In the biggest change in its testing of products since the 1960’s, Consumer NZ is incorporating a lifetime performance score to help shoppers buy appliances they know will last.
“It’s no longer good enough for products to just perform well when they’re new. We’re the first international consumer organisation to only recommend durable appliances that work well for a long time,” Consumer NZ product test manager Paul Smith said.
Consumer NZ has tested products for more than 50 years. That testing shows many modern appliances work well when they’re new, but some of them aren’t built to last.
“This new test criteria have been a long time in the making. We haven’t thrown out our heritage. We still assess ‘as-new’ performance, but we’re now including measures of reliability, owner satisfaction and repairability," Dr Smith said.
This new lifetime scoring system has been applied to washing machines and standard (canister and upright) vacuum cleaners on consumer.org.nz. The new scoring will be rolled out to other products, starting with large appliances.
Only models that perform well and meet all three measures will be recommended.
Considering only “as-new” performance, Consumer NZ recommended 17 of 49 washing machine models it tested, from six brands. Using lifetime scoring, with emphasis on durability as well as “as-new” performance, 14 models from just four brands are recommended. Some of those models were not previously recommended.
The scoring change comes in response to manufacturers building products that don’t last and can’t be repaired. This “take, make, waste” approach is unsustainable.
“We need to see waste as a design flaw. Recycling is important, but it’s a last resort to divert materials from landfill. We need to create products designed to be repaired, reused and refurbished,” Dr Smith said.
Consumer NZ runs an annual reliability survey that has been conducted for more than a decade. Feedback from this survey drove the changes in test reporting.
“Consumers have told us that appliances don’t last as long as they used to, and they are getting increasingly harder to repair. This means shoppers are paying for needless replacements and the planet pays by another appliance ending up at the tip.”
In the future, lifetime performance scores will also include repairability, which assesses how easy it is to repair a faulty product.