Quality Mid-Level Appliance Companies with Good CS?

msl511April 13, 2013

I'm finding appliance shopping overwhelming. I can sort out which features I care about, but sorting out which brands I should look at and which I should avoid is proving very difficult.

I'm looking at what I would consider mid-level appliances. Wolf, Viking, SZ etc aren't in the budget. But I don't need the cheapest thing on the showroom floor, either. As far as I can tell at this point, GE Profile, Elux IQ, Bosch 300-500 series are probably the right area.

Any product, even the ones that are generally well made, can have a problem and when that happens, you want the company to step up and take care of things.

There are clearly brands that produce a quality product in this range for all sorts of appliances. But are there any brands in this range that have good customer service?

I've seen a lot of negative reviews for the customer service of Whirlpool and all the brands it owns, Samsung and GE.

If I want mid-range good quality AND a company's willingness to stand behind its products, whose appliances should I be looking at?

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I don't think what you want exists.

It's simply too difficult to run a public company that makes mass market high volume kit that produces a well featured, high quality and a long lifespan. If they last forever , you won't be back to buy another one, feeding the machine.

High volume doesn't really produce high margins, which are necessary to satisfy owners desire for profit AND allow for high product standards AND developing and maintaining an organization committed to quality and service.

It's far easier to squeeze $$$ out of a company by trimming waste out of operations and supply chain mgmt. and through mergers and acquisitions then it is to build or remake an entire culture of excellence from design to delivery guy.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 7:58PM
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Thanks. I understand that appliances don't last for 20-30 years the way they used to. I don't approve, but I understand.

But, within the limits of how appliances are made now, there are mid-level appliances that do their job well. For instance, many people seem to be very happy with their Samsung refrigerators. My problem is that for the relatively few people who have a problem, big or small, while it's in warranty, and have to deal with Samsung and their authorized service people, that experience tends to enrage people. The quality of service when there's a problem is atrocious. Similar complaints for Whirlpool and its brands. I'm wondering and hoping there's a company that, when there's a problem, steps up and takes good care of the customer.

(Nearly 20 years ago, I bought a KA stand mixer. When I got it home and opened it up, the whisk was bent. I called CS, doubting they were even open since it was Presidents' Day, thinking they'd send a new whisk. They had a whole new mixer to me in just a few days. Now, THAT'S customer service. I was thrilled and said good things about them to everyone I knew. That's the sort of thing I'm looking for. I don't mean a whole new fridge for one tiny problem, but a company that thinks its job is keeping customers happy. I don't see why that should be incompatible with running a mass market company.)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 10:16PM
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"I don't see why that should be incompatible with running a mass market company"

I just told you, it's at odds with profit especially short term.

BTW , give good ol KitAid a call on Mon. with that same story about that same mixer (as if you bought it this weekend) and let us know what they say. They won't be sending you a new mixer and I'll even bet you won't even get a whisk out of them.

Just take a look at this forum for user's KA experiences with their ovens. For xtra credit you can google people's recent dilemmas with the dishwashers catching on fire and leaking. Come back and let us know if you are still feeling warm and fuzzy about them.

To further illustrate - what did you pay for your mixer in the early 90's ???

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 2:46AM
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KA is now part of Whirlpool.

Companies have always had a desire for profit, that is nothing new. Even short term profit.

What is new is fierce global competition, Electrolux-Frigidaire coming here with there brutally efficient factories, the Koreans and now the Chinese.

Plus the ever expanding reach of Federal regulators demanding lower water and energy consumption. Demanding phosphate free laundry and dishwasher detergent.

Consumers demanding larger appliances with more features. Something has gotta give. And for mass market mid priced appliances it is usually customer service and long term reliability.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 6:20AM
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We've moved around quite a bit with building new or renovating homes and reselling. During the market downturn we slowed down, but now are active again.

Just saying; we've always used many Kitchenaid products and have not had any serious problems. Usually they were minor and the dealer repair service took care of it. Kitchenaid has always been fair to work with as well. Of course since the properties were sold to others, I can't speak to long term use. But for what we've seen, we are pleased.

Kitchenaid is sending me a new blender jar at no charge for my 2004 blender that is cracked and leaking. Seems quite generous and fair to me.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 8:38AM
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Unfortunately, I have some recent experience with customer service and new appliances. I was one of those folks "enraged" by the customer service, or lack thereof, provided by Samsung when their cs rep repeatedly denied warranty coverage for an unrepairable sealed system leak in my two year old fridge; eventually I received gracious apologies and a refund check but only after the claim wended its way up the corporate ladder.

