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How long do you expect your kitchen appliances to last?

Faulty household appliances

You’ve bought a new small home appliance, it didn’t cost a great deal but it’s developed a fault. Do you take it back and complain, or do you just resign it to the recycling pile?

We buy more than 59 million small electrical products each year (yes, that’s a lot of kettles and toasters) and while the majority of the work as promised, others miss the mark.

In our latest small appliances reliability survey we reveal the brands that you’ve said are most reliable. Our results have also shown that you expect your small kitchen appliances (that’s your toaster, kettle, coffee machine, breadmaker, food processor or stand mixer, and iron) to last longer than they actually do.

Reliable kitchen appliance favourites

My favourite, the toaster, for example is expected to put in more than eight years of hard-toasting-graft, when in reality most last around five and a half years. Stand mixers last around 10 years, according to the data you’ve provided us with, but you expect them to last double that. And when it comes to the large scale appliances, some of you have experience of very long-serving appliances.

But are our expectations for small appliances too high, and why do we expect them to last so long?

Have we been brought up on long-lasting sturdy appliances that have stood the test of time or are we now a nation of time-saving gadget loves that rely on a kitchen full of small electrical to help with breakfast, rather than using the trusty cooker hob and grill to boil the kettle and toast the bread.

Great expectations of gadgets

Of all the product areas we survey, quite a few are actually fairly reliable. With irons for example, there isn’t much difference in reliability between the brands we asked about. Food processors have a good shelf life as do stand mixers.

Toasters have better reliability than maybe a lot of us would expect (we get a lot of member comments on toasters via our customer reviews tab) . Your feedback usually relates to the evenness of toasting and performance, rather than actual faults

Kettles seem to be the main culprit for inconsistent reliability, and this is one product that we replace quite a bit, and quite quickly after it breaks, not surprising really considering 95% of you own one. Maybe we just can’t cope without a cuppa.

So, what do you think about small appliance reliability? Has your toaster broken in the middle of breakfast, or did your kettle  cut out just as you were desperate for a cuppa. Tell us about your reliable appliances and which ones have lasted the test of time.

Comments
Guest
Little Ben says:
25 August 2013

Electric kettles don’t seem to me very reliable. One developed a leak after 3 years, the leak being at the spout to main body connection, latest one the black plastic knob on the stainless steel lid has developed a crack on the outer circumference. Oh and in connection with other recent discussions it is far too noisy.

Guest
Liz says:
22 May 2017

Do not buy Russell Hobbs kettles! Some of them get very good reviews but they do not last long like mine.
I am very disappointed with their glass kettle model 15082. It did not even last full two years without malfunctioning. I hate the idea of trowing it away after such short period of time and increasing landfill.

I bought my kettle on 20 October 2014. For nearly two years the kettle functioned really well until at the end of summer 2016 it began to malfunction; just would not start to boil. These occasion were more and more frequent but every time I managed the kettle by just moving it around the stand /base element. I did not have time to follow the issue and did not suspect that it may get worse. Unfortunately it got really worse; the kettle suddenly stopped working at all on the 6th of April 2017. A few days later I called customer services but was just told that because I purchased the kettle more than two years ago they cannot help me.

Most recently I have had the kettle examined by an independent technician, who strongly confirmed that the central pin at the bottom of the kettle was never properly attached therefore in time the pin started to recede and would not connect with the stand/base.

Shouldn’t Russell Hobbs be interested to examine the faulty product to find out what the problem was in order to improve the quality? Failure to do this indicates not only poor customer care but lack of interest in improving quality, lack of respect for the environment as items like this end up discarded.

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Guest

Electric kettles: We’re on our fifth since January 2012. Two Dualit, whose lid hinges failed, a Kenwood, which lasted nearly a year, and a Bosch – a Which? recommended brand – which lasted 18 days. And we are a retired couple who do our best to be careful with our kettles! These kettles were all from John Lewis, who you would expect to stock decent equipment. Then (though we could have returned the Bosch to John Lewis under the original guarantee), we decided to try a Breville from Tesco. It’s lasted 6 weeks so far !

Guest
Stephen Baker says:
28 August 2013

We had problems with Dualit kettles and coffee percolators. Expensive and poor quality, although service from the company was good. (We got a free spare lid and seal for the percolator).
I EXPECT things to last for several years, so am often disappointed!!

Guest
muso1952 aka rock 'n roll pensioner says:
31 August 2013

I have exactly the same experience. It doesn’t seem to make a difference how well rated by Which or how expensive. They all fail. My own view is that modern kettles which have a flat bottom and claim you can boil one cup of water are doomed to fail simply because of the intensity of energy being transferred accross the base. I think it is a major issue for all the manufacturers. Whereas the older element type in the stainless steel containment run forever. I have one as a back up (30 years old). I have lost count of the number of modern kettles we have gone through. Having said that we bought the which recommended Bosch kettle, 6 months ago, a great kettle and looks the part too. So fingers crossed!!….but somehow……

Guest
Carlos says:
25 August 2013

We’re in a house share. Our kettles are usually the £7-£9 variety, which last about 8 months apiece. They only get replaced when the fine screen filter breaks/clogs or I immerse the entire kettle in water to wash it (it is never wiped down), and someone turns it on before it is completely dry resulting in a bust appliance.

Guest
Tuxwang says:
26 August 2013

You should never immerse the entire kettle in water to clean it! This will damage it!

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Guest

I had a Swan kettle that was replaced only because it started to look scruffy when the paint started peeling after more than ten years. I then had a polished stainless steel Philips kettle which developed a small leak after more than ten years. I replaced this with a similar Breville stainless steel kettle. That failed in the guarantee period, but the replacement is a year or two old now.

Kettles should come with a ten year guarantee. Manufacturers would be forced to improve quality or face the cost of paying for repairs or replacement.

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Guest

We host free community repair events, and of all of the broken small electrical appliances we see, kettles definitely win. Then come toasters and irons, but they are much less frequent. The saddest part of this is none of these appliances are economic to fix commercially, and there is no second-hand market for them. They are generating mountains and mountains of waste.

Profile photo of wavechange
Guest

I’m impressed. I hope that those you who learn the skills to fix their own appliances make a contribution to your running costs and that you have insurance to cover your staff or volunteers in the event of an accident.

