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26 August 2021

Younger consumers more likely to repair appliances

New Zealanders under 45 years old more likely to have had broken appliances repaired compared to those aged 45 or over.

Results from the latest Consumer NZ survey show that many consumers – especially those under 45 years old – want to fix their busted appliances.

However, it’s not always easy to find the resources to do so.

Younger consumers embrace repair more than the older generation.

Those aged between 18 and 44 years old reported significantly more purchases of used appliances and were more likely to have had an appliance repaired. They were also more accepting that an appliance would develop minor faults and might need repair during its lifetime.

New Zealanders reported having a faulty appliance repaired in the past 12 months:

Those aged over 45 were significantly more likely to think appliances don’t last as long as they used to, were less likely to tolerate any faults and less likely to get a faulty appliance repaired.

Many consumers of all ages want to repair busted appliances.

Less than half (46%) of all respondents said they’d prefer to replace a faulty appliance, rather than repair it.

When we asked about warranty or Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) remedies for a faulty appliance, between 80% and 84% of people said they’d be happy with a refund, like-for-like replacement or a repair that returned the appliance to an as-new condition. Two-thirds (64%) said they’d be very happy with a repair.

Many consumers report they’ve had an appliance repaired.

Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they’d had an appliance repaired in the past 12 months. Forty percent of consumers 18 to 44 years old reported a repair, compared to just 18% of those over 45.

Sixty percent of repairs were completed at no cost to the consumer through a manufacturer warranty (44%) or a CGA (16%) claim. Of those who had an appliance repaired, 82% were happy with the result while 11% were unhappy.

Some retailers and manufacturers are offering repair – they completed 35% of repairs reported in our survey. However, the majority of fixes were done by independent repairers (38%) or the consumer, their friends or a family member (21%).

There are still frustrating barriers to repair.

For the 40% of people who paid for their own repair outside of any warranty or CGA responsibilities, finding someone to do the repair and sourcing spare parts was a problem.

When we asked all appliance owners, almost a third (29%) said they didn’t know how to get an appliance repaired. Less than half (46%) agreed it was easy to find someone to repair an appliance, and only 29% thought it was easy to find spare parts. Seventy-one percent said repairs cost too much.

Removing the barriers to repair by ensuring parts are easily available and repair skills are widespread – and ensuring both come at a reasonable cost – are core goals of the right to repair movement.

Consumers tell us they want to repair the appliances they own – manufacturers have to step up to allow this to happen.

Data is from our Built to Last nationally representative survey (1499 people, June 2021). We asked about appliances people own that cost more than $300.

Member comments

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Neville M.
31 Aug 2021
Appliance repair

Being in the older bracket I have always had a go at repairing appliances. I have used repair men from time to time but found them expensive and I have usually done it better. We had a F&P washing machine that kept displaying error codes which ment nothing to me. The man came took it away and would replace a sensor or switch or reset the computer, this happened 3 times so in the end I thought this is ridiculous so I pulled all the panels off and started a full wash cycle. I soon discovered the cause of the problems as a pin hole in the water outlet that directed a fine spray into the motor. I fitted a new hose, problem sorted. They were relying on the error codes not actually finding the cause of the error codes.
My last repair yesterday, was a Brevelle food processor, it just stopped. A wire had dropped off a switch.
I'm in my 70s and now will always give it a go first.
My advise is some things are designed to not be repaired but others are. I often find on repair/replacement parts numbers these I search on Google and it's amazing what comes up. If you own a twin drawer dish washer and the pumps dies buy an Asko pump from Dunedin it's the same pump at 1/3rd of the price.

There is a great parts store online in Palmerston North, cheap and has everything. I bought vacuum cleaner bags and filters from them recently.

My only issue is it's illegal to repair electrical appliances as you can receive a fatal shock so be very careful and ensure you are not going to complete a circuit through your heart if you do decide to work on appliances. Plastic appliances are a bit safer to work on than steel ones. I like to use a residue safety cut out plug thingy.

