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Is Consumer Reports Accurate For Appliance Reliability?

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Your high-end wine cooler breaks right after you stock it full of your favorite French wines or hours before Thanksgiving dinner, your oven fails.

You want your appliances to work.

It’s a significant imposition on your time, and then there is the aggravation of finding a competent technician to fix your appliance on your schedule.

Consumer Reports just published their reliability report ranking 25 manufacturers with individual product breakdowns.

I wanted to compare it against our reliability numbers based on over 65,000 service calls our 35 techs logged in the last 2 years.

In the end, you will learn about the most reliable appliance brands definitively.

I picked commodity products people use every day for a comparison, namely top and front load laundry as well as dishwashers and French door refrigerators.

How Yale Measures Appliance Reliability

yaleappliance161101_Service_8 (1)

Yale Appliance Service Technician

Our reliability reporting is simple. We look at brand repairs and divide by sales for a percentage over 12 months.

The brands with the lowest rates are considered the most reliable brands.

We report on every brand calculated from our dispatched service calls only. We also consider most reliable brands based on a minimum amount of units sold.

For example, a company with ten units sold and no repairs are not more reliable than a company with 100 units sold and five repairs.

How Consumer Reports Measures Appliance Reliability

Consumer Reports has a hybrid approach to reliability. They do not have service techs in the field, so they perform lab tests.

They also run predictive analysis based on surveys. This is a direct quote from their article.

“To calculate predicted reliability, we asked members how many times the products they own broke or stopped working as well as they should. We used that data to estimate how new models from a given brand will hold up over the first five years.”

They have 381,000 respondents over the last ten years - a slightly larger sample size than our yearly home service visits.

How do lab testing and predictive analysis matchup against actual service calls and problem statistics?

You are about to find out.

Least Reliable Appliance Brands

Interestingly enough, both Consumer Reports' and our appliance reliability have the same least reliable manufacturers.

We service what we sell, and service under warranty at a loss (that's why you can’t find service in warranty).

We cannot afford to represent a brand with chronic issues. Every company has problems. However, it has to be a manageable percentage.

Let’s take a closer look at individual product reliability statistics.

Laundry

Yale-Appliance-Front-Load-Washers

Yale's Most Reliable Front Load Washers 2018-2019:

  Service Qty Shipped Qty Service Ratio
Samsung 8 178 4.49 %
LG Electronics 72 1246 5.78 %
Whirlpool 30 293 10.24 %
Maytag 204 1470 13.88 %
Electrolux 112 281 39.86 %
Frigidaire 4 9 44.44 %
Speed Queen 19 14 135.71 %
Grand Total 455 3494 13.02 %

Yale's Most Reliable Front Load Washers 2017-2018:

  Service Qty Shipped Qty Service Ratio
Whirlpool  20 524 3.82%
LG Electronics 17 320 5.31%
Maytag 74 1,124 6.58%
Samsung 12 154 7.79%
Electrolux 295 1,549 19.04%
Speed Queen Commercial 3 13 23.08%
Frigidaire 21 86 24.42%
Speed Queen 16 44 36.36%
Grand Total  458 3814 15.80%

Consumer Reports Front Load Washer Predicted Reliability 2019:

  Consumer Reports' Predicted Reliability 
LG 9/10
Electrolux 7/10
Kenmore 7/10
Maytag 7/10
Samsung 7/10
Whirlpool 6/10
GE 5/10

Source: “Washing Machines.” Front-Load Washer Ratings, Consumer Reports, 2018, www.consumerreports.org/products/front-load-washer/brand-reliability/.

Other than LG, it's a completely different list. Electrolux has a huge amount of visits at 39.44% in 2018 spiking from 19% in 2017.

Electrolux's subsidiary, Frigidaire, and Speed Queen, were the only two companies with higher repair rates.

Speaking of Speed Queen, that was Consumer Reports most reliable washer brand for this year and a perfect 10/10 for laundry.

