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Where can I get helpful, unbiased reviews of major appliances?

I think there's a wealth of reliable information here on Chowhound regarding users' favorable and unfavorable experiences with specific brands/models of major appliances. But I'm wondering what other websites you use for appliance reviews. Of course there's Consumer Reports, but are there other places you'd recommend to someone who was shopping for an exhaust hood, a refrigerator, a wine fridge and a diswasher? Thanks!

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  1. Gardenweb appliance forum has quite a few opinions although not always unbiased. You can learn a lot there.
    http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/appl/

    1 Reply
    1. re: wekick

      Thanks for the reminder. I've gone to Gardenweb a number of times and it's always been very helpful.

    2. I don't know where to find totally unbiased reviews. I rely on user reviews, and I check Amazon and I also google the appliance + review. i read everything I can on what I am interested in. I have also checked YouTube.

      Even more than the reviews done by CU, I look at the frequency of repair charts for the major appliance manufacturers. I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the actual reviews, because they so often designate Kenmore as being the best buy, and there is no way I'm buying Kenmore.

      I've also learned a lot by reading in various threads here on Chowhound. Buying a major appliance represents a major financial commitment, and you want to do your best to get it right.

      Another source of info is a knowledgeable sales person at an independent appliance store. This doesn't always apply, but often you can get a sense of which appliances they feel are best by visiting the store and talking with them.

      11 Replies
      1. re: sueatmo

        What is your issue with Kenmore?

        1. re: johnb

          I don't trust the brand. I'm not saying I'm right, but that is how I feel. And I wouldn't buy from Sears anyway. Reputation for service is really bad right now.

          1. re: sueatmo

            Sueatmo is right to focus on service. The Kenmore brand it is just a badge that Sears hangs on appliances sourced from others, and the products are usually no worse than the sources' own products. Service on appliances is largely thorugh the Sears subsidiary/spin-off, A&E Appliance Service (aka A&E Factory Service.) Trouble is that a lot of brands have outsourced warranty service and A&E has become a major low-bid contractor with a not infrequently dismal reputation. Have a look at the long running gardenweb thread on them:

            http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/...

            1. re: sueatmo

              Odd. We just had a Sears service call and I found them to be very good (efficient and inexpensive).

              1. re: ferret

                Count yourself lucky. I read of probs with Sears service on the Consumerist web site. Many, many complaints.

              2. re: sueatmo

                About Sears Service: although I seldom buy extended warranties, I did get one for 5 years for my Sears dishwasher (it is Kenmore; made, I think, by Maytag). Anyway, I had them come out every so often to check it out and clean things up, and then, within a year of the warranty expiration, the pump started to fail. They replaced it at no cost, so I feel I lucked out. Six months later and I'd have been out of luck probably.

                But the service guy was the same fellow all those years. So they evidently have some stability and ethics around here.

            2. re: sueatmo

              I do the same, plus if you know an appliance repairman, ask them which is easiest to work on, which seems to break and how, if parts are readily available in your area, etc. Repair is nearly as important as the purchase.

              1. re: blaireso

                I've done that too, years ago. I agree. Repair is an important thing to consider. I believe that LG appliances have bad repair probs.

