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March 19, 2012

Major Appliance Beauty May Only be Skin Deep

Filed under: Electronics,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:57 am

Have you shopped for a major appliance lately? If you haven’t, it is a scary world out there. It is not just that prices have gone crazy for front loading washing machines and french door refrigerators. The products themselves, despite the premium prices, may turn out to be a hunk of junk.

In your research, if you only read what the manufacturer tells you about a product, or listen to what the store salesperson says, you are only getting part of the picture. The trick in appliance buying is to find out the inside scoop about the device itself. How do you find out the quirks and quality of the product before you buy it? The fine print is in the product reviews written by people who already bought the appliance. If you are not digging up customer reviews of major appliances before you buy, you could be making an expensive mistake.

Here are edited excerpts of reviews written by (un)happy customers.

Appliance 1: Whirlpool 29.7 cu ft Side by Side Refrigerator, GSS30C7EYY, $1889 (reduced from $2099)


Review 1:

The interior space is immense. The freezer is huge too. The LED lighting is cool and the separate paddles for water and ice means no single point of failure. What is not to like, right? The first fridge delivered … after a week the door open light began to come on intermittently. At first an open/shut reset of both doors (as the manual directs) cleared it. After a few more days just pressing on the freezer door stopped the alarm.

Fridge two was delivered at two weeks of ownership. The seals on this doors were not installed in a stellar fashion — not straight and the freezer door seal rubs the fridge door when opening (even after trying to adjust the doors to prevent this) This made me wonder if they would seal properly over the life of the appliance. We will never know as about 45 minutes into ownership of the second fridge, the door alarm was going off again, the water dispenser would not work and the ice maker was not going to make ice. The service technician has a look [and wants to order new doors and switches for delivery in 6-8 week.] I don’t think so.

We call Lowe’s, fridge three will be dilivered in a week when they get one in stock. Fridge three arrives with a defective freezer seal (it’s ripped off the door) and the switches are scratching the inside of the door (looks like this door is installed too high). I tell them take it back, we will call Lowe’s again (the driver mentions it’s the 3rd one he has seen like this). Obviously, Whirlpool is having quality control issues. The design is really nce, but the execution rather poor.

Review 2:

Don’t buy this or any other piece of junk by whirlpool. I have replaced the ice maker, front electronic panel, and have replaced the ice dispenser motor 2 times since I have owned this thing.

Review 3:

The water dispenser has stopped working numerous times and it is only 1 week old. The doors appear to be out of alignment. The water filter and door inside the fridge looks like it was installed without any quality inspection and I suspect this is the problem with THE water dispenser.

Review 4:

If you leave it open for more then 5 minutes then your ice maker will stop working. I have had the maker replaced, the mother board replaced, finally the door replaced, and it still did not make ice. After trip 6 from my service guy he was told by Wirlpool that if you leave the door open for more then 5 minutes then you need to unplug and replug in your fridge or flip the breaker. It has been annoying. Other then that I love the fridge.

Review 5:

Beautiful refrigerator, great space – however the “door ajar” alarm went off continuously even though no doors were open. No ice or water will dispense and the lights don’t come on inside when this occurs.
Lowes replaced the first one. Same problem with the second one.

To be fair, five of the eleven reviews gave the unit five stars. But would you take a chance on this $2000 refrigerator based on the experience the above five consumers had?

Product 2: Samsung Side by Side Refrigerator, RSG307AARS, $1889 (reg. $2099)


Review 1

product arrived brand new and did not work at all. samsung technician deemed product un-fixable.

Review 2

Big pricey refrigerator does not make any ice!

Review 3

This is the most annoying fridge I have ever owned or used. It looks great in the store and is very energy efficient, but is not designed well and the quality out the door is at best poor.

The ice dispenser has to be the worst feature. After you get your ice, you need to wait with a glass under the dispenser for about 5-10 seconds for the ice dispenser door to try and swing closed (which at this point more ice falls out, usually all over the floor because you forgot to stand there like an idiot waiting for the fridge to finish what it was doing). [Description of ice problems edited.] Meanwhile, the door alarm is dinging and you’re trying to jiggle and pound on each corner while you’re holding the door from swinging into the wall. What a nightmare! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had 20-30 pieces of ice dumped out all over my kitchen floor from screwing with this dispenser.

