bizarre failures after moderate usage (IMO). A freezer that just stops freezing every so often which leads to an impressive waterfall from the auto ice-maker. A range top microwave that no longer works. A dishwasher that washes much more poorly than our old one...
Unfortunately I think the concept of "service friendly" is sitting on the same dusty shelf as "quality," and not just at Maytag. Lower cost imports have forced many companies to abandon what were core mission statements that they were founded on, in order to survive the competition where consumers are more interested in lower prices than in quality and repair accessibility.
Who is at fault, really? When you shop for a washer or dryer are you looking for an "old clunky" machine with no sound insulation? You'll probably choose the brand new gee-whiz one touch membrane keypad, guaranteed wrinkle-free shirt drying, energy reduced, with many db of sound insulation. If you look closely, you will likely find that the innards are very similar, after all there are only 2 or 3 dryer manufacturers and everyone buys and rebrands from those sources and those manufacturers offer four or five sets of options which you can mix and match to meet your specific price goals. None of those options include a 25 year life expectancy with guaranteed parts availability. The commercial dryers you see in the laundromats are designed to run more or less continuously for their ten year life expectancy with minimal maintenance but they cost 3 or 4 thousand dollars each. When I was in the market for a new dryer I asked my local repairman which brand he recommended. His answer: Rebuild your 42 year old dryer, new timer, new bearings, new belt and idler pulley, put bearings in the motor and it'll last another 25 years. Sage advice I'd say.
I got a Maytag washer dryer as part of my wifes 'dowry', over thirty years ago. I continue to make occasional minor repairs (belts, ignitors, lint filters, etc.) but absolutely major-trouble free. You guys are making me think I should never consider replacing them.
I worked on the old Maytag units when I was in high school. I suspect that the profitability pressures got the designers to go to less expensive construction. I expect the dryer construction of the bearing in back that supported the drum and it's contents was more expensive than having the front of the drum supported on the felt pads. Labor and damage in production for the old heating element was likely greater than for the current heating element design.
The old Maytag washers were service friendly. Most problems that resulted in a tub full of water could be repaired from the front of the washer. Had a belt break? One could replace belts with a #2 phillips screwdriver, a 4x4 block of wool and a pry bar. The screwsdriver was to remove two screws to open the front of the washer and the block and bar was to liftthe front a couple of inches to be able to reach under the machine to install new belts. The motor and water pump were accessed in the same manner. I repaired a water pump that had ingested a sock by removeing the front, removing the pump belt, clampingthe tub to pump hose to stop water from draining, removing hose from the pump, and pulling the sock out of the pump with needle nose pliers. When reassembled, the machine worked fine for several more years. I doubt any current machine is so service friendly.
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