Buying A Dishwasher
Our essential guide of the things to look for when you are shopping for a new dishwasher
Once again in this article we're not going to name names so as to keep this article independent and unbiased. It is designed to help you and at times some of the comments may come as a surprise. We would suggest that you also read the Washing Machine Buying Guide as many of the comments in that will also apply to dishwashers, in fact you will find many comments almost identical.
Common Mistakes Choosing A Dishwasher
Wrong Choice Of Dishwasher
Dishwashers all do the same thing anyway, it doesn't matter, this is wrong.
All dishwashers are made in the same place; wrong!
All dishwashers are different if they have a different name on them; wrong!
The dishwasher I buy today will be of the same quality as the last one with the same name on it; wrong!
We know that this may come as a terrible surprise but, when selling on a shop floor, the amount of times that any knowledgeable appliance sales person spends smiling at people and thinking, "wrong, wrong, wrong" is just staggering. People have all these pre-conceived notions about who makes what that XXXX is a good make but YYYYY isn't when, as we secretly chuckle to ourselves, it's pretty much the same thing with a different fascia on it.
Now that last paragraph may seem a little harsh but it's the truth. In a poll carried out on this site we found that the top factor in buying domestic appliances was "reputation". Okay so if you think that you really need to read this article and browse the manufacturer section and what you learn may come as a surprise to you.
Even when you do find who actually owns the brand you often have no idea where the machine was actually made or what sort of quality it is. In other words, you're buying totally blind most of the time.
But before we go on the point is that what you think you know is, most probably, wrong!
This goes for a lot with people looking to buy a new washing machine or dishwasher but really it's not as important as you may first think that it is.
There is a whole article here on this subject which, while lengthy, is well worth a read.
We will always tell people not to get too hung up on the energy rating as, while it's nice to have and means that the machine is energy efficient, washes to a certain standard and is reasonably cheap to run, it offers no comfort beyond that whatsoever. It does not reflect the real world use particularly nor does it give any indication of the quality of the dishwasher at all or the quality of aftercare that you will receive.
We all want to care for the environment and do our part in that but the best thing that can be done is to choose appliances that last and do not need scrapped early. The savings in the use of energy and raw materials producing a new one and also that of disposing of the old far, far , far outweighs any energy saving over the life of the machine itself.
Dishwasher Prices & Budget
It may come as a surprise but dishwashers are actually very expensive to produce, as much as or more than a washing machine costs to actually make. The problem is that people look at one, see a big "empty" space and think that there's nothing in them.
The problem is that all the workings are at the bottom and in the dishwasher door, you don't see the fact that there's a lot in there and, there are as many, if not more, components in a dishwasher as there are in a washing machine.
The fact that all the components are hidden doesn't make life any easier for us trying to explain the differences between good and bad dishwashers either I'm afraid.
Recently, when working on another article to recommend dishwashers it struck me and a couple of the people we were asking for opinions on dishwashers we'd recommend that there was almost none under about £400 we'd actually recommend to people as being any good really. We did look at the machines under £300 and really struggled to find any worthwhile, under £200 there was absolutely none that we would put our name to for a recommendation.
Funnily enough Which? Magazine would seem to agree with our opinion as they also have only one model as a best buy below £400.
Part of the problem was that, as repairers, we know what we see most of and what lasts and we just knew that the cheap ones are what generates the most complaints and failures. Little point in recommending products we think are rubbish, we'd rather that people look elsewhere if that's what they are after and let someone else have the hassle of dealing with it.
That said we've seen price erosion and a huge increase in cheap dishwashers coming in from the former Soviet states as well as a huge influx from China and, frankly, they are utter rubbish. They are poorly built, the components are just garbage and the problems with many of these dishwashers are legion. So much so that some repairers refuse to work on them as they are almost guaranteed a recall, even outwith the warranty period. They really are that bad.
In short, if you see a dishwasher that bears a "Made In China" or "Made in PRC" badge on it, avoid if possible.
In short, if you want a dishwasher that will perform well, last a good few years without incident then be prepared to spend over £400 at least for a good one or, over £500 for an integrated one. Cheap integrated ones almost always come from China and go wrong... a lot!
Over the years it has amazed me on so many occasions that when you ask people about what sort of performance that they want from a dishwasher they look at me with a blank stare. Eventually we sussed it, people don't realise that there are differences in performance levels on dishwashers. People just assume, wrongly (again), that they all just do the same thing, wash dishes.
However, when you run back-to-back tests on the machines you find that there are in fact considerable differences in performance both in terms of the machine used and also in the detergent used in the machine.
So when you go to buy a dishwasher ask about the machine's performance and not just the "A" class wash, it's easy to meet that standard.
Dishwasher Basket Layout & Quality
One thing to look at is the basket layout very carefully as, if you have oversized plates or tall wine glasses or the likes you will need baskets that will accommodate these items without damage. We have experienced instances where people have just gotten any old dishwasher, got it home and then found that their crockery and glassware won't fit in properly.
Also look carefully at the lower basket and ensure that the plate stand prongs (the upright prongs to hold plates) will either be removable or that they can drop flat. This is vital if you want to wash pots, pans or casserole dishes and this becomes even better if you get a dishwasher with an intensive wash jet down there, there are a few if you hunt about.
Another point worth noting is to look at the quality of the basket wheels and runners, they should smoothly glide out and not be "jerky" but they should also be reasonably chunky and well constructed. The reason that we say this is that we sell a lot of basket wheel kits as they have a tendency to break and they can be expensive to replace.
