Doing Your Homework Is Important

This is actually much, much prettier than the situation earlier in the week at Casa Twistie.

But let’s get a little background first.

When Mama-san Twistie died and we inherited the house, we also inherited Mama-san Twistie’s avocado green thirty-year-old fridge. I hated it. But it worked, and we didn’t have a lot of money to waste, so we kept it. After about four years, it finally bit the dust, and I did a little jig of delight at the thought of getting a refrigerator that wasn’t a decorator color from my long lost childhood.

Unfortunately, when a fridge dies there is little time to consider the options well. Mr. Twistie and I headed off to a Big Retailer That Carries Refrigeration Units, and pointed at the first one we thought would fit our kitchen made by a manufacturer who had been famed for years for their reliability.

Alas! Ten minutes’ research would have informed us that that once reliable manufacturer had become a well-known appliance puppy mill. We started having problems with it almost immediately.

Friends, that fridge has been through three motors in six years. And we didn’t opt for the extended warranty. Silly Twisties!

Earlier this week was the final straw. I woke to find that when I pulled my butter from the fridge to spread on my toast… it didn’t need even a nanosecond to warm up to spreadability. In point of fact, it was kind of melty already. For reasons passing all understanding, the freezer part was still doing just fine, though.

And that, my friends, is what we call the Last Straw. This camel was officially broken. I called Mr. Twistie at work and informed him we were going refrigerator shopping when he got home from work.

This time, though, I got online and did my homework. I checked out what Consumer Reports had to say about various models… including who is doing the actual manufacturing of lines. I read customer reviews. We found that these days Kenmore is made by Frigidaire, who has a good current reputation for reliability… but the Kenmore models have lower price tags.

So yes, it’s a Kenmore. It’s white. It’s basic. It doesn’t have an ice maker because we didn’t want one. It would be a pain to run water to where our fridge is and it’s one more thing to break. We wanted basic, simple, not too big, and reasonably reliable.

What was the thing that put us over the top for this particular fridge? Well, the 20% off sale was certainly a factor, as was the fact that Sears would haul away and recycle the old, dead fridge for ten smackers extra. But what did it was when I started reading reviews by people who had been living with that fridge. Sure there were dozens of people who had written their reviews in the first six months of owning it, and they were helpful. But the real test was that there were reviews from people who had owned one just like this for four, five, eight, even eleven years who wrote in to say they would buy the same one over again.

And that is why research is important. That’s the information you need. When making a major purchase like a basic appliance, a home, or a car, you want to talk to people (or at least read what they have to say!) who have lived with the item or in the neighborhood for a while. Double check where it comes from.

It never occurred to me that a refrigerator would die in six years… let alone four times! Now I’m older, wiser, waryer, and better at finding the info I need.

All the same, this time I jumped at the extended warranty. Now even if this one does turn out to bark as much as the old one, for the next five years, it will all be taken care of without further money coming out of my pocket.

Do your homework. Stay safe and sane.

4 Responses to “Doing Your Homework Is Important”

  1. Jane2 July 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    I love Kenmore products….my refrigerator isKenmore/Frigidaire, my dishwasher is Kenmore/Bosch, and had I not needed one immediately, my washing machine would have been Kenmore/Whirlpool, instead of Whirlpool at 150 bucks more. And I’ve never had a second’s trouble with any of them.

  2. katie July 23, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    I’m guessing your bad fridge was an Amana/Whirlpool/Maytag ? They are horrible and their service is as well. We went through a debacle with home depot and Amana (Maytag corp) and will never buy one again (nor will be buy appliances from big box stores).
    Anyway, we did end up going Frigidaire and have been really happy. New house, we got Samsung/Bosch and also very happy with those brands. Sears to me is another poor customer service ‘big box’ store so I’d avoid them (and subsequently Kenmore) like the plague.

    Also i would recommend shopping at a smaller family owned appliance store – they are frequently members of big “buying groups” and they will surely match any big box price (or sometimes they even beat the price). Service is awesome and you can always call and get a real live person vs a crazy phone system.
    Also re: extended warranties – I know you had a bad experience but they are generally not worth it.. a few interesting articles:
    http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/budgeting/extended-warranty.htm

    http://consumerist.com/2011/02/9-extended-warranty-myths-debunked-by-a-guy-who-sells-them.html

    If you really feel you need an extended warranty, I’d look into square trade — and on tuesdays I think they are all 30% off. They are MUCH cheaper than dept store extended warranties and seemingly not as much BS.

    Oh and FYI Sears can refund you your ext warranty as long as you’re within the return policy + not into the ext warranty part.

    Good luck with the new fridge!

  3. txbunny July 23, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    The one of the few major appliances that I would insist needs an extended warranty is the refrigerator. I would also recommend placing a thermostat in both the freezer and refrigerator to see that the temps are in optimal safe ranges (ie the fridge should stay between 34-38 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Btw, congrats. :-)

  4. Nomi July 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    I hope your new fridge lasts forever, or at least until you move house. I gotta say, though, I used to be all Consumer Research Girl but in recent years I just can’t be bothered. Maybe it’s the serenity of advanced age (I’m 56) or increasing cynicism, but my attitude is now “eff it, appliances are pretty much alike & they all die eventually.” So when the washer that was in the house I bought 8ish years ago finally died last week, I gave my teenaged daughters my credit card, directions to my favorite appliance store (yes, @katie, a small family place), and said, “Go buy a washing machine.” They boggled, but they picked a good one and got a good deal. And it was totally worth not having to take time off work & deal with it myself, plus the growing-them-up factor of handing them the responsibility. Wins all around.