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Yale's Most Reliable Top Load Washers 2018-2019:

  Service Qty Shipped Qty Service Ratio
Samsung 0 7 0.00 %
Amana 0 6 0.00 %
Whirlpool 15 409 3.67 %
Maytag 36 231 15.58 %
Speed Queen 65 243 26.75 %
LG Electronics 2 4 50.00 %
Frigidaire 1 1 100.00 %
Fisher & Paykel 2 1 200.00 %
Grand Total 121 902 13.41 %


Yale's Most Reliable Top Load Washers 2017-2018:

  Service Qty Shipped Qty Service Ratio
LG 0 24 0.00 %
Whirlpool 9 328 2.38 %
Amana 2 32 6.25 %
Speed Queen 49 329 14.89 %
Maytag 21 104 20.19 %
Grand Total 81 817 8.74 %

Consumer Reports Top-Load Agitator Washer Predicted Reliability 2019:

  Consumer Reports' Predicted Reliability 
Speed Queen 10/10
Roper 8/10
Amana 7/10
Hot Point 6/10
Estate 6/10
Frigidaire 6/10
GE 6/10
Kenmore 6/10
Maytag 6/10
Whirlpool 6/10
Fisher & Paykel 2/10

Source: “Washing Machines.” Top-Load Agitator Washer Ratings, Consumer Reports, 2018, www.consumerreports.org/products/top-load-agitator-washer/brand-reliability/.

I like Speed Queen as a brand. It is solidly built almost like the old Maytag everyone wished they still had.

In terms of actual service, however, it wasn’t number 1 in its category with double the average in service calls at 26.75% versus 13.41% for the average.

Their machine also increased from 2017 from 14.89% to 26.75%. This rate will probably decrease as the problems are worked out in their newer machines.

Buy Speed Queen for their 5 or 7-year full warranty, but expect issues along the way greater than the average.

Let's look at dishwashers.

Dishwashers

Yale Appliance Dishwasher Display in Framingham

Yale's Most Reliable Dishwashers 2018-2019:

  Service Qty Shipped Qty Service Ratio
Signature Kitchen Suite 0 17 0.00%
Whirlpool 44 1030 4.27%
Gaggenau 2 42 4.76%
LG Electronics 4 78 5.13%
Samsung 85 915 9.29%
Maytag 3 29 10.34%
Bosch Appliances 303 2735 11.08%
Miele 155 1078 14.38%
Kitchenaid 115 705 16.31%
Thermador 123 711 17.30%
Jenn-Air 170 908 18.72%
Blomberg 6 28 21.43%
Fisher & Paykel 42 175 24.00%
Bosch - Benchmark 38 158 24.05%
Asko 47 195 24.10%
Amana 3 11 27.27%
Frigidaire 10 22 45.45%
Frigidaire Gallery 5 8 62.50%
Electrolux 2 2 100.00%
Frigidaire Professional 2 2 100.00%
Grand Total 1159 8852 13.09%

Yale's Most Reliable Dishwashers 2017-2018:

  Service Qty Shipped Qty Service Ratio
Whirlpool 11 779 1.41%
Bosch - Benchmark 15 287 5.23%
Amana 4 72 5.56%
Frigidaire 29 508 5.71%
Miele 67 1126 5.95%
Samsung 24 285 8.42%
Kitchenaid 73 766 9.53%
Frigidaire Professional 6 59 10.17%
Bosch Appliances 273 2622 10.41%
Maytag 10 89 11.24%
Asko 20 164 12.20%
Thermador 125 954 13.10%
Frigidaire Gallery 32 196 16.33%
Blomberg 10 57 17.54%
Jenn-Air 101 575 17.57%
LG Electronics 4 21 19.05%
Fisher & Paykel 43 142 30.28%
Gaggenau 8 19 42.11%
Electrolux 13 11 118.18%
Grand Total 868 8739 9.93%

Consumer Reports Dishwasher Predicted Reliability 2019:

  Consumer Reports' Predicted Reliability 
Bosch 10/10
Miele 10/10
Thermador 10/10
Whirlpool 9/10
Ikea 8/10
GE 7/10
Blomberg 6/10
Kenmore  6/10
KitchenAid  6/10
Maytag 6/10
Amana 5/10
Frigidaire 5/10
LG 5/10
Fisher & Paykel 3/10
Samsung  2/10
Electrolux  1/10
Viking 1/10

Source: “Dishwashers.” Dishwasher Ratings, Consumer Reports, 2018,  www.consumerreports.org/products/dishwasher/brand-reliability/.

