Thoughts on Buying Appliances - Especially Repairs

shortyrobynJune 29, 2012

I have a very simple POV when it comes to my house - and everything that's in it - it's a utility stream. Especially when it comes to appliances. I hate down time. During my crash course in buying a new dishwasher this week - I looked at just about everything that would fit into the space left vacant by my dead dishwasher. From the lower middle end to the really high end (I can afford to buy whatever I want).

And one important consideration for me was the availability of service and parts - and who did the service. I have lived where I live for 16 years (a metro area of 1+ million people) - and learned about most of the appliance repair companies here. Hate most - like a couple. So - with every brand I looked at - I checked which repair places were factory authorized for various brands. With some mainstream brands - there were perhaps 6 factory authorized places - and I hated all of them. With other mainstream brands - there were perhaps 6 factory authorized places - with a couple I liked. With most of the high priced spread brands - there was only one (or no) factory authorized service within 50 miles of where I live. And sometimes - the only factory authorized repair outfit was one I disliked (from previous experience).

I also checked lots of threads on various chat boards about parts availability on many different brands. Parts availability ranged from "Brand X" always has parts - to "good luck if you get the part you need in 2 months".

Note that we have next business day in house service contracts for our computers (overnight parts delivery) - and one business day replacement service contracts on our 3 printers. There is nothing like this out there in the world of appliances. And most people generally only have 1 dishwasher - not 3. I was without a dishwasher for 6 days - and it su****.

Also keep in mind that as appliances become more complicated (substituting complicated electronics for simple mechanical controls) - that any repairs you need will be more expensive. A control panel on a $400 appliance can easily cost over $200 (without labor). One reason it's important to get extended warranties in most cases. These electronics are also more likely to fail than simple mechanical controls. Even if the build quality of current appliances was the same as build quality 10+ years ago (it isn't). The electronics alone probably lead to earlier (and more expensive) failures. Another reason why the availability of parts and good service companies is important.

In the end - I went with a middle level dishwasher from a manufacturer with some local factory authorized repair people I like - and good parts availability. I don't like to wash dishes - or eat off paper plates. Don't know whether this appliance will be good or bad in terms of how it does down the road. Remains to be seen. But I bought my last 2 appliances with the same POV (replaced 15 year old washing machine moved from last place 3 years ago - no problems - and 14 year old double ovens about 1.5 years ago - again - no problems). Still have a 19 year old Maytag dryer - a 16 year old KA refrigerator in the kitchen - a 16 year old very basic - it cost $200 - Montgomery Ward refrigerator in the garage for water and beer and beverages and the like - and a 15 year old KA cooktop and built-in microwave). Nothing lasts forever - but the stuff that comes into contact with water - or has complicated electronics - seems to go first.

FWIW - sometimes - when I read the messages here - especially those about very high priced spread appliances - I wonder if you're all very exacting gourmet cooks - or whether buying this stuff is a "status thing" (I'm a good cook - certainly not a great cook - and don't need to prove my financial status to anyone).

Anyway - I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts about this. Robyn

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FWIW - sometimes - when I read the messages here - especially those about very high priced spread appliances - I wonder if you're all very exacting gourmet cooks - or whether buying this stuff is a "status thing" (I'm a good cook - certainly not a great cook - and don't need to prove my financial status to anyone).

The most talked about high-end cooking appliances on GW are Bluestar and Capital Culinarian. Much more simple than the average range whith less complicated electronics than your average mid-end range that has lots of complicated electronic gizmos.

I don't know who is impressed with the status of either Bluestar or Capital. Most don't know anything about appliances and if they do they "know" Wolf and Sub-Zero is most expensive. None of my family members have ever heard of Bluestar or Capital. And only my foodie friends have heard of either. I don't know how something so obscure can be a "status symbol."

Some owners are very exacting cooks.

Some plan on being more skilled cooks.

Some simply want "the best" and can afford "the best" in whatever product catecory they are looking in.

People who are building super high-end status symbol kitchens usually have their kitchen designer/interior designer pick out their appliances. They don't bother here about which range has lowest simmer or most even heat.

FWIW I don't need to prove my financial status to anyone either.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 9:02PM
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OK - Capital is popular here. Can you give me the name of a local repair outfit within 25 miles of my zip code - 32082 - greater JAX metro area (couldn't find anything about any repair companies on line). Robyn

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 9:56PM
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OK - Capital is popular here. Can you give me the name of a local repair outfit within 25 miles of my zip code - 32082 - greater JAX metro area (couldn't find anything about any repair companies on line). Robyn

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 9:57PM
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Why don't you contact Capital yourself on Monday and find out?

