It is not uncommon that we get people looking for the cheapest washing machine, the cheapest dishwasher or the cheapest cooker on the site. Generally what people are looking for is a good, cheap appliance and we try to help as best we can. The problem is that it is very rarely that "good" and "cheap" sit well together in relation to the same product.
Of course there are exceptions that prove the rule but, in the main, you will get what you pay for. And, whilst we can offer guidance and advice based on experience as well as masses of industry knowledge, what we can't do is provide miraculous solutions that do not exist.
Another thing we won't do is sugar coat the answers, you will get honest opinion based on the industry knowledge we have, you can choose to take the advice or not, it really is up to you in the end. We will try our level best to give you help along with good, solid and worthwhile information but you have to work with us and also to be willing to listen to that advice.
I often find myself being asked why we offer the free information and help to people that we do, why we will go out of our way to help and the answer is that we live and breath this industry, we know it very well indeed. Why not pass some of that information and help on to others, why not help the very people that keep us in a job, you, the customer?
The sad fact is that many people these days are motivated purely on a financial basis when it comes to both buying and servicing appliances and this doesn't help us on many occasions. But, that said, you can save yourself a lot of aggravation and money in the longer term if you pay heed to some of what we tell you.
We don't want to see people getting conned or paying more than they have to for appliances but, at the same time, we also have to balance that with what's best as well as what is actually worth buying. As independent repairers and retailers it is not in our interest to see people buy rubbish as we like to keep your custom and people aren't just numbers on a balance sheet to us.
Consider yourself for a moment to be the proud manufacturer of appliances.
You make white boxes, people buy them and then, hopefully, buy another in ten or so years. But th ere's a problem, the shareholders want bigger dividends and they want to see growth. How do you do that, the market is stagnant as everyone that wants a washing machine or dishwasher and can accommodate them can afford them.
It's real simple, you make them so they don't last as long but they are cheaper to produce and you can slash the prices. Okay, so they're not as good as your old ones but hey, they're cheaper and everyone else is doing the same thing.
This is exactly what happened in the Eighties and Nineties in the Whitegoods industry.
The knock on effects are evident today, we have a massive reduction in laundrettes and dry cleaners, just try to find on outside a major town or city. Everyone has a washing machine, fridge, freezer and cooker at the very least and, for those that have space, a dishwasher and all because they got cheaper.
We'll look at a typical washing machine.
When I started in this industry in the mid eighties you couldn't buy a washing machine for less than £300 and, when that barrier was broken, the old boys in the game thought the sky had fallen on their heads. But now, more than twenty years later you can buy a machine with a far higher specification, more features, better efficiency and that is quieter for more than 30% less than the most basic machine was back then.
You have to ask, how do they do that? They beat twenty odd years of inflation and made the machines better, just how, it boggles the mind when you think about it?
By my calculations and, I admit to being no expert economist so I may be a little out here, had the most basic machine (an old 4.5Kg load, 800 by the way) had tracked with inflation, in today's money it would cost around £450-550. Anything with a greater than 1000rpm spin and, on those days, a massive 5Kg load, would cost well over £600.
But people think that a 1600rpm, 6Kg (or greater) machine with countdown timers, electronic control that are super efficient and super quiet should cost less than £300. What planet are these people on and, for that sort of money, what sort of quality do they expect as it is ludicrously cheap?
The point is that the quality has been eroded over the years and cheap isn't always better as well we know but, did you know that you were being fleeced by this "cheap" option? I bet you didn't.
Magicians of course we all know are fooling us by using a slight of hand, smoke and mirrors to make us believe that what we see is real. But we know this when we pay for the ticket to see the show.
When products are sold the slight of hand is far more subtle and the smoke and mirrors far more elusive to track down.
On average the normal humble washing machine circa 1980 would be expected to celebrate it's fifteenth birthday in 1995, that was nothing unusual and, likewise, it wasn't unusual for them to last longer.
In the early nineties especially the prices tumbled on appliances as did the quality and, since then, the lifespans have been decreasing year on year. More pollution through waste, more pollution thorough additional production as well as lower quality and, in many ways, reduced performances. It's all bad news for you, the consumer but with one noteable exception, the machines are cheaper.
And therin lays the magic trick.
Now that the majority of machines last under eight years over that same fifteen year period the makers of appliances get two bites at the cherry, the cherry being your bank account. So, they sell you a machine at £300 in year one and then another in year eight to ten but, in reality, that often is reduced and they will sell three over the fifteen years.
Now add on the warranty costs, many people take it as, with the reduced quality, you need it and you're forking out £350-450 every 5-8 years!
Had the quality remained and prices remained as they were then you'd pay out £500-600 over the same period. Best case scenario, you're being charged roughly what you were but with more hassle but, in the real world, you're likely paying over £500 more than you were, the manufacturers have doubled their revenue.
Worst case scenario, you buy a new machine every few years as you wear them out and think it's not worth buying a good one and, in that case, you may well be paying well over £1000 more over the same fifteen years.
In short you may well be being fleeced and you don't even know it.
People buy appliances on the understanding that they will last for some time. Most people buy them to last longer than their car or many other more "sexy" products and yet they do little research about them and try to often get the cheapest that they can.
Is it just me or does that seem a fundamentally wrong way to go about choosing appliances?
If you do want an appliance that will give good service, be economical and perform well you have to consider the purchase. Sure, you can do it cheap if you like but if you read the above you may reach the conclusion, as we have many years ago, that cheaper appliances actually cost you more over time. It is very wise to look at what you are actually buying and how long it will last.
Asides from anything else you will likely save a packet as well as be causing less environmental damage and, as a bonus you will all too often get better results. But the biggest pleasure in it is not falling into the trap that's been set out for you.