The business of buying a tumble dryer

Screenshot 2014-07-11 17.31.06

We needed a tumble dryer when we were renting a while ago back in 2011. Since we were living on a temporary basis we didn’t want to spend a lot of money or do much in the way of thinking regarding a tumble dryer. We just needed a fairly basic cheap one.

In the end we settled on a Beko model from Currys at £219.

Thanks to the wonders of gmail, I was able to query the original order for the date and price. We placed the order on the 6th of September 2011 and the machine was duly delivered on the 10th of September. Job done.

The dryer has served us faithfully and we brought it with us to our new place.

On the 9th of July — a few days ago — the machine developed a fault. It wouldn’t spin. The ‘dryer’ bit worked but not the tumbling.

This means that we had 2 years, 9 months and 29 days worth of tumble drying service for £219. And I should note that our boys are young so we’ve been giving the machine a good amount of use. Almost twice and sometimes four times daily.

Rounded down to the nearest whole week, we’ve had service for 147 weeks or about 1,033 days.

That equates to £1.49 a week in terms of the cost of the machine. (£219 divided by 147 weeks) Or 21 pence per day.

Not bad not bad.

The question I have been pondering is ‘what next’?

Is it time to grow up — that is — go and buy a more expensive brand from John Lewis and take out the company’s famous X years guarantee?

Well, I’m not so sure.

My parents always bought the best (i.e. Miele). So I was browsing John Lewis the other day and came across both a £600 and £1,499 option. To the totally untrained eye they don’t look that different from the bog standard Beko in terms of capabilities.

I was getting quite excited at the prospect of buying a decent tumble drying machine. A proper brand.

I was circling around the £600 Miele model (this one). I could extend the standard 2-year guarantee to 5-years for £140 from John Lewis.

That’s £740 and already I’m thinking that’s getting into MacBook Air territory (a useful barometer of value, I feel).

Let’s do some sums.

Presume that we can get 5 years uninterrupted service from the Miele. That’s 5 years x 52 = 260 weeks. This equates to £2.85 per week cost — almost double the price of the Beko. I recognise we’re not comparing precise like-for-like in terms of service duration. (Incidentally the Beko has an energy rating of B, the Miele is a C! And obviously I’m assuming both will use a similar amount of electricity.)

Am I better off just buying a new basic tumble dryer every time the old one fails? Yes. I think so.

I was browsing around hunting for someone to come and fix the existing Beko until I found some sample call-out charges. They were pretty shocking. Indeed I reckon a visit from an engineer would probably top out at about £75 once he’s come, discovered the problem with the motor (or whatever) and then come back and also charged us for the (I’m hoping, reasonable cost) for the parts.

That’s almost 40% of the cost of a new machine.

I could mess about with insurance, yes.

However I want things to be easy and simple. I don’t want complications and I especially don’t want to be exposed to traditional British ‘service’ — you know the kind of experience whereby through a whole lot of ‘not my fault, but’ situations you end up without a tumble dryer for 3.5 weeks.

That’s perhaps the biggest problem I’ve got with any sort of insurance or warranty extension. It’s all very well if the issue is fixed free of charge, but if the experience is unpredictable or poor and it takes days for an engineer to visit, I would be particularly annoyed as the boys’ clothes begin to pile up.

As it stands we had to suspend the clothing logistics for just over 24 hours.

Instead of buying from Currys (where we got the last dryer), I went straight to AO.com (Appliances Online) and ordered. I clicked straight through to their ‘best condenser dryer‘ page and coincidentally saw a Beko product featured. If you read my recent experience with AO.com on Mobile Industry Review you won’t be surprised when I just hit the buy button.

The next day at 11am, the Beko dryer arrived. It went into production within 30 minutes. Boom! Incidentally I paid an extra £9.99 to have AO take away and recycle the old Beko.

Now then: Is this the right thing to do? What is your electrical appliance policy? Am I missing out by not doing the John Lewis thing? How do you handle the unplanned downtime even if you’re covered?

I won’t be impressed if my now beloved £189 Beko conks out next month. Or next year. But on the basis that these things seem to be pretty well made (we also own a Beko fridge!) I am hopeful we’ll get at least 2-3 years without any exceptions.

I would very much welcome your perspective.

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5 Responses to The business of buying a tumble dryer

  1. Tom July 12, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    Go here and if you’re pressed for time, scroll right to the bottom:

    http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/4.02/jobs_pr.html

    Choosing a dryer probably screams “banality”. But the truth is that the quality of this type of thing is a major influencer on our day to day happiness, and this applies to billionaires like Jobs just as much as you or me. Thanks for writing about this.

    We bought a Miele washing machine 5 years ago for just shy of £1k. It came with a 10 year guarantee and has been amazing.

    But really. A grand for a washing machine?! When exactly did I become that kind of person? But an even bigger surprise was coming my way.

    A couple of years later we needed to buy a condenser dryer. This gave us a hard decision to make. We’d just moved house, were expecting a baby in 6months and needed heaps of cash for prams and all that stuff… but we also needed a dryer.

    So: spend money you don’t have on a better appliance? Or make a financially sound decision, but trade down?

    We ended up buying a second hand Miele dryer off of some guy on eBay. It was 18 months old and cost £375. I think it had 3.5yrs guarantee left. Really interesting behaviour: we could have bought a new one from another brand and had change left over. But no – I don’t think we even considered it.

    The choice you make around this stuff isn’t really a functional one: the premium you pay is for how you feel about the purchase in retrospect. Does the more expensive machine do a better job at drying your clothes? The answer is probably “yes” but not in a way that has any real day to day relevance. The premium is therefore probably more around how you feel about it.

    So: are you going to make the same type of decision when it’s time to buy a new computer? Time to go back to Dell maybe? 🙂

    • Ewan July 12, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

      Right that is very interesting. Are you saying you just bought the “better” brand because it made you feel premium?
      If you could tell me that the 600 pound Miele made my clothes feel superior or was better for me or the family in a demonstrable manner then I might think again.
      When it comes to computers I tend to favour Apple actually as a result of your influence Tom. I feel they are generally better made. I feel better with an Apple machine too.
      When it comes to dryers? Its just a functional decision for me at the moment perhaps because I haven’t been educated by the manufacturers?
      What about reliability and the Miele? Did that factor into your decision making process?

      Sent from Mailbox

  2. TrT July 14, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    I think you’ve hit the nail dead on, indeed, I have that exact model dryer 🙂
    And for much the same reasons you settled on. Warranties are all well and good, but unless the service level is we’ll replace it in 24/48hrs, its not that helpful. My sister was without for a month waiting for a repair (not JL), first it was hard to get an engineer visit, then the part was out of stock, then it was the wrong part, then getting the engineer out was more hassle, it took the threat of court action (or possibly ombudsman) in the end to get the repair carried out. A paid repair would no doubt be quicker, but far from cheap.

    My only concern with the Beko is that its sensors are pretty poor, its cupboard dry frequently needs another ten minutes, but, it was cheap, its functional, and if it breaks, I can manhandle it in to the car, drop it at the tip on the way to work and pick up a replacement on the way home.

    Now if they made a washing machine that came with a powder hopper / liquid tank I might be interested

  3. Mike Shwartz September 24, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

    Ewan, do you not have a Nationwide Flex Plus account? There are MANY benefits included for the £10 per month fee. INCLUDING a 12-month extension of the manufacturer’s warranty for domestic appliances (includes laptops!) Also, free worldwide mobile phone insurance for the whole family! Well worth a look……

    • Ewan September 24, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

      You’re absolutely right I need to get one. I’ve got the standard account just not the Flex version!

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