I agree 100% with what you say about reliability, and personally, I am very wary about buying any product made to a price. I also hate the disposable, planned obsolescence, nature of consumerism anyway, not to mention the environmental impact.
Cheapness, in my experience, goes hand-in-hand with poor performance, and that's even when the item is working properly. Everyone, I'm sure, has at one time had the experience of a relative who has bought the cheapest hifi in the Argos catalogue and has been subject to the poor, tinny sound that just grates on the eardrums.
I used to have an Electra washing machine, which I had to buy in an emergency. From reading this forum I have learned it was either a Creda or Hotpoint, and it's performance was pretty awful right from the start. So much for it's so-called A wash, clothes came out dirty and had to be rinsed under the tap. It was noisy, and could almost jump across the kitchen when it was on the spin cycle.
My neighbour has a Beko cooker, and I can truly say that it is one of the most crudely made cookers I have ever seen, it is nothing more than an over sized Baby Belling, and the finishing is pretty poor too. She had trouble with operating the all-in-one grill/oven, and I remarked that it was better to pay a bit extra to get something decent. Believe it or not, she protested, saying that it was an expensive cooker! These things sell for around the £170 mark. Yet how much did a cooker cost 10-15 years ago? You couldn't have bought a new cooker at that price.
Some people won't pay for quality, can't understand why a £200 appliance can be any better than a £500 appliance.
As for the John Lewis brand, these are clearly not top of the range appliances, but they are surely better than the budget and low-end brands, and are probably aimed at a particular customer profile who just wants a half-decent machine that doesn't blow their budget. I'm sure these Beko and low end brands are also aimed at a particular sector of the market.
At the moment, I've been shopping around for a cooker, and I quite like the Zanussi models with the halogen hob. I don't think John Lewis make cookers, or not yet, but if they did the same model at £50-100 cheaper, I'd probably be tempted to go for it.