A review of Miele and their washing machines
This review examines the ethos of the washing machine manufacturer Miele, and why they are a lot more expensive than most other washing machines. As an engineer with over 30 years experience I think Miele make the best quality washing machines, and in most cases by miles.
The company motto at Miele is, "forever better". They are one of the very small minority of washing machine manufacturers who decided to build the best appliances they were capable of, even though to achieve this standard their product would be amongst the most expensive in the business and the majority of people would be put off by the price. That’s what I respect about companies like Miele.
About Miele washing machines
Miele washing machines seem very expensive, ranging from over £600 to well over £1000, and some high end ones costing over twice that. To be fair though, there is a good argument that in the long run, a Miele washing machine is actually cheaper to own than the cheapest washing machine. Many people will get through several washing machines before an average Miele would have worn out – see my poll on how long should a washing machine last? (nearly 20% reporting their washing machine lasted only 3 years or less, and over 40% reporting it lasted 5 or less).
There’s an old saying that springs to mind, "buy cheap, buy twice". If something costs twice as much to buy, but lasts more than twice as long, it's actually cheaper isn’t it? It’s just the up-front costs that are higher.
Will a Miele washing machine last over twice as long as a cheap one? Almost certainly, some of them are even guaranteed for 10 years. Most should last considerably longer than a normal machine. Miele themselves boast that their washing machines are design and tested to last 20 years. I’ve had a few reports that not all do these days due to occasional high repair costs on older machines, but the vast majority are going to be a very good investment. They are also a lot quieter, more sophisticated and a pleasure to use. My own Miele (W3740) is at least 8 years old and hasn’t faulted once yet. It sounds just as quiet as the first time we used it and I genuinely expect it to last at least another 8.
What’s wrong with cheap washing machines?
The trouble with many washing machines these days, is that their design and reliability is dictated almost entirely by costs. The majority of washing machine manufacturers are fighting out a long running price war, which will probably end up with them all being taken over by large global companies until there are just one or two companies making washing machines worldwide. Already, many apparently competing washing machines are actually owned by the same companies and there are surprisingly few actual manufacturers. (Who owns who? Who really makes your washing machine)
Are Miele uniquely better at making appliances?
I don’t think for a minute that someone like Hoover or Indesit couldn’t make a washing machine to rival Miele. It would take them a long time to get right, and Miele have a hell of a head start, but Miele make exceptionally high quality appliances and the others don’t because they all make, exactly what they want to make. Most appliance manufacturers simply do not want to make high quality products, they want to sell multi-millions and go for the mass market.
In an ideal world, companies making a product should make it as well as they possibly can, and then sell it at what it costs, plus the profit margin. Unfortunately this results in a product costing a lot more than the average person is prepared to pay. So manufacturers usually do it the other way round. They find out or guess what most people will pay and build the product to sell at that price. This results in a lot of compromises, and many corners being cut. Then, because most other manufacturers follow the same path competition is fierce. These products then tend to get lower and lower in quality until they become rubbish – but most people still buy them because they won’t pay for a "proper" one.
People usually get what they pay for. If you’ve had nothing but trouble for many years with your washing machines and think they are rubbish, it’s probably because you haven’t been buying the genuinely well built ones. To be fair though, most people just don’t think of it like this, or aren’t even aware that high quality washing machines are available and what the real difference is. (If you’re thinking, what does he mean, I paid a lot of money for my last washing machine? Read this – If I buy a more expensive washing machine do I actually get a better one?)
Miele have always strived to be the best, which is why they are. It comes at a cost (see right column) but if we want to see manufacturers stubbornly refuse to dumb down their products and take the difficult path of excellence they need support.