/ Home & Energy

Can you beat my rubbish kitchen appliances?

We’ve talked a lot about the kitchen appliances that last longer than their years, but what about the ones that conk out just days after you’ve freed them from their box?

I’m veritably smitten with my mum’s Henry vacuum cleaner. He’s been on top form for years now, never batting an eyelid at the dust he has to ingest on a weekly basis.

You’ve also shared stories of the stamina of many a vacuum, food processor and microwave here on Which? Convo. But simmering behind these resilient cookers and kettles are the kitchen appliances that just can’t keep up.

A tale of rubbish appliances

Take my cheap toaster – it wasn’t too long before its white plastic casing started to melt next to where my toast was ejected. I don’t know about you, but I prefer my toast minus a plastic coating – the flavour doesn’t quite complement the Marmite I like to spread on it (let alone the fact that it probably isn’t very good for me).

And then there was my cheap (you may be seeing a pattern here) vacuum cleaner. It had nothing on Henry, making more noise than a jet engine to suck up what seemed like a infinitesimal scattering of dust. Sometimes I felt like it was making my carpet dirtier than before.

Oh, and I couldn’t forget my infamous overheating oven – the one that turned itself off when it got too hot, usually when cooking a huge roast for my friends and family. I’d then have to give it some time to calm itself down.

Don’t fall for cheap buys

What have I learnt from this? To spend some time looking for reliable kitchen products, rather than falling into the trap of a quick cheap buy. That’s not to say there aren’t good quality bargains out there, as many of our Best Buys will attest, but there’s more to saving money than the initial price. It’s about what will save me cash in the long run.

You wouldn’t want to end up like me, or the couple in our latest TV ad:

So, why not share your tales of the unreliable and unstable products you’ve had in your kitchen over the years. And who among you holds the record for the shortest lived appliance?


I really hate it: those thermal hotplates (not radiant rings that
are more difficult to find) that turn ON and OFF on the basis
temperature reached is high enough w/out so much as by yr

Damn it, if I want a good wok stir-fry I want the output of BTUs
to be as VERY MUCH as possible even though it is unlikely to
replicate the very high temperatures attainable in professional

I resent having to buy expensive specialist ‘high pressure’ propane
stove for that purpose. And bottled gas is so much dearer!

I absolutely agree with Patrick’s intro:

1) cheap (AKA bargain) usually does = poor quality
2) There ARE **SOME** real bargains out there.

BUT …………..

I would also point out that paying a high price (and even looking at reliability reports such as Which?) is NOT a guarantee of a good product. I cite as an example the LG washer, priced at almost £800, awarded Energy Saving Trust and Which? Best Buy awards, and yet it blew up, most spectacularly, 3 times in less than 18 months, did not wash properly, did not rinse, etc., etc. I won’t bore you with the list.

Patrick’s advice “To spend some time looking for reliable kitchen products” is extremely good – but I would have to ask the question “Where exactly can you get advice on reliability that really can be trusted?”

Hi Dave D, what model was this?

We’re always keen to hear customer feedback on the products we’ve tested – and you can leave your feedback directly on our product reviews in our customer views section – http://www.which.co.uk/about-which/what-we-do/reviews-and-advice/customer-views/

As for your Best Buy LG washing machine not washing or rinsing properly this is odd as these are some of the specific things we test for in our tough lab tests. Have you spoken to LG about the problems? And what did they say about the machine blowing up?

Obviously Which? cannot guarantee the reliability of any individual product, however we do survery thousand of our members every year to get reliability ratings for each brand – you can find the washing machine brand ratings here – http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/laundry-and-cleaning/reviews/washing-machines/page/reliability/

Hi Hazel,
If I recall correctly the model number was WM1444TDS or something very close to that. It was a 2008 model.

