New Trouble for Ol’ Lonely

by Samurai Appliance Repair Man on June 9, 2004

in General Appliance Wisdom

When it rains, it pours and Maytag is getting swamped with troubles. First, they get slapped with a class-action action lawsuit for their Neptune front-loading washer–this machine is an orgy of engineering blunders. Now, surprise, surprise, the bungling Maytag management (or, more accurately, “manglement”) decides they need to cut 1,100 jobs (and probably move them to Mexico) citing increased labor costs. Yeah, it wouldn’t have anything to do with bone-headed Manglement decisions authorizing the production of poorly-designed products. Or their decision to move away from making quality machines, like their flagship product, the Maytag Dependable Care washing machine with a bullet-proof transmission and drive assembly, opting instead for the cheesy Norge-style machines in their current-production Atlantis and Performa washers with plastic gears in the transmission. And they must have hired some crack-heads to design all their electronics control boards because they all SUCK! From refrigerators and ranges to washing machines, their electronic control boards are going snap, crackle, pop.

And can someone tell me why none of the knuckleheads at any of the major appliance manufacturers have figured out that electronics and wet appliances just don’t mix? What’s wrong with discreet switches and mechanical controls? Oh, wait: they’re too reliable and they don’t provide enough residual revenue in parts sales. Ok, got it.

Anyway, the workers at Maytag plants do their jobs and make these pieces of crap that Manglement tells them to make. So when all these appliances start breaking down in the field, the workers take the hit. It’s interesting how I frequently have to replace an electronic part on some Maytag appliance that failed just a couple days after the warranty expired, or install some service kit to fix a design blunder, but I can’t remember the last time I had to fix a Maytag appliance because of a defect in workmanship from the factory. Seems to me they were all made exactly to plans and specifications–you could say they were made perfectly wrong. And Manglement wants the workers to take the hit. Well, the UAW workers at Maytag’s Iowa plant had a different idea.

Manglement has no one but itself to blame for Maytag’s troubles.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anonymous June 15, 2004 at 6:18 pm

Peachy-keen blog and site, as well you know. I especially appreciate that you give your opinions on appliance quality straight from the Samurai shoulder- Whirly good, GE bad, Maytag unspeakable, that sort of thing.

What about mentioning one of the most corrupt and pernicious influences on society today? I’m talking about the LG Electronics air-conditioner design that is hawked under many brand names, some of which actually used to stand for quality.

You remember what a real window air-conditioner was like, I know. You used to get a nice front grille that snapped on and off without tools. There was a dandy foam-media filter behind it, ready to catch good ol’ Atlanta pollen, and replaceable at any hardware store. A little exhaust control made it possible to expel anything malodorous, from cigar smoke to the aftermath of a Doritos-and-bean-dip orgy. That same control made it possible to circulate fresh air into your house while you were away, without running the compressor, to keep heat and humidity down. Best of all, when you opened ‘er up, there were actual oiling points on the motor, so you could have a fine time dribbling oil into them and wiping up the excess with anything handy- often something another family member prized, which led to family interactions, something difficult to achieve in today’s world.

Unfortunate-lee, LG has seen to it that every single virtue of former designs has been completely eradicated, evidently to cut costs and to see to it that we’ll be picking up a few more of these babies every few years. Sold as LG, Goldstar, Hampton Bay, Fedders, Maytag, and possibly under other brand names, these machines have become the industry standard. Even companies that are usually relatively blameless, like Whirly, have leapt on the LG design like a duck on a June bug, and are either having LG do their dirty work, or are copying LG’s sinful ways- it is now extremely difficult to find a new A/C unit that does not have this design, and therefore its faults, which are plentiful and severe. What’s going on is this:

1- Front grilles now require a screwdriver for removal, and the screws are at the sides of the unit, not the front, meaning that anyone with a narrow window and a need to clean the grille has to take the entire unit outta the window to remove the grille. Not real safe, and a back-buster.
2- Filters are now a plastic frame with nylon mesh, cunningly shaped to fit into a special slot in the grille. Not only will they not filter out anything smaller than a well-fed gnat, they aren’t replaceable with anything but the dread Factory Replacement Part, which ain’t cheap. Certainly not as cheap as a piece of Frost King air-conditioner filter foam, that’s for sure.
3- These horrors do not have any provision whatever for air exchange with God’s Own Outdoors. You can cool the air in the room, but if Aunt Ingrid has been making lutefisk again, you have to live with the smell, or open some windows. You also can’t circulate fresh air on cooler days, or at times you’re not at home. Yes, you COULD leave windows open, but leaving windows open in a big city is really not feasible nowadays, except for the terribly, terribly well-insured or the terribly, terribly well-armed. You also can’t cut running costs by using an exhaust to circulate some outside air without running the compressor- it’s A/C or nothing, and if you choose nothing here in Georgia, your house turns into Mildew Heaven. Make that Mildew Hell.
4- Oiling points? Don’t make me laugh. These things evidently are designed to last as long as they last, which seems to be about three or four years, because I’m already seeing dead ones in thrift stores.
5- Last, we come to the single greatest piece of insanity I’ve ever seen in appliance design, the Maytag Neptune not excepted. The idiots at LG have put cooling slots- big, wide cooling slots- on the TOP of the cabinet, sitting there ready, able, and all-too-willing to accept leaves, twigs, pieces of acorns, and God knows what-all-else into the heart of your air-conditioner. Living with the consequences of that is excellent exercise, if nothing else. You’re sitting there, reading or watching TV, and suddenly there’s a little ‘tick-tick-tick-tick’ signaling that something has gotten into the LG once again, and is hitting the fan. You try to ignore it, but you can’t, so you get up, get out the tools, take the sucker outta da window, disassemble, clean out, reassemble, and shove it back where it belongs. Sometimes you can go two or three days without a reoccurrence, but I have personally experienced a situation where something got into an LG I’d cleaned out less than an hour before. Not even the Samurai has heard the kind of language I used on that occasion.

I’d like to see an end to this design, because it’s good for nothing but lowering LG’s manufacturing costs- consumers are not considered at all. It is true these things are cheap ($79 for the 5000 BTU Maytag at Home Depot), but they’re hell on air quality in your house, they are damn dangerous to keep clean, and they don’t seem to last as long as the promises in a Hollywood pre-nup. If you could get a better air-conditioner, I’d say forget the LG design, and I’d go buy one. But this idiocy is coming from every manufacturer, pretty much- there is very little choice left. A few larger-capacity units still have air exchangers, etc., but the 5000-6000 BTU capacity units- from every manufacturer I can find- are nearly all the LG design.

Yeah, the LG design cools. It doesn’t do anything else you’ve come to expect from an air-conditioner, that’s for sure.

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