Small appliances have been uneconomic to fix for years but many can be repaired with time and patience. If the EU puts an environmental surcharge on new appliances, doing repairs will make even more sense.

Best of luck with the project.

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Guest

One of the problems with trying to repair many modern items is the simple one of actually getting inside the things! All too often they are held together with adhesive or rivets, and if screws are used they usually of the tamper proof variety. I do have a fairly comprehensive range of drivers for tamper proof screws but Murphy’s law seems to ensure that the screw that needs to be undone has a brand new type of head!

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Guest

This is the biggest problem for me. I have a fairly comprehensive tool kit but gave up earlier today and drilled out four screws. What does defeat me are the cases that are glued together.

At least we have digital cameras nowadays, so it’s not necessary to have notes or a good memory.

Profile photo of The Restart Project
Guest

Thanks for the comments.

There are tricks for opening just about everything, and often it’s easier to get into devices when we share skills and tools. Although big screwdrivers sets are actually not that expensive. (Even though glued-together stuff is basically designed not to be repaired, guitar picks and heat applied carefully can work.)

As for Wavechange’s question, we are insured and have our own health and safety procedures. We’d like to keep community events free but we are looking for sponsorship, and we are rolling out other income-generating services to keep us ticking too.

As for Dieseltaylor’s suggestion about more emphasis on durability and repairability here on Which, we’d love to see that!

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Guest

I expected that you would have the health and safety under control, and mentioned this mainly for the benefit of anyone wanting to do something similar or even carry out repairs for others. I will try using heat on plastic cases, but some of the glue seems stronger than the plastic.

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Guest

I used to repair kettles and toasters (My old Morphy Richards kettles and Toasters lasted about 35 years). I gave up repairing them when the cost of a new element got to about 75% of the cost of a new appliance.

My current kettle (Prestige about a year old) is not switching off quickly enough, but I can’t see any way of tweaking the bi-metallic switch, which i am sure is in there.

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Guest

Hi there Restart Project, I’m part of a similar group in Melbourne, Australia called Fix It! (www.fixitmelbourne.com) I’ve been saddened by the number of small electrical items we haven’t been able to fix at our workshops. As for the secondhand market, have you heard of Bright Sparks, in Finsbury Park? They’re going strong after three years and recently moved into a larger space. Their website is http://www.brightsparksonline.com and there’s a video from their first year here: http://vimeo.com/59295983

I’m hoping to start something like Bright Sparks in Melbourne and will be visiting in January to have a closer look.

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Guest

I like your site Erin and the useful links to other projects around the world. Brightsparks seemed to have no electricals for sale BTW.

This site is particularly impressive:
http://ifixit.org/
and this one seems good
http://fixperts.org/

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Guest

Hi dieseltaylor, they do sell secondhand electrical items, but it’s not clear from their website. They recently started selling secondhand furniture, too.

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Guest

Congratulations Restart.

Just to show recycling of quality products can happen:

“Many of these Sunbeams models are still in service, some over 60 years old, and being used every day. They are easily repaired, and apart from physical damage and heating-element failures, most repairs consist of only cleaning and minor adjustments. There is a secondary market for refurbished units that ranges into the hundreds of dollars.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toaster

Perhaps Which? should put more emphasis on durability , ease of maintenance /repairability.

I notice that the Opula kettle, a Best Buy according to Which?, seems to suffer from the handle coming off the lid . Unfortunately you need to look under each kettle colour to find peoples opinions
however undaunted I did.

Lisa – Does this feedback get used by Which? to improve testing or to downgrade a recommendation?

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Guest

I very much support your comments, Dieseltaylor. The fact that we have had quite a few Conversations inviting us to discuss our old and durable appliances suggests that someone at Which? might share our vies on durability and repairability. 🙂

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Guest

Yes, dieseltaylor, the research teams do use the comments and feedback from conversations to improve testing, and we will look into any issues with Best Buys.

If you have a particular issue with a product, the customer views tab on each product is a good place to send feedback about individual products. http://www.which.co.uk/about-which/who-we-are/which-research/customer-views/

And if you do have a faulty appliance then the Which? consumer rights pages are a good place to look for information on what action to take:

http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/problem/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product/

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Guest

Thank you for the reply.

May I suggest that given the number of people reporting the identical fault that some acknowledgment of this is made such as saying the product will be re-tested or downgraded? I cannot see any substantive response in the sixteen best buys I have looked at so far.

The two Bosch kettles at the top of the table warrant a Which? response on one thread but not the other despite the kettles being the same apart from trim. This seems odd, surely both threads should have the same Which? message.

I suppose the advantage of Which? splitting all the same manufacturers kettles up by colour does mean that on the Opula Best Buy I see no one has had a problem with the blue coloured one so that must be the most reliable.

I have been analysing the consumer remarks on the best buy kettles and it is slightly worrying that one person posted a 4 tick review as he had just ordered ! More seriously we do have quite a number of five star ticks after a week of use.

Is it helpful that when people post a review for a new item they either fill in a box how long they have owned the item or preferably Which? have an e-mail address to send them a copy of their original review and ask if they wish to update it.

The Kenwood kMix Best buy received the most virulent comments and an outstandingly low 9 points from 6 posters.
” zebrastic wrote:
looks great, falls apart.
Unfortunately, the scope of these Which tests doesn’t seem to cover longer term use, which does seem to make them not particularly useful. I have had 2 of these now, both of which have broken within 6 months. The single piece plastic casing round the handle and switch cracks – the first one cracked near the top of the handle, the second one by the switch. The handle is only attached at the top, which leads to a lot more stress on this piece of plastic, and strikes me as a fundamental design flaw. Definitely avoid.”

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Guest

Thanks for the feedback on the kettles content, diesltaylor, I’ve passed this onto the kettles research team and have asked them to reply.

I’ll check with the technical team regarding the customer reviews; both of those suggestions sound good, but I’m not sure exactly how this would work technically, so I think it would require a bit of further investigation to see if either of these would be possible.

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Guest

Thanks for your comments, dieseltaylor. This is a difficult issue for us, because even if a number of Which? members have reported having had the same problem with a kettle, we cannot be sure that there are not many more people out there who have bought the kettle and have had no problems with it at all.

