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Samurai's Appliance Brand Recommendations, Second Edition

Posted by Samurai Appliance Repair Man, in General Appliance Repair Wisdom 06 April 2013 · 4,839 views

appliance brand brands recommendations
0. Introduction
1. Disclaimer of Affiliation
2. The Second Law of the Prophecy and the Golden Rule
3. The “Authorized Servicer” Racket
4. What about Kenmore?
5. The Four Prime Criteria™ and General Brand Recommendations
6. Notes and Observations on Specific Manufacturers
7. Recommendations by Type of Appliance
8. Epilogue

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0. Introduction

This is the Second Edition of the Samurai’s Appliance Brand Recommendations, updated April 2013.

One of the questions I get asked a lot on service calls and on the web is, “Which appliance brands do you recommend?” Or some variation on that theme such as, “Who makes the best dishwasher?” or “What’s the best brand of scrotum scrubber?”

So I thought to myself, I said, “Self, that’s a ding-dang doggone good idear for a Special Samurai Scroll™!” And the Lord did grin and the people did feast on fruit bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals…

Skip a bit, brutha.

### ### ### ###

1. Disclaimer of Affiliation

Right. So, since I’ll be talking about appliance brands and offering my opinion as a
professional appliantologist on the good, the bad, and the butt-ugly, a disclaimer is in order. Hear ye:

In offering my professional opinions on appliance brands, I accepted no amount of money of any kind, neither shekel nor shilling, yen nor yuan, nor any Federal Reserve Note debt instruments masquerading as dollar units of value in consideration for my favorable opinion. My opinions are based solely upon my vast and considerable experience as an appliance samurai engaging in hand-to-machine combat in the field with machines that are no longer operating within their specified parameters or fulfilling their design function.

### ### ### ###

2. The Second Law of the Prophecy and the Golden Rule

Okay, with that bit of legal unpleasantness out of the way, let us proceed straightaway to the Second Law of the Prophecy: All machines break. Always keep this in mind when contemplating a new appliance purchase. Failure to consider repairability at the time of purchase is to guarantee heartbreak in the two to four years (industry average) when the appliance has its first malfunction and requires a repair.

And, brothers and sisters, let us always be mindful of the Golden Rule for buying appliances: Don’t pay so much for an appliance that you’re married to it. If the appliance suddenly requires an outrageously expensive part or has been a troublesome box of bolts requiring frequent repairs, you want the freedom to Deep Six that pig-dog and git you a new one. Well, how free will you feel to jettison said pig-dog if you’ve paid $4,000 for it? Marry a human, not an appliance.

### ### ### ###

3. The “Authorized Servicer” Racket

You also need to understand the “Authorized Servicer” racket. All an “Authorized Servicer” means is that an independent servicer, such as Joe-Bob’s Appliance Repair Service, has signed a contract with a manufacturer agreeing to do their warranty work (i.e., fix their factory eff-ups) for a bargain-basement price, and in most cases, slave’s wages. Sometimes they get a half day or a day’s worth of training and some technical service info. The quid pro quo is that some manufacturer’s will only allow their authorized beeotches access to their tech sites and service bulletins.

In my opinion, this is tantamount to a form of blackmail and it does a great disservice to the customer. An all-too common example is that someone has an appliance from a manufacturer who plays dirty like this (and I name names below) and they need a repair. The “Authorized” guy says he can’t get there for three weeks. And while the person’s regular repair guy can get there tomorrow, he declines the job because he doesn’t have access to the latest service bulletins needed to fix the damn thing.

So, I ax you, mah bruvahs and sistahs, in whose best interest is it to restrict access to technical service information: you, the customer and end user, or the manufacturer with this medieval policy? Think on these things.

### ### ### ###

4. What about Kenmore?

Most people understand that there ain’t no Kenmore factory in Malaysia or some place. The Kenmore “factory” is several floors on the Sears Tower where corporate bureaucrats beat up other corporate bureaucrats at manufacturing companies, like Whirlpool or Electrolux, to make their stuff for them and slap a Kenmore label on it.

Kenmore is nothing more than that– a label slapped on an appliance that someone else made. Kenmore is merely a marketing company in the Sears Tower in Chicago. The real manufacturer is coded into the three digit model number prefix. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that. But it creates problems such as crossing over a Kenmore model number to the real manufacturer model number, which is needed to look up tech info like service manuals and bulletins. So it affects repairability.