Capital Contact Info

Call us at:
(562) 903-1168
(562) 903-1167 Fax
(866) 402-4600 Toll Free

Or email us at:
For Service:

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 10:19PM
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I tried not to buy anything this time that has a poor repair record by researching the brands I purchased. I am lucky to live near NYC, so authorized repairs are no problem at all, but (knock wood) I haven't needed any yet. I plan on having these for many years. I also questioned everyone I knew about their DWs etc to see if they had any problems.

I wanted reliability and high performance. Sometimes it meant top of the line like for my fridge and my freezer, and sometimes it didn't, my microwave.

Some people who love to cook are looking for higher BTUs, low simmers, planches, convection, dual fuel or maybe induction, more than 6 burners. These features often lend to a higher end appliance. I don't think you need to be a gourmet chef to purchase some of these appliances.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 11:34PM
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I don't want the racing red (or maybe the apple red) Viking induction not because of status or because I'm a gourmet cook, but because it is so efficient, so much easier to use and cleans up with only a spritz of glass spray ... and it is just so freakin' red. Also,you can't set your sleeves on fire by accident.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 11:52PM
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Speaking from my personal experience - it pays off to be careful and read what other people think regarding the appliance you wish to purchase. We wanted an open burner range and bought a premium BlueStar six-burner. When I turned on the oven there was a strong smell of unburned gas since day one. After I complained about this the factory phoned and told me to adjust the air-gas ratio. I decided not to touch anything. The flames were okay. I just didn't want to insert myself into the repair process. The problem got progressively worse and one day the range had caught fire while I was cooking and I had to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.

First BlueStar wanted to dispatch a local technician who would repair the range in our kitchen. I refused, on the grounds that the problem was pretty serious and the factory should take the range back and find out the cause of the fire. They said that this kind of a problem has never happened before. They offered to replace the range, which was still under warranty. But we discovered that there were numerous complaints about BlueStar ranges leaking gas and some customers have indeed experienced fires as well, contrary to what the factory had claimed. Someone else had an ongoing problem that never got properly fixed, and when the warranty expired he was basically told that his warranty had, well, expired.

From reading about those complaints and realizing that what BlueStar told us ("This kind of a problem has never happened before.") actually wasn't true, my wife thought it would be foolish to accept a replacement. What if the same problem appeared again? Could we trust the quality of their products, as well as their word? We thought that the best and most simple solution would be to get a refund. They wouldn't have to build a replacement unit and we would be free to purchase something else. But BlueStar flatly refused. Finally, under duress and with no other option to speak of we decided to take a gamble and take them up on their offer.

Finally, some two months after the initial fire in our kitchen the replacement unit had finally arrived. We went to the showroom and realized that what BlueStar had sent us had a different color from what we ordered. At this point we were fed up with their attitude and decided that we would find our own solution to this. We ordered a different range, a Culinarian by Capital. The dealer had agreed to put the newly arrived replacement piece up for sale in their showroom, so that we could get our money back that way. When the new range by Capital arrived, we removed our original BlueStar, the one which had caught fire from our kitchen and replaced it with Culinarian.

The old BlueStar, which I called Godzilla was taken to our dealer, where I thought it would be picked up by BlueStar for a transport to the factory, so that they could find out what the cause of the fire was. But it never happened. BlueStar wasn't interested in doing anything else. The range was sitting in the showroom for a while and ultimately was scrapped by the dealer.

This told us something about the manufacturer. I decided to share my experience with other people, figuring that some potential buyers might be interested. I posted the story on Chowhound, where my post was removed the next day. I posted it again, just to have it removed again.
I also posted the story on GardenWeb, where it inspired over 85 replies. Prominent among those was one particular person who also posts here, who immediately launched attack directed at the post and my person. Among other things, he blamed me for not following the repair instructions by the factory (adjusting the air-gas ratio) and so on. This generated more exchanges and finally the post was declared disruptive by GW staff and removed. Later there were some new developments and I posted Part Two of my original post. Again, I was attacked by the same person, called names and accused of having a nefarious agenda. I tried to support my case with pictures, but was accused of manipulating the scene through fiddling with distance, angles and the flash settings, although no flash had been used. All this resulted in having my post removed a second time, which was probably the goal of this other person all along.