The same applies to the dishwasher cutlery basket, make sure it seems decently turned out or it will break.
How often do we see a free dishwasher, fridge or some other appliance offered when you buy a new kitchen? Too often is the answer.
It's this simple, if you think you're getting something free then think again, you're not. The cost of the "freebie" is just built into the overall price and, where the price is matched, it means that the quality suffers. But there again you also have to consider that any company that supposedly gives something away for free isn't exactly give away a quality item are they?
No, the "free" dishwashers we see being offered are almost always the cheapest, nastiest piles of rubbish from China.
Where To Buy A New Dishwasher
The trouble is that most people just don't know enough about dishwashers unless, like us, you happen to work in the industry. You are left on your own and at the mercy of the person that is selling the machine's product knowledge or, at best, you do some homework and research all the specs on the internet or brochures before you go to buy. This is fine, but the brochures and all the specs you read on the net just cannot take account of your personal circumstances, they are not interactive and they generally appear to give little help at all to people.
Going into a large retailer you get pretty much the same, with a few exceptions, the quality of advice on offer is just shockingly bad. The staff's product knowledge beyond the price, the finance deals available and how much an extra warranty will be is, for the most part, almost non-existent. The question we often ask is, would I trust someone who hadn't a clue about what they were selling especially when you don't want to be buying another one in a year or so?
One thing that has come to light lately is that the large retailers appear to not promote the good, well built machines and, at first, we didn't think much of this until someone who shall remain nameless pointed out a glaringly obvious fact as we evolved our own brand.
If you're a retailer that relies on sales then you don't want to sell any product that will last beyond a few years as you want to sell another.
Stupidly obvious really isn't it? The same goes for a lot of the lower end appliances as, they are built to a price for the large retailers as they are also in the business of "moving boxes".
It's worth also remembering that most of the large electrical retailers make more money from selling you a warranty than an actual product. If you buy cheap appliances from those sorts of stores, you will likely need that warranty.
We are not kidding with this, a manufacturer recently told us that they had stopped trading with two internet sellers as they discovered that they were being operated from a teenager's bedroom!
Another internet trick is to have multiple store names but all owned by the one business. For example, Comet was also Kitchen Science, Dixons or Currys is also Pixmania and so on.
The point being, you have not a clue who you are dealing with in many cases, it could be anyone and you just don't know. Be careful and make sure that the internet site that you choose to buy from is reputable and actually does have stock, many claim the lowest price but have no stock at all.
The Independent Appliance Retailer
The independent, as explained earlier, has a different take on things. They are not so price motivated preferring instead to look after people as, customers to them are people, not just a receipt number. But what I have found in dealing with a great many of the indies (as we call them) is that they don't just offer the best advice and service, their businesses don't, just depend on sales.
What you tend to find is that they put a lot of effort into aftersales care, offering service as well as replacement services which means that their business isn't solely dependent on selling you a new machine. So selling you a decent dishwasher that suits your needs is in their interest as, whether it needs to be replaced or repaired after a few years, they can service either requirement and both are an integral part of their business.
For integrated dishwasher models we wouldn't recommend anything but an independent retailer. They know what they're doing, can actually fit them most often and will help much, much more than anyone else will.
Will You Be Held To Ransom?
Given that most appliance manufacturers cater to the needs of the retailers, not repairers, they have a nasty tendency to manufacture to a price, as we've already discussed, but they often also try to turn service into a profit centre. What is meant by that is that they try to make still more money on service which, in turn, allows a lower cost upfront.
How this is done is pretty simple.
You make the spares ludicrously expensive so that, if you don't have an extended warranty you either pay way over the odds for the part or, alternatively, you go out and buy a new machine. Either way they win as, if you are hacked off with the brand you just had the chances are that the next one you buy will either be owned by the same company or another customer, similarly hacked off with another will buy one of theirs.
We call this the brand merry-go-round. Within the same price band, especially the lower ones, there are only about half a dozen major players that absolutely dominate the market owning multiple brand names.
Then to seal that fate, what happens is that the manufacturers don't allow technical information to be released to anyone outside their own company or service sub-contractors and they can (and have) taken pretty drastic action to ensure that things stay that way. So you're tied to using only their spares, at whatever they see fit to charge and/or their own service, again at whatever they see fit to charge. Not allowing the public or even the trade to have that information creates a nice little monopoly for them.
The customer, you, suffers.
The natural thing to do would be to think that you would just buy a warranty. Well they're overpriced as well simply because of the above as then insurers have to pay for it. There's no escape from this unless you buy wisely.
We have actually started to try to bring this to people's attention.
Take Care And Research Your New Dishwasher
The point of this article is to highlight the need to take some care when buying a new washing machine. Not to just jump in and be duped by some fancy glossy adverts, a price or some "must have" feature that you really don't need.
Don't just go for the lowest price or any other one factor when buying a dishwasher. Research what you are actually buying since most people want to keep a dishwasher longer than they keep a car, think about that and think about how much effort you would put into buying a car in terms of research and shopping about. And, as with a car, people very often don't simply buy on brand, specification or price, they buy on a combination of these items and, largely at times, the strengths of the dealer and service backup not just how fast it goes or how cheap it is.
If you need more help or some specific advice, please ask for help in our forums as a lot of the guys there have vast knowledge of the appliances on the market.