When it first blew up LG refused to even come to look at it because it was not displaying an error code (it wasn’t displaying anything at all as all it’s internal electronics were a charred black burnt melted mass in the bottom!). LG’s line on this was that if it wasn’t displaying an error code then they could not log a service call. It took Trading standards and Which? legal team to get LG to send someone out …. 3 months later.
The engineer who attended tried to get the parts but LG kept telling him a part number, then refusing to send the parts saying the number was incorrect, then telling him the same number again. I involved Trading Standards and the retailer I’d bought it from again and between them they got the parts.
Whilst the engineer was working on it I asked him about the diabolical performance and also the excessive electricity consumption (over 4 units to wash a 40 degree load, compared to less than half a unit in my previous, ancient, machine). He advised me that LG machines won’t wash anything above half a load very well and that the machines are known for refusing to spin with more than half a load in as they cannot balance. With regard to rinsing he simply asked what machine I’d had before and when I told him said that I should not expect the LG to match up to it in any way at all, particularly rinsing, because it simply would never use enough water to stand a chance.
When the machine blew up the second time I had the same rigmarole with LG refusing to log a service call, but I got them to “give in” faster by quoting the same advice form Trading Standards and which? legal that’d retained after the first blow up. It still took almost 2 months to get the parts. (It was the same parts that had gone – all 3 of the internal circuit boards).
When it blew up the 3rd time I did not even ring LG – I rang a skip company and ditched it. I don’t doubt it was the same 3 boards again as the fireworks display was equally dramatic.
I did report my experience and views to Which? at the time and whilst the model was still current and listed on the Which? web site I did have my comments displayed in the user reviews section, but when the model went off sale Which? quite naturally removed the reviews.
I also involved the Energy Saving Trust over the electricity consumption, but they just sent a letter (which I have kept) telling me that they knew that all new washers use more power than old ones “Due to the additional features”. I made which? aware of this at the time too.
I bought a 2nd hand (reconditioned) 1983 Hoover Electron 1100 which is still working absolutely fine, uses less than 1 unit of electricity to wash a 40 degree wash and only 1.2 units for a boil wash. It rinses properly and spins fine. I wrote to LG and told them very plainly that I would never ever buy another LG product and would take every opportunity to try to dissuade anyone else from buying them either. They did not answer.

In my lengthy posts on previous convo’s I have listed far greater detail in incredibly boring length – I am sure that you can trawl back to find them if you need to.

Sadly this bitter experience which, with the cost of the laundrette for months on end each time the washer blew up, plus the lost wages for days waiting in for service engineers, and the £100 I paid for the reconditioned Hoover too, cost me well over £1250 in total, has made me feel that I cannot trust a single word the EST utters and has left me also rather cautious about Which? reviews too.

To be fair to Which?, at the time the LG machine was reviewed, Which? did say that rinsing wasn’t especially brilliant, but the reviews did say that cleaning and spinning were very good, and I’m afraid they simply were not acceptable let alone good. The cost of running the damned thing and the reliability were not commented on (as I recall anyway). And of course, as the reviews are of appliances, not the companies who make them, the review naturally didn’t forewarn me of the diabolical level of (non) service from LG.

Back on topic for this convo, I think you (and everyone else) can see why I made the remark that I did about paying a premium price being no guarantee of a great product any more than paying a “budget” price being a guarantee of unreliability.

Thanks for taking an interest in this one – much appreciated.

I hope you got refunds, replacements or repairs, as appropriate, Patrick. We need you to set us a good example.

I bought a cheap Proline larder fridge from Comet because it was the only model I could find that would fit the space in my very dated kitchen. When it was nearly a year old it died and Comet replaced it with a newer model. (They tried to charge me extra, but I won the argument.) The new fridge worked fine for a few months but the temperature control is erratic. Considering that my previous fridge, made by Hoover, worked perfectly for over 25 years and was only replaced because the door seal had split, I am not impressed by Proline, Comet’s own brand.

Some applicances I will spend the extra on to get a good brand and some I won’t.
For kettles, toasters and irons, I always buy a cheap supermarket model. These things are generally around the £10 – £12 mark, and the way I see it it, if it lasts beyond the year then I’ve had a result. I’ve not had any real problems with these cheap appiances, they do the job for me.
If you were to buy a branded one, you could pay several times that amount, and it still might not last beyond a year.These items are throw away things, and certainly not worth an extended warranty purchase.

I also had a Zanussi washing machine bought new in the mid 80’s, this lasted us 15 years. I was so impresed that when it finally gave up, I went and bought another Zanussi. This one was done after 5 years and with many callouts inbetween. The service tech told me that the new Zanussi’s are not a patch on the old ones, and I might as well buy cheapo. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s pot luck really. My current washing machine is a Currys own brand, very cheap, heavily used, and still going 3 years down the line with no callouts.

I also have an indesit consender dryer. This is about 5 years old now, and has had many callouts, I’d say it’s an awful appliance, but my friend has exactly the same model and never had an issue with it… Pot Luck again!

Buying almost any electrical appliance is pot luck these days. You can tell the quality can’t be the best as how many companies offer a 5-10 year guarantee. Until companies switch from a quest for profit over all else to the customer comes first, I can’t see this changing.