What we try to do in the instances where there does appear to be a common problem is to contact the manufacturer of the kettle and ask if they’re aware of the problem raised by members and are taking any action to fix it, and what they are able to offer in terms of a refund/replacement. We have now contacted Kenwood about the specific kMix kettle you mentioned and will post a response as soon as possible. For the Breville kettle, you’re quite right to point out that a Which? response should have been posted on each colour variation – this has now been done. For the Bosch kettle, I checked and this had already been done at the time the response was posted.

Unfortunately it’s very difficult to test kettles in a way that can predict how likely they are to break down in the future, but it’s an issue we’re aware of and are constantly looking at. We recognise that reliability is important to members, which is why we survey thousands of Which? members to find out which brands are most reliable.

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Guest

I have had several appliances, which have broken due to the wrong sort of plastic being used. Many plastics degrade with time or exposure to UV light. This particularly applies to parts, which are required to flex, which eventually break.

Do the teams assess parts which are likely to be repeatedly stressed or subject to wear and consider the suitability of the materials used?

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Guest

Thank you for your response Matt on what happens with peoples postings on the specific kettles.

I note your comments on reliability surveys but would point out that as you ask for Brands rather than by model number it is very easy to get an overall good mark despite having one product or more products which are total lemons.

Perhaps you would care to comment on my suggestion that Which? actually e-mails people who post on their models to get an up-date a year or more on the product.?

You will appreciate Which?’s constant talk of value is remarkably poor on precise reliability. As one who, in 25 years has completed many surveys I am well aware of the shortcomings of the surveys.

Perhaps you could comment on the problems of deducing reliability when the survey does not actually ask about amount of usage an item gets? Or where surveys ask about a gadget where I have more than one. Vacuum cleaners, cameras, TV’s etc.

With 1.2 million Which? members one imagines that if sufficient people were able to post thoughts on their new device and then polled on it regularly we might actually get very accurate responses.

Perhaps taking the idea to its logical conclusion Which? should encourage members to log all their devices with their unique model numbers on a personal database which Which? could then use for product warnings, and for research. Members would undertake to keep their details up-to date and by this means Which? would have a running total of how many bought how long they lasted and also complaints against number in issue. Add logging of faults and repair visits and costs and the functionality increases further.

With this kind of data manufacturers and consumers would see that durability can be a proven product virtue. A win for the consumer and for the use of planetary resources such as raw materials and the power that goes into making the gadget.

With the AGM a couple of months away perhaps Which? could have a look at the costings for this as a proportion of the annual subscription?

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Guest

Hi dieseltaylor
I’ve spoken to our technical depart who deal with the customer reviews and at the moment it’s not technically possible to generate an email to remind members who leave MGC to update their review, but it has been noted, so thanks for that suggestion.

With regards to our small appliances survey; we do ask about frequency of use for each product area and the brands we ask about. We also clarify that we are asking about the main appliance, so the one that is used the most.

It sounds like you’ve responded to a lot of surveys, so thank you for taking the time to do that.

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Guest

It’s all very well saying that you attend to customer product experience via the product’s views tab, Lisa, but where this has been done for a poorly-rated appliance you continue, mystifyingly, to recommend it, where perhaps you should add a revision to your recommendations when there is a certain number, and degree, of criticism. For example:

http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/kitchen/reviews/microwaves/next-red-800w/customer-views/

and also:

http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/kitchen/reviews/microwaves/next-red-800w/customer-views/

about which a significant drawback is described.

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Guest

Sorry I got carried away and posted out of thread. Very interesting reading Marcus thanks for highlighting the rogue microwave. Worth knowing but I ended in the wrong reply box.

Lisa, thanks for passing on the replies. I suspect in 25 years I have answered quite a few surveys and I would dearly love to be able to check back with your Department on how usage is checked. Can they provide samples as my memory suggests that the most I have seen, was something like weekly/ monthly without any suggestion of area covered.

As for main appliance such as a vacuum cleaner where I have one upstairs and one downstairs we can easily predict that neither is getting the wear and tear that a sole cleaner would suffer. I have also lived in 3000sq ft houses and 1000sq ft flats so a survey even allowing for how many times you clean a week is hardly recording the same work load and reliability.

However this is all perhaps redundant as Which? readers could get a lot closer to the coal face to see what is really happening :

“Regarding appliances, Which? surveys and customer comments.

I have made enquiries and a friend who deals with very large databases and their manipulation tells me that the biggest cost would be the one-off interface design which he believes would be £25-50K. It may even be possible to buy this interface off the peg. Database storage is cheap. Given an existing web presence and a million subscribers getting the design panel and road-tested before release would be simple.

I have added to the original idea to incorporate added value for Which? subscribers such as record keeping:

1. For insurance purposes all entered details of your equipment will be off site. If fields are made available a scan of the receipt and the guarantee could be entered. The guarantee is an interesting one as possibly Which? might have a facility where the details of the purchaser required for registration are electronically sent to the necessary Company.

2. Far improved data on what members own and longevity of products used – by actual model. This hopefully will make reliability more important than purely price.

3. Which? surveys will become much more detailed. If 6 members say theKenwood kMix SJM 042 is very poor and only ten are known to own them that is a significant figure possibly warranting a Best Buy cancellation – possibly. Incidentally there are three colours of this particular kettle but only one is listed as a best buy unlike the Opula where all 4 coloured kettles are in the best buy list. ?!
Also this thread illustrates the sense of frustration when one buys a Best Buy
http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/kitchen/reviews/microwaves/next-red-800w/customer-views/

4. Surveys can to a major degree can be replaced as with, for most products, a response for 30 being required for statistical purposes it should be easier. The survey addressed to respondents might have more useful questions on usage which I rate as a important question. After all e-reader usage or camcorder usage must vary widely and have a bearing on longevity.

5. Warning notices issued by manufacturers can be distributed quickly via Which? to up-to-date e-mail addresses. Think carbon-monoxide warnings on ovens.

6. Data on service calls and faults, and costs could be entered and would be a treasure trove for finding long term weaknesses.

7. Which? giving details on simple maintenance such as replacing batteries in small consumer goods could save expense and waste. Even finding a good source of batteries can be difficult. Sony PRS 350 e-reader battery replaced for a tenner. Officially a non-replacement part!

