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.