Our kitchen remodel is just now wrapping up; 3 out of 4 new appliances (GE, KA, Zephyr) have been repaired or replaced in less than 4 months of use; two arrived defective. To me, that speaks to a lack of quality control at the manufacturing end. We purchased all of them through a local appliance chain store which has been responsive to the problems.

Sadly, the KA french door fridge has a sealed system leak (just like our Samsung, UGH what are the odds?) and now we are dealing with KA. I want a new fridge--looks to me like I was sold a defective one. KA's next idea, since they've been unable to find the leak, is to come back out, take everything out of the fridge and freezer, and disassemble the whole appliance (in my new kitchen, grrr) to see what they can find. The repairman charges the fridge with coolant at his visits so we can keep using the unit; I call and kvetch and demand service as it starts to warm up again and make a noise like a dentist's drill. Good customer service on a brand new appliance? NO.

Ironically, the only appliance that hasn't needed any attention is the inexpensive GE spacemaker microwave, used daily by teens.

This post was edited by bookmom41 on Sun, Apr 14, 13 at 10:05

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 9:37AM
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There was, not long ago, a poster named Chris following GW. He was from Elux CS. I found him very responsive when I had a question.

To help avoid the issue of corporate CS, I bought the (inexpensive, actually) extended warranty from the local appliance store where I got my oven and cooktop. The service is provided by a local appliance service company. The store has an incentive to keep me happy - I didn't replace my DW or fridge yet. I haven't had a real problem, but I'm hoping that by keeping it all local, I might make out better if there is a problem.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 8:31PM
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I think Ginny20 is on the right track here.

To me it would be far easier to check up on a "Local store" as far as customer support goes and how they handle problems, than trying to checkout each manufacturer, Whirlpool, GE, SZ etc etc.

Ask the store , "Point blank", "If I have a warranty problem, How do you (the store), handle it". If they say, You have to call the manufacturer, then move on to the next store.

I tried to do that when I bought my applliances, and I was very happy with their delivery and installation services, but "Fortunately" in the 7 years I've owned the appliances nothing has broken that required service, (Ice maker died after 5 years on JA Fridge), but it took me 10 minutes and about $135 to replace it.

Only serious problem I had was with a Caldera cooktop which I bought at a different appliance store, the thing was a pita from day one, and the Appliance store did try to help but the manufacturer went "Belly Up"---so not much the appliance store could do.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 8:45PM
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My local appliance store does handle the repairs, and they've been responsive. My experience with both of the refrigerators (Samsung from Sears, current KA from local store) is that the manufacturer calls the shots for big problems which might warrant a replacement...such as a sealed system leak.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 8:25AM
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Sophie Wheeler

It is the VERY VERY rare local store who even has a service person anymore. If you can find that setup, that would be the way to go. But most source all of the warranty work out to third party repair services like A&E.

Remember, the warranty is through the manufacturer, not the retailer. And the manufacturer for the most part doesn't care about their customers or their retail partners. They will provide compensation (grudgingly) for repair from a repair service, but if the customer wants a replacement, all of the dollars for that will fall on the store. There went 5 sales worth of profit margin if the store tries to provide good customer service and accommodate the customer. If the retail store gripes about it, the manufacturer will tell them "tough, sell another brand".

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 11:14AM
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"but if the customer wants a replacement, all of the dollars for that will fall on the store. There went 5 sales worth of profit margin"

Hollysprings, Are you saying that the retail store has to pay for the replacement appliance?

I see many examples here that don't seem to follow that.
Rhomes, oven replacements, some Blue Stars that were replaced as well as Capital's etc etc.

Curious as to where you found the retailer pays for warranty replacement appliances.



