Thursday, July 11, 2013

Planned Obsolescence

Washing Machine 1
Yes, planned obsolescence is alive and well in the USA.  You might remember this Farm Friday where I talked about my washing machine breaking and my plans to fix it.  Well, things didn't go so well for me.  

I tried the parts that I ordered but they didn't solve the problem (I did need a new control panel but it was worthless if the machine didn't work).  I emailed the site where I purchased my parts to make arrangements for returning them.  Prior to purchase, I checked their policy and it said most parts were returnable if unused and uninstalled.  So I felt confident that, should the parts not be the right ones or wouldn't solve the problem, I could return them.  However, Sears Parts Direct (no link here because I would never recommend them) would not accept the parts.  They asked if I had installed them and I said that I put them on, they didn't solve the problem, so I promptly removed them.  Sorry, I was told, those particular parts are not returnable.  We exchanged a few emails, one where they gave me an example of a part that was not returnable - it clearly said on the website that that particular part was not returnable.  However, I sent them back screen shots of the parts I did purchase and there was no note about them not being returnable.  I was told that since I installed the parts, I couldn't return them.  I asked if I could have returned them if I had lied and said I hadn't installed them - I didn't get a response on that one.  When I ordered the parts, I knew I was taking a risk and thought that it was possible that I couldn't return the electronic part - but not the front cover which has no electronics whatsoever.  How could that not be returnable?  

Well, after this fiasco I was still determined to keep my machine out of landfill so I called Wayne, my usual repairman.  Turns out, it is impossible for him to know which part is bad when it comes to electronics.  He can try things but there's no guarantee that it will work.  And Wayne's in the same boat - he says he has a garage full of parts that he cannot return to the place of purchase, which is very hard on his bottom line.  He also gave an example of a washing machine he worked on that was, fortunately for the owner, still under warranty.  After looking over the machine, he called the manufacturer and even they could not tell him what was wrong.  All  he could do was experiment.  He ended up replacing several electronic parts and two motors and finally got the machine to work.  Basically, he rebuilt most of the machine.  If the owners had to pay for the parts and labor, they would have spent more than the cost of a new appliance.  Wayne told me that, sadly, the new appliances, no matter who makes them, don't last and the manufacturers want them to break.  

So, later this week I'm off to find a new washing machine.  Have I mentioned that this is the second one we've had in 10 years?  I'm not at all happy about this turn of events.  Does anyone want to buy a couple of Whirlpool washing machine parts at a deep discount?


EcoGrrl said...

Suggestion - if you don't have Twitter, open a Twitter account and Tweet about Sears and use their @ handle - I know it sounds nuts, but the big companies all have social media folks monitoring tweets about them 24/7 and I've had it happen twice where I've complained about service (including Bank of America yesterday) and within an hour had a call from them to make things right. They don't like bad PR.

And yes, PO sucks - I had my purple iMac for TEN years (yes, 10) and finally it died and I recycled it then bought a Mac laptop a couple years ago. Already the keys I'm typing on are almost unreadable and the battery is on its way out. Ugh.

SearsCare said...

Dear Cherie,

We apologize for the troubles you’ve been having with your washer and the attempts made trying to return the part. My name is Edwin and I’m with the Sears Cares Social Media Support team. We would like to look into this further and provide you any further assistance needed. Please send the following information – contact #, screen name (Cherie), phone # used at time of purchase to We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Thank you,
Edwin C.
Social Media Moderator
Sears Social Media Support