White Goods So Reliable, Study Finds Warranties Useless

One of the impressions gleaned from J.D. Power and Associates' 2007 Major Home Appliance Study is that so-called white goods--dishwashers, ovens, washer/dryer combos and the like--are actually very reliable, by and large. And consumers buy extended warranties that they really don't need.

Why? For the same reason car buyers give brands like a Hyundai a second look when they are paired with a bullet-proof warranty: peace of mind.

"Extended warranties certainly provide a degree of peace of mind," says Dale Haines, senior director of the real estate and construction industries practice at J.D. Power. He says warranties make more sense for appliances with complex electronics and internal technology that increase the potential costs of repair. "However, major appliances tend to be very reliable, and consumers should consider very carefully--depending upon their circumstances--whether an extended warranty is worth the additional cost."

Per J.D. Power, during the first two years of ownership, about a tenth of white goods consumers report a problem with their appliance. But, per the firm, most of those problems don't require the Maytag man. They can be solved by delving into the owner's manual on the Web site.



Overall, per the consultancy, about 25% of consumers buy an extended warranty, and 15% of microwave oven buyers do so. (This is the first year the consultancy has included microwaves in the study.)

In satisfying customers with major kitchen and laundry appliances, Bosch, GE Appliances, Kenmore, LG, Maytag, Samsung, Whirlpool and Whirlpool Gold rank highest in various segments.

Parameters for the rankings include operational performance (including how well the appliance functions, noise level and energy efficiency); operational features (such as the number of settings available and appliance capacity); ease of use; styling and feel; price; and warranty.

The firm says that on a brand satisfaction level, Bosch, GE Appliances, Kenmore, LG, Maytag, Samsung, Whirlpool and Whirlpool Gold are the highest-ranking. Bosch, LG and Samsung are consistently high-scoring brands. Bosch, for the second year, is the highest-ranked in dishwashers, and LG the highest-ranked clothes washer.

In free-standing ranges, Maytag leads, with GE the leader in built-in cooktops and wall ovens. Whirlpool ranks highest in customer satisfaction with freezer-on-top fridges. Samsung leads in side-by-side fridges, and Kenmore with over-the-range microwaves. GE Appliances was the top brand for countertop microwaves.

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