Quality is horrible. Ours arrived with parts taped inside (like the door bins) secured for shipping that were broken in pieces. About 2 weeks after we had been using it, the child lock (which we never used) decided to “lock itself” and wouldn’t unlock. None of the controls in the lower right corner would work. After almost a month waiting for backordered parts…

Design is poor. The shelves appear to be adjustable within reason, but in practical use they don’t adjust to fit most normal-sized products. For example, there is room in the door for 2 gallons of milk, but if you get another one there’s nowhere to put it. None of the shelves are tall enough to put one without removing a shelf entirely. And the same goes for any bottle over 9 inches (two shelves can be maxed out at 9 inches). This means there is no way to put a normal 10 inch tall juice container anywhere but in a door bin (and we had to remove one so there was enough room for both bottles and milk).

To be fair, four of the ten reviews gave this refrigerator five stars. But again, do you really want to spend almost $2000 and have the possibility of having major problems like the people above did?

Reading major appliance product reviews, not just for refrigerators, but for other categories of goods, is eye-opening when you see how many people are complaining of major design or functional defects early in their ownership of the product. It makes you afraid to buy any major appliance today because of these problems.

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  1. Shelves of Sears Kenmore refrigerators have wire struts that are too thin, too far apart that some containers tip over. A manufacturing defect.

    Comment by Don Warner Saklad — March 19, 2012 @ 7:45 am
  2. It’s not only refrigerators, but ALL Whirlpool products. We bought a dishwasher less than 1 1/2 years ago and have had 4 service calls on it due to parts failing. It’s the one time we bought an extended contract, but I’m concerned about the long haul. I’m thinking about asking for a replacement after the service folks finish up their work this week.

    Comment by Kathleen Moore — March 19, 2012 @ 8:07 am
  3. If you’re truly afraid to buy a major appliance today, I’d suggest not buying one. That way they can’t get you.

    Comment by Toddy541 — March 19, 2012 @ 9:42 am
  4. Glad I saw this week’s edition of MousePrint. We’re close to a kitchen remodel and were looking at Whirlpool appliances. This is very disappointing since I have always in the past purchased Whirlpool appliances and have never had any issues with them…..really, never. Has there been some change in the corporate structure of the company perhaps that has affected quality recently?

    Comment by Eric — March 19, 2012 @ 10:45 am
  5. While I have no doubt that the negative reviews highlighted in this article are factual, stop and think about the statistics involved for a moment. Did these manufacturers only sell the 10 or 11 units from these reviews? I also doubt that. I would be much more convinced of the poor quality or even the opposite for these individual models if the reviews had been in the thousands. For certain, there are duds in everything you can possibly buy these days, but to heap praise or scorn on a whole product line based on 10 or 11 reviews from people who happened to come across a particular site and chose to take the time to make a review is not very convincing to me.

    Comment by PC — March 19, 2012 @ 11:04 am
  6. When I bought my home it came with a brand new Frigidaire dishwasher. After 3.5 uses, it was completely dead. 3.5 uses because it died in mid-use, leaving a gallon of water in the bottom of the unit. I have gone back to hand-washing.

    Comment by Lana — March 19, 2012 @ 11:12 am
  7. I’ve been reading consumer reviews for a while. I’ve learned that at least half of the 5 star reviews are planted by the manufacturer. So 4/10 or 5/11 really should be 2/8 or 2/7 that really like it. Not great odds.

    Also, the interesting thing about quality control is that it swings both directions–some will be really bad, some be be truly awesome. It just depends on how much of a gamble you are willing to take.

    Comment by Kai — March 19, 2012 @ 11:24 am
  8. Whirlpool bought out Maytag a few years ago. Prior to that time, we owned both Maytag and Whirlpool appliances (also GE, and also Kenmores which were manufactured by Whirlpool). The Whirlpools were pretty good, but we were disappointed with the quality of the Maytags. I wonder if the old Maytag “issues” have now spread to the combined Whirlpool-Maytag company? As an aside, our GE Superba refrigerator has performed pretty well, but that unit is now 15+ years old. Don’t know about the quality of their current models.

    Comment by Richard — March 19, 2012 @ 11:43 am
  9. For the second product, where the customer complained about the shelf space and the adjustability, didn’t the customer try it out in the store first? It says, “It looks great in the store” in the article, but then when they get home, they say that they couldn’t fit anything in it. Then how was it great in the store? When we bought a new refrigerator, we went around the store finding products that were about the size of the food we wanted to put in the refrigerator, and tried them out to see if they fit. We did buy a Maytag washing machine from Lowe’s and had the same delivery problems. The washer came out damaged without all of its parts. This happened 2 times, and we’ve never bought from Lowe’s again.

    Comment by Jared G — March 19, 2012 @ 3:52 pm
  10. Actually we just went through this and what is not mentioned is to look for consistency in bad reviews as well as the date of the review. Then check out the recalls on the unit to see if the issue is acknowledged and (hopefully) addressed.