              2. re: sueatmo

                Sueatmo, IMHO with regard to your thought about asking an appliance salesman at an independent store as a good resource – I would challenge that idea and tell you that my experience was the exact opposite. The salesman at that appliance Center was exceedingly affable and energetic so much so that he pushed us on to a GE digital monster when we actually went in to look at the Bosch units. He made us believe that the GE was the best thing that ever happened since sliced bread what with all of its features etc. We normally do a great deal of research but in this case we blew it. We purchased it at the end of February, had it installed in less than a week and had nothing but headaches until just a week ago. Three service calls for the exact same problem dealing with hinges and latch closure. Multiple attempts to modify it with a fourth service call pending when we pulled the plug and said "NO MORE!" Our complaint file with GE became many many pages with contacts to GE and the appliance Center staff (shielding the owner from our distressful situation). Finally, the owner reached out and offered to remove it due to "excessive service" and install a Bosch dishwasher that we really wanted. He would not refund the difference in the two machines – GE washer was more expensive, but ultimately did agree to eat the charge for installation of the second unit. He was actually going to charge us for the second installation until I really pitched a fit. At the exact same time, I could've purchased the same model Bosch from our local Lowes and saved myself $129 installation and a $50 store credit. I could have saved myself nearly $360 had I gone to Lowes in the first place. Dealing with a local appliance shop is a patriotic thing to do with regard to bricks and mortar stores run by independent businessmen but they have other issues to deal with and cannot pass on anything in the way of savings. Their biggest fear is that the manufacturer, in this case GE, forces them to fill out so much paperwork for documentation and force the customer to submit to unlimited numbers of service calls to rectify the problem. In our case the hinges and latch closure issues were known factory recall service problems with a workaround in progress but not completed according to our Patient GE service technician with whom we had almost developed a family type relationship! He finally offered, when pressured about other customers with this problem, that he had personally attended to 36 other customers in the space of two months with the exact same hinge/latch closure issues. He did not know of any workaround until he finally reached a senior technician with GE and the technical bulletin was reviewed for the first time. In essence, GE relies on multiple customer complaints to finally modify their production process. Evidently, this machine is made in the USA and not Mexico or China but apparently the design was faulty and the issue was well-known to GE. Why GE would subject it's dealers and customers to this harangue is beyond me. I have a terrible distaste for GE products at this time. The GE consumer office person had all the buzzwords and platitudes but absolutely no authority/empowerment to agree that the unit was defective after the second service call. They expected us to allow more and more calls and we were totally fed up at this point. Having a $630 drying rack for over three months is beyond acceptable. So, buy anything but GE and don't spend more than $700 on a dishwasher. This Bosch SHE3ARF2UC is a beauty. We love the express button – it washes our lightly soiled two-person household dishes in 30 minutes! The jet dry setting can be modified digitally so that you only use a modest amount along with 1 tablespoon of granular finish dishwasher detergent. Everything comes out sparkling clean and we simply open the dishwasher at night to allow them to air dry as the bottoms of the cups have a tiny bit of water. It is not super quiet but at 50 dB it is much quieter than our old Maytag 18 years old. We like the design, the features, the hinge and latch closure mechanism. The racks are a little problematic but we just have resolved to get used to it. After all, we got dishpan hands messing with the GE for the last 3 1/2 months so anything is better than that!

                1. re: GatorRay

                  Hi GatorRay,

                  <So, buy anything but GE and don't spend more than $700 on a dishwasher.>

                  I think what you mean to say is that there's no need to spend more to get a very nice machine, yes? We spent about double that on our Bosch, but with our open floor plan a silent machine is a must so it's money well spent. We also appreciate the upper cutlery rack after having it on a Miele. :-)

                  1. re: GatorRay

                    It's interesting ... it seems that GE dishwashers aren't getting thumbs up from anyone lately. But the one I have from the early 80s is still working (if loud). I've seen the same model still chugging along in other houses too. It would be interesting to know what happened to their quality ...

                2. Assuming you have time to sort out information, I actually find the Amazon.com reviews to be useful. Yes, some of the reviews are shallow, but many are specifics and focus. Moreover, you get a sample of people who use the appliances for extensive period of time. If the top few complaints are the same, then you can bet the problem is wide spread.

                  While Consumer Reports and Consume Search are useful, they are limited. They usually only review popular brands, and they usually only give their first impression of the products. They rare (if ever) tell you the longevity or reliability of a product.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Not of a particular product. But they do show charts that track frequency of repairs for a brand. I find these to be somewhat helpful.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      That CR is often limited in its scope has been one of my complaints about their ratings. That's particularly true for more upscale products. Service and frequency of repairs are often-overlooked yet vitally important factors.

                      1. re: RobCollins

                        There are a few different Choice magazines, none of which seems like what I'm looking for. Can you provide a link?

                      2. Epinions.com has product reviews of everything under the sun written by average people. I've written over 1200 reviews there including ones on my dishwasher, grill, refrigerator, microwave, vacuums, blenders, food processors, coffee makers, etc.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Njchicaa

                          GREAT suggestion! I never think of Epinions. Thanks for reminding me.

                          1. re: Njchicaa

                            I've often used Epinions. If you google a particular appliance, you will often get the Epinions site. However, I don't always find what I am looking for there.

                          2. I have read, and participated in, appliance review sites of all types for years. Probably hundreds of hours if I could add it all up. It has taught me some lessons.

