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Why don’t most modern washing machines last very long?

Question Over the last 11 years I’ve been writing about the poor quality of many modern washing machines. As a long-time repairman I’d witnessed the gradual slip between people keeping them running as long as possible to all too often throwing them away at the first breakdown – unless it could be fixed for a pittance. Since then it’s become a serious environmental issue.

Price is King at the expense of quality

Price is King at the expense of quality

The public usually gets exactly what the public wants. The majority of people don’t want more reliable washing machines – they mostly want cheaper washing machines. They might say they want more reliable washing machines, but only if they aren’t expensive, which can’t happen. If this wasn’t true – how come hardly anyone buys a Miele compared to how many buy Indesit, Beko, Candy, Servis, Hotpoint etc? Most people know a Miele washing machine is substantially better quality and likely to last at least 2 or 3 times longer than a Hotpoint or Indesit but they won’t buy one – because they are “expensive”.

This isn’t an advert for Miele, I mention them because apart from the odd machines such as the ISE10 made by Asko it’s hard to find a washing machine that is still so well built. However, buying a high quality washing machine such as a Miele is regretfully no longer a guarantee it will definitely last longer than a normal one even though it most likely will. These days it seems some Miele repairs can be uneconomical due to very high spares prices and lack of competition in repairs. However, most should still last considerably longer than an average appliance, and are without doubt a much better machine all round in every other sense.

The ISE10 is semi-professional quality, guaranteed for 10 years parts and labour but it costs around £899. Miele have models just as “expensive” and more though entry models are around £600. The most important thing about the ISE10 is the commitment by ISE not to profit from spare parts other than to cover costs, and to make all technical information freely available to all repairers out there. This should ensure that despite not being quite as good quality as a Miele, spares and repairs should be seriously cheaper meaning an ISE10 should potentially outlast anything else on the market at the moment. A point I make on the Miele article above is that no matter how well built a product is, it can only really last if either it just never breaks down – or future repairs to it are economically viable compared to replacement costs.

I use the word “expensive” reluctantly, and in quotes, because they are only relatively expensive. £800 is what a washing machine of that quality should cost these days – if not more. They only appear expensive because other manufacturers constantly undercut the quality so much they can sell much cheaper and make them look expensive.

To quote from the first article linked to below -

.. For example, Hoover used to sell a 1200 spin 4.5Kg washing machine at over £400 in the 1990s, yet you can now (2008) buy a Hoover 1600 spin 6Kg washing machine for £211. That’s inflation in reverse, and it’s achieved in large part by reducing quality, repairability and aftersales service.

In 1973, a basic Hoover washing machine was £94.88, in today’s prices that’s £912.74 (April 2011) – Source: Inflation calculator. Today – well over 30 years later, a similarly basic washing machine – but with faster spins and a bigger drum can be bought for £179 (Beko or Indesit – source Kelkoo price comparison site). That’s equivalent to just £18.43 in 1973. So in 30 years the price of a basic washing machine has dropped (in real terms) by nearly 80% which is absolutely staggering.

A 80% reduction in the cost of a washing machine 30 years later is impossible without reducing the quality and longevity of the product. If you want to produce a washing machine made as well as the Hoover was in 1973 it would cost at least £500+ and with extra features and technical advances it can easily be £700+.

Bear in mind also that Hoover weren’t even a quality manufacturer, there were plenty of better built appliances available at the time. They simply produced decently made washing machines that were relatively cheap to repair because spares were reasonably priced and technical support freely available to every independent repairer. This optimum recipe meant Hoover washing machines commonly lasted at least 10 – 12 years and very often 15 – 20 years. I’ve repaired 30 year old Hoover washing machines from the 70s). This is something ISE were trying to reintroduce (What is the ISE washing machine and is it different to other washing machines? )

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Comments

  1. avatar Oliver Shaw says:

    Ah good moan time!!

    Where to start modern washing machines are built out of crap!! Long gone are the days when they were built like a brick built sh1t house!!

    The tanks are sealed meaning no bearing
    changes, no new drum spiders etc. Also forget retrieving lost objects unless you can remove a paddle. All this means a whole new tub unit every time, so uneconomical to repair.