    Anyone can have a bad appliance. Therefore if there is only one or two complaints about something, it’s probably a safe bet that it won’t be in all models. If the majority speak about the same problem, you should consider that an inherit issue and see if it was addressed.

    For the Whirlpool refrigerators, Most of the reviews complained about the ice maker and water lines freezing. Further research (from repair sites) I discovered the main issue was being address by adding a waterline heater to the unit.

    One thing I did discover is that every manufacturer had something consistently wrong with one or more of their appliance. Therefore, for me, it boiled down to what defect I could live with as I had no choice and needed to replace the appliances. For those appliances that had consistent failures outside the initial warranty, I made sure I purchased the extended warranty and bought the appliance at a reputable dealer.

    Comment by Tim — March 20, 2012 @ 5:31 am
  11. We bought all new Whirpool applianes in 2007 and have not had a single issue with any of them. My biggest gripe is in their overall design. I have always felt that simple is better, thus we did not opt for all the bells and whistles on our units. My theory is supported by many of the above comments above that complain about problems with optional accessories.

    Comment by Bob — March 21, 2012 @ 12:39 pm
  12. Lana, a lot of dishwashers leave water in the bottom. One thing you can do, close the door and start the machine, the first thing the machine does is empty any water before starting the cycles. So turn it on, let it run for maybe a minute, you should be able to hear when it has sucked out all the water it left behind, then just turn it off.

    It is a PITA but it does work. I have to do this maybe every 10th time I use my machine.

    Comment by james — March 22, 2012 @ 9:04 am
  13. “Two years ago, [2009] Whirlpool shuttered a factory in Evansville, Ind., and transferred production to Mexico after the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. In this excerpt from “Need To Know,” correspondent Rick Karr reports on what has happened in Evansville after the company’s move south…”

    Comment by Noni Mausa — March 25, 2012 @ 7:34 pm
  14. It is so frustrating to receive inferior new appliances. I am having a very bad time with my bravos maytag dryer. There is a design defect in the product and the repairman says he has to keep repairing the same bolt to the blower motor over and over again in this particular model.

    40 Years ago my family purchased a Frigidaire dehumidifier and it still works. I have bought 6 different dehumidifiers made by various manufacturers in the last 10 years.
    They cost on average $200 a piece. They are under warrantee, but you have to send them out of state to be fixed and the cost of shipping is about $70. They are bulky and impossible to lift to package and bring to ups or fedex or usps.

    The adage “you get what you pay for” is not correct because you pay a lot and still you are frustrated by poor workmanship.

    Comment by Nancy — March 26, 2012 @ 5:20 pm
  15. I have “a lot” of experience with Junk Manufacturing ( as I call it ), and have done reviews on, and other sites, to warn the public of products I have bought that were unsatifactory. Hopefully the manufacturer ( or store ) will read it and start changing their ways and products. This junk manufacturing applies to every product today, from mattresses to large appliances, toys, miscelleous items, etc.

    This is not a recent happening, this junk manufacturing, but goes back many years. I made up my mind when I replaced my old washer and dryer with an unsatisfactory pair that lasted no longer than 5-6 years, that I would not be keeping any more junk. So when I went to replace the “junk” appliances, which had been replacements for products I was very satisfied with that lasted “years,” I made up my mine – I was not keeping them if they were defective. Thus began the stream of one after another of expensive washers and dryers, with mainly the washer being the defective applicance. $1000 or more per item, and nothing but junk. All famous “used to be” quality-you-could-trust name brands. After 3 each of several expensive brand names, I settled for a cheaper set that at least I was not spending an arm-and-a-leg to purchase. These were junk too – along with the 5 yr warranty, with incompetent repair people — if you could get anyone to honor the warranty.

    These manufacturers assume the purchaser won’t have the time to deal with or fight them in a timely manner. I say this “junk manufacturing” is the fault of too many consumers allowing them to get away with these shoddy manufacturing practices.


    And it is so rampant that no matter how hard you try you cant find a ‘non detective”
    or quality product.

    Take my hunt for a new couch! I have been looking for a replacement for at least 6 years! My old couch, which I loved and looks like new even after almost 40 years, has foam inside the cushions that is falling apart and the seams of the fabric are shot! The fabric itself is like new! It was comfortable, quality built, and nothing out there today compares. I want a couch that will support me and is comfortable, has quality manufacturing – and it is not to be found.

    I could go on and on at everything that I have found to be unsatifactory today, but like most, I am sick to death at having to continually complain — and fight to get a quality product. How many trips do you have to make?? How much time and expense is involved in fighting the industry of “junk manufacturing?” And here lies why they are getting away with it!

    Comment by ssea — April 17, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

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