Newsflash! Mojavean, another senior member here was booted from this forum by GW staff for having the audacity to come to my defense. His was the welcome voice of reason and now he's gone. This is inexcusable!

Anybody interested in more details can follow the story on in Appliance Talk.

So, as for purchasing any appliance, do your homework. Don't believe everything you read or hear, but if there are enough people complaining about something, they probably have a reason. Check from various sources and think before you jump. We wanted open burners and have no problem with our Culinarian so far. It is a refreshing change, after what we had with BlueStar by Marcus.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 2:52PM
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That's quite a story Polenta. I think if any appliance in my house ever caught fire - I'd never go near that manufacturer again (unless I suspected the problem was caused by an incompetent installation). And I am with you in terms of not wanting to do anything like adjusting an "air-gas" ratio. I am good with electronics - not appliances. And no one ever blew themselves up installing a home wireless network.

I think sometimes even if a company means well - there can be a disconnect between the company and the repair people it employs (which are now almost always independent contractors). We have some companies in town that are simply awful - but they seem to get a lot of business from manufacturers (even high end manufacturers).

And I guess you have to take the area where you live into account. How big is the area - and what are the demographics? Obviously you'll find more repair people who are experienced in servicing - for example - a Miele dishwasher - in the NYC metro area than you will where I live.

I - like you - check a lot of sources for complaints before I buy. I like the appliance repair forums - where you can ask repair people what they think of various brands (which ones seem to have the most problems).

OTOH - you're never going to find any appliance that someone doesn't complain about (and people who have problems are more likely to post messages than people who don't have problems). So sometimes you just have to cross your fingers and buy something you like and think will work out.

Finally - many problems with many things will usually appear pretty soon after you buy them. I wouldn't ignore them - hoping they will go away. I would try to resolve things ASAP. And - if they can't be resolved - I'd put my card bill in dispute (my main credit card company has been pretty good when I've had problems - although I've never had one with an appliance). Robyn

P.S. To jxbrown. I know your range/cook top is new. Mine isn't. To keep it clean - I use Weiman glass cook top cleaner. Also sometimes a retractable razor blade for burnt on gunk (I am a pretty good cook - but sometimes a messy one). Check with your manufacturer whether it's ok to use these things on your particular cook top surface.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 4:17PM
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Really sorry to see Mojavean gone!!!

He was a lotta help to a lotta folks, and told it "As it is", (Albeit a bit more "gracefully" than Antss), who apparently is also gone.

I will miss the contests with him, (recall the Great Potato Race, and the water boiling & simmmer contest)?

He put one of the most "Comprensive posts" up about how to post pictures here on Garden Webb, just about any forum on GW has folks asking for help posting pictures, or they just "Give UP"!

Goodbye, My Friend!!!


    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 6:32PM
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Really sorry to see Mojavean gone!!!

Me too and ironic that Mojavean had a Bluestar.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 11:29PM
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I would guess that most people who buy high end appliances have: a desire to cook, believe the function and design are better than normal retail, and have he money to buy them and get them serviced.

Naturally the people who make the most fuss, are the ones who get the ocassional lemon or know nothing technical person. Most manufacturers want to 'make it right' - however demanding a complete replacement (like someone on this forum) is the quickest way not to get the problem resolved.

I would guess 'high end' appliances make up 2-3% of the market. When needing repairs, you will need to depend upon the skill, intelligence, and experience of the technician.

From my experience, in the last 20 yrs, all my high end appliances have performed well, with very few repairs.

Living in a city with 1,000,000+ - you should be able to get any of these high end appliances fixed.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 2:15PM
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Mojavean and Antss are GONE? Nooooooooooooo!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 3:03PM
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No, no, Robyn, my induction cooktop is in its seventh year. It's wonderful for cleaning and has never once required scraping. I haul out the cooktop cleaner every few months when it develops a bit of haze over the induction surfaces, but otherwise a spritz and a wipe is all it needs. I might add that the glass surface looks just like it did the day I pulled it out of the box.

I bought induction the first time because it is so much more energy efficient, but I infinitely prefer cooking on it and the minimal clean up is superb! Unfortunately, we are moving again, but there is no way I'll go back to one of the primitive cooking methods and happily I can afford apple red.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 7:13PM
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