What is the ISE washing machine, and why is it different to other washing machines?
(Even if not interested in the ISE, this page delves deeper into the quality of modern washing machines and may be worth reading)
The ISE brand is created by the independent engineers group UK Whitegoods with experienced engineers behind it, working hard to provide a modern washing machine with a future. One that should last a respectable amount of time and not be a throwaway washing machine like many have become. The difference on offer here, is in who you buy it from (not the high street), the standard of service you receive, the quality of the aftercare service and the ability to buy spares get it repaired at a reasonable cost when it's several years old.
ISE ( Independent Service Engineering) aim to provide an answer to the frustrations and problems associated with many new washing machines (discussed below).
Many washing manufacturers are selling you short by selling you cheap
Many modern washing machines just don't last like they used to. They are relatively cheap to buy, but even the makers don't seem to expect them to last too long. Spare parts are usually priced so high, that within a couple of years of purchasing, it can cost 50 - 75% of the purchase price just to fix one fault - and who's prepared to spend that amount on a single repair? The result is that many thousands of washing machines are prematurely taken to waste dumps when they could, and should, be being repaired - it's virtually an environmental crime.
[ Related: Quote from the Government's (DTI) Unwanted Whitegoods booklet - "Every year more than 900,000 tonnes of used electrical and electronic goods are discarded in the UK. This figure includes up to 350,000 tonnes of large domestic appliances such as washing machines, fridges and cookers - so-called "white goods" - over 8 million." ]
Washing machines have always been particularly susceptible to breaking down throughout their life. The physical work they do inevitably results in wear and tear and they often need regular maintenance to keep them running. If you go back 10 - 20 years, there was a reasonable balance between purchase price and subsequent repair costs. Washing machines like Hoover and Hotpoint were a lot more expensive than they are now, but still affordable, and when they went wrong, only the very old were considered beyond economical repair. Everyone in the independent repair trade repaired them. This created healthy competition and kept repair charges lower - and spare parts were priced so that repairs for customers were economically viable. The independent repair trade enjoyed good technical support from manufacturers in the form of cheap manuals with diagrams, part breakdowns and technical bulletins. These are now only available on expensive DVD's that have high rental charges that many repairers can't afford. The majority of washing machines lasted at least 10 years, and many lasted up to twice that and even more.
Many washing machines are too cheap for their own good. There's not enough profit left over to invest in aftersales service. Who pays for aftersales service? We the public do. It's easy to forget that we pay for everything from the instruction book to the packaging that the washing machine comes in. If the public keep demanding cheaper washing machines, they have to cut things back again and again. With many common washing machines, when it's out of guarantee, there's not much support to keep it going. Even when under the manufacturer's guarantee, the agents and departments repairing your washing machine are commonly under funded. They often don't get paid enough to cover the real costs involved so aftersales service is often compromised. Who under funds these important services? Well the manufacturers do - but on your behalf - so you can save more pounds on the purchase cost. They don't advise that you may be worse off in the long run, because they are locked into price wars and their businesses now concentrate on the numbers game - selling lots of new washing machines and selling them cheap. The cost of the guarantee and aftersales service has to be included in the selling price, and if that's crushed down to a minimum, we only get the standard of service we have paid for.
All information on Washerhelp is meant to be fair and balanced. It is based on my experience, and information from promotional material by manufacturers and sellers. All advice is given in good faith and without liability and is meant as a general guideline only.
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Spare parts - why are they so expensive these days?
Manufacturers are obliged by law to provide functional spare parts for a certain number of years after they stop making a washing machine, but to keep bringing down the cost of new washing machines they have to keep changing the way they design and source spare parts. If they make the slower-moving spares expensive to buy, few people will be daft enough to want to buy one. This way they can dramatically reduce the stock of parts they have to maintain (that they don't use in new machines any more but are needed to repair your several year old washing machine).
A more generous view might be that because of the pressures, they have to keep changing suppliers, designs and production methods, which means the economies of scale no longer come into play for spare parts they no longer use in production. This may well result in spare parts being genuinely very expensive to produce. Unlike in the past, where they used many parts for decades, and had them made in vast quantities, they keep moving onto a different (cheaper) designs, which they later have to produce in relatively very small quantities as spares. This will make them very expensive. Whichever the reason, the result is exactly the same - washing machines that are often beyond economical repair at ridiculously young ages.