    The electronics are rubbish, and for solid state timers they should be band! The old mechanical ones were best, no one will convince me otherwise! All the electronics including PCBs are built to a budget so regular failures are to be expected, and the price way between manufacturers is a joke. May be in ten years time you will be able to buy an Indesit for £1.73!!! (thats all they are worth today!) Cheap machines are not worth the energy wasted to make one!

    Also Miele may be good quality but I would NOT buy one as if the damn thing breaks down it will cost a fortune for monopolising Miele to come and repair it, no indie can touch it. But ISE are excellent,better built than Miele and far better features such as short cycles for one! And independently repairable!

    Oliver.

  2. My first Washer was a Hoover Electron 1100, bought in 1983, for £200-and-something ( Can’t remember the exact price, but in round figures it was £250).
    This washer was used, on average, 3 or 4 times a week, running one “non-fast coloureds” (40 degree cottons) wash and the rest of the cycles on “Whites economy” (60 degree cottons is the nearest modern equivalent).

    The grand total of all repairs to it were:
    new belts in 1989, 1996 & 2004;
    new door seals in 1996 & 2007;
    new carbon brushes in 1999;
    replacement drum bearings in 2007.
    In 2008 I was forced to replace it because the outer tub had rusted through in a very tiny area on the welded joint between the flat door end plate and the curved tub body.

    I’d say that by anyone’s standards this machine was extremely reliable and gave excellent value for money. My mother had the same machine, bought only a few weeks later than mine. Hers also lasted until 2007. She put hers onto the Hoovercare Service PLan when she first bought it and had it annually serviced. Because of this she had quite a few more replacement parts, although by the admission of the engineers who called, many parts were not actually worn out when they were replaced, but under the terms of the service plan it was their duty to replace any parts that looked as if they may not make it through to the next year’s service visit. Even so, her machine had no major parts replaced – belts, door seals, the rubber drain hose, carbon brushes and the dispenser hose were the only parts replaced in this way. Mum’s machine broke down once when the programmer (timer) developed a fault in the rapid advance motor, which meant that some programmes started to “stick” part way through and she had to manually “nudge” the programmer on by one click.

    Under the Hoovercare plan the timer was replaced, though the engineer did comment that in fact a new Crouzet motor was obtainable and if she’d not been on the plan he’d have got a motor and fitted it to the existing timer rather than replace the whole unit.
    Mum’s machine eventually needed new drum bearings too but the Hoovercare engineer (by then Gias) refused to carry out the work deeming that it was “uneconomical” and at that point cancelled the service agreement saying that they would no longer support her machine. This was a bitter blow but mum, by then aged 78, decided very reluctantly to buy a new machine rather than risk one that became unreliable and very costly.

    Mum bought a new Miele machine. It’s pretty clear that it’s the best quality that you can buy in any normal retail outlet and at the time of purchase there was a special offer where the 10 year guarantee was doubled to 20 years, with 5 years of that labour inclusive, or you could have a free vacuum cleaner instead. Mum has a perfectly good Hoover 119 Junior Vacuum that she got when she was married in 1956 so she took the guarantee instead!

    Mum’s very annoyed that the Miele won’t connect to hot water and she’s also very far from convinced that it washes as well as the Hoover, but overall she’s fairly happy with it.

    I bought an LG steam washer, mainly because it does have hot fill (but see the “I want a washing machine with a hot water valve” board for extensive debate over whether this really does what it says on the can) but also partly because it is obviously built very well and it has a 10 year parts warranty of which 3 years is labour inclusive. Like mum I am completely certain that the washing performance is very poor alongside the Hoover and the rinsing is diabolical, even with all the extra options selected; as is the (so called low) energy consumption. Never-the-less, as modern machines go I’m reasonably pleased, and at least it uses a little bit of my free solar hot water.

    As an aside, although I think everyone will agree that the Hoover’s that mum and I had gave superb value for money and lasted very well, the service engineer who attended to mum’s for about 11 out of the 24 years she had it, told her on a good number of occasions “Whatever you do, keep this until it falls apart. It’s the last model they made to a **Quality** standard, not to a BUDGET, and it’s better than any they’ve made since. I think this echo’s and serves to add weight to Washerhelp (Andy’s) introduction to this board.