I think overall this would revamp Which? as obviously with the Internet the ability to mobilise all the relevant experiences from members exists. More interactive, more relevant, and ultimately with the record keeping more useful for members who don’t keep all their receipts and guarantees in a handy place. ”

So there it is a Which? that keeps more accurate records loaded by subscribers which provide more accurate information and most particularly on the longevity and reliability of equipment.

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Guest

Thanks for your comments Marcus, I believe the Next microwave issue is currently being looked at/into by that research team and will be updated as soon as we have some information.

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Guest

I agree about problems with plastic items, Michael. This is one reason I like to inspect goods in shops before purchase. It is often possible to spot plastic parts that may be weak and it’s safe to assume that they may deteriorate with age – either due to exposure to UV light or loss of plasticiser.

Transparent plastics are used because you can see through them, but they are generally poor from an engineering perspective. White plastic can soon look dirty if they have a textured or matt surface, which is easy to predict. It is more difficult to guess if a white plastic will go yellow and look unsightly.

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Guest

Thanks, Lisa. May I suggest that the looking-into is a tad tardy? After reviewer criticism of this m’wave, the Editor posted as below. Note the date. There’s still no update 10 months’ later: far too late…

May I also point out a minor irritation. When reviewers criticise best buys, the Editor invariably states something like ‘but it scored well in our tests.’ Of course it bleedin’ did! That’s why it’s a BB. We’re simply suggesting that the product might not be as good as suggested. The odd bad experience may be insignificant – but Which? needs to monitor the feedback and follow-up once it passes a certain threshold of dissatisfaction, and that includes update posts in a timely manner, otherwise it looks as if you’ve just forgotten…

Which.co.uk editor wrote:

Thank you for your feedback about this microwave, I appreciate you all letting us know about your experiences.At the Which? Test Lab this machine did well in almost all of our tests and it’s becuase of this that it won a Which? Best Buy. It’s a worry to see the comments posted here, so I’m going to raise these issues with Next. When I have more information to add about this, I’ll be sure to post it here.
5/10/2012 2:59 PM GDT

Profile photo of Lisa Galliers
Guest

Hi Marcus,

I completely agree, it looks like this one has been missed. I can only apologise that it’s been left for so long. I’ve spoken to the research team for microwaves and have asked for an update, so this is being dealt with and will be updated.

We usually do follow up with issues like this, and the research teams do pay attention to what’s said so that we can pick up on wider issues. I posted this response to a member review on a breadmaker back in 2010, but I hope it answers some of the issues raised…

‘…We launched the facility of member reviews on our website so that members can share their experiences of individual products with each other and help people make the right choice for them. During our research we put all the products through extensive tests for performance, ease of use, energy consumption etc..

Unfortunately, even though we use expert labs and expert panels of testers and users to assess products, what we cannot do is know exactly what it is like to live with a product for a long period, we do try and factor as much as we can into our assessment, but we cannot cover everything.

To do this would mean that by the time we could post results the product would likely be no longer on sale.

This is why we welcome feedback from users as to how they find the product, as this can help identify other factors that may not come to light during our testing. In this way we can, where possible, modify our testing to include any new factors that have been fed back by our members.

With regard to responding to members’ views, we do try to respond to as many as possible and there are many products across the website where we have posted responses to queries or questions posed.

We do know that members have had poor experiences with some products, including some Best Buys and we do monitor this constantly.

Where we do find that a considerable number of members are having similar issues we will take this up with manufacturers and in some cases if the manufacturer cannot give a satisfactory response or solution to the problems we will downgrade the product.

It is of course difficult to quantify how many members are having problems with particular products as many more of the products are purchased by members than reviews posted, and we know that no matter how good a product there are always a few that have faults…’

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Guest

I’ve had several kettles in the last 10 years, yet the microwave I bought 25+ years ago is still going strong. They don’t make things like they used to.

I guess it now about volume of sales and making an item that lasts years doesn’t help that way of thinking.

Guest
richard says:
27 August 2013

Interesting the only item that has gone wrong has been a kettle after over 15 years daily service – it needed a new element that was difficult to buy a spare – the rest of my household items are going strong after 40 years – what are you doing to the equipment???

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Guest

The pressure of price points means that manufacturers build as cheap as possible. Credit to Which? for mentioning price very prominently but not testing for longevity or reparabiltiy.

Guest
Michael Thomas says:
27 August 2013

Tesco’s seem to have created a cheap and nasty brand of kettle. I don’t know about in the last 6-7 years, but we had a electrics engineer out the one day about 2 months after buying the Kettle from tescos for less than £5, and the Electrics guy refused to certify that the kettle was safe, as he found the cover for the light was too loose, and could cause a real safety risk.

Profile photo of wavechange
Guest

This sounds like a case for Trading Standards, though they are unlikely to take action unless there are multiple reports or someone has an accident. They might take more notice of a report by an electrician.

I recently saw an Asda kettle with such a thin mains lead that it got warm during use. It had survived for a a few years, but I am surprised that this is allowed.

Guest
DianaW says:
28 August 2013

The latest electric kettle has failed, irritatingly just after I’d cleaned its inside with the usual acidic product. Worked fine for 24 hours thereafter, then no signs of life at all.
I’ve had to buy so many new kettles in the past few years that I now keep the receipt in the original box – which tells me that this Phillips model was just over 2 years old and was a replacement by the then local Curry’s (now sadly gone) for an identical one which didn’t even survive the guarantee period.
And this is a careful single adult household!
I remember buying my second-ever electric kettle in 1991: a cheap plastic one which nonetheless lasted for over a decade. Now I have to buy a new one every couple of years and the quality seems to be irrelevant to its survival time.
The sheer waste of resources involved is horrendous – what are these manufacturers doing (aside from ruining our planet)? I’m very glad that the Restart Project, which recently had its first event in my area, evidently tries to keep these tiresome but essential appliances going a bit longer.

Profile photo of wavechange
Guest

You could still contact Currys and mention the Sale of Goods Act, and the fact that this is the second kettle to have died. You might get a discount on a new kettle. But do check the fuse if the ‘on’ indicator is no longer working.

Philips products have been very reliable for me. The worst was the kettle, and that lasted over ten years.

Guest
DianaW says:
30 August 2013

Thanks for the reminder to complain, rather than doing without or buying a second kettle until I can get this one repaired (if possible).
Complained to both retailer (Currys are still selling this model) and manufacturer, for good measure – it turns out that this model was guaranteed by Philips for two years, so it’s only just outside the period. The sheer embarrassment factor of two identical kettles having died in such quick succession has prompted them to offer to try to replace this one – although, with that track record, I shan’t be over-optimistic about how long a third might last.

