5 tips for buying a new appliance

Helpful White goods Tips

Here are my five pieces of advice for anyone looking into buying a new white goods appliance. As an engineer with over 40 years in the trade, I look at things differently, so these tips may be different to what you might expect.

I give serious consideration to how easy it will be to get the appliance repaired in later years, and to the quality of aftersales service and spare parts costs. I also attach great importance to the quality of service and advice you get from the retailer, whilst in the process of buying — and the attitude you are likely to encounter regarding your consumer rights if something goes wrong.

Tip 1: Which Appliance Brand?

Best Brand

The brand that you choose will determine not only the quality of the appliance, but how repairable it is in the future, and the quality of repairs both in, and out of its guarantee.

Some brands have well established aftersales service with directly employed engineers. Others have aftersales service run by third parties using networks of private unrelated engineers, which can result in patchy service.

Brands sold in the UK for many decades tend to have the more established service, and relatively new brands, particularly budget ones from China, or household names more known for TVs tend to rely on third parties.

So do proper research, and make a list of brands to consider and brands to avoid. Don’t just ask a sales person for an appliance with specific features, because you may be presented with one that has them all — but from a brand you shouldn’t be buying. Ask them about features you require in the specific brands you have decided on.

Cost is undeniably a major consideration, and may prevent many from buying “the best”, but even with a low budget you can still choose from the appliance brands with the better reputation, and avoid those with poor reliability or poor repairability records (see Which? reviews). For ideas about which washing machine brands to look at, read which is the best washing machine to buy?

Unfortunately, there is no single appliance brand which can be recommended above all others for everyone. None are perfect, all have their pros and cons. If money is no object, though, the best brand is still Miele. But if working to a more average budget of £300 — £500 there are brands to look at in my link above.

Tip 2: Don’t go on past experience or reputations

Don’t loyally buy the same brand because it’s been good. Brands can change any time, and one that was good several years or more back may now be very different. Some household names, with decades of respected trading in the UK were bought out by global companies who radically changed them. Sometimes they’ve bought a brand with a high reputation for build quality, only to move it into a lower price range and reduce build quality accordingly.

Bosch and AEG for example were once very high quality appliances, but are now competing in much lower price ranges because their owners already have other brands covering the higher price ranges. Bosh now competes with the cheapest brands and have washing machines under £300. I’m not saying avoid them, in fact, Bosch get good recommendations on some models from Which? Best Washing Machine Brands and are reported to be relatively reliable.

It’s just that they are now in a completely different class to that of a 15 – 20 year old Bosch washing machine, so if you want one of the same build quality as that, you will need to try someone like Miele instead.

Tip 3: Don’t go on price alone

Although it’s fair to say that price is an indicator, you can’t reliably judge the quality of an appliance on price. It would be great if more expensive always meant better, but it doesn’t — and not just in regard to appliances.

You can pay a lot of money for a top model bristling with features, but not particularly well-made, when for the same money (or little more) you could buy a considerably better one but with fewer specifications.

This article explains why a more expensive appliance doesn’t always mean a better quality one — is a more expensive washing machine better quality?

Tip 4: Consider how long the appliance is guaranteed for

The difference between the length of guarantee you get with different brands of washing machine can be a game changer, especially if there’s not a lot of difference between them other than the guarantee.

Appliances usually come with just the standard 1-year guarantee, and some come with 5 year “Parts” guarantees, though these are not always as good as they appear (read I have 5-year parts guarantee should I use it?).

However, some appliances have a 2-year parts and labour guarantees, and others have 3, 5 or even 10-year guarantees. They don’t cover wear and tear, but can make a big difference if something goes wrong when its over 12-months old.

Tip 5: Choose where you buy your appliance from carefully

Although the appliance you receive will always be the same, the service and advice you get, especially if anything goes wrong, can vary considerably depending on where you bought it. One of my pet hates is supermarkets selling large appliances – buying a washing machine from a supermarket

Some retailers trade exclusively on price, with very little advice available before buying. You are expected to know what you want, and if anything goes wrong, there can be very little caring or assistance. This is especially true when buying from a retailer who trades solely on low prices and working off very low profit margins.

Some know very little, or nothing about the appliances they sell. They just buy them in and ship them out. Some may even only order from the manufacturer when you place an order with them and carry no stock themselves. They may just pass your order onto the manufacturer and get them to deliver it. Other retailers specialise in appliances, or have high quality appliance sections staffed with well-trained people to give genuine advice. Decide which is most important to you.

If price is the number one consideration then seek out the cheapest prices. But if you value good service, and a more respectful attitude to your consumer rights if something goes wrong, then avoid buying from unknown places, or places with poor reputations just to save a few pounds.

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