/ 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’m with you on that point Dave – spending more definitely doesn’t ensure a product that will last, which is where doing the research will help. I have found, however, that my cheapy products didn’t last longer than an ant’s sneeze.


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


Of course, I hold the Sale of Goods Act very close to my chest.


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.