2.11.2011

Agitated!

Access to the World Wide Web can:

1) Scare you senseless.
2) Make you sick.
3) Empower you.
4) All of the above.

I’m in the market for a new clothes washer and am getting an education. Caveat Emptor 101.

One can assume if a person buys a product which turns out to be a lemon, one way to vent is to hop on the WWW and write a product review.

But, when the best review you run across is from a woman who is overjoyed her clothes washer lasted six years before it conked out, you begin to get a picture of product quality today, and it’s not pretty.

According to the GE-certified repairman who paid a visit Wednesday, my GE washer was made in 1986. I bought it, second-hand, 11 years ago for $130. I’m told it looks brand new. After 25 years, it sprung a leak and cannot be repaired.

25 years!

I got my money’s worth. Which is more than today’s consumer can say if review after review is any sign.

Examining a number of washers in various price ranges - short of a king's ransom - one can expect, from reviews, a product life span of about two years.

Remember the one word of advice Benjamin gets in “The Graduate:” “Plastics.” Well, welcome to the world of washer tubs and gears made of plastic – instead of porcelain-coated metal. Imagine a load of clothes and 30 gallons of water being jostled by plastic parts!

I am a firm believer in the old axiom, "You get what you pay for." Essentially, you need to calculate the average per month of what is spent before a plastic gear tooth breaks, a motor burns out or your floor is flooded. Factor in the cost of a repair visit before learning your “new” washer can’t be fixed. Because, basically, your purchase is nothing more thn "Rent a Wreck."

Answer to the WWW question: all of the above.

I don’t drive, so laundromats are not an option.

Anyone got an old washer, halfway through its prime, for sale?

9 comments:

bbj said...

Ohh, BJ ~ now you've gone and done it. You've given me something else to worry about as my new kitchen slowly takes shape. And I made the mistake of watching one of those shows on HGTV the other day where they pointed out the dangerous mess electricians and plumbers often make. So now I think I'm going to go BOOM one way or another! xoxoxo, B. ;)

tnlib said...

Love the title. Unfortunately, things are made not to last.

I'd for sure stay away from Maytag.

Tiny shaking in her boots said...

Tiny's is not for sale but has been working for neigh onto 15 years, Sears brand. She will admit it is not as good as the Kenmore she had for about 30 to 35 years. With today's so-called advanced technology, you would think we could get longer lasting products.

Perhaps if we ban together and take to the streets like folks in Egypt, we can bring back the good things we had in the past and leave the not-so-good in the past.

Anyone with good walking shoes ready to set up tent city at all of our government offices before the New York Stock Exchange is sold to Germany?

Katherine said...

You've hit upon a major conundrum for any potential buyer and responsible shopper, BJ, only some of which involves decisions about cost and reliability. In the days of old, I didn't even think about this stuff. Today, there are all kinds of overwhelming factors involved such as environmental impact along with corporate ethics and accountability, labor relations, human rights issues. As an example, Hershey's and other chocolatiers use and abuse child labor for their 'Kisses' and Valentine candies. Who would know? Aware of it or not, whenever I purchase a product--including toilet tissue--I'm actively supporting everything about that product and its manufacturer's 'ethics' or lack of them. Corporate news media reports nothing about the consequences of consumer choices.

If we knew what we were doing, we'd stop doing most of it! In the case of GE's war profiteering and other unethical practices, this is a hairraising prospect (see URL below) when looking to purchase a washing machine. It's a time-consuming challenging to find a corporation with honest and truly responsible, principled management.

In my experience, it's extremely challenging to jump through consumer hoops harmlessly. Also, with the rise of corporate power, mergers, takeovers and the disappearance of anti-trust laws, consumers are offered fewer and fewer choices and alternatives--similar to corporate media: Only a handful of corporations own it all. In the meantime, I had an experience similar to yours with an old washer and dryer that worked beautifully for decades. In my experience, 21st century products are often cheaply and poorly made. Similar to you, I do homework. When I can, I pay more for quality (hopefully) or buy used stuff which at least minimizes my environmental footprint.

You're probably well aware that Consumer Reports ratings (in the library, probably) can be a handy guide for new product selections. Also, an 'off the grid' creative solution is Freecycle (listed below) which is a grassroots online exchange service available in participating towns and cities around the country. Freecycle requires online membership (without charge). Its premise is that I can trade my used washing machine with you in exchange for something you have that I want of equal value.

It's a challenge to purchase a corporate product these days since so many corners have been cut and so many corporations are involved in inexcusibly harmful activities including massive disrespect of employees and the environment. I don't know if it's true anymore, although the Sears Kenmore line used to be as good or better than most of them, at affordable prices. At least Sears continues to pay wages to its military service employees during their tours of duty, keep their jobs open for them upon their return. Some URL's below might help with your decision making. Wishing you good luck! Katherine

Freecycle

http://www.freecycle.org/

Consumer Reports general info. about laundry appliances.

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/february/appliances/washers-dryers/overview/washers-dryers-ov.htm

Rap sheet on GE's, war profiteering, violation of human rights, poor products, etc:

http://www.corpwatch.org/section.php?id=16

http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=2762.0

willis said...

Got a local "Habitat for Humanity" or similar? I've donated stuff and also picked some good items there (Not sure about Goodwill or Salvation Army but might be worth a look as well) Everything is used, works, cheap, with no guarantees. Some of `em even deliver. If they do pick only, see what you can donate that might require their trip then discuss "one trip pickup/drop off" with them.

Murr Brewster said...

Well, shoot. I'm getting to the point where I just expect my new stuff to outlast me. That's a different kind of depressing.

B.J. said...

Thanks for all the helpful links and suggestions! Aside to Murr: that’s why I don’t buy green bananas, LOL.

Notice to Frodo: if you comment and say “Change is good,” I’m coming down there!!!!

BJ

Frodo, and Benjamin said...

Change is cheaper.
Noting the presence of "plastics" in Merry's dearly departed home appliance, Frodo need only note that the primary factor amongst the moving parts is petroleum-based. Not unlike those among us who complain about the rising cost of gasoline is the failure to realize that none of this will change while we continue to import oil. So, when something breaks, do we examine the moving parts in the replacement, or do we just buy that which is on sale at Wal-Mart?
What we have not done, is change. We just buy more of the same.
Frodo has the 4 leaf blowers, the 3chain saws, the 2 hedge trimmers, and the 2 string trimmers to prove it.
Change would be good.

bjadkins said...

You have my sympathy. Lost my 25 year old Maytag pair last year. Went the Sears route this time to the tune of $1000.00 and pray every week they will last until they are paid for!