Growing up, I sometimes would see those famous commercials on television, or ads in magazines, featuring a “Maytag repair man” who was sitting in his office, nearly dying from boredom as he had nothing to do. The name Maytag–in my mind—became synonymous with making a quality washing machine, a device so good that it didn’t need repairs. That goodness came at a price, however, one four times greater than the washing machines my parents were able to get. When I got married and began having children, the washing machine was used so frequently that, for us, it was financially smarter to hold off on buying a Maytag and buy cheaper machines that could take a beating, even though they’d only last three-four years.
Last year–for my 15th anniversary–I got the washing machine of my dreams, a front-loader Maytag Energy Star washer. I organized and painted my laundry room in anticipation for it, waiting to purchase until last years models were being discounted at Sears before the new models were due to arrive. In spite of the discount, the amount was sizable for our little budget… the most expensive anniversary gift I’d ever received. The salesman informed me at purchase that the Maytag brand had in fact been bought by Whirlpool. I should have seen this information as a warning, but my knowledge on appliances at that time was rather limited. I did not buy the extended warranty (which was almost as much as the washer, itself) as we’d used up all my funds on the washer. Some of my friends said “you should have bought the warranty” but even now, I disagree. I should have bought another brand of washing machine.
For just about a year the washing machine worked beautifully. I babied it like an infant, wiping it down after each use, dusting the back vents, moving it to mop underneath and used it—one average—twice or three times per week. None of our four children were even allowed in the laundry room, lest they look at my new washer the wrong way and hurt its feelings. The water and energy savings the salesperson had touted were indeed true; the washer spun the clothes so well that they only needed fifteen minutes in the dryer instead of the usual forty-five. To his immense pleasure, my husband noted a marked decline in both the water and electric bills. Then… the troubles started.
First the gray rubber gasket around the front opening deteriorated. Upon opening the door after the load was completed a saw little gray pieces of rubber in among the clothes. Our washer was still under warranty so it was replaced free of charge by a local well-rated company that worked with Maytag; I noticed right away that the new gasket fit much better than the old one, which had undulated rather loosely around the opening. The repairman informed me that he replaced these gaskets on Maytag front-loaders quite often.
One month later, the error code flashing began. “E1F1” was all my washing machine would say to me, and no matter how closely I followed the Troubleshooting Guide, it flatly refused to run. Our warranty had expired by this time but we still needed a working washer, so I scheduled a repair appointment. I assuaged my anxiety by washing several small batches of clothes in my bathtub, showing my children “how the pioneers washed clothes” by squeezing, twisting and rinsing clothes out by hand. The next day the repairman came out again and after a few minutes of diagnostics told me that my main control board was out and would have to be replaced. Alarmed, I asked how it had come to be broken, seeing the machine was just over a year old. The man shrugged and told me he was replacing MCBs in Maytags on almost a weekly basis. Not satisfied with this answer I called out another well-rated repair company only to have the exact same answer given to me. The second repair man shook his head disgustedly at my treasured machine and told me that ever since Whirlpool took over Maytag, they’d been built with “cheap-ass parts.” He did tell me, however, that I had one of the cleanest machines he’d ever seen.
The parts and labor to replace the main control board turned out to be only $100 less than the cost of the machine, brand new. Frustrated, I suggested to my husband that we buy a cheap washing machine, one that I knew (from experience) that we could get at least three years’ use out of, and sell the error-coding Maytag in a yard sale. My husband actually doled out the money to repair it, knowing how much I had looked forward to having this particular washer, but also how much it saved him in energy costs every month. These days I stand in my laundry room–glaring at the washer ‘en cycle’–shaking my head and thinking “never will I buy Maytag brand again.”
Apparently, I am far from alone in this sentiment. Just googling “Maytag washer main control board” led me to several consumer rating sites with hundreds and thousands of complaints against Maytag for “poor customer services” and various problems related to cheap-ass parts. One poor woman had to get her main control board replaced four times, and despite her extended warranty had to pay quite a bit out of pocket to actually get her washer functioning again. I don’t know that the execs at Whirlpool are thinking by buying a premium quality brand name and then devaluing the product itself, and losing that stellar reputation. Once is all it takes and they’ve lost a customer for life, as well as all my near friends, my relatives and hopefully all twelve-thousand of my discerning contacts, professional writers, book reviewers, graphic artists, editors and devoted eBooks readers, most of whom probably have bought a washing machine, or will buy one—or several–in future. And I am but one irritated consumer, hijacking my own blog for an appliance rant, hoping to warn other consumers against throwing their money away.
My grade for this machine: F+
Don’t buy Maytag/ Whirlpool products. Investors, sell your stock before the parent company’s devaluing policies catch up to it completely. I know I’ll get replies saying “should have bought a warranty” or salespeople trying to appear as consumers, but I still disagree with the extended warranty ploy. A machine that pricey–and with the reputation of never needing a repairs–should not have ground to halt after one year of marginal use. It’s almost as if these machines are purposely made to fail in order to force consumer to spend even more, for less.
Maybe that’s the real reason the Maytag repairman looked so depressed in the ads; perhaps someone had leaked to him that Whirlpool was going to invest in the company heavily and then buy the brand name. Perhaps he could guess that they would then take consumers for all they were worth and run the Maytag name into the ground. Sad, indeed.
Ah, well. Perhaps by my 20th anniversary I’ll find a quality washing machine that will last ten years, like the old ‘real’ Maytag machines were supposed to do. Are there any readers that have such a brand? If so, please leave such information in the comments box for the rest of us.