Thursday, March 11, 2010

Now, I've lost my bearings: A busted washing machine dilemma

Late Tuesday night my clothes washer stopped working. After struggling with the broken washer on Wednesday I gave up trying to figure out the fix on my own. Dave took it to his friend's appliance shop yesterday, Thursday, and within 30 minutes time we got the diagnosis: The bearings on the tub were shot; Parts cost $300+, wholesale; Dani's washer RIP.

I am very distraught that this washer, a Kenmore HE2t, only 3 1/2 years old is busted. When I made the purchase I had carefully researched the best models: most efficient in water and energy consumption, high spin speed and capacity. For the past few years it has met all my expectations with minimal problems (occasionally the drain would slow but it was easy to fix).

Unfortunately the parts are not covered under any kind of warranty. The Kenmore Service Department did offer me a "Smart Service Agreement (SSA)" for $234 which will cover repairs (parts & labor) for 1 year $500 each service. But with the bearings alone costing $300+, wholesale, my repair will easily go over the $500 threshold. In that case the Smart Service Agreement would give me the option of paying the additional cost of the repair or they will give me $500 towards the purchase of a new machine.

So basically I can pay $234 to get $266 off a new Kenmore machine or pay $234 and pay an additional $200 (at least) to repair and keep my old machine. OR can forget about the Smart Service Agreement and just get any old machine I want. Which is the best way to go?

When I purchased my machine on 11/24/06 I paid $690 at the Sears Outlet on 6th Ave in Tacoma. It was originally a $1,099 machine so I thought I got a pretty good deal. To replace it with the same model I will likely still have to pay about $700, if I'm lucky. If I buy the Smart Service agreement for $234 and the repair costs are over $500 and I take the $500 towards a new machine then my out of pocket expenses will look something like this:

$234 (SSA)+ $700 (new machine)=$934 - $500(SSA credit)=$434 total out of pocket

Of course once they write me a $500 check my Smart Service Agreement is null and void for the next machine. But if I buy the Smart Service Agreement for $234 and then opt to pay the additional repair costs, which I estimate will be at least $200 (could be a lot more), The Smart Service Agreement will still be good for any other repairs or services in the next year. In three years time I've never needed a service call, BUT you never know, it might be nice to have that option. If I go this route, fixing the 3.5 year old machine, my out of pocket expenses will look something like this:

$234 (SSA) + $200(repair costs in excess of $500 warranty coverage)= $434

Hmmm, look familiar?

My last possible course of action that I am considering is scrapping the Smart Service Agreement and the 3.5 year old machine and just purchasing a different machine. With this option I don't have to stick with a Kenmore. I could go to my friends appliance shop, TV Time (on Bridgeport in Lakewood) and purchase a used machine. Their machines run anywhere from $100 for an old top loader to $400 for a newer (but still used) front loader. I'm a front loader girl* so once again I'm looking at right around $434 after tax.

What a dilemma!

A few other considerations: The first appointment for the Smart Service Agreement is the 15th. The serviceman will come out and look at the machine and order the parts which will take at least another 2 weeks to come in OR I will opt for the $500 which will take 7-10 days for the check to get to me and a couple days to purchase and install a new washer. Either way I'm without a washing machine until at least the end of March. Of course this means I'm bumming washes at someone's house OR going to the laundry mat. YUCK and expensive and time consuming and YUCK! As if I already didn't hate doing the laundry!

If I go to TV Time I will have a washer today. PLUS they have excellent customer service (even if you haven't known them since high school) and I know I can trust their machines and if I ever have any problems with the machine I can go back to them and they'll take care of me.

I think I've made a decision!

* Why I'm a front loader girl:
  • front loaders use less water and electricity to operate= saves money.
  • front loaders spin the clothes faster which means they contain less water and dry faster=saves money (and time)
  • front loaders have a larger capacity so I can get more done in fewer washes=saves money (and time)
  • front loaders are gentler on the clothes which extends the clothes lifespan=saves money.
  • front loaders clean better which extends the clothes wearable lifespan=saves money.

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