Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Washing Machine Dilemma

So you want to buy a new washing machine?
Oh dear! oh dear! oh dear!
It's a mine field. Do you buy the "A" energy rated one or the one with the faster spin? Do you go for the one with the five year parts warranty?
The Make
OK lets start with the make. Go for a brand you recognise like Creda, Hotpoint, Zanussi, Electrolux, Whirlpool. Because then you're going to be able to buy the spares easily.
If you buy a Miele not only will you find spares difficult to source they'll cost you an arm and a leg. Well the arm up to the elbow anyway. But to be fair they're so well built you rarely need spares.
What about Proline or Matsui or other strange makes. Forget it. They may be cheap but you'll fall at the first hurdle if only the smallest thing goes wrong. So think before you buy a cheapo washer, ask where can you get spares, don't accept "Oh anywhere." get a name and address and number of a supplier.

Spin speed
So you think you want a faster spin machine? So you think a 1400 spin is going to dry the clothes any better than a 800? Think again. It's basic physics. To be able to have a faster spin you may notice that the drums are smaller. So what you gain psychologically by having a fast spin speed you lose in reality by having a smaller drum. The other downside is these really fast drum speeds fuck up the bearings quicker than the slow speed ones. So it's a lose lose situation.

Functions
You like your gadgets don't you? You want a machine with 156 programmes. With more buttons and dials than Concorde. Why? There's more to go wrong. You barely need three programmes general wash, delicate wash, and boil (to get rid of the nasty bacteria that grow in your machine due to continual use of low temp detergents)so why pay for all that stuff you aren't going to use?

Washer Dryers
Don't! Unless you actually are really pushed for space or live on your own and only wear shorts and T-shirts all year round forget it. Don't let them tell you in Currys that a washer dryer is great because it isn't. You put in a full load and then have to take out half of it to dry it then put the other half back in later.
IMagine coming back off holiday and you need clothes fast. With a seperate machine you can be washing the next load while the first is drying. You can't with a washerdryer. Be warned...

Little gripes and miscellaneous
The manufacturers are moving on to cold fill only machines. Supposedly to save you money (you only heat the water you use). But it saves them money in production and they haven't reduced the price accordingly, and if you're in a hurry unless you fill it full of hot water through the detergent drawer , the wash cycle is longer because you have to wait for it to heat up before it even starts slosh sloshing.
The five year warranty. Don't start me on this one. Five year parts warranty? Pah! You only get your parts free of charge if you call the manufacturer out and they charge you £90 for the privelige. So if your hotpoint needs new carbons in the motor you get them free gratis thrown in with your £90 labour charge. Even the meanest local engineer will only charge you £40 to fit Hotpoint carbs. Or do it yourself for £14.50. So don't be too impressed with that one. It only pays if something really major goes wrong.
"I've had a *insert brand* for 20 years so I'll buy another one." Bollocks!
20 years ago they were all building machines to a higher standard than today, but with cost cutting and corner cutting they aint the same machines. It's not a valid argument to use.
For instance Bosch used to be up there with Miele. but they've dumbed down considerably trading on a past reputation that isn't being upheld. They will shoot themselves in the foot over this one soon.

So what do you buy?
I like to think of Washing Machines in terms of cars. That way the likes of Doctor Rob can get a handle on what's going on.
Your Prolines and other obscure brands = Seat or Old Skoda
Indesit = Ford Fiesta
Hotpoint/Creda = Ford Escort
Zanussi = Vauxhall
Bosch = Volkswagon
Miele = Bently/Rolls Royce

Beko/Teba/Teka/Technics Don't go there! = Trabant

Finally
For your delight and edification I have done a straw poll of all my washing machine engineer friends and asked them what they would buy right now if they had to. I asked for their top three. Miele was mentioned As was Whirlpool but interestingly although no two engineers had the same top three they all agreed that in that top three would always be Zanussi, 1st 2nd or 3rd it's always there.
So there you have it. The Mike Da Hat guide to Washing Machines.

I hope this helps Doctor Rob.

Rock on Dudes

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