Profile photo of wavechange
Guest

Thanks for letting us know about your success, Diana. Hopefully you were just unlucky and you will be able to come back in 2023 and tell us your kettle is still working after ten years. 🙂

Guest
DianaW says:
24 September 2013

Sadly, your optimism hasn’t been borne out by subsequent events. Philips promised to send me a replacement kettle but that’s never appeared. Currys promised £10 compensation but will only pay by voucher (fairly useless, in the absence of a local branch) or BACS, expecting me to hand out my bank details to the stranger who rang up one day, mumbling so badly that I couldn’t make out where he was from!

Guest
Diane Morris says:
28 August 2013

Many years ago an avert for a company making white goods had a tag line…. Ariston goes on and on. It does I bought a washer/dryer in1993 and its still going on. I think that’s excellent. Shame the company isn’t around now.

Guest
ChrisB says:
30 August 2013

I expect all my equipment in the home to last a very long time, I have been married since 1971 and am using my third kettle, the first two were Russell Hobbs and this one is a Morphy Richards, which is about five years old, so still new! My cooker is 12 years old, but my integrated Bosch dishwasher had to be replaced at 11 years old, I have had 4 fridges and 4 washing machines since we married, so not that good service from them! My most annoying appliance is my small integrated Bosch microwave, the first one was installed 12 years ago and I am on my third one, it is the only one that fits in my kitchen and the previous ones, which are madly over the top in price have been very poor, not only that, the independent repair man had great difficulty in getting hold of spare parts which left me without the machine for some months at one stage. My late father had a cheap microwave which he purchased in 1995 after my mother died and he used it every day until he died in 2011, it was still working and was given away, it was a Japanese make – I think it was a Sanyo.
I have just replaced my dryer with a which best buy Miele and the light has failed twice since July, not a big problem but worrying if it means the electrics are not correct, the second failure has meant a visit from the repairman, he has replaced a part and we are keeping our fingers crossed all will be well, at about £600 for the machine I hope it will be! I do not want to take out insurance, so I am hoping my local repairman will be able to look after it once the warranty runs out. The trouble nowadays seems to be the idea of paying out for insurance cover on appliances, it suits the manufacturers as well as the insurance industry, people get new for old products which they have paid for upfront via insurance premiums as far as I can tell, so it doesn’t pay manufacturers to make sure their appliances last. I purchased the Miele because they have a reputation for longevity, we will see.

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Guest

That’s an interesting implication: that there is a covert conspiracy between the appliance manufacturers, the retailers, and the insurance companies which works in a very subtle way. Machines are made so that they break down after the warranty period; people therefore think machines are not very reliable; taking it for granted that their new appliance will break down before long, the customer asks the retailer about reliability; the retailer offers them a not-to-be-repeated opportunity to take out an extended warranty at a “special” price if they do it now; and if the customer does not bite, a letter pretending to be from the manufacturer [but in reality from an insurer] arrives just before the initial warranty expires offering an extended warranty at a “special” price. In the unfortunate event of a breakdown, a new [but still unreliable] product is supplied by the manufacturer. As Wavechange has often said in these Conversations, warranties need to be much longer to reflect the nature of the appliance. For big-ticket white goods lke washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers and fridges, ten years should be the norm; only then will manufacturers have an incentive to make durable and reliable products instead of the reverse incentive that now prevails.

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I have been very lucky with my Philips electric kettle … it is over 30 years old…. still looks new and is very quiet. Haven’t been as lucky with toasters … I am on my fourth in as many years.

Guest
Sophie Gilbert says:
31 August 2013

I’ve inherited my grandmother’s electric coffee grinder (and a manual one which I tend to use much less often). I don’t know how old it is exactly, but it’s still going strong at least three decades on. I can’t say I use it every day like she used to though.

Guest
TL73 says:
31 August 2013

My combi microwave/oven/grill is 10 years old and still working fine. It makes the best cheese on toast as the toast turns under the grill giving an even finish.
My electric kettle is 6 years old, though for the past year doesn’t get used a lot as I have a one cup boiler- remains to be seen how long that will last. (My other kettle is older than me!!!- heats up water great on the gas hob in the event of a power cut)

Guest
Peter Walker says:
1 September 2013

We have had a Morphy Richards kettle for over 10 years and then developed a leak – but
an excellent kettle which served us well for all that time.
We are now on a black plastic kettle from Tesco. Still going strong after 12 months.

Guest

I now buy all my electrical /household stuff from Lakeland their guarantee can’t be beaten .
“if you are not satisfied at any time ,you receive your money back”

Guest
muso1952 aka rock 'n roll pensioner says:
2 September 2013

Dear Mr F
Do you mean anytime or only within the guarantee period ?

Guest

Just checked with them,& they say anytime,being reasonable they guarantee way beyond the normal 12 months .

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It appears that new appliances are deliberately being made less reliable and unrepairable. So the consumer buys new ones more often. With lower prices and appliances (or their parts) being made in China to keep the prices low, it’s no wonder that new appliances don’t last long.

If you want to buy older electrical goods second hand, places like the British Heart foundation sell them. Just looking at the quality of 20-year-old appliances, like kettles, shows how much better the quality used to be, such as feeling solidly made, thicker plastic used and lower wattage. I have noticed that new electrical appliances – especially kettles and vacuum cleaners – guzzle so much power (measured in wattage). Today’s vacuum cleaners guzzle over 2kW (2000 W) and new kettles use about 3kW; this higher electricity consumption probably burns-out the appliances far quicker?

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People prefer kettles that boil faster, which is why we now have 3kW models. The power will not continue to increase because 3 kW is the maximum load for a 13 amp plug.

I have a 33 year old Electrolux cleaner that I keep for cleaning the car and the garage. It uses only 800W, but its performance is very poor compared with my more recent 1.6 kW Miele vacuum cleaner. Having said that, I do think that many modern appliances use more power than they need to. I could probably keep a mug of coffee warm on my Thomson broadband router.