  3. avatar Oliver Shaw says:

    Hi Dave,

    I’ll give you my run down:

    Started out in 2005 (when I moved out on my own) when I was 17 with a new Hotpoint Aquarius, in a lovley almond colour, matched my kitchen beatifully. This had to be the worst purchase I have ever made, I had it two and a half years and the timer (solid state) and PCB went kaput! It cost £500, I thought I had bought a good machine, but silly me based it on the Hotpoint of old, not the Antonio Merloni crap! This machine did about 4 loads a week at 40deg. but mainly 60 washes. (Have a dirty job)!!!

    The one thing I noticed was it rinsed better than the machine I spent many years with at home (IAR Siltal), although an EXCELLENT built and uses hot water would you believe, and well performing machine, the rinsing is abysmol though! But the reliability is fantastic, it is 8 years old and does 8-15 loads a week, often overloaded and has no bearing wear what so ever, all I did was fit a new drain pump a couple of months ago!

    But since the Hotpoint packed up I bought a reconditioned Bosch WFF2000 for £145, 12 months warranty and free delivery, and to top that some FREE hoses and a “Y” adaptor! It washes far better than the Hotpoint and equal to the IAR Siltal. But the rinsing is perfect, I suffer with dermatitis and eczema and this machine has cleared it up, and I have suffered since about age 8 when we got rid of the Servis Quartz 1000, this also rinsed properly. (I’m 20 now, not too far off 21).

    My Mum has had:

    A twin tub when first married in 1979, (unsure of who made it).
    Servis Quartz 1000. A troublesome unreliable washer but excellent rinsing. This machine was repaired so many times in 18 years I have lost count of what its had!
    Then a Tricity Bendix AW1050, excellent machine, sold after 6 years when we moved, again bad rinsing.
    And to date an IAR Siltal integral washing machine, only had a pump in 8 years, but bad rinsing. (this is by far the best machine they have ever had in terms of washing performance and reliability).

    The modern machines are absolute rubbish, they do not wash as well as the old ones, even though they wash over twice as long, the rinsing is a health hazard for me and they do not seem to spin things as dry. The build quality is shoddy, even Mieles are not built quite as well as they used to be, there again I will NEVER own one on the monopoly servicing and outragious price of parts. Like you say the old machines are built to a high quality spec. I mean the difference between the Bosch and the Hotpoint is amazing, even the drum is thicker steel and every thing feels a lot stronger. It may look old fashioned but its performance far outweighs this and would not swap it for anything else!

    Also the Hoover Juniors are excellent, very tough and reliable. Personally I have commercial Sebo’s for our house, but I am a carpet cleaner and obviously have the best knowledge on what cleans carpets properly and what doesn’t! Dysons are absoute cheap nasty, poor performing rubbish, infact some of the worst performers I have ever seen! (Sorry off topic again, I just cannot help myself!!!)

    All the best,

    Oliver.

  4. avatar Alexandra says:

    Hello

    I came across your site when I was looking for solutions about mouldy washing machine rubber, and, liked so much the articles that I’m still around reading them!

    Anyway, washing machines and prices vs durability:

    I can honestly say I wouldn’t mind paying a higher price for a better washing machine. Yes, it wouldn’t be easy as such, but it would be money that in my opinion is well spent.

    Now, if I say this then why don’t I do it? Because I’m afraid that in the end they are all the same and I end up paying the double or more to get the same thing.

    My last machine was a washer dryer and we must have had it for 3 or 4 years. When buying another one I asked around to friends and the opinions went from Miele to Hotpoint. As a family member used to work at Hotpoint we knew to stay clear from them but it made us wonder: if there were people who actually liked the brand, wouldn’t that mean that in the end you can find a good or bad machine in ANY brand?

    So in the end we went for what was the general opinion the middle ground and choose a Bosch. Not even 6 months after and the bloody thing is useless: doesn’t matter which soap you use the clothes aren’t clean enough, it ruins more sensitive items and it generally doesn’t remove the whole soap.

  5. avatar Washerhelp says:

    Alexandra: Thank you for your contribution and welcome. It’s interesting that you said, “as a family member used to work at Hotpoint we knew to stay clear from them”. It’s a sad indictment when even some people working at Hotpoint wouldn’t buy or recommend them.