Bosch is high on both lists, but not number 1 on ours.

Whirlpool has a higher dishwasher reliability rating, but that is a basic-builder dishwasher and typically not a product people buy for themselves.

Miele wasn't as reliable in 2018 as they were in 2017. A shipment of frozen motors hurt their numbers last year, yet they rate as a 10/10 on Consumers.

Thermador is a subsidiary of Bosch, yet has been middle of the pack for reliability. Consumer Reports has Thermador as 10/10 as well.  

LG was reliable (but based only on a limited amount sold) yet it was a poor performer on Consumer Reports,

Which leaves us with Samsung.

I have never been bashed so much for supporting one brand, even though my support is based wholly on numbers only.

I wrote an article "Is Samsung a Reliable Appliance Brand," and I thought there were pitchforks and torches outside my office.

People even said I was making millions of dollars by sponsorships. That’s insane. They couldn’t pay me enough.

Here are the facts.

The brand looks better, functions better, and is about the same price as a Frigidaire, Electrolux, or Maytag appliance.

The dishwasher is one of the best at 9.29% serviced on our list and one of the worst on Consumer Reports at 2/10.

Let’s look at the appliance industries least reliable category to illustrate this point (professional ranges have more service calls, but much of that is customer education and installation issues).

Counter-Depth French Door Refrigerators

Counter-Depth-French-Door-Refrigerators-at-Yale-Appliance-(1)-(1)

Yale's Most Reliable Counter-Depth French Door Refrigerators 2018-2019:

  Service Qty Shipped Qty Service Ratio
Signature Kitchen Suite 2 33 6.06 %
LG Electronics 6 71 8.45 %
Samsung 133 1051 12.65 %
Fisher & Paykel 41 261 15.71 %
Whirlpool 7 44 15.91 %
Maytag 1 5 20.00 %
BlueStar 3 14 21.43 %
Bosch Appliances 105 408 25.74 %
Jenn-Air 270 780 34.62 %
Liebherr 6 15 40.00 %
Amana 3 7 42.86 %
Kitchenaid 152 334 45.51 %
Blomberg 25 30 83.33 %
Frigidaire Professional 23 6 383.33 %
Electrolux 4 1 400.00 %
Frigidaire Gallery 11 1 1,100.00 %
Grand Total 807 3062 26.36 %

Yale's Most Reliable Counter-Depth French Door Refrigerators 2017-2018:

  Service Qty Shipped Qty Service Ratio
Whirlpool 2 23 8.70%
Amana 2 19 10.53%
Samsung 72 449 16.04%
Maytag 1 6 16.67%
LG Electronics 4 20 20.00%
Bosch Appliances 83 390 21.28%
Blomberg 14 65 21.54%
KitchenAid 97 375 25.87%
Fisher & Paykel 61 235 25.96%
Thermador 131 490 26.73%
Frigidaire Professional 41 135 30.37 %
Frigidaire Gallery 45 147 30.61 %
Liebherr 25 63 39.68%
Jenn-Air 324 737 43.96 %
Bosch Benchmark 24 44 54.55 %
Dacor 3 5 60.00%
True 3 2 150.00%
Electrolux 18 4 450.00 %
Grand Total 1248 4313 28.94 %

Consumer Reports Refrigerator Predicted Reliability 2019:

  Consumer Reports' Predicted Reliability 
Kenmore 6/10
LG 6/10
GE 5/10
KitchenAid 5/10
Maytag 5/10
Samsung 5/10
Amana 4/10
Jenn-Air 4/10
Whirlpool 4/10
Bosch 3/10
Thermador 3/10
Frigidaire  2/10
Electrolux  1/10

Source: “Refrigerators.” French-Door Refrigerator Ratings, Consumer Reports, 2018,  www.consumerreports.org/products/french-door-refrigerator/brand-reliability/.

The only semi-reliable counter depth French door refrigerator is Samsung’s with half the service calls at 12.65% in one year of the average of all other brands 26.36 %.

However, it rates as a 5/10 on Consumers.

They also sell more highly technical products like the four-door French door refrigerator and the internet-ready Samsung Family Hub refrigerator.