- Servis M3001 washing machine (now gone bust - surprise surprise) : Typical cost to replace the control module, £147.32 (62% of purchase cost)
- Indesit W103UK : Cheapest selling price £175, To replace drum (£106.00) + labour - anything from £150 - £200 in total
What's the answer then - Is it the ISE?
I can't say the ISE is the answer, and that everyone should only consider this washing machine above all others, but it seems to me like the beginning of the answer. It offers a chance for consumers to go back to the days when you didn't throw away washing machines that had many years of service left in them. The idea is that your local repairman, can fix this washing machine at a reasonable price, and keep it running for a respectable amount of time if that's what you prefer. He'll also have access to free technical support by the dedicated UK Whitegoods group and he can post his experiences, even criticisms, and his customer's feedback on the UK Whitegoods site where they will be seen and taken seriously. No other washing machine to my knowledge is subject to such essential feedback from independent repairers and their customers. As ISE themselves say, "Local businesses care more". Local businesses now have a chance to supply and look after a new washing machine for you their customer, from the day they install it, to the day you decide to replace it.
ISE promise No parts mark up!
"Unlike any other appliance manufacturer we do not seek to make a profit from the sale of spare parts. We therefore do not put any mark up on spare parts for our appliances once the guarantee has expired. The reason for this is to make post guarantee repairs a cost effective alternative to an ecologically damaging replacement. This helps to maximise the life of our machines not only in your home but also encourages reconditioning as a final option prior to recycling".
This is remarkable. It should be headline news. My understanding is that a nominal mark up is essential to cover costs of handling and stocking but not for profit. Spare parts out of guarantee are likely to be far cheaper than standard washing machines so that instead of being beyond economical repair like so many are these days the ISE washing machine should be worth repairing in future years.
How can I buy an ISE washing machine?
The box below describes the semi professional quality ISE10
A new ISE10 top quality washing machine with 10 year guarantee is also now available
"Longer life span for less environmental damage. This machine is simply outstanding in terms of build quality and performance and is engineered from the outset to maximise the life of the machine. This is done by using higher quality components that are designed to last in excess of 8000 cycles, or over 20 years normal domestic use and by wherever possible, using steel and metal instead of plastic".
This washing machine is in a different league to the rest of the ISE washing machines. This is a much higher quality washing machine aimed at competing with Miele . The main advantage of the ISE10 over Miele is the fact that repairs and technical assistance will be more forthcoming and therefore cheaper. Spare parts should be considerably cheaper too due to the ISE no profit on spares policy - ISE10 washing machine
Alternative washing machine reviews
Although my reviews are comprehensive and very detailed, they are limited in number and may not feature all the very latest models. Which? have the resources to review many of the latest washing machines and have a specially set up test laboratory. They also have a huge database of savvy members to gain reliability and satisfaction feedback from.
You can easily obtain a 1 month trial from them (see my review of the £1 offer), which you may find useful as they review and advise on all products, not just washing machines. Which? washing machine reviews (NOTE: The Which? reviews and consumer advice is available immediately online).
Some household name washing machine manufacturers will sell you a washing machine for £250, but charge you £90 + (expensive) parts to fix it when it breaks down out of guarantee. A 6 year old washing machine needing a new door seal could easily cost £120 if you use the manufacturers, that's almost 50% of the purchase cost for a minor, 20 minute repair.
The same household UK washing machine manufacturer would charge you almost £200 to repair the same 6 year old washing machine if the drum bearings failed (80% of purchase cost) There's no wonder people think many modern washing machines aren't meant to be repaired. The manufacturers appear to prefer you to buy a new one instead - or have just lost control of the economics of repairing their own products by concentrating solely on cutting production costs of the finished product.
Independent washing machine repairers can offer a considerably better and cheaper repair service, but not if they have to pay crazy prices for spare parts, and can't get good technical help.
Part of the concept of the ISE washing machine is that local repairmen should be able to easily buy spare parts at prices that make the ISE viable for repair - not beyond economical repair.