    Choosing Bosch over Hotpoint makes sense in my opinion. But ultimately Bosch are basically in the same price range as Hotpoint. If you compare prices of a Bosch and a Hotpoint washing machine (with equivalent features) a Bosch is not going to cost much if anything more. Therefore it’s unrealistic to expect a giant leap in quality.

    They used to be a “quality” German product but have chosen in recent years to compete on price and have reduced build quality to do it. They are better than Hotpoint and have a better reliability record according to Which? and according to most engineers I know. (In fact I’m just writing an article announcing that Which? have said Bosch are the best appliance manufacturer in 2009).

    In order for you to jump up to a far superior build quality you unfortunately have to jump up to the Miele or the ISE 10. There are differences between the rest but not the kind of massive differences I was thinking about when writing the article.

    Unfortunately many washing machines don’t appear to be very good at rinsing these days which is why I wrote Why can’t modern washing machines rinse properly? Just make sure you aren’t overloading the washing machine though as doing so can cause the exact symptoms you describe including poor wash results, undissolved detergent and poor rinsing. Other than that it’s a shame you are disappointed, there must be some reason for the problems you describe.

    I think you have hit the nail on the head regarding why many people may be reluctant to spend a lot more on a washing machine. Is it the fear of having done so, finding themselves no better off? It is true that it is not necessarily a simple matter of just paying twice as much for a washing machine and being guaranteed 20 years or more of trouble-free washing. The downside of buying high-quality washing machine is that if and when a breakdown does occur it can be very expensive to repair.

    However, the theory remains that investing in such a high-quality product should still work out cheaper over the long term. Bearing in mind that we all tend to need a washing machine for 50 years or more during our life I prefer to look at the much bigger picture. I believe if you only buy quality washing machines you will be far better off, and enjoy much more sophisticated, quiet, more efficient and better performing washing machines. You will replace them less often too. Over the long period that we need washing machines it is highly likely you will have spent a lot less money on buying and maintaining them than sticking to cheap poor quality ones. However this path may well be made up of a small serieds of big expenses. A big expense to buy the machine in the first place, maybe several to 10 years down the line another big expense to have a repair done etc. The other path, the one chosen by most, tends to have a lot more incidences of paying out, most likely costing much more over your lifespan, but the regular payouts are smaller and potentially more manageable.

    To me it’s similar to the difference between people who shop monthly at the supermarket buying all the largest packets and boxes of everything spending a pretty large amount. Buying in bulk and investing in any good special offers on products they regularly use. Compared with people who pop to the local shop every few days and may be once a week visit a supermarket but only by the small or normal sized packets and boxes. The people who pay out the larger amounts less frequently pay a lot less overall, but you need to be able to afford to invest more up front to pay less overall and there are many people who just do not have this luxury even if they agree with the argument. There are others though who could afford to buy the best but maybe have just never thought of it in the way I describe.

    Another problem is that many people may have experienced paying a lot more for a washing machine in the past expecting it will be of a higher quality only to find that it wasn’t. People don’t always realise that a washing machine manufacturer can make their top models almost as expensive as a basic Miele but it is still the exact same build quality as their cheapest model. Therefore you can pay almost as much for a top of the range Hotpoint as you can for the entry model Miele. The extra cost just goes entirely on extra features. This could leave some people thinking there’s no point paying more for a washing machine ( If I buy a more expensive washing machine, do I get a better washing machine? )

  6. avatar Appreciative says:

    Reading this page makes me *SO* angry! It appears that most of today’s society are greedy and ungrateful, to say the least. They don’t appreciate things any more and don’t look after things, their attitude seems to be “if it breaks I’ll buy another one”.

    I won’t make this too long, but let’s start with the obvious things: people would rather spend their money on holidays more than once a year and a nice car, but in order to do so they buy everything else as cheaply as possible. I know people who don’t mind buying cheap and nasty “Made in China” [bad word] that breaks easily and has to be replaced more often (and more RUBBISH being sent to landfill!). It won’t be long before washing machines are Made in China, if they are not already! Look in the current Argos catalogue (Autumn/Winter 2009) on page 585, I suspect a washing machine at THAT price (£169.99) is probably Made in China? People moan when factories are shut down here and relocated to China, but they still don’t like paying an ‘expensive’ price for things that are built PROPERLY!!