Reminds me of the classic lines in the film Armageddon, “You know we’re sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn’t it.” or “Components. American components, Russian Components, ALL MADE IN TAIWAN”

I like the product names used in the ad, which are easier to see in HD mode. I’m not sure you should have been heating fireworks in the Ohno microwave oven. 🙂

Bad Buys

Osby Fridge freezer, the first frost free Fridge Freezer in the country, imported from Sweden, cost £325 about 17+ years ago [maybe longer].
Lasted 8 months.

Zanussi dishwasher, caught fire after 3 months due to a 12volt ‘chocolate block connector’ used to connect the 240volt powerline to an input transformer [as I said in my letters to them ‘designed to fail’]

Some unknown coffee maker, does the lot Cappuccino, Espresso, filter, still works but takes half hour to clean afterwards.

One of your cheap toasters, with the plastic melted around the slots.

A dozen or so cheap electric kettles, all lasting less than a year.

Breville sandwich toaster, handles cracked and fell off, 3 months.
Service washing machines, they are great but use substandard bearings, so last about a year.
And yes I did buy a hoover logic washing machine, say no more!

Good buys
Indiset washing machine 30yrs 1 new pump fitted , now with its 3rd owner and used every day.
LEC freezer 30 yrs, been in my garden shed for the last 10, still on and working.
The first Microwave / electric oven combo made by belling just under 30 years old and still working.
My Mums electric iron, I think it has another 1000 or so years left.

I recall the Indesit washing machine being a Best Buy in Which? reports.

M’s post reminds me that I recently had a Breville stainless steel kettle fail after a few months. Argos replaced it under warranty. Its predecessor was a Philips kettle which lasted ten years before it started to leak. Before that I had a Swan kettle that was still working after 18 years. I only replaced it because the paint was peeling and it looked tatty.

My Philips washing machine celebrated its 30th birthday in February. It is so old that it is hot & cold fill and rinses properly.

The brand/manufacturer’s name on older reliable products does NOT mean that same manufacturer produces MODERN appliances which are as reliable. The big names from the past like Indesit and Hotpoint are now producing appliances which fail quickly and are unrepairable. These appliances are only made to look fashionable, not to last more than 5 years of household use.

I understand Miele and ISE appliances are the only ones today which are still built well and reliable enough to last more than 5 years. That said, some people are unlucky and do buy a reliable brand and it fails quickly, even if the same make and model does not fail on other people.

jean aldrich says:
25 November 2012

I understand that Goodman microwaves are a Which ‘best buy’. My daughter has a Goodmans microwave oven which when used yesterday to heat a wheat bag it caught fire. It was a scary experience which has made me wary of the safety of microwave ovens generally. I would be interested to know if others have had similar experience with microwaves.

mula baby says:
29 January 2015

I have a hotpoint cooker and the paint started peeling off the top of the door and bubbling when hot. I contacted hotpoint through Facebook messages and they are replacing the door free of charge.

I bought a belling Range all gas double oven Cooker, has any one got the problem I have, every time I use one oven or both bear in mind one oven is below the grill, the front knobs and the panel get so so hot, it is not possible to touch any of the knobs nor stand in front of the cooker. also the edges of all round the cooker and the back of the cooker where the air went is ever so sharp. guess what the engineer said when he came to inspect
the ovens are not over heating, it is over the guide temperature of four, but that’s fine.
I said it is not safe if a child touched the front of the cooker as it gets so hot, the answer was why would you let a child touch the cooker.
why do you want to stand in front of the cooker when I said it gets so hot and you can feel the hot air coming out of the oven doors that makes the kitchen so so hot.
also he said, if the outside of the house gets 30 in temperature, then the cooker outside can go up as much as 230.
when I said about the air vent at the back of the cooker so sharp, his answer was why would you want to touch that part, because I want to pull the cooker out to clean the sides.
also I tried many many times to cook a roast, a chicken took I left in the oven for 4 hours, it never cooked the inside and burnt the side near to the door. cakes the same, does not cook the middle, I do heat the cooker as always for a cake before putting the cake mix in, but I am told, heat the cooker first before putting a roast in.
belling will not except this cooker is not fit for its purpose, has anyone had this problem????????
what really gets me is the knobs and the front panel getting so so hot and unable to stand in front as well as the where gas rings are, I could take them off and put a egg on the flat panel which will cook the egg. but why would you want to do that be told by belling same as don’t let children in the kitchen.