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The Increasing Importance Of Appliance Service

December 3rd, 2013 | 2 min. read

By Steve Sheinkopf

I wrote an article comparing KitchenAid vs. Bosch Dishwashers last year. There are now 20 comments, half upset at Bosch and the other half KitchenAid. I like both products and will recommend either based on the needs of the customer. I am not insensitive to customer problems, but after completing about 25,000 service calls a year. We can say this:

Appliances now need some kind of repair within the first year 25% of the time regardless of the brand - Tweet this

Customer service is the largest part of Yale encompassing 21 service techs, customer service manager, courier, 2 parts handlers as well as 8 people answering the phones. The department costs the company about $500,000 per year to operate after salaries and overhead.

As the guy who used to talk to frustrated customers before we had service, the expense is well worth it. Our reputation is based on what the techs do daily. Lets face it: If you are buying a kitchen of appliances, you will need service on at least 1 in the first year. After the one year manufacturer warranty expires, that number just grows.

The Current State Of The Appliance Industry

When I started, the Maytag washer lasted 17-19 years with 1.8 service calls. Now the average appliance lasts 6-9 years according to the American Servicers Association. What happened?

First, appliances are now way more energy efficient, mostly by governmental regulation. That new Maytag washer will save between $150-$200 dollars per year versus the old workhorse and pay for itself. The flip side to the new technology is it's tougher to repair, with more temperamental circuits instead of switches and manual controls.

That old Maytag was also designed, manufactured and built in Newton, Iowa. A new washer could be designed in Europe, the US or Korea and manufactured in Mexico, the US, Canada or Korea with parts from who knows where, so there can be a service disconnect.

I also personally think some appliances are over engineered. 

The Lack Of Service In The Appliance Industry

Most appliance stores offer no service at all. In fact, out of the box stores, only Sears services appliances with their joint venture with Whirlpool, A&E service. Most manufacturers do not service either, including: Frigidaire, Electrolux, Bosch and Thermador (5 techs in New England, doesn't count given the volume), Miele has 1 or 2 techs, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, Whirlpool and Amana are all serviced by A&E. It's a shame, because store and product reputations are based on what happens after the sale.

Some of the repair is really not hard, just simple adjustments like this Thermador orifice repair. But customers deserve to have their products work properly.

Some of the products are not easy to fix unfortunately, especially refrigerators and wall ovens. This is a 6 second video of a 2 hour repair.

As I said throughout the article, you will need service on your new appliances sooner or later. You should absolutely shop where you are comfortable. HOWEVER, you also need to inquire about the service experience before the purchase or risk a really bad experience with a product you really need like a refrigerator, stove and washer. Google any appliance for reviews. It isn't pretty.

There are a number of my competitors still offering service like Agrens in Maine, Barons in New Hampshire, Porrier in Norwood, Hunter in Littleton as well as George Washington Toma in Weymouth...all good guys. I actually like Sears. At least they try.

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve Sheinkopf is the third-generation CEO of Yale Appliance and a lifelong Bostonian. He has over 38 years of experience in the appliance industry, and he is a trusted source of information for consumers on how to buy and repair appliances.

Steve has also been featured in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.

Steve is passionate about helping consumers find the best appliances for their needs, and he is always happy to answer questions and provide advice. He is a valuable resource for consumers who are looking for information on appliance buying, repair, and maintenance.

Despite being the worst goalie in history, Steve is a fan of the Bruins and college hockey, loves to read, and is a Peloton biker. The love of his life is his daughter, Sophie.

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