                            The fundamental problem is, even if you could get "unbiased" reviews (and that immediately eliminates crowd sourced reviews such as Amazon, epionions, Chowhound, Garden Web, etc., all of which are biased due to self-selection, they still wouldn't be useful because things change too quickly. Manufacturers aren't stupid -- if they have a problem product, they fix it, and the reviews become irrelevant. Problems can happen to most anybody, including expensive brands (which usually have lots of doo-dads that are inherently trouble-prone). Nearly every brand sources some of what it sells from other makers, some of whom market under their own name and some of whom don't, and these sources can change overnight.

                            Bottom line is you might just as well forget about reviews. Maybe CR can help you avoid a clunker if they have tested that exact model recently. But generally, they just don't contain much useful information. IMO the best thing to do is pick an appliance that fits your needs and your budget and keep your fingers crossed. It's a crapshoot, it's very difficult to actually improve your odds (though it is easy to convince yourself that you have), and you might as well face up to it. Just my HO. Call me a cynic.

                            25 Replies
                            1. re: johnb

                              Nothing is certain. But I do think you can try to avoid a mistake by reading consumer reviews. It might be harder to choose the best appliance that way, but it is often possible to avoid an expensive lemon.

                              1. re: johnb

                                I agree. We needed to replace a dishwasher, and I realized I'd never bought one before. You just use what's there when you move in. Who'd've thunk? I spent about 8 hours reading reviews on CH, Amazon, ePinions, etc. and came away about as confused as before. Every one has pros and cons. If you dig deep enough, you just wind up scared to make any choice at all. Check the features, your budget, warranty and service, and cross your fingers. Good luck.

                                Having survived the Great Dishwasher Decision, I'm now giving the hairy eyeball to our refrigerator and cooktop. Oy vey, here we go again.

                                1. re: blaireso

                                  Well, a fridge is just a box that keeps things cold. Keep that decision simple. If you want an ice/water dispenser, fine, pay the price, but otherwise my suggestion is to keep your money in your pocket as much as possible.

                                  As to cooktop, a lot depends on what type of heat you want and how much "heavy" cooking you do. I sprang for a Bluestar and am happy (very happy) I did. Another expensive possibility is induction. Don't forget, if you're serious about cooking on one of these monsters, you also need venting. If you don't/can't have venting (to the outside), don't even think about installing one of those.

                                  I'm basically a slob, and don't like to spend lots of time cleaning and polishing my cooking surface, and if you're like that I would advise against anything with a glass top -- you'll be condemning yourself to endless squirting and wiping.

                                  1. re: johnb

                                    Thanks, JohnB. Reassuring advice on refrigerator. DH absolutely wants something with icemaker in the door. I want something that won't intrude into our already too narrow kitchen. It's big, but when you stick in all those appliances it's amazing how narrow it becomes. Beware folks who want to put in an island, measure and make sure you have at least 48" or you'll be swearing and wounding your ankles on the dishwasher/oven/etc.

                                    I beg to differ about a glass cooktop. That is, we've got gas burners, enamel underneath and grids, and glass surrounds. The glass is a piece of cake to clean, just wipe with a sudsy microfiber cloth when you notice it's dirty. Nothing sticks to it. Baking soda on enamel pans, if needed, and it's done. Easy Off on burner grids when they get nasty, leave overnight and stick in dishwasher. Don't know about scratching on induction or glass cooktops.

                                    This is probably not germane to the OP, so I'll just stop here and take the discussion elsewhere. Thanks, JB.

                                    1. re: blaireso

                                      Hmmm. Maybe I should try the Easy-off idea. Thanks for mentioning that one. It will make my sweetie happy.

                                      My glass comment was predicated on a large complete piece of glass, ie a glass stovetop. I once had a eurostyle one with those electric solid burner plates (came with the house), and it was horrible to keep clean, but you had to do it because it showed every little speck of grease. We recently bought a second house and it too has a solid piece of glass for a cooktop, and pretty much the same problem, though I don't do really heavy cooking there.

                                      1. re: johnb

                                        I had the same deal with a black enamel cooktop. Nightmare, you could see every little speck.

                                        My go to scouring product is straight baking soda. Sprinkle on the cooktop, spritz with some sort of liquid (I like alcohol) and use a microfiber cloth to scrub. I will also use a butter knife lightly to chisel stubborn specks.

