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Broken appliances: repair or toss?

October 28, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
When an appliance breaks down, it is sometimes tough to figure out when to fix it or when to just go buy a new one.ABC7's Ric Romero teamed up with Consumer Reports to find the right move for faulty appliances.

Paul Willman has been repairing appliances for nearly 30 years. He often gets desperate calls from homeowners.

"They can't hear that we'll be there in two or three days. They want it fixed that day or the very next morning," said Willman.

It turns out finding a good repair person isn't always easy.

"We surveyed 13,000 of our subscribers, covering more than 20,000 broken products, and plenty of them had complaints about the repairs," said Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman, Consumer Reports.

The biggest problems were with electric cooktops and wall ovens.

"The parts were very difficult to find and the repairs often took two weeks or more to get done," said Kuperszmid-Lehrman.

When it comes to dryers, washers and other larger appliances, the survey showed people have much better luck using an independent shop once the warranty is up, rather than a factory-authorized service center.

However, Consumer Reports says sometimes an appliance just isn't worth fixing.

"You should replace it if the repair is going to cost more than half the price of a new model," said Kuperszmid-Lehrman.

Paul Willman says it's great when he can fix something right away, like an oven that went out on Thanksgiving Day.

"Not even an hour later, had that stove lit ... Cheers coming from the other room because people were already arriving for the dinner. And it was pretty cool," said Williams.

Consumer Reports says its latest research shows it may be too costly to buy extended warranties on appliances. If an appliance breaks, the odds are the repair costs won't be any higher than the cost of the extended warranty.


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