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The best and worst appliance repair services

Who should you call when an appliance breaks?

Published: January 15, 2015 05:30 PM

When your washing machine breaks and dirty laundry piles up, you have to hope that the manufacturer or retailer quickly fixes the problem. But one glimpse at Consumer Reports’ user reviews tells you otherwise: “Poor customer service and unwillingness to fix what is not a minor problem, but a major defect, speaks volumes." "Customer service is horribly bad, no service at all." "Worst consumer service ever. I’m so done!” were some of the comments from our readers. So who has the best support and service when it comes to getting an appliance fixed? The worst?

The user reviews of any washer we’ve tested represent a tiny portion of the number sold. But when it’s your washing machine that’s broken, it’s a big deal. It was for Lewis Fevola when his LG high-efficiency top-loader repeatedly took four hours to finish a load and he tried to get the washer fixed. Mr. Fevola ranted on Twitter and emailed LG’s CEO. Then he wrote to us. Result: Problem solved.

Appliances do break and terrific customer service is the solution. We surveyed subscribers about their experiences with more than 21,000 appliances. The appliances serviced were overwhelmingly ones that were bought by readers and not appliances that had been left behind by a previous owner. Washing machines and refrigerators accounted for about half of all those serviced. The survey was done in spring 2012 and subscribers told us about appliances serviced over a year or more before.

The iconic Maytag repairman retired

Best and worst appliance repair services

“Subscribers who called an independent repair shop expressed higher satisfaction with their experiences than those who called other types of repair services, such as the ones provided by manufacturers or retail chains,” says Karen Jaffe, a manager in Consumer Reports’ survey research.

That said, most manufacturers and retailers got average scores for actually solving the problem. Lowe’s, Sears, Kenmore, GE, and Samsung were among the better appliance services and got average scores for resolving issues. But LG was below average and Frigidaire, Maytag, and Whirlpool seemed to have even more trouble getting problems fixed.

Reaching a reliable appliance repair service is just one factor to consider when buying a new appliance. There's also the matter of brand reliability, something we take into account when making selections for our lists of recommended models. (You can find the reliability information on our Ratings charts.) Take washing machines, for example. LG front-loaders are less repair-prone than Frigidaire and GE but then the LG repair service left something to be desired.

Of course, the most important thing to consider is performance. In our washing machine tests, our top-scoring front-loader is the Samsung WF56H9110CW, $1,600. Samsung is one of the least repair-prone front-loader brands and Samsung was middle of the pack in our appliance repair service survey. Our top-rated HE top-loader is the LG WT5680HVA, $1,200. We don't have reliablity data on LG top-loaders and LG was lackluster on the repair survey. So if you buy an LG washer and it breaks, consider calling your local repair shop first.

Kimberly Janeway 

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