Should A $800 Dryer Last Longer Than 2 Years?

When we talk about electronics and home appliances on this site, the question that frequently crops up is how long consumers can expect an item to work before it needs expensive repairs or dies altogether. Reader Karen spent $800 on a General Electric dryer for her then-new home waaaay back in 2011. Less than two years later, the plastic power button on the appliance’s front broke. The repair cost? $485.

She found this excessive. It wasn’t just the button itself that had to be replaced, but the entire control panel. Still, she didn’t start up the dryer with a sledgehammer: was the button really so fragile that it couldn’t handle two years of use?

Karen writes:

I purchased an expensive ($800) GE electric clothes dryer for my new home; my builder’s records show it was delivered on Sept. 7, 2011, while the home was still under construction. My husband and I did not actually move in and use the dryer until mid-November 2011. The plastic Power on/off button on the front of the dryer broke off in early August 2013, when the dryer was less than 2 years old, but out of warranty.

It cost me $485 to get this little plastic button replaced, which is a totally outrageous repair cost for such a little thing!! A GE authorized repair technician had to replace the whole control panel ($304 plus $26 tax); it had to be ordered, so I had to pay for 2 repair technician visits ($155).

Both of the service people who came to my house recognized that the reason the dryer would not start was because the peg connected to the push button switch that engages the start button had a broken tip, which caused the hinge mechanism on the start button to break. It was clear from looking at the back of the control panel that the pegs connected to the other operating panel buttons were also significantly worn or broken.

The control panel buttons were clearly poorly designed and poorly manufactured. An extensive amount of wear had occurred on all the buttons even though I only dried 2-3 loads of laundry a week (our household consists of just 2 adults). My husband and I were very disappointed that both of the service technicians expressed no willingness to send the defective control panel back to GE engineers for evaluation and assessment of the excessive wear that both repair people acknowledged. My husband subsequently called GE Customer Service to request that we be reimbursed for this exorbitant repair cost for such a new dryer.

After talking to 4 different people (3 of whom were not native English speakers) he learned that GE would not do anything, such as rebating the cost of the faulty control panel. I am extremely disappointed with GE’s resolution to our customer complaint; it is not fair for us to pay a $485 repair bill on a $800 dryer that is less than 2 years old. I selected a number of GE appliances for my new home based on the high ratings they had in Consumer Reports, and my perception of the good reputation that GE products have for quality and reliability. However, I will never buy another GE product if I do not get a fair resolution to this complaint!

We have received very poor customer service from GE so far. I hope that this complaint can be successfully resolved in the near future.

Is two years of use for two people excessive use for a laundry appliance? How long is such an appliance supposed to last? We sent Karen’s complaint on to GE, and they told us that they would research the situation. Not long later, we heard from Karen:

Dear Laura, GE has agreed to reimburse me for $375 of the $485 repair bill. I had initially asked for them to cover $385 of it, since I figured I should offer to cover about 20% of the bill given that I declined to purchase an extended warranty. I am satisfied with the resolution. Thanks so much for your help!