### ### ### ###

5. The Four Prime Criteria™ and General Brand Recommendations

Having laid all that groundwork, you are now ready for me to reveal my Four Prime Criteria™ for selecting an appliance brand:

- Repairability: the appliance should be constructed in such a manner that it is easy to work on.
- Reasonable markup on parts compared to the markup on similar parts from other manufacturers.
- Availability of parts meaning it has a widespread and robust parts distribution system as opposed to having to buy exclusively from the manufacturer or one of their “Authorized” dealers (and usually get screwed in the process).
- Access to technical info, the big bugaboo I ranted about above, which also ties into Repairability.

To help summarize this information, I’ve developed recommendations based on how well a manufacturer lives up to the Four Prime Criteria™:

Recommended- Meet all the criteria.
Recommended with reservations- Meet some of the criteria and may be worth considering e.g., get a great bargain price on one.
Not recommended- Meet none of the criteria, not recommended for purchase under any circumstances.

General Brand Recommendations (recommendations by appliance type are in Section 7)

LG, Dacor, Electrolux, Whirlpool / KitchenAid, GE

Recommended with reservations:

Not recommended:
Samsung, Viking, Sub-Zero, Fisher-Paykel

### ### ### ###

6. Notes and Observations on Specific Manufacturers

LG: Free access to their tech site for professional appliantologists, an enlightened policy that generates good will among appliantologists and, in turn, good word-of-mouth to customers– a guerilla marketing tactic. Relatively new to the major appliance scene but their front-load washer is already proving to be one of the best out there.

Electrolux - Frigidaire: Excessive compressor failures in refrigerators. On their front load washers, they removed front panel access to drain pump to save $.50 per unit in production cost; greatly decreases Repairability. However, they allow free access to their tech site for professional servicers so kudos for that.

Whirlpool - KitchenAid: This manufacturer acquired Maytag and so owns the Maytag, Amana, Jenn-Air, and Magic Chef brands. Excessive tub bearing failure in front load washers. Allow access to their tech site for professional appliantologists but it’s NOT free; $500/year for non-authorized appliantologists; $250/year for authorized.

GE: Allows access to technical info like Whirlpool but for a much lower fee ($160/year) and their tech site is a helluva lot better, too. GE’s TAG (Technical Assistance Group) is also very innovative about getting training information on their new appliances out to independent techs in the field. For example, they do things like put on webinars for techs. Old news for most other fields but that’s bleeding edge in the appliance world!

Samsung: What were the engineers smoking when they designed this refrigerator? Restrictive access to technical service info, quasi-restrictive parts procurement. Often a nightmare getting the right part the first time unless you have access to their good ol’ boys network, GSPN. Rots o' ruck widat, GI!

Fisher-Paykel - DCS: Poor reliability on all products. Flimsy products all the way around. Restrictive parts procurement. Restrictive access to technical info. Avoid. Warning, Will Robinson!

Bosch - Thermador - Gagmenow: Restrictive access to technical info. In the case of Thermador, overpriced products with a high failure rate and difficult to work on.

Dacor: Good-quality but pricey products. Robust parts distribution. Open access to technical info. All American-built products.

Sub-Zero: Restrictive access to technical info. Restrictive parts procurement. Excessively high failure rate for the price paid. Sticker price is a marriage license.

Viking: Draconian about access to technical info. Have threatened lawsuits against servicers to keep their tech info off the web. Restrictive parts procurement. Very poor construction quality on all their in-house built stuff. This manufacturer fails all the Four Prime Criteria. If there’s a more effed-up appliance manufacturer out there, I’ve not seen ‘em yet.

### ### ### ###

7. Recommendations by Type of Appliance

Here are my (updated) bottom line recommendations by type of appliance, listed in order of preference:

Front load washer: LG, GE, Electrolux, Whirlpool
Top load washer: Whirlpool direct drive (also sold as the Maytag Centennial washer), Whirlpool Cabrio (also sold as the Maytag Bravo and Kenmore Oasis washer)
Refrigerator: Any of the Whirlpool-built products, GE, LG
Dryer: Whirlpool-built with lint filter in the top panel, LG, Electrolux-Frigidaire-Gibson
Dishwasher: KitchenAid. Yep, just KitchenAid but with the caveat that all dishwashers built today suck. And you can thank the Energy Star requirements for that.
Dishdrawer: KitchenAid by Fulgor, not the piece-of-trash KitchenAid that was previously built by Fisher-Freaking-Paykel.
Oven/range/stove: Electrolux, GE, Whirlpool, Dacor

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8. Epilogue

Just a reminder, you can find whatever appliance part you need through the parts search box right here on this page. No harm in buying and trying with our 365-day, no-hassle return policy, even on electrical parts that were installed! It’s insane!

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

A "dead on target" assessment of the brand recommendations by type of appliance. I have more reservations about Bosch; would move to "not recommended" based on service lit/restrictions. Sub-Zero I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

Assestment is spot on. I think Samsung is trying their damnest to get up to speed more so than the other "not recommended" companies.

