A word of advice if you’re buying a new appliance……
Firstly, you should strongly consider keeping your old appliances going as long as you can. Typically it is true that they are better units than they make today. The old adage that ‘they don’t make things like they used to’ really is true. In 1972 it cost about $700 to buy a washing machine. In 2018 it still costs about $700 to buy a washing machine. To put that in perspective in 1972 a Mini cost $1800. The New Mini now sells for up to $60,000. Appliances are getting much cheaper in real terms, and that’s why ‘they don’t make ’em like they used to’. That’s just a fact of life.
But, if the time has come, and you are seriously thinking of buying a new appliance, be very careful. Many retailers will try to push you into ‘premium’ imported appliances, claiming that the quality is better than the ‘locally produced’ stuff. Although there is some good imported gear out there, the quality argument presented by some retailers, is usually just a way to get you into machines that make them bigger mark-ups, or kick-backs to the salesman.
Can I still buy “Local”?
As a general rule, we have always strongly suggested you buy a ‘local’ product.
Now, of course the term “local” needs qualifying, because these days even the local producers aren’t producing very much locally. The premise used to be that you are always better to buy a locally produced and well supported product, rather than going for some fancy imported product that may not be able to be serviced when it comes out of warranty. So if these once reliable “local” producers are now importing, is their is their product still worth buying?
We say it is. The Electrolux brands of product are well built and fully serviced and supported locally. Some of it even still made locally too.
“Believe it or not Westinghouse and Chef Stoves are made in Adelaide.”
If that’s not reason enough to choose those brands, we don’t know what is. Even the models being produced overseas are being produced under license, not simply brand-engineered. This is a key distinction these days, and we strongly recommend to buy an appliance from a company that owns the factory it’s made in. That’s rule 1.
The trap with SOME imported appliances
Many very large major brands (for legal reason we can’t name them here) have very poor if any after-sales service. We see this happening to un-suspecting customers every day. We have seen a glass panel for an imported cooktop set a customer back $1100. A knob for a stove, over $80, and a defrost heater for an American refrigerator can cost well over $300. (as a comparison, Kelvinator ones are about $40) A shelf for a Westinghouse fridge may cost you as little as $20. Some imported brands can cost you $150. There are companies that take weeks to get parts or service organised, and there are some brands that do not warehouse spare parts in Australia at all!
Just because it has a “Full Warranty”, does not mean it is well supported by the manufacturer! And remember, that not all component breakage is covered by warranty. Some importers mean well, but are simply not able to offer good after sales service, because they didn’t put any effort into parts at the start. And then there’s all the little guys, out there proving that anyone can be an appliance importer. You just go to China or Italy, order 400 dishwashers, have number one son design a logo, sell them down at paddy’s markets. Easy. If you’re really lucky, the factory in china will ‘back-fill’ your containers with spares. Random leftovers from the production run. You don’t get the right parts. You don’t get any cataloging, you don’t get inventory lists, and in some cases you won’t even get part numbers. But it usually doesn’t worry these guys, because by the time their customer asks them to honour their “full warranty” they’ve moved on to phone covers, or scooters, or rubber sandals. And this is Rule 2 – if they weren’t an appliance brand 5 years ago, there’s a fair indication they won’t be a brand in 5 years time.
Make no mistake, if you buy the wrong appliance, it will bite you and continue to bite you for a long time.
“But the euro stuff is more stylish”
Particularly when it comes to kitchen appliances, many people prefer the look of European appliances. You have spent a lot of money on your kitchen, so you want it to look the part. And that’s fair enough, too. But choose carefully. Not all imported brands are no good, but you have to make sure you buy from a company that supports its products well. I know we keep saying, it, but not all importers do that. And the other trap with Euro-Chic brands, is that it’s market proposition is not always relative to its quality. In other words, its dressed up to look more up-market than it really is. Rule 3 – buy a product that sells for what its worth.
So what should I buy, then?
The brand you buy will depend on the ‘Price point’ or market segment that you want to buy into. Generally we consider the market to be broken up into about 4 sections. Different marketing gurus come up with different names for these, but you’ll get the idea:
Aspirational Market – The Top-end Brands. – Buy AEG. It’s German designed, German built, owned by a Swedish company who are relentless about product quality. Supported by the largest appliance company in Australia. Believe it or not it is this market segment where the biggest traps are. Anyone can market a product as being ‘the best you can buy’, but the service levels of some of the companies in this space is horrific, and their pricing is just rude. Buy AEG. You’re welcome.
Premium Brands – This is the Market Segment where many of the “European” brands sit. Before you buy anything though, read the badge. Is it made in China. Lots of “European” brands are. If you’re looking at a dishwasher and it’s made in China, do not be fooled by what the salesman tells you. It’s a budget dishwasher probably made by Midea. Claiming it’s the worlds best product, and asking upwards of $1500, is just a trick. Doesn’t mean they’re no good – just makes them ‘Budget product’ in our view. Remember too, that “Europe” includes Turkey, Slovenia, Poland and some of Russia. There’s a reason why so many Eastern Bloc countries are trying to join the EU. Its for that “Made in EU” sticker. Know what you’re buying before deciding to pay extra for it. From our experience, If you’re looking for something fully featured, and slightly better built, we strongly recommend the Electrolux brand. German made Bosch machines are good too. Panasonic is also a stylish and innovative Japanese option worth considering.
Functional – Or value brands. This is the bread and butter stuff. There’s a lot of good product in this space that has been priced and marketed to be in a higher space. We recommend Westinghouse all day. For all the reasons we’ve written about here, this is simply the most reliable products you can put in your home. And remember, the Westinghouse Ovens are Australian made! LG is a good Asian alternative, which is also well supported in Australia, and Beko is great affordable yet innovative Euro Product (from Turkey).
Budget, or Entry Level – The best product you can buy in this market is Australian Made Chef cooking, Dishlex dishwashers and Kelvinator fridges in the kitchen, and Simpson washers and dryers for the laundry. These guys are super-trustworthy household names, and our bet is that these aussie favourites will still be there long after most the others have moved on. You can still buy parts for 25 year old Dishlex dishwashers, and Chef Stoves. There’s value in that.
This is not meant to be a definitive guide, but we hope we’ve armed you with enough information to ask the right questions, and to see through the marketing. Good luck!