                                        Just a word of caution on Easy Off: I have always just sprayed the heck out of the burner grids and stuck them in the oven overnight. Have learned through experience that when they drip onto the self-clean oven floor it damages the finish of the oven. So, rig up some sort of drip tray for them (maybe your enamel broiler pan that the oven came with??).

                                        The other thing you can do is stick the sprayed items in a plastic garbage bag. I find this a bit messy, but use it when I clean the oven and remove the racks to clean separately so they don't get dull. Any of these plus a little SOS for stubborn spots works like a charm.

                                      2. re: blaireso

                                        The trick to keeping a glass cooktop nice is to have a single-edge razorblade handy at all times. That plus Ceramabryte, and cleaning up messes immediately so they don't get re-cooked--- all you need to have your cooktop looking like new, for years. MUCH easier to maintain than old-fashioned burners.

                                        1. re: Querencia

                                          That doesn't strike me as "easy to maintain," but to each his own. Me, if that's the choice, I'd settle for old-fashioned burners.

                                          1. re: johnb

                                            Hi johnb,

                                            What Querencia wrote above is for radiant ranges, where heated glass cooks food spills. And yes, it can take a razor blade to get them off. I hated mine. Hated it.

                                            But induction and radiant, despite sharing the same glass cooktop, behave in completely different ways that have a big impact on cleaning. Induction ranges stay cool, food doesn't get baked on and so cleanup is simple and easy.

                                            Yesterday I had an unattended boil over with strawberry sauce. Lots of sugar would be a problem for a radiant range. Hell, it can be a problem sitting in the well under a gas flame. But when I finally got around to cleaning it, it wiped up easily, because it wasn't cooked on. A lot of it was still wet.

                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                              Hi Duffy. You are of course correct as regards induction, but I wasn't aware we were discussing induction. If I missed something up above I'm sorry.

                                              That said, even with induction you are going to get grease splatters and so on on your nice shiny glass surface. So you will be frequently cleaning it. I have actually been thinking of going induction one of these days, but I hate to always be cleaning my glass rangetop. Are there any made that have a matte finish rather than shiny, to mute the dirt and grease?

                                              1. re: johnb

                                                Hi johnb,

                                                Querencia used the generic term "glass cooktop". I was just clarifying to make sure no one coming along later would think that induction ranges had the same cleaning problems as radiant ranges.

                                                You're right, I clean my induction cooktop every evening, but I've done that with every range I've ever owned. Even the JennAir pro style I used, which was similar in look to Bluestar, got cleaned nightly. If nothing else, I'd wipe splatters off the stainless frame. About once a week I lifted the grates so I could clean the box. THAT was a pain, because the corners and walls were sharp 90º angles and the whole thing was polished rather than brushed. Ugh! It was the hardest to clean range I've ever used. My point is, induction is no harder to clean than other ranges, and needs no more frequent cleaning. I've cooked on all kinds of ranges; gas, coil, radiant, cast iron plate and induction. Except for radiant, they're about all equal.

                                                As to a matte finish, I've got no idea. I've never heard of matte finish cooktop glass.

                                      3. re: johnb

                                        John...which vent did u get for your Bluestar?

                                        1. re: smilingal

                                          Vent-a-hood. One additional comment. My BS is on an island and VaH's island hoods are quite expensive. So I bought a wall mount hood (much cheaper) and my cabinet guy built a housing for it, which matches the rest of my cabinets. It works reasonably well -- given the physics involved, no island hood is perfect. For me it was cheaper and nicer than the standard island hood, but of course it only is relevant for a newly installed kitchen with an island-mounted range top.

                                          1. re: johnb

                                            I need to replace my overcooktop microwave and have been stalling...not wanting to give up counter space for the micro and not knowing which vent to go with.

                                            1. re: smilingal

                                              We did just what you're considering smilingal. We ended up with an Xtremeair hood. It's got stainless baffles, a squirrel cage fan and the hood proper is made of one piece of heavy brushed steel. It's not one of the big brands, and is made in China. The company is located in California and does inspection and testing of all the fans there. Then they're repackaged and send out. We're quite happy with ours. Customer service is very responsive, too.

                                              We were fortunate that by moving a few things and getting rid of one of our coffeemakers, we were able to place the new microwave in an inconspicuous spot.

                                              After checking out all the reviews on Amazon and not finding anything that got consistently high ratings, we widened the search and found a cheap ($89 IIRC) Kenmore at K-Mart that had consistently good reviews. Color me shocked, but happy.