    It appears that most UK homes without built-in appliances have a Hotpoint washing machine because it looks nice and it’s cheap, the owners don’t seem to think or care about reliability. It’s more about making things fashionable and – I say again – cheap.

    Don’t tell me that people “can’t afford” to buy quality washing machines. How did people with families in the 1970′s afford washing machines, televisions and other goods when they were “expensive” but better made? If they could not afford to buy new, they rented them or bought items secondhand, the latter you can do today if you want to buy a quality make like Miele off ebay or elsewhere.

    So there you have it, today’s society wants to buy things artificially cheap and want things that look nice, without caring about reliability. What these same people don’t realise is they end up paying more by having to replace unrepairable washing machines time and time again.

    I agree with you Oliver Shaw about the Dysons, in fact the same applies to any bagless vacuum cleaner. I’ve noticed that most people buy cheap bagless vacuum cleaners (again to save money) thinking they’ve bought a “bargain” and will save lots of money not buying dustbags. The problem is that the filters clog much faster in bagless cleaners, in some bagless vacuums the filters are clogged with 1 inch thick dust after just a few months (I’m not joking!) and as a result the suction power is virtually nil. I know I’m going off topic now, this is meant to be about washing machines, but you see my point?

    If you know anyone who’s about to embark on buying a cheap washing machine, I urge you to show them this page.

  7. avatar Oliver Shaw says:

    Appreciative,

    I AGREE WITH EVERYTHING YOU SAY!!!!!!

    That piece of sh*t in Argos is made in China, surprise surprise.

    You are right people DO NOT value what they own anymore. Greedy and ungreatful are words that describe the modern person to perfection. I find this modern way very offensive, and believe it or not I’m only 20!

    I remember many years ago buying something like a washing machine was something that got thought about properly and was almost a life changing descision. I bought a reconditioned machine a few months ago for two reasons, I’m not that well off and I wanted a machine that rinsed properly and if this machine should break down it WILL get repaired. People today do not know the true value of money, its just easy come easy go, an absolutley stupid policy I might add.

    I appreciate EVERYTHING I own and how hard I have had to work to be able to afford it, I had to buy a new mattress not so long ago and saved up (not something people do today) to buy a good quality one, the old one lasted 19 years of excellent service!

    Your statement about things being fashionable is true, people don’t want an old fashioned looking washing machine in their kitchens, they want the latest unrelable thing full of stupid features you will never use, I only use two programmes Cotton 60 and Cotton Economy 60, and have done for a long time!

    Most of my things are 20 years old plus, things I have had given etc. and am greatful to people for this, I have a 19 year old television and it is excellent, my washing machione is 15 years old or so. I remember getting a tumble drier, saving up for that, and just how greatful I was to have it, although I am on my second one because the first was a compact model and I needed one to match the capacity of my washer, but I sold the compact one to a friend, not threw it away like a cast off and it is still going strong today.

    I was brought up as a child if you cannot afford you cannot have, I have NEVER had a credit card and never will do, I do all my own repairs, but if needs must will pay if I have to. As and when I have kids of my own they will also be brought up with the same policy, money just cannot be thrown away like pieces of paper. If you look after things as I do the last a hell of alot longer as you say.

    Sorry off topic again, but today vacuum cleaners are just throw away items like all other electrical goods, and bagless ones are just a bloody joke the do not work and never will, just yet another stupid idea the planet could do with out. We repair ours when things go wrong, or I do, I’m in the right business for that!

    And holidays and cars, don’t start me off there!!

    All the best to everyone who reads my RANT!!,

    Oliver.

  8. As a new member to this site I have found the above topic very interesting.
    I am a washing machine dealer and over the years i have dealt with a large quantity of different washing machine manufacturers. In my experiance like most things in life you get what you pay for. People dont look at the purchase of an appliance as a long term investment. Instead it is merley a short term fix to an immediate problem. While not everyone can afford a top quailty German appliance i would suggest that in the long term the machine will work out to be well worth the money.

    I have vistited the Miele experiance centre and have seen for myself the fantastic build quality of the appliances. Over the years i have sold a large range of different appliances but hand on heart can say Miele appliances are by far the best pound for pound machine i have sold.