Samsung is the most reliable brand sold based on their reliability in every category. The only more reliable products are basic, builder-grade.

Samsung is also now the most widely sold brand in the US.

However, they lack service techs and support in many markets to support their growth. That is their main problem…..Once you have a problem, it becomes an issue.

You want to check for local service technicians in your area before you buy any Samsung appliance (as opposed to after you own it).

Then again, you can say that about every brand.

Is Consumer Reports Accurate?

First, I am not bashing Consumer Reports at all.

At least they try. You read appliance blogs today, and every appliance retailer/blogger loves every product.

They wouldn't be as forgiving or promotional if they had to fix unsolvable problems from genuinely unhappy customers.

For example, they wouldn't love a manufacturer with known refrigerator problems or another with a lint issue in their dryers.

Consumer Reports’ main problem is their 10-year database. What was reliable 5-10 years ago is not necessarily what you should buy today.

Look again at this chart of reliability in washers just in the last 2 years.

Yale's Most Reliable Washers 2018-2019:

  Service Qty Shipped Qty Service Ratio
Samsung 8 178 4.49 %
LG Electronics 72 1246 5.78 %
Whirlpool 30 293 10.24 %
Maytag 204 1470 13.88 %
Electrolux 112 281 39.86 %
Frigidaire 4 9 44.44 %
Speed Queen 19 14 135.71 %
Grand Total 455 3494 13.02 %

Yale's Most Reliable Washers 2017-2018:

  Service Qty Shipped Qty Service Ratio
Whirlpool  20 524 3.82%
LG Electronics 17 320 5.31%
Maytag 74 1,124 6.58%
Samsung 12 154 7.79%
Electrolux 295 1,549 19.04%
Speed Queen Commercial 3 13 23.08%
Frigidaire 21 86 24.42%
Speed Queen 16 44 36.36%
Grand Total  458 3814 15.80%

Each year tells a different story. In 2017, you would be better off buying a Whirlpool for reliability. In 2018, LG was a more reliable washer, according to the numbers.

Moreover, that is just one example from 2 years of hard data.

This industry has changed radically just in the last 3 years.

In the old days, you bought a Maytag washer designed, built, and manufactured in Newton, Iowa for 100 years.

In the near future, you will have a product designed by a Korean company, built in the US with parts sourced from China or Vietnam.

These changes can affect reliability going forward. It's best to look at a recent trend of actual service work rather than a 10-year database.

To answer the question is Consumer Reports accurate for appliance reliability, it is a decent guide of what not to buy, but the Consumer Reports model of predictive reliability is only partially accurate.

Real data based on actual service calls is more accurate than a longer predictive trend for what appliances you should buy now.

 

Additional Resources

Have questions on appliances? Read the Yale Appliance Buying Guide with the 10 most frequently asked questions, the best time to buy appliances as well as detailed profiles of all the brands. Well over 560,000 people have read a Yale Guide.

View our appliance buying guide

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WHY SHOULD YOU TRUST US?

A few review sites have placed this at the bottom of their articles. So here is our take: Our mission is to find reliable products for you to buy. Other review sites may say this as well.

However, we don’t love every product. Quite frankly, it costs us way too much money in repair costs to support less reliable brands.

In fact, we sell fewer brands than most appliance stores. Here is why:

We feel it is our responsibility to repair your appliances after you buy them.

We now have 30 service technicians, each averaging 8-10 calls a day Monday through Friday, plus another 110 on Saturday. That's over 30,000 service calls logged in one year.

The labor rates of fixing an appliance do not come close to the true cost in any product’s warranty period.

That is why no major retailer has a service department. It costs too much labor, money and time.

Our Blog is a bit different than most others you will read. We cannot write glowing reviews of unreliable products.

Hopefully, the bloggers and organizations who write such glowing product reviews for every brand consider servicing these products first. Only then they will understand the consequences of their marketing.

Steve Sheinkopf

My goal has always been simple: I want Yale to be the best retail experience anywhere. I have tried to create a compelling environment for customers and employees alike.

A Note About Pricing

Pricing on this blog is for reference only and may include time sensitive rebates. We make every attempt to provide accurate pricing at time of publishing. Please call the stores for most accurate price.

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