I am not totally convinced about the argument that older appliances were better. I used to repair household electronic and electrical goods for myself and friends. When circuit boards and other connections were hand soldered, ‘dry joints’ were a very common reason for faults, but this is a very uncommon problem these days, thanks to machine-soldering of circuit boards. Some older goods were appallingly designed and assembled, and sometimes not very safe. I certainly agree that new products can be very difficult to dismantle, and I have been defeated by power supplies with cases that have been glued together. I am not sure whether products are deliberately made difficult to dismantle or this is just a consequence of making them easy to assemble; maybe a bit of both. We tend to remember those items that have carried on working for decades better than those that had a short working life before being consigned to the bin.

I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with all goods made in China. China is currently producing goods at the price many people want to pay. I believe that the reason that modern goods are often not well made or reliable is that many people want to buy goods as cheaply as possible. It does not make economic sense to repair them. A couple of months ago, I payed £5.99 for a length of replacement flex for my excellent Philips iron, and it is not the first time I have replaced it, so it might be fifteen years old. You can buy an electric iron for £7.99 in Lidl.

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I would expect large white goods to last ten years of average use; small, relatively cheap appliances 5-7. I’d pay extra for guaranteed reliability.

People who complain that products are less reliable than they used to be may well be right; but in real terms the product may have cost them rather less. I hate the waste of disposing of items that could have been made repairable.

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Regarding appliances, Which? surveys and customer comments.

I have made enquiries and a friend who deals with very large databases and their manipulation tells me that the biggest cost would be the one-off interface design which he believes would be £25-50K. It may even be possible to buy this interface off the peg. Database storage is cheap. Given an existing web presence and a million subscribers getting the design panel and road-tested before release would be simple.

I have added to the original idea to incorporate added value for Which? subscribers such as record keeping:

1. For insurance purposes all entered details of your equipment will be off site. If fields are made available a scan of the receipt and the guarantee could be entered. The guarantee is an interesting one as possibly Which? might have a facility where the details of the purchaser required for registration are electronically sent to the necessary Company.

2. Far improved data on what members own and longevity of products used – by actual model. This hopefully will make reliability more important than purely price.

3. Which? surveys will become much more detailed. If 6 members say theKenwood kMix SJM 042 is very poor and only ten are known to own them that is a significant figure possibly warranting a Best Buy cancellation – possibly. Incidentally there are three colours of this particular kettle but only one is listed as a best buy unlike the Opula where all 4 coloured kettles are in the best buy list. ?!
Also this thread illustrates the sense of frustration when one buys a Best Buy
http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/kitchen/reviews/microwaves/next-red-800w/customer-views/

4. Surveys can to a major degree can be replaced as with, for most products, a response for 30 being required for statistical purposes it should be easier. The survey addressed to respondents might have more useful questions on usage which I rate as a important question. After all e-reader usage or camcorder usage must vary widely and have a bearing on longevity.

5. Warning notices issued by manufacturers can be distributed quickly via Which? to up-to-date e-mail addresses. Think carbon-monoxide warnings on ovens.

6. Data on service calls and faults, and costs could be entered and would be a treasure trove for finding long term weaknesses.

7. Which? giving details on simple maintenance such as replacing batteries in small consumer goods could save expense and waste. Even finding a good source of batteries can be difficult. Sony PRS 350 e-reader battery replaced for a tenner. Officially a non-replacement part!

I think overall this would revamp Which? as obviously with the Internet the ability to mobilise all the relevant experiences from members exists. More interactive, more relevant, and ultimately with the record keeping more useful for members who don’t keep all their receipts and guarantees in a handy place.

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Thank you for the very detailed suggestion, dieseltaylor, sounds great. And thanks for taking the time to get a quote. I’ve emailed a link to this conversation and a copy of your suggestions to the relevant people here.

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I find that I often do not agree with Which? tests, and in particular with reasons that something is not a best buy. Like sat-nav directions, they have to be measured against common sense. This involves going to a shop, looking at the product and seeing how it measures up against how you are going to use it. ie. does this thing look like it was designed by an engineer or a “designer” out of art college with no knowledge of material strengths and characteristics or of forces. However, this doesn’t help with hidden defects, which become apparent after time. Such as the crazy system in newer Bosch dishwashers, which measure water in and out with turbine counters that “gum” up in hard water, stop the machine working and need replacing. Not a robust system! Do Which? have supplies of very hard and soft water to test things like dishwashers, washing machines, kettles and irons? Can they cycle them through an acceptable lifecycle: say 3500 washes (10 years) or 20,000 kettle boils (5years)? What do they consider to be a “normal” appliance life? This is the sort of testing manufacturers should do. Maybe Which? should go into Quality Assurance ie. ask the manufacturers if they can monitor their testing program and results, rather than try and repeat some of it. After all this is what the Health authorities do with pharmaceuticals. Of course a feature of health authority approval is that the manufacturer has to report every adverse occurrence, and what they did about it. Food for thought?

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As with all things costs must have a bearing on what can be achieved and I do have concerns about the testing regime. Very interesting point on hard and soft water testing though and as for the Bosch designed to fail quite gob-smacking . One thing, unlike pills is that washing machines are assembled from many bought in parts and the quality control on these parts can vary or at a later stage be sourced from a cheaper supplier. So even early full testing can be misleading, that caveat aside still seems a good idea.

The news on the washing machines and the 60c wash quite shocked me. And the main part of that was the fact that Which? was not testing fully.

I believe Which? has contracted out testing for some years and my concern is that non-technical people are commissioning tests – probably cost shared with EU consumer associations – without necessarily having a grasp of the whole. As has been revealed in the EU clothing at medical establishments is washed on site so the fact that most British nurses are having to clean their uniforms means that in the UK washers doing hygienic washing is actually much more important.

Stain removal is but one reason for washing but we also have viruses, bacteria, insects, pollens to be considered let alone ease of use and wash cycles.

One interesting line of inquiry not yet pursued is why the wash cycle profiles differ so much with the Beko’s being substantially more reassuring to my untechnical eye. Which? might usefully explore this area. For instance we are told that bed mites die at 60c after 20 minutes but I am slightly loathe to believe that bed mites are so obliging to die at round amount minutes and degrees. Perhaps they actually also die at 30 minutes if at 55 degrees. Possibly the Panasonics brief incursion to 67c actually kills them very quickly.