  9. I think we all know it’s very obvious why they make machine that breaks quickly, it seem to be a game that we’re all part of.
    They sell more in the long run. They almost become disposable products. You buy one, it packs up after 2 years, you buy another, it packs up etc
    Sure, you won’t buy the same brand, but you will buy some brand, and since they’re all in it together, they all stand to benefit at some stage from this same scam.
    They make more money in the long run than they would from making a great one that’ll last for 20 years – unless they sell that good one at a very high price, but then they won’t sell many.
    That’s the unfortunate reality, most people WOULD rather buy a cheap one than the expensive one that’ll last 20 years, and the manufacturers know it.
    So who’s to blame, us or the manufacturers?

  10. I for one am not a fan of the throwaway culture. However, it has made many products affordable to everyone, and it has come to support the current economy. Not that things couldn’t be improved!
    I hope that the present push towards sustainability, resource and energy efficiency, will eventually translate into a return to the repair and service ethos, and better quality for goods like washers where it is a viable solution. But to return to the provision of goods which last from the present throwaway culture will require a change in many people’s values and expectations; more than this it is likely to need the added stimulus of regulation or tax.
    Someone said “the customer gets what the customer demands” and this is true, to a point; but it is also led strongly by the media shaping our expectations, together with economic and market forces. It has become important to have ‘the latest’ fashion, the new colourway, the latest features; and because of the relative cheapness of many things, not having them has become associated as a sign of inferiority, poverty, or unconventional views.
    And of course, the manufacturers are now in a position whereas once they would sell us one item that lasted indefinitely, now in the same period we will buy 6, whether it be washing machines, other white goods, cars, etc. (To supply one item which lasts 6 times as long significantly financially disadvantages them). Mobile phones and computers are some of the worst examples, they are obsolete as they are released, and superceded almost immediately. In fact technology is deliberately withheld and released incrementally to encourage continual upgrading by purchasing new replacements.

    Now I don’t give a ‘??$N’ for fashion, and I care about the environment, so I would rather have longevity repair and service; but with our busy lives, cheap goods and ‘keep-up-with-the-joneses’, most people now select cheapness and convenience – throw it away and get another… Personal time preference – I want it now; money devalues…

    On the bagless vacuum – those filters are designed and recommended to be regularly cleaned and washed – but who reads the instructions and who bothers to do maintenance in this age of throwaway? (I have an old Kirby & an old aquavac)

    I’ve had a hotpoint 9901 washer-dryer since 1989, before that it was my brother’s; it’s 26 years old.
    Apart from chewing the odd jumper or t-shirt, it has served me very well indeed. Once, they were built to last and be easily serviced; virtually everything could be replaced.
    It has had several door seals and sets of brushes, all it’s fill valves replaced, and is about due for it’s shock absorbers and bearings. I will be bereft when it finally reaches the end of it’s repairable life, and unable to afford a new Mele or ISO will doubtless be looking for an ISO secondhand.
    Virtually all my Hotpoint’s parts are still readily available, off the shelf; I was horrified as my neighbour had to wait several months for a new flow valve, for his 13month old £400 machine, to be manufactured and delivered from the one and only supplier in Italy! Of course he bought another machine in the meantime!

  11. Why do washing machines only come with a one (or, in some cases two) year warranty? Most manufacturers (if you call them and ask) will say that a washing machine should last at least 4 years (5 or 6 according to Which?), so why should I have to pay an additional £150 to get a 5 year guarantee? Why do retailers and manufacturers not stand by their products and give us consumers what they themselves state is a basic expectation of product life?

  12. avatar WhatMatters says:

    How do you build a washing machine to last a very long time (say 25 – 30 years!)? Some ideas come to mind:

    Use very expensive parts.
    Do not use a brush motor.
    Do not use components made in China or the far East.
    The parts will have to be heavy and bulky – build the washing machine “like a tank”!
    Above all, it would be *VERY* expensive to buy in the first place.

    Commercial washing machines for home use. Would anyone be prepared to spend at least £2000 on such a washing machine, provided it lasted 25 – 30 years and didn’t cost too much to repair if it did break down?

  13. The ISE10 is a good compromise. It’s about £800 but with 10 years parts and labour guarantee and it’s well built. They even guarantee it for 3 years if used semi commercially such as in a pub, restaurant or hairdressers.

