A new customer service technology, Kenmore Connect, enables some Kenmore and Kenmore Elite washers and dryers to communicate directly to service experts. The technology lets customers find out if their appliance is running correctly or receive instructions with a phone call and a push of a button. The system sends real-time diagnostic information from the appliance to service staff who can offer assistance and solutions to customers.
Kenmore’s field testing results showed a significant reduction in the need for in-home visits for customers who used the feature.
The appliances do not need to be hard-wired to send their information. To send information, the customer holds the phone mouthpiece over the appliance power button and press a button on the appliance to send the diagnostic data.
Service personnel can monitor more than 100 different data points to diagnose the unit and offer a solution. The data includes cycle and option settings, operational information (e.g., air/water temperature, estimated load size, spin speeds, fill/drain times, unbalanced load issues, etc.), details on the factors that contribute to the cycle time, status of certain electrical and mechanical sub-systems, and the mechanical issues associated with each error code.
This article gives the impression that Kenmore, a Sears marketing brand, is developing this technology in-house. I can guarantee you this isn’t the case. The Kenmore “factory” is a floor of offices on the Sears Tower where corporate suits make phone calls to other corporate suits who work for companies that really do make things, like Whirlpool or LG. No hints on who is providing this technology for Kenmore but I know for a fact that Whirlpool, Miele and most of the other manufacturers have already started implementing this feature in some of their models. Soon, as appliances become more computerized, they’ll all have it. Heck, they’ll *need* this feature just to be able to troubleshoot ’em!
But the real reason for all this connectivity is more insidious than just the gee-whiz factor or for diagnostic help. It’s also to make future appliances more compatible with– and controlled by– the coming Smart Grid. More on Big Brother’s Smart Grid here:
I don’t believe for a minute that the only data they’ll be sending is diagnostic info on the appliance. They’ll be collecting and sending all kinds of information; for example, how often you do laundry and is this “too often” (as determined by soon-to-be-announced government “standards”), are you using HE detergent, and are you using too much detergent. And just like it’s come out now that there are audio listening devices in your computer router, digital television set, and the NSA randomly listens in on your computer microphone and cell phone, you can be certain that this remote “diagnosis” will be yet another way for you to be surveilled.
But I’m not a big fan of all this computerization for another very practical reason: from a reliability standpoint, they SUCK! The electronics used in appliances are not near the robustness and quality of electronics used in cars, for instance. They fail at much higher frequency and at much greater expense than the simple, rugged mechanical controls they replaced. And let us not forget the 5th Law of the Prophecy: “Electronics and wet appliances do not mix.”
Can I hear an “Amen?”