                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                I have been stalling on making these changes thus preventing us from doing the backsplash. Is your micro a small one?

                                                1. re: smilingal

                                                  Nope. 1.2 cf, I think. Maybe 1.1

                                                  EDIT - Found a link for it. http://www.kmart.com/kenmore-1.2-cu-f...

                                                  I think it's also available in black, red and stainless. We'd have had to wait for a stainless model, so took home the white one, thinking if it was ugly we'd take it back. We're glad we got the white. Even though it shares a nook with our Breville Smartoven we think that two large stainless appliances would have been overkill. Our upper cabs are painted white, the backsplash is white glass, and it sort of blends in. Even with the black door and control panel. Makes me wish the Breville was white.

                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                    You mentioned white glass backsplash...are they tiles or the tempered bsckpainted glass sheets?

                                                    1. re: smilingal

                                                      Backpainted glass subway tiles, 2" wide x 1" high. I would have loved to go with glass sheets, but we wanted something that would work for contemporary or for old school. These fit the bill. Our kitchen is black and white, with black lower cabs, the white uppers, black and white granite and a big maple slab topping our island.

                                                      It's contemporary now, but if we ever want to change, all we need to do is change lighting shades, door hardware and wall color. Easy and cheap.

                                    2. re: johnb

                                      johnb, I found your comment quite inaccurate in our case - namely "...things change too quickly. Manufacturers aren't stupid -- if they have a problem product, they fix it, and the reviews become irrelevant. "
                                      IMHO this philosophy simply doesn't apply to GE Dishwashers. (Same charge could be leveled at GM, the other BIG G regarding their deadly ignition issues now being aired ad nauseum). Even our authorized, affable, efficient service tech, after 3 service calls was befuddled as to what could be done with our obviously defective DW as the durn door simply would not latch. The receiver latch is a small plastic "claw" that is supposed to grasp a triangular post and activate the electronics. The hinges and frame were simply designed poorly so that the point of closure was wrong. After 3 service calls the very experienced service tech discovered from the senior GE tech that a TSB was in progress that identified the issue and the "possible" fix with new hinges and new attachment points on the very flimsy metal frame of the DW. The TSB was so new there was no number assigned nor did any field techs have any inkling there was such a design flaw. After the 2nd service call for the same problem GE Consumer division rep should have been empowered to authorize a replacement DW not push for more service calls with 3 replacement hinges, 2 frames, door panels and 2 latch components! After spending >$600 for a DW and having nothing more than a dish drying rack for 3 1/2 mos we were plenty PO'd at the service calls demanded by GE and the product. WE really like our replacement Bosch but even tho it was slightly cheaper and we could have purchased it and had it installed by Lowe's the Bosch could have been had for $365 less! So much for shopping at a Mom & Pop store that is fearful of having to "eat" a GE unit because GE puts everyone through the wringer for an obviously defective DW. VERY BAD public relations, poor customer service. No more GE products for us whether they are touted as Made in U.S.A. or wherever. When reading about then selecting such appliances, buy only from the top 2-3 brands. The middle and bottom of the list are crap shoots and like we found, may give you some serious headaches.

                                      1. re: GatorRay

                                        I think you misunderstood my point. My point was that if a product has a systemic problem, the company will fix it (not your particular appliance necessarily but future ones) and thus a review of that brand that is based on that problem becomes irrelevant in the future, as improved versions of that model and entirely new models come off the line. In other words, any review that is more than, say, a year or so old, likely isn't much use.

                                        You may have had a problem with a particular GE machine, but others have had problems with every other brand out there. Every manufacturer has problem products from time to time. You or anyone so afflicted may have a good basis for your feelings about GE or whichever brand was a dud, but the fact that you or they had that particular experience probably isn't much real help to anyone else making his own brand decision. As I said above, choosing a brand is, like most things in life, a crapshoot and it's best to face up to it.

                                        1. re: johnb

                                          Many thanks for your reply and your comments. Perhaps you didn't understand that this is a systemic issue as regards to the closure mechanism and hinges. My single service technician had attended to 36 dishwashers within 8 weeks with the exact same problem and yet GE did not provide him with any resolutions and the customers were 100% inconvenienced. The consumer complaint division was unaware and kept offering more and more excuses and platitudes. The customer service for GE is abominable and I strongly feel this particular GE model was designed so poorly and they have been so irresponsible responding to me as a customer for a known deficiency that I am soured on GE forever. In other words, GE did not fix it. I would not permit a fourth service call for the same problem. There was no guarantee that the workaround would correct it. After carefully examining the components I can state with surety that the product is cheaply built and destined to fail over and over for thousands if not millions of similar models. It should never have left the design table and entered production. Certainly, you are entitled to your opinion but believe me I am not alone in my feelings about GE as it has evolved over the last 10-15 years.

