After working at the appliance recycle center (used appliance store) for a few years, I started volunteering to repair appliances at a Habitat For Humanity Resale Store. People would donate used appliances to be refurbished and sold to raise money to help fund building houses for poor people (not so poor that they couldn’t afford the mortgage payments however, which meant that real homeless people couldn’t qualify). In addition to donations of appliances from the general public, the store received appliances from a nationwide retailer of appliances. When a customer bought a new appliance from the retailer and wanted the old one removed, it was donated to Habitat. Appliances that were returned to the retailer as defective were also donated (as a tax write-off). Thus I was in a position for three years to observe the defects that made people purchase new refrigerators and to see the brands with the most factory defects.
In fairness to appliance manufacturers, I should point out that many of the new appliances returned as defective worked perfectly. Either the buyer changed his or her mind and wanted a refund and made up problems or couldn’t recognize a refrigerator that was working properly. Over the three year period at Habitat, I saw at least fifty of these used three-days returns even though nothing was wrong sell for approximately half-price (if they weren’t diverted to the relatives of the store manager who had paid positions in the store). Discounting the phoney returns it was still obvious after a few months that Frigidare had more factory defects than other brands. GE gave Frigidare a run, but couldn’t quite match them for shoddy construction. Even though these two brands accounted for most new defective appliances donated to Habitat doesn’t mean they were the worst built. Obviously, they were being sold more than other brands exposing more factory defects than brands with less market share. The worst built refrigerator in my opinion was Haier, a Chinese company who has a goal of 10% market-share in the US and tried to buy Maytag in 2005. That damn Maytag repairman would have had plenty to do then. I expect that throw away plastic refrigerator I predicted in the last post to be produced by Haier. On the other hand, why should Haier produce a better refrigerator than necessary to compete with the low-quality units with more familiar names.
Quality will continue to decline as long as consumers are willing to accept cheap and shoddy.