Consumer groups like Which? periodically carry out comparison tests on the manufacturer versus independent repair option. The reports I’ve seen have always found that independent repairers commonly give a quicker and better quality service as well as being (sometimes considerably) cheaper than the washing machine’s manufacturer. This seems to be the case generally across all types of repairs for different products.
Here are the pros and cons of the two extremes of choices as I see it :-
Manufacturer Service: Pros
- They should only supply and fit genuine spare parts
- Should know what they are doing or at least have access to latest information
- Should have a proper complaints procedure if you are unhappy with the service
Manufacturer Service: Cons
- Usually have expensive call-out and labour charges (often £90)
- Less personal service
- Can be less flexible on appointment times
- Repairmen often very pushed for time due to unrealistic workloads and pressure
- At busy times they can expect you to wait a week, or even longer, for an appointment
Independent repair firms and sole Traders: Pros
- Labour charges should be cheaper (sometimes half the cost)
- Usually much faster service
- Engineer likely to be under less pressure of time and has a vested interest in your satisfaction as it is his livelihood (if a sole trader)
- Should be more flexible with appointments and may be able to work round your school pick up times etc.
- Consumer groups routinely find the service provided is better from independent companies
Independent Sole Trader: Cons
- Levels of expertise can vary considerably, some could even be cowboys
- No one above them to complain to if a sole trader (apart from trading standards)
- May not have as up-to-date information on the newer washing machines or for specific manufacturers with a reputation for withholding technical information on error codes etc.
- Could fit non-genuine spare parts, which may be cheaper but not last as long
- Depending on how many makes of washing machine they will look at, they may not have as many spares on the van, although many will be able to get them quickly or even pick them up locally sometimes
Other Repair Choices
Another option would be a large retailers repair service or one of the many national repair companies. They should have similar pros and cons as the manufacturer’s, except they aren’t as likely to have as up to date technical information as a manufacturer. In theory they should, but they often don’t.
One disadvantage is that the engineers working for an independent national repair company will have to repair a much larger array of appliances, possibly every brand made, which puts them at a fair disadvantage compared to a manufacturer’s engineer who only has to repair their own range or an independent who specialises in a elect few brands. Whereas an engineer from a manufacturer has to repair all white goods appliances that the manufacturer makes (and that can still be a considerable amount – related: Who owns who? Who really makes your washing machine).
A national retailer’s engineer has to repair virtually all appliances sold by that retailer, which is considerably more. Finally, the guarantee on repairs may be very short, often a mere 3 months which is woefully inadequate. Repairs and new spare parts should last a reasonable time so if they fail out of this short guarantee period you can make a claim for compensation under the sale of goods act.
Finally, if you bought your appliance from a major retailer an extra advantage of using their repair service is that you may have more leverage with complaints because you bought it from them. They are in a weaker position (even than the manufacturer who made it) because the sale of goods act holds them responsible if the washing machine doesn’t last a reasonable time or has inherent faults.