A father and two sons go shopping for household appliances in a large warehouse store
Savvy consumers consider price, performance and reliability when making a major purchase, such as a car or home appliance. The greatest of these is reliability — particularly lately.
Supply chain disruptions can mean long waits for parts or replacements if something breaks. Getting a new refrigerator, dishwasher or other major appliance now often takes weeks or even months, says Paul Hope, home and appliances writer for Consumer Reports. Plus, the microchip shortage means many manufacturers prioritize making their most expensive models, which are typically the most profitable, Hope says.
“It’s getting increasingly difficult to get some of the inexpensive models of any given product,” Hope says.
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Even in normal times, of course, you don’t want to waste money on unreliable products. Plus, buying stuff that’s built to last can help save money and create less waste.
“It’s a huge expense to have to replace products prematurely. It’s also extremely detrimental to the environment,” Hope says.
Price and reliability aren’t necessarily related
Finding truly reliable and durable products isn’t always easy, however. You might assume that more expensive products will last longer, but that isn’t necessarily the case. For example, you can spend $5,000 or more on a premium range that breaks down frequently or $850 on one that provides years of trouble-free use.
“We actually find that many of the pro-style range brands are some of the least reliable products that we test,” Hope says. “On the contrary, we often find very good performance out of very inexpensive brands.”
Consumer-generated reviews, like those on Amazon, may alert you to products that break quickly or don’t perform as expected. But such reviews can be skewed by a grumpy few who had bad experiences or a torrent of fake reviews designed to boost a product’s star rating.
To create reliability ratings that are actually, well, reliable, you need large sets of data. Consumer Reports surveys tens of thousands of people each year about their experiences with various products. Similarly, J.D. Power, which rates cars, bases its dependability ratings on reports from more than 80,000 owners of 3-year-old vehicles, who detail the type and number of problems they’ve encountered in …….