Tony C.
29 Aug 2021
My view

From the article I took the view that older people (seemingly) purchased appliances that were possibly of a higher quality, and thus less needing to be repaired. That was certainly the case over my lifetime. For the most part I preferred to repair my own appliances, but as indicated, sourcing any spares is increasingly difficult. Even to the extend of substituting generic parts for originals.

Russell F.
28 Aug 2021
It gets worse with appliances that need regular maintenance!

In particular espresso machines need maintenance every so often depending on the amount of use. If you brew about 4 cups a day you probably should get it serviced once a year. I live on my own and get mine done once every couple of years.

My machine is a Breville and there are 4 service agents in Auckland. Official time that Breville stipulate for service is 5 to 7 working days in practice it is several weeks. There are some independent service people but their wait times can be even longer.

If you paid an exorbitant amount for a Italian machine then there is at least one outfit in Auckland who repairs these and operates a booking system. You sign up on their web page and you receive and estimate on when they can do it and then contact you when you slot comes up so you will be without your machine for a couple of days not a couple of months.

The quality of the franchised agents varies a lot too. I have one, literally at the end of my street but the tech there insists on replacing expensive stuff necessarily. Couple of years ago I had a lengthy phone conversations with him here he eventually admitted he "hated coffee machine". I recently too my machine into someone else and the quote came back at about half even though there was a valve that needed replacing. Unfortunately Covid-19 delta intervened so I am still using my stove top espresso set up (which actually makes quite good coffee but it a fiddle)

Clare M
28 Aug 2021
Landfill Disaster

Recently we had our top brand dishwasher to be repaired and the repairer said that it was a pity that a lot of parts are deliberately phased out so that we are forced to purchase new ones. He commented that our dishwasher is in great condition and what a waste for us in $ terms and for the environment - look at the landfills - there are too many throw-aways in there that are way before their time!

Margaret C.
28 Aug 2021
Appliance Repairs

Both of us being "older persons" we've had a fair bit of experience with appliance repairs over the years. Firstly we have always bought "known" brands. We have had good experience with Fisher & Paykel. Tumble dryer purchased in 1972 still going strong. Have only had to replace a drive belt in that time.
We have a good relationship with our repair firm who happily work on our appliances regardless of brand. Latest example was our F&P Dish Drawer. Cost was $400+ but worth it to keep this 10 year+ machine working.
Richard C

David C.
28 Aug 2021
DIY repair frustrations

Fixing your own appliances can be very rewarding, but spare part supply is often a hell of a thing, given how proprietary the parts in so many appliances now are. And it's frustrating to have everything snap-together and then glued shut, or closed with constantly changing fastener drive types (Tri-Wing, or tamper-resistant drives as examples!), to seemingly deliberately hamper repair as much as possible.

Sue D.
28 Aug 2021
F&P Dryer

I bought my F&P Wall Hanging Drying second hand about 20 years ago. It developed a noisy drum but also the sensor is now not working correctly. Trying to find out if I could get this fixed (the outer looks in a fine condition) when I rang and gave the model to a couple of repair people they said 'maybe they would have the parts'. As I had to take it off the wall for any service man and being a widowed person on my own would need a neighbour to help (which they are happy to do so) sadly I decided rather than paying for someone to 'maybe' have the parts for an old dryer put the money to a new one (this being about quarter of the cost). This involved only putting my neighbour out once instead 'maybe' many times.

JENNIFER F.
28 Aug 2021
Appliance Repairs

Our family were always taught by our father to repair all appliances, going to whatever length one could to find the parts or the person to repair it. We were also encouraged to research and purchase quality appliances that do not 'die' in a year or two.
I aim to recycle whatever i can if an appliance needs to go to waste.
We still all continue to do the same & we are all 45+ years.

Paul W
28 Aug 2021
The title was a bit misleading