    Miele also do machines of high quality starting at around the £600 but going much higher. To produce an acceptably well made washing machine for home use can be done (using these examples) for £600+

    I personally don’t want or expect washing machines to be so well made they last 20 or 30 years and virtually never break down. As you say if the quality is too high they just aren’t viable purchases for home use.

    I’d be happy if they were just well made, with parts reasonably priced to enable them to be repaired as and when to keep them running a decent amount of time such as at least 10 -15 years, which is why I am currently praising the ISE10

  14. I have noticed that a lot of people are complaining that we live in a “throw-away” society, but this is, in part, due to manufacturers not being willing to give out warranties of decent length. Can you blame consumers for replacing products with something new when this is, quite often, the more cost-effective solution to a machine that has broken down? If a machine is more than one year old, try getting it repaired for less than a minimum of £120 (that is, of course, if it is something quite basic that needs replacing).

    My washing machine is only 2-and-a-half years old, the electronic “brain” of the machine is kaput, it will cost far more than is economically viable to repair, and both the retailer and manufacturer are refusing to admit any liability whatsoever.
    Sorry for the rant, but I’ve just received the letter from the retailer absolving themselves of all responsibility because I didn’t buy an extended warranty! I have decided that if I have to buy a new machine then I am going to buy the AEG which comes with 5-year parts and labour (around £420) or the ISE10 (mentioned above) which comes with 10-years (although, I’m a bit uncertain about the drop-down door which may get in the way of loading and unloading the machine).

  15. afcwfan: The manufacturer has no legal responsibility – only a moral one. In UK consumer law the retailer is responsible. Most of them are washing their hands of any responsibility but they do have responsibility under the sales of goods act. You should read this article – EU 2 year guarantee Sales of Goods Act gives us 6 years to claim for faulty appliances

    What it boils down to in your case is, has it lasted a reasonable amount of time for the money it cost and the usage it’s had? Is 2 and a half years a reasonable amount of time before a washing machine should be scrapped and replaced? Don’t expect the manufacturer or the retailer to do anything. If you believe the product has not lasted a reasonable time and they are disputing that then you need to take the retailer to the small claims court.

    It shouldn’t cost much money and it should be fairly straight forward and can even be done online ( I’ve read all the consumer advice about washing machines, I’m thinking of taking them to court ) The reason the small claims court was set up is to assist the ordinary consumer if they have a dispute with big businesses.

  16. I think I need a bit of advice from any experienced repairers out there. Would an electronic fault (something wrong with the “brain” or motherboard of the machine) be considered an “inherent” fault (as there are no moving parts to wear out)? Second question: how can I find a local engineer who is willing to write a fault report? I’ve phoned a few now and none of them want to come and look at my washing machine as soon as I mention writing a fault report. I could understand their reluctance if I wasn’t going to pay them for their time, but even with the offer of £120 they turn me down. Could someone please explain why this is. Thanks.

  17. afcwfan: It shouldn’t matter if it’s an electronic fault or a mechanical fault. However, there could be significant difference in that with a mechanical fault a retailer might try to argue it failed due to fair wear and tear, but with an electronic part not being subject to wear it should shoot down that argument.

    An inherent fault is one that was there right from the very beginning. It doesn’t have to give any symptoms right from the start though. For example, a part could fail after a few years but it could still be argued the part was inherently faulty. That doesn’t mean you can claim any failure is due to an inherent fault though, and it may not be easy to prove.

    Relatively new consumer law changes have put the onus on the retailer to prove that a part was not inherently faulty at least until an appliance is six months old. In other words if a fault developed on a product that is under six months old it is assumed that the part in question was inherently faulty and you were therefore sold a faulty product. Unless the retailer can prove otherwise you should be entitled to a refund or an exchange though if you’ve had some use out of it they may try to knock off an appropriate amount. There’s another contradictory clause which says if a retailer can show it’s unreasonably expensive to replace it compared to repairing it they can refuse. Presumably this is to prevent having to replace a washing machine or other large white goods appliance for trivial faults that can be quickly and easily repaired.

    If the product is over six months however, then the onus is on the customer to prove that the failure was due to an inherent fault. This as you are finding is not easy. I don’t understand why engineers should be so reluctant to write a fault report unless they are not confident enough to put their diagnosis in writing knowing it may be challenged by manufacture. If they are confident they should be just a simple matter of diagnosing a fault and writing down the exact nature of the fault. They don’t have to pass judgement one way or the other, just put down in writing what the fault is. Maybe if you try asking for a written estimate they may be less coy? At the end of the day you just need confirmation that the party is faulty, you don’t need an engineer to commit themselves to judging if this is acceptable or not.