However whatever that reveals the idea that a 43c wash is an acceptable attempt as 60c wash is laughable and should have been spotted immediately. When are we going to see a full review of washing machines showing all their wash profiles and whether the different profiles have any appreciable effects.

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Michael

When testing appliances, what is practical often needs to take priority over what is desirable. There is no point in reporting that a machine is durable if the model tested has been discontinued by the time that tests have been completed. The best that can be achieved with a washing machine, for example, is to use the machine heavily over a short time period, even though this is not representative of household use. That might make little difference when testing kettles but could be much more important with washing machines and dishwashers, where there are mechanical parts that can become stuck or blocked. It would be good to take apart every item and look for design weaknesses but that involves a lot more work and means that staff in a test lab can test fewer appliances.

Testing protocols are adapted with time. Nowadays, a significant number of washing machines are suffering from contamination by bugs – biofilms containing bacteria and/or moulds. The likely reasons are changes in detergent formulation (especially absence of bleaching chemicals), the popularity of washing at lower temperature (to save money and because low temperature washing is effective with modern detergents), and possibly less efficient rinsing. In the past, measuring cleaning performance and energy use were the top priorities, but since washing at higher temperatures helps keep machines clean, it becomes important to test the maximum temperature achieved in a wash cycle and how long this temperature is maintained for. I’m glad that Which? has reported the tests showing poor temperature control, even if this issue has not been highlighted in the past.

I am not sure how many will be aware of the procedures for testing pharmaceuticals. There is also a well established procedure for reporting problems in their use, and that has been extended to allow the public to make reports. I don’t really trust manufacturers to report problems with their own appliances and feel that there should be handled independently.

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Thanks for all your feedback, I can assure you to our researchers are looking into your points. Please could we move back towards talking about your stories of long-lasting kitchen appliances, which this debate is about. Thanks.

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Hmmm. Sometimes it’s difficult to guess what comments are likely to be considered acceptable. 🙂 I thought that old appliances have been covered in one or more previous Conversations.

OK. I have a Rowenta filter coffee maker that is in daily use and must be over 20 years old. The gold filter remains immaculate but the plastic body of the machine is discoloured and looks very tatty. I would gladly replace it, but the few filter coffee machines I’ve seen in shops look cheap and nasty.

Guest

Update on recent purchase of kitchen appliance from Lakeland
“We’re sure you’ll love your new goodies and your satisfaction is guaranteed with our famous, unconditional money back guarantee: if at any time or for any reason you are not completely happy with your purchases, we’ll give you a full refund with no fuss, no time limit and with free return postage. No ifs, no buts!”

Guest
Paul D. says:
26 February 2014

I bought a Kenwood Kmixer 4th January 2013. I make 2x 550g loaves 4 times a week. The mixer has just given up the ghost. For the price of them I must say I did expext it to last 5 years or so.

Guest
Mark m says:
29 May 2014

Kenwood kmix toaster used at most once a day lasted 8 months. Our old one cost £7 and was still going after 4 years. Total waste of £40.

Guest
Cotswold Puffin says:
24 June 2014

Bought 2 Philips kettles just over 3 years ago. They have been in two separate households with 2 separate patterns of use and maintenance. Both have developed leaks at exactly the same time. Philips have told me that kettles should last more than 3 years. A programme of descaling once every 4 months rather than the recommended 3 month pattern for soft water is insufficient Philips tell me and therefore they don’t want to know. If you contact Philips remember to tell them that you descaled every 3 months if your water is soft or every month if your water is hard. Be careful with their customer chat service. I was half way through writing something and they just cut me off and I lost the thread and all the text. Try the phone but expect to deal with someone who has a limited command of English. Outcome was a 10% discount voucher on an online purchase.

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Cotswold – Thanks for the advice. Which particular model?

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Dairylea says:
12 February 2015

I have just retired a Morphy Richards electric kettle (model no 43136) which has lasted an incredible 11 years! It still works but the inside has started to rust up. During this time it has been used on average 3 times a day. I’ve replaced the filter once and never descaled it (likely the soft water in Edinburgh helps). I’ve replaced it with a very similar looking kettle from the Morphy Richards Accents range, although I’m willing to bet this one does not last as long.

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Wow, that’s had a lot of usage Dairylea – plenty of tea/coffee made through the years then! Morphy Richards kettles score really high in our annual reliability surveys 🙂

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I would be reasonably satisfied if a kettle lasted for 11 years but certainly would not see this as reliable, especially when used only three times a day.

I have suggested that kettles should come with a ten year warranty. Maybe that is too radical, considering that most of us don’t expect small appliances to last long, so perhaps a five year warranty should be the target for the time being.

Why do we still have expensive kettles with only a one year guarantee?

Why doesn’t which tell us the length of the manufacturer’s guarantee in its ‘Full product specification’?

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Our Krups toaster is a youngster at just 6 years old – used daily – but our Kenwood kettle is also around 11 years and used 5 or 6 times a day. It needed the base dismantling to restore a dodgy connection last year. Neither were expensive and I would have thought 6 years was a tolerable life, given cost and usage.

This working life information is extremely useful and I hope Which? will set about collecting it on a large scale. Only then might we get some perception as to how long well-made appliances can last. Then, if we feel we’ve had unreasonably short life from an appliance (lack of reasonable durability in Sale of Goods Act terms) we’ll have some facts on which to base a claim.

Guarantees are in the hands of manufacturers (extended by some retailers) and are not progressing towards reasonable durations. I doubt that anyone would give 10 years for a small appliance, but a realistic expectation might be 5 years. But how do we persuade retailers or manufacturers to move this far? Suggestions?

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I had a look at the website for the brand of kettle that scored highest for reliability in the Which? reliability survey. I could not find any reference to guarantee or warranty, only how to register a product. In the absence of information, I assume that a product carries only a one year guarantee.

My first two kettles lasted a total about 30 years and were still working when I disposed of them (one became tatty and the other had very minor leak). Number three lasted a matter of months and its replacement announced its demise with a bang about a couple of years later.

If kettles can be reliable, I don’t see why we have to put up with lack of durability. My latest kettle has a three year warranty and the receipt is in a safe place, just in case.

Malcolm asks how we should persuade manufacturers and retailers that we are looking for a decent warranty (at no extra cost). Perhaps we have to ask. When I replaced my car, the top priority was to get one with a spare wheel.