                                          1. re: GatorRay

                                            I'll have one last shot at explaining my point.

                                            What I meant by "systemic" issue is an issue of a kind different from your issue. You (apparently) have an issue brought about by a specific part that, in my view, will very likely be corrected on newly-produced machines, including this specific model, whether or not GE is giving you satisfaction on the machine you have which was built while this flaw was still in production. I believe this because GE strikes me as a company run by intelligent, not stupid, people who understand that flaws such as this must be corrected and who do so on a continuing basis -- if they didn't, they would not still be in business, which clearly isn't the case. If I am right, your particular issue will, in a fairly short time, not be relevant and therefore negative reviews based on it won't be of use to future potential buyers. The same reasoning applies to much negative reviews of consumer items one sees.

                                            OTOH if you are correct in your implicit assumption, which is that GE's managers are not smart enough to fix problems like this (in new production) while the managers of their competitors are smart enough to act differently, then I would be wrong and you would be right. But I find that proposition not credible. All manufacturers continually fix design/production problems with their products. Every manufacturer has customers who have had bad experiences and truly believe they have irretrievably "gone downhill" and must be avoided at all costs. It's just the nature of the business.

                                            Again, I understand your dislike of GE based on your personal experience, but that's not what this exchange is about -- the fact that you have had a bad experience with GE doesn't tell future buyers they are significantly more likely to have a bad experience with GE than with another brand, and thus is not particularly relevant for future buyers. Buying appliances of any brand is still a crapshoop, and whether they choose GE, Whirlpool, Bosch, or any other make they may have a good or a bad experience. Very recent reviews highlighting a specific problem may sometimes be of use for a short time, if they expose a problem which has not yet been corrected and exists on machines still on the sales floor, but such reviews age quickly into uselessness.

                                            1. re: johnb

                                              Well stated John B. Like many discussions, we both have some valid points. For myself and other people with whom I have spoken and received input from their experiences, GE winds up near the bottom in terms of reliability and customer service. I will certainly not put GE product's high on any list should I need any future appliances based on this personal experience, to be sure. My whole beef with GE boils down to the fact that when they knew there is a design flaw and that their service technicians have no clue what is happening in the design and remanufacturing area yet continue to attempt ineffectual service on behalf of the same customers over and over without input from the parent company, so that the credibility of the manufacturer becomes seriously compromised. Two service calls for a company known defect should automatically trigger a profound apology and an exchange or refund and no hassle for the appliance seller nor the customer who has been greatly inconvenienced dealing with the problem for weeks and weeks. I value customer relations just as important as the reliability of the machine that I have purchased. I'll say no more. I'll let the readers judge for themselves after reading our discussions. Thank you for your time and input for the benefit of all readers on this forum.

                                              1. re: GatorRay

                                                Hi GatorRay,

                                                I understand where you're coming from and whenever possible, I too avoid doing business with companies that have treated me shabbily. I wholly support your position with regard to GE.

                                                You're partially right about where GE consistently ranks in terms of brand reliability. For fridges they fall in the middle; for dishwashers, in the lower-middle or (faint praise) best of the worst of the rankings at Consumer Reports. For ranges, however, they are the most reliable brand.

                                                This somewhat echoes my own experiences with GE. I've found their dishwashers (two builder's grade models) had tines that were easily bent with thin plastic coatings that were easily damaged, leading to rusted tines.

                                                I've never owned a GE fridge, but I've had several GE ranges, from builder's grade to Profile, including my current range, which is my second in the Profile line. All of them gave excellent service, with never any problems to report.

                                    3. Every opinion has a point of view.

                                      If you disagree then you call that biased.

                                      Every professional review has some sort of angle. Even if they accept no advertising and have not link to appliance makers they still have an interest in confirming biases of a certain segment of buyers to sell magazines or online subscriptions.

                                      Owner reviews can only tell you the view point from a limited perspective since they have not used all competitor appliances. They may be familiar with older models but not current models.