    If the main motherboard has failed, you don’t necessarily have to prove an inherent fault, you can just argue that it hasn’t lasted a reasonable time, which is also covered under the sale of goods act. The success of this argument depends of course on how long it has lasted, has it rendered the appliance beyond economical repair? How much was paid for it? What kind of use as it had? Etc. But the sale of goods act says products should last a reasonable time and therefore be of “satisfactory quality” bearing in mind the cost and usage. -

    Goods are of satisfactory quality if they reach the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking into account the price and any description.

  18. Thanks for your speedy response – the info is really helpful and has clarified a lot of confusing “soga” stuff. Much appreciated.

  19. Reading this page again, I wonder how and why people can “afford” to buy the “latest and greatest” plasma TV’s and computers etc. but when it comes to the important purchase of a washing machine, price seems to be the top priority? However, people may foolishly buy the top of the range washing machine from a manufacturer whose build quality is shoddy on *all* their washing machines. From Washerhelp – If I buy a more expensive washing machine, do I get a better washing machine?

    It’s only when a washing machine breaks down and there’s dirty washing piling up do people stop taking the washing machine for granted, until the new one is installed and running!

    Seriously, buying a washing machine is a major purchase and needs consideration. If you just pick a make/model that looks pretty and is cheap, it won’t last long and is likely to annoy you with things like a noisy spin, flimsy door hinges, not stable on spin etc.

    A saying comes to mind: “Buy cheap, buy many”.

  20. Hello WMUser. I think too many people just see white goods appliances (especially washing machines) as a necessary evil and don’t like to spend too much money on them. Yet as you say, some people might spend £1000+ on a big TV but wouldn’t dream of spending £800 on a high quality washing machine.

  21. avatar Clueless Weasel says:

    I’ve ended up here looking for independent reviews of the ISE10. Very interested in buying one and tempted by the 10 year guarantee.

    Would you know if that guarantee would extend to damage caused by living in a hard water area? Or would I be expected to take some sort of precautions like C@lgon or a water softener device.

    Basically I’m hoping that I can buy an ISE10, and not worry about it. If it gets furred up, then it’s covered ….

  22. Hello Clueless Weasel: I think limescale is likely to be considered an external cause by any guarantee, and although an individual engineer carrying out a repair under a guarantee may well just fix it anyway they could always turn round and say it isn’t covered.

    However, if you use a good quality detergent and always use the correct amount your washing machine should be protected against hard water because that is part of its job – Should I use Calgon?

  23. avatar Christine says:

    Zanussi ZWD1472W – washer/dryer – bought new in Dec.2006 – leaking – I put a cup of water in the drum & within seconds it ran out onto the floor – I thought may be the hose from base of drum to pump was damaged or come loose but when I suggested this to repair man he said it was more likely that the plastic drum had been cracked/split by a coin or something left in a pocket & if that was the case I might as well buy a new machine as the cost of replacing the drum would be so high – is it true that the drum is plastic & not stainless steel & is the repair mans telephone diagnosis probably correct – in comparison I bought a Zanussi washer/dryer in 1990 & it lasted 14 years & never cost me a penny…….

  24. Sorry for the delay in replying Christine: It does sound like there’s a hole somewhere. Sump hose coming off would explain it but it’s not something that happens normally. Coins damaging the plastic tub are very common and is probably a more likely explanation but no one can know without looking.

    If you have (usually optional) accidental damage cover on your house contents insurance you ought to be able to claim though.

  25. We bought a Hoover Electron 1100 washing machine in June 1983 and appart from the odd replacement parts such as two door seals,brushes and a timer switch – all fitted by my husband it has given us no trouble at all.
    That is until now when the timer switch has given up the ghost,although we can still use it if we give it tender nursing.On enquiring about a replacement timer switch we were informed that it would cost about £200 so the time has probably come to replace it although my hubby is still considering repairing it,especially after reading previous comments about the same model!! We’ll have problems replacing it and it may take us some time to do so.Watch this space…

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