John Lewis is to be commended for giving a 2 year guarantee on all electrical products and stating where longer cover is provided. Only a couple of their kettles are covered for five years, but hopefully that will change if consumers make it clear that there is a demand.

If John Lewis can tell us about longer warranties, Which? should do the same in its product reviews.

Malcolm has also given us an example of how a simple repair can prolong the life of a kettle. When cheaper products break down, they are often not economical to repair, but there is nothing to lose by trying.

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Which?’s reliability does not seem very helpful. Unless i have missed the information – quire possible! – a few stars are used, but no information as to how long a product / brand has generally lasted without breakdown. Reliability needs quantifying. I cannot believe with all the European testing and consumer surveys that go on that some such data does not exist. Please point me towards it.

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I expect that it is possible to quantify the reliability of basic electric kettles. Even though some people may use them far more frequently than others do, that might average out.

The reliability of washing machines would be very difficult to quantify because they are reliable and some components will wear out. The number of operating cycles needs to be taken into account.

Fridges and freezers could be easier to compare because they are in constant use.

A big problem that was mentioned earlier is that any product may contain different components from one of the same make and brand. This is very obvious with laptops because you can check which brand of hard drive, battery and other components the manufacturer has used. Many manufacturers use parts made by other companies, depending on price and availability. I have seen two extreme examples of a particular brand of component failure. One was 100% failure of a batch of Sony hard drives in and the other was Microsoft-branded keyboards, where most of a batch of 80 had been replaced at least once after little use. Recalls often relate to some examples of a product, and this can relate to the source of a particular component.

The big problem with reliability assessment is that long term testing is no use if the product is going to be discontinued before the results are available.

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Oops, that should read: “The reliability of washing machines would be very difficult to quantify because they are MECHANICAL and some components will wear out.”

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Life in terms of cycles in some appliances seems an approriate measure, like mileage in cars.

In many cases of early failure this can be down to a single component, that production should rectify.

There is no reason why because a product is discontinued its replacement should not be rated for durability. A decent manufacturer will build on knowledge of products and not totally redesign a new version. My guess is that real manufacturers (as opposed to those who import and rebrand others products) can produce products of consistent durability from experience. Certainly that was my experience in manufacture. So we should be able to build a picture of reliability – or durability as I’d prefer.

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As we learned in another Convo, some machines record the number of washing cycles but the manufacturers don’t make this available to the user. 🙁

I agree that it’s useful to know about reliability even if a product is discontinued. That could help anyone who wants to pursue a claim under the Sale of Goods Act.

Brand durability may be a useful indicator of durability but obviously it is only one factor to consider in choosing a product.

I have never been keen on brand loyalty as a way of deciding on a purchase. When Which? started nominating ‘Don’t Buys’ we learned that different models from the best known brands could be ‘Best Buys’ and ‘Don’t Buys’. The introduction to the Don’t Buys information makes interesting reading.

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I have a Cona coffee maker that is at least 30 years old and I absolutely love it’s design. I would like to include a photograph but as they are still available to buy and parts are still available you can view it on Cona.co.uk – Glass Coffee Makers. It works based on the vacuum principle with an electric element. It makes lovely coffee, and is a very attractive addition to my kitchen.

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wavechange – from April 2013 on the Continent

” Although some European countries have anticipated (Belgium, Netherlands, Finland), the CEC wants the European Union – much too cautious on the subject – finally grasp of this issue. To enable consumers to make an informed choice event, the CEC recommends that each device has to minimum this information:
Life: the approximate number of wash cycles, printed pages, of kilometers … should be on the label and the duration of the legal guarantee of conformity lengthened accordingly. She is now 2 years (during the first 6 months, the consumer does not have to prove the fault) and should move gradually to 5 years (the period during which the consumer does not bring extensive evidence to 2 years) if the law of Europe Ecology Greens proposal is accepted. In France, there is also a legal guarantee against hidden defects, it is 2 years from the discovery of the hidden defect.”

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Thanks for this Dieseltaylor. The fact that France is going to bring in what is effectively a two year guarantee is the best evidence that consumers in some European countries are going to be better served in future.

We have the Sale of Goods Act which appears to give the consumer protection but in practice rarely achieves anything unless we fight for our rights.

It would be good if Which? could do an article on forthcoming consumer protection in Europe.

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Prompted by your recent posts, perhaps we should look at protection afforded to consumers in the EU. This article has been in my reading list for months:
europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/shopping/shopping-abroad/guarantees/index_en.htm

What I remain uncertain about is the legal situation in the UK, with both the European legislation and the Sale of Goods Act.

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Excellent link wavechange.

The EU legislation mentions that your cover cannot be reduced so I think both the national rules SoGa and this legislation can be used.

They do warn that some countries have a two month period to give notice of a fault – I doubt this applies in the UK. Perhaps Which? will confirm the extent of time of the cover.

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I cannot find any mention of EU protection on the Which? website.

My priority remains to look for products with a long warranty provided by the manufacturer or retailer. That should remove much of the hassle if something goes wrong.

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I think there may be confusion over the EU legislation. As I understand it, it is not a compulsory manufacturers guarantee but a trader’s (retailer’s) obligation under law. The UK equivalent is the Sale of Goods Act. If this is so, then the UK has better protection – 6 years (5 Scotland) then the EU 2 year version. Please tell me if I am wrong.

The EU legislation says:
“The two-year guarantee period starts as soon as you receive your goods. In some EU countries you must inform the seller of the fault within two months of discovering it otherwise you may lose your right to the guarantee.

Within six months from receipt of the goods, you just need to show the trader that they are faulty or not as advertised. But, after six months in most EU countries you also need to prove yourself that the defect already existed on receipt of the goods, for example, by showing that the defect is due to the poor quality of materials used.”

Consumer protection through the law or by commercial warranty seems to me to be a key responsibility of Which? to keep us informed about and to campaign for improvements. It would be useful if Which? gave a clear statement of the current situation, progress on extended warranties, effective use of the Sale of Goods Act and the ramifications of revisions to consumer law.

Guest

My cheap kettle from Asda lasted six months. When I looked at the base, I noticed that the connecters were just thin bits of bent copper which had no chance of lasting for long ; so I guess you get what you pay for. There was no quality in the manufacturing of this product. I will try a John Lewis kettle next.