Miele Appliance Technical Training

by Samurai Appliance Repair Man on July 29, 2006

in General Appliance Wisdom

Just got back from two intensive days of technical training with Miele, a German appliance manufacturer. This was by far the most intensive field-factory training I’ve attended. The first day was dishwashers, washers, and dryers. The second day was ovens, steam ovens, convection/microwave ovens, and coffee brewer systems. The instructor, LeRoy O’Brien, even had us do pop quizzes each day and you had to make at least 70% or you flunked training!

All Miele appliances are designed and built in Germany. As you’d expect, they are very expensive but also very well designed and precision built. Most Miele products start at $2,000. Europeans have a whole different attitude about appliances– they expect their appliances to last forever and many people keep the same appliances their whole lives. In fact, when designing appliances, Miele engineers specify that components must have a 40 year life.

Compare and contrast that with the throw-away culture here in Ameedica. Just yesterday, someone called me and wanted me to come out on a 12-year old Frigidaire top loading washer that was leaking. I declined to schedule the call because, as I explained to the lady, it was a throw-away washer that she paid about $300 for and is simply not worth repairing. So, she happily went shopping for another $300 throw-away washer that will soon end up in a landfill.

For Americans, it’s all about cheap, cheap, cheap. When shopping for appliances, most people just look at price and features and never even consider longevity. And when their Sears special breaks down after just three years, they whine and moan that it costs $300 to fix a $500 piece of junk appliance, as if the price of buying a new appliance has anything to do with the costs of running a service call on it. If I go out on a $2,000 Miele washer or a $400 GE washer, my fixed and variable costs for running that call are exactly the same, regardless of the appliance. But many people have this goofy notion that if the appliance costs less, then the service call should cost less. No wonder appliance repair is a dying trade here in Ameedica.

This is why, in my service business, I’m increasingly scheduling service calls only on high-end appliances. I advise people who call with low-end appliances to come to Fixitnow.com and learn how to fix it themselves because it is simply not cost-effective, for them or me, to run a service call on low-end junk. I believe that appliance service companies who have built their business around fixing bottom-feeder models will soon go bankrupt unless they recognize these market dynamics and adapt to them.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

EdK July 31, 2006 at 1:13 pm

I’m about to buy a new dishwasher, and I had just read your advice at http://fixitnow.com/wp/2003/09/24/mailbag-appliance-brand-recommendations/
“Also avoid the furrin’ brands: Asko, Miele, and Bosch–they break down just as often, if not more, and repairs are at least twice as expensive.”

Have you changed your mind on the Mieles? What would you recommend these days? I’d rather not buy a disposable unit.

Thanks

Samurai Appliance Repair Man August 1, 2006 at 2:20 pm

Hi, Ed. The post you refer to is almost three years old. That’s a long time in the fast-changing and cut-throat world of appliance manufacturing! Here now, for your edification and illumination, are my latest observations about new dishwashers in general, and the three brands you mentioned in particular:

Bosch is a middle-level brand which is *perceived* as a higher-end brand. Nothing wrong with that, just don’t go buying a Bosch thinking you’re getting a machine of comparable quality to the Miele at half the price. Ain’t happenin’.

Asko dishwashers have been famous in the past for spontaneous combustion of the electrical wiring in the control panel. Have not seen enough new ones to know whether or not they’ve resolved this problem.

From what I’ve seen, the Miele appears to be a better-built machine than either the Bosch or the Asko. And, for what it’s worth, I just don’t get many service calls on Miele dishwashers and the ones I do get are almost all problems induced by the customer. Miele also beats Bosch and Asko hands-down in standing behind their products.

Now, is a dishwasher worth $2,000? Depends on how much a dollar is worth to you. For working stiffs, like myself, I would buy a Kitchenaid; and that’s the dishwasher we own. If I had a $4 million house on Lake Sunapee and paid more in property taxes in a year than most people earn in four years and I just wanted the best machine money could buy, I’d get a Miele, no question.

I would still not even consider buying a dishwasher, or any other appliance, from GE. Nor would I consider a Frigidaire. Now, I’m not saying the Kitchenaid is perfect– you’ll still have problems with it, one of which is a burned out motor/pump assembly, which is covered by a five year warranty. But, you’re getting a decent dishwasher for less than $1,000. If you feel like spending more for a dishwasher, then get the Miele.

JSo August 8, 2006 at 9:39 pm

Thanks for the excellent comments about the Miele’s longevity. Any comments about how it washes? Does it wash the same as, say, the KitchenAid? Being working stiffs like yourself, that is what we own, but my wife is unhappy with it because of how it washes — or more precisely, (doesn’t) dry stuff. Does the Miele also give a better wash/dry or are its advantages solely in life cycle cost? Thanks for any info.

Samurai Appliance Repair Man August 11, 2006 at 7:27 am

Your present washer is a top loader, oui? ANY front loader will do a much better job washing and wringing out the clothes than a conventional top loader with a transmission (which is all the cheap ones). I say “conventional top loader” because there are top loaders that are 1) horizontal axis washers like the front loaders you’re familiar with and 2) the top loaders what do not use a transmission and have washing and water use characteristics comparable to a horizontal axis washer.

As for the Miele, it will be among the very best performers and most reliable in the front loading class. It will also have the among the highest price tags. But, if you want the very best, there it is.

Having said that, you should call Miele (or any other appliance manufacturer whose washer you’re considering buying) and see if they have authorized, trained technicians who service your area. Get the names of the service companies and call them to make sure they actually service your area– manufacturers are famous for giving out the name of an authorized servicer to someone who lives way outside of the servicer’s area.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer and live in an area where getting competent technical help on anything is a rare event, then get the Staber washer. It’s a top-loading, horizontal axis washer, very rugged, is designed to be serviced by you the homeowner and has no quiescent power draw. For these reasons, the Staber is a big hit with alternative energy folks who either live entirely off the grid or generate a lot of their own power via wind, solar, etc.

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