    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 4:23PM
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Sophie Wheeler

A customer has to jump through the hoops with the manufacturer and agree to have it repaired multiple times first before replacement happens. Or post on a bunch of internet forums and make a stink. And lately, the warranties have all been re-written to only include repair. Not replacement. Something would have to be obviously smashed to smithereens at delivery for the manufacturer to support immediate replacement. If a customer has a warranty issue that is currently "in repair", and wants a replacement instead, if the store accommodates that, then the store eats the price of the appliance. No reimbursement from the manufacturer as they didn't allow the "process" to be followed of having the customer jump through the weeks of hoops. Thank you Whirlpool.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 4:55PM
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Hmm. I *think* for the small repairs, our local chain sent out their own repairperson. KA is sending out A&E for the big-gun fridge work. The store made it clear to me, after I said I wanted a new refrigerator, that it was not their call but would be up to KA. Holly is correct, our 10 yr warranty from KA is for repairs. I also told the KA cs rep I wanted a new fridge and he said if it is determined the sealed system leak is being caused by something minor (like a component which needs to be tightened) they will repair, but if it is something "big," (whatever that means) then they will replace the fridge. The local store is out of the loop.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 9:37AM
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Given what has been posted recently, maybe a more relevant question would be "are there any appliance companies with good cs."

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 11:42AM
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I think the deal on CS is basically this.

Several manufacturers use just a handful of "Service companies" one such is ADCO.
Many manufacturers have deals with the appliance store and if you have need for service you call the store you purchased it from and they haggle with the company for you and then send out a qualified repair person.

In almost every case your service is only going to be as good as the person that happens to pick up the phone in your area.

So one person that owns XXXXXXx range can call the service company in their area and receive the best service known to man while the next person in a different area with the very same range but different person picking up the phone goes through Dantes 9 circles of hell.

Your best bet on service is to purchase the appliance from a company such as COSTCO if you can.
With Costco you could take it back after 2 years and they would give you a full refund if it was a lemon.
If after several years have passed and you need a simple service then almost best to research on the internet and do it yourself, will be cheaper and more than likely you will do a better job.

I have had only 3 experiences with customer service of any kind in the past 20 years that I can think of.
All 3 were outstanding service in every way.

NONE however were what you can call an "appliance".
Appliance service seems to occupy a different space time continuum than any other type of service.

I bought a decent Fenwick Fly Rod back in about 1985 while on a trip across country, rod was on sale for 1/2 price and in 85' was around $100 I think so $50 or thereabouts I paid.
I fished the heck outa that fly rod for 27 years and it finally broke, I called Fenwick just to see if I could buy the top half of the rod and they said no because each rod is made from a single blank and each blank is a little different so top and bottom have to made together.
But he said that rod carries a lifetime guarantee, just take a picture of the bottom half of the rod cut in half and will send you a brand new one to replace it.
Did that about 30 minutes later and the very next day I had a brand new rod in the mail.

I bought a Vision Grill Kamado smoker/grill last year from Costco. Fantastic grill.
The very first time I used it the firebowl cracked. (not at all uncommon for a Kamado)
I took a picture, sent it in to the manufacturer and within 5 minutes I had an email response from the VP of the company.
They asked for my address I responded and also asked about a Lava Stone from the company that I had purchased and no plate setter brackets were in the box.

Within 5 minutes I had an email saying new firebox and a set of lava stone brackets will be on their way today.
Within 2 hours I had an email with tracking numbers.
Over a year later still using the cracked firebox with a brand new one still in the box it came in waiting.
Appears as though it is going to last a really long time with the crack, so I should have a lifetime of fireboxes.

Last one was just a couple weeks ago.
I bought a Kayak cart called a C-Tug over a year ago.
The inner tubes in the tires from the company are horrid for some reason and both went flat, one before I even used it.
So I bought two replacement inner tubes with the self sealing goop in them.
Was talking to someone else on a Kayak forum and they ordered the C-Tug but with the new tires that do not have tubes at all, they are lighter, wider and would be better for sand, mud etc.
So I emailed the company and told them I had problems with the pneumatic tires that both tubes had gone flat etc and I was interested in their new tires and asked if they ever went on sale because I didn't want to spend the $33 each on them at this time.
He said I will sell you 2 new ones of their latest version for their cost, $12 each.
So I paid $24 for 2 wheels instead of $66+.
Now I have 2 sets to use for any terrain I come across.

I am really trying to think back even decades and I can't really think of a bad customer service experience I have had, I am sure I must have had one but can't think of one currently.

So no matter what appliance you buy, the cost means nothing, you can receive good or crappy service.
It just all comes down to whom answers the phone.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 9:11AM
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One reason I recommend AGAINST extended warranties is that they lock you into a particular service company. Without an extended warranty you are free to hire anyone you want to do the service. I've had very good luck in that regard. Fortunately I've needed very few service calls after the regular warranty on my appliances ran out, but when I have, I hire a local company that does great work and has reasonable prices.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 10:25AM
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