An excellent point, Brother Durham and one I should have brought out in the post. Will make the appropriate addition in the downloadable version of this post at my Google Drive. I would also add that the Samsung instructor at ASTI was, slam-dunk, the best-in-show of all the technical classes I attended. So definitely they are investing money in quality training instructors and materials and I take them at their word that they are working to open their tech support up to non-authorized independent Servicers.

Fellow warriors,

In my humble opinion, The all around best built most durable washer on the market is the Speed Queen top load. Comments? Parts prices are reasonable and parts are easily available in the midwest. Don't know about the rest of the country 

I have only one customer that uses  a speed queen. He uses it commercially so we have worked on it many many times. Based on his use, i must say it is durable...and for us, profitable.

I find it fairly hard to recommend any top-loader washing machine on the market, besides the aforementioned Speed Queen. I work on the new type of Maytag Centennials all the time. Lid Lock assembly and the little shifter with the speed sensor/tachometer built into it failures galore. 2 year old and younger machines. Also the whole plastic gearcase Im not that fond of. I don't know what kind of improvements have been made on the cabrio, whatever they were, they must have been significant. Are they still building the pressure sensor into the main board?

On the subject of refrigeration, Sub Zero has excellent phone tech support. Excellent. Part prices are high, but failure in my region is not all that common. Most Sub Zeros I see are 10 to 20 years old. Though lately I've been seeing a lot of the newer cabinet drawer  type refrigerators failing. I for one, would recommend subzero, but not for the average consumer. 

Great write up! I would add that people stay away from Daewoo products as well, also I would stay away from LG fridges because of their icemakers and ice buildup problems behind the evaporator cover, not to mention blown fuses on the board for unknown reasons. Stay away from Crosley also, another rebadge like Kenmore.

I forgot to mention that even though Electrolux and Frigidaire are the same company, the stuff badged as Electrolux have been really bad of late and cost twice as much or more so save your money.

On the subject of refrigeration, Sub Zero has excellent phone tech support. Excellent.


My experience with SZ tech support has been the exact opposite.  Arrogant, cocky, short-answer pricks who couldn't get off the phone fast enough and, to make matters even worse, gave completely wrong information.  Ended up figuring it out myself.  

Domo for your comments, Raynor!  

I'm in general agreement with the Samurai :)


I would however---add the LG range (electric in particular) as highly recommended. Overall---very few problems.


The rate/percentage of LG ranges needing service/repair is problably the lowest of all LG appliance products.


Troubleshooting/repairing an LG range is beyond-the-pale simple.


Brother Durham (and the Samurai) mentioned recently---that Samsung's training at ASTI was phenomenal.


I can attest that their training instructors are quite good---having been an ASC for Samsung during 2004-2008.


I caution though---trying to "read the tea leaves" of manufacturer "intentions" by judging whether or not the training instructors are merely "good" or "exceptional".


Fact is---most training instructors are at least competent.

The quality of the training does NOT necessarily indicate any corporate-level intent---whether it's to re-expand the number independent servicers across the country or to improve non-ASC access to Tech Bulletins and the like.


Samsung's odd behavior (corporate-level) began sometime in 2008-09 .


The original CEO is embroiled in a family legal dispute---among other legal issues and has since stepped down from the top perch.

Others within the family have been playing musical chairs---for authority and control of the giant global company.


I cannot quite put my finger on it---but something "ain't right".

It's a gut feeling---and a weird one.

Great comments as always, John.  Domo!  

Just an update, I believe GE TAG is now charging $250 per year.  Does anyone out there use this?  Is it worth it?  


I love the LG support website and the Frigidaire Electrolux site for assisstance.  Very well put together, easy to navigate and use. I too have now started recommending these brands over the others solely because of their support system.


I paid for service matters with Whirlpool for $500 and I won't do that again.  It's a very cumbersome website and difficult to find the exact information your looking for.   To think they charged me $500 to learn that lesson.

Just an update, I believe GE TAG is now charging $250 per year.  Does anyone out there use this?  Is it worth it?  



The $250/yr is if you want phone access to the TAG.  Web-only access is still just $160/yr.  

<<<In my humble opinion, The all around best built most durable washer on the market is the Speed Queen top load. Comments?>>>
Very well made washer but...
As with all appliances---it has *some* faults.
Earlier-than-expected TIMER failures
Earlier-than-expected MOTOR failures
Newer-style KNOBS & DIALS cracking/failing (and NOT covered by the 3 year "full" warranty)
Alliance/Speed Queen management (warranty) is obscene to work with (unprofessional).
Easily succumbs to bleach-induced corrosion (spillage/splatter)

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