                                      The answer is not to pick according to specs and hope for the best.

                                      If 90% of people say that they hate x brand and 90% of people say they love y brand then it is probably true y brand is better than x brand although not 100% certain. There is always the potential problem of self-selection and group think.

                                      IMO the answer is to read through multiple opinions from multiple sources and then pick and hope for the best.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: DeeAgeaux

                                        I haven't even begun my appliance shopping and already I'm feeling overwhelmed.

                                        1. re: DeeAgeaux

                                          If your hypothetical were the case then I'd agree that it may be useful. Unfortunately, you very seldom find 90-10 in any series of consumer reviews, and even if you do sometimes it is because of (a combination of?) the thread attracting posts from those of a similar mind set and the lemming effect.

                                          1. re: DeeAgeaux

                                            I couldn't agree more!. (See my comments above). My concern about GE dishwashers is simply to warn others. I know that all dishwashers can have components that will fail but I wish to have my personal experience dealing with my defective dishwasher into the public eye. It should warn others that GE will put their customer and local dealer (mom-and-pop appliance Center) through so much hassle the inevitable conclusion is that GE could care less about the customer or the distributor/dealer. Let's face it, there are many many brands of dishwashers and many many models to choose from. Why select one that has known issues and multiple points to fail as I have identified. Go with a product that has fewer complaints - Bosch vs GE

                                          2. There is a website oriented toward how to fix appliances that is packed with technically experienced people who also know deep info on appliances:

                                            http://appliantology.org/

                                            As I recall, they invite (or require?) a $5 donation for basic membership, which I did. These folks have saved me hundreds (at least) of dollars in letting me know how to diagnose issues, replace an ignitor in my gas stove, and a microcircuit board in my fridge-freezer, etc.

                                            But they also know about brands. For example, you give them a Kenmore model #, and they'll tell you what other manufacturer actually made it. They can send you pdf files with specific instructions of how to repair your exact model of appliance.

                                            You can also ask them about prospective brands. But to be honest, what I've gathered from their responses to such queries is that a few Chinese makers dominate appliance production and there is seldom much difference in reliability.

                                            8 Replies
                                              1. re: Bada Bing

                                                With regard to Kenmore at least, Sears generally sells the same appliances under the original maker's brand name as well as the Kenmore name (and they have a very long-standing arrangement with Whirlpool, so most of their stuff is actually Whirlpool or other Whirlpool brands which now includes Maytag). So if you're considering a Kenmore anything, while at the showroom, look at the innards of the Kenmore, then look down the row at the innards of other makes and you can typically find the same model under the maker's name, so you then know who made it.

                                                Generally, there are far fewer manufactures of appliances than there are brands. Most items coming down the assembly line end up being sold under multiple brand names, including competitors sometimes. Everybody wants a "full-line," and saves money by sometimes buying specific models from competitors or anonymous suppliers rather than tooling up to build it themselves. Even Whirlpool buys some things from elsewhere and slaps on the Whirlpool name.

                                                I recall reading, many years ago, that at that time there were only three manufacturers of dishwashers in the entire US -- GE, Whirlpool, and D&M (Design and Manufacturing, a company that did not sell itself but only manufactured for others). No matter what brand of DW you bought, of which there were probably dozens, it was made by one of those three. That's more or less how the appliance biz works.

                                                1. re: johnb

                                                  Your post reminds us that a really important thing to consider is how easily you can get the thing repaired if necessary.

                                                  Here is a fairly recent Sears experience. We went appliance shopping at a couple of independents and got prices and looked at features. We stopped at Sears and saw similar models listed at reduced prices. When we realized the prices seemed cheaper we asked about installation costs. Sears made up the difference in sales price with an inflated installation price! I just preferred to go with an independent at that point.

                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                    It's unfortunate, because I really like Sears' policies towards their National Guard employees and try to patronize them, but I can't find many people who have good things to say about their customer service vis a vis repairs. They, like many bricks and mortar stores, are falling victim to specialty stores that offer deep discounts. But, considering our economy, price is king. I always check Sears, but they usually fall short in the overall scheme of things.

                                                    1. re: blaireso

                                                      Out of curiosity, have you tried to have just any ol' repairman come in and fix the thing? You don't have to keep dancing all night with the one you came with (unless it is a warranty job). Most appliances can be fixed by any competent repairman. They want work too -- no reason not to try.

                                                      1. re: johnb

                                                        I agree, most times it's worth doing the math between repair and replacement. We have an Amana refrigerator that at age 7 required a new condenser. Warranty co. suggested replacement. I was so offended that a refrigerator should be replaced at that age that I refused and requested repair. Recently also had an evaporator coil replaced. Sheesh, is everything just throwaway and landfill these days?

                                                        1. re: blaireso

                                                          Well, I had a DW that had the board go out, and I could have had it replaced but it appeared the cost would be around $250 when all the dust had settled, while replacement of the whole thing could be done for something like (I don't remember exactly) $450, and I went with the landfill option on the assumption that newness, possible avoidance of other things going wrong, and new warranty was worth the extra (I did save many of the good parts from the old one, like the pump, racks, etc).

                                                          1. re: johnb

                                                            I agree, if repairs are 50% of replacement, it's usually better to get the new one with warranty and assumably better performance. I also think it depends on how happy you are with the unit and its features.

                                                            Cindy, your eyes will wear out before you can read all the sources and sift them for what your sense tells you are unbiased. Each one has good points, so just gather all the pearls of wisdom you find and cross your fingers that what you buy will work out. It doesn't hurt to ask friends and neighbors what they have and what they'd change, either. Good luck.

                                              2. My one conclusion so far is that it's far more complicated to shop for appliances today than it was 10 or 20 years ago. We had our house built 34 years ago. I'm on my second refrigerator (which still works just fine, but we'll replace it because it won't go with the new kitchen), my second double wall oven (one oven died after about 27 years so we replaced the unit), my second dishwasher (a Kitchen Aid that's about 14 years old, has never needed repairs and still works just fine, but won't go with the new kitchen) and my third cooktop (the first was damaged by my daughter; the second I sold when we decided to convert to gas). I have a feeling that whichever appliances I choose, I won't have them anywhere as long as these "oldies but goodies."

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: CindyJ

                                                  We remodled 5 years ago and will be replacing the range for a third time and the oven slot has had 5 ovens + major repairs to each appliance. Most of it was under warranty or extended warranty.

                                                  1. re: wekick

                                                    I guess extended warranties are no longer the waste of money they once were.

                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                      We have used American Home Shield, which sounds scammy but works out pretty well. Our plan runs $50 a month (we have added coverage) and the most we pay for a service call is $75 and if they can't fix it they'll replace it (obviously with certain limitations).

                                                      1. re: ferret

                                                        My wife and I bought a 70 year old house and was provided a one-year warranty with American Home Shield by the seller as part of the sale of the house. Because we have at least three major issues come up each year, we have renewed it. I am glad that we have because it has paid for itself and then some with an older house and without a history on how well things were maintained.

                                                2. Aside from all the sites listed I ask my appliance repair guy. His view is NOT unbiased, but I trust him. When he was fixing my behemoth GE fridge I asked for his recommendation should I need to replace it. I told him I loved my SILs Samsung. The look of distaste, as if he'd just eaten a bad clam. "I could use a new laptop, and if you want to subsidize one, then, yeah, sure. We'll get to see each other more often. Depends on whether you think that's a good or a bad thing, I guess." He recommended Whirlpool, and from what I see the repair stats bear out his recommendation. In the months since he repaired my fridge SIL has repaired her Samsung twice.

                                                  Of course, repair stats are only a part of the equation. Does it do what you want and have the shelves you want in the configuration you want? I struggle with those questions. And there's this, too: http://applianceassistant.com/New-App...

                                                  Refrigerators with ice makers tend to have more repair problems that refrigerators without an ice maker. (Too true!

                                                  )

                                                  Refrigerators with the freezer at the bottom are more likely to need repair than top freezer refrigerators. (Really? huh - have not read this elsewhere. Perhaps this is old info?)

                                                  Side-by-Side refrigerators are the most popular models but also the most likely to have repair problems (Have read this elsewhere, including CR)

                                                  One tip: If you don't love it right away, return it ASAP. This is a big investment and you don't want to be unhappy every time you open the doors.

                                                  1. Talk to the repair guys, either independent or affiliated with a retailer. They'll tell you what manufacturer helps them the most (training, parts availability, etc) as well as who has the most generous labor reimbursement rates. You can bet that goes a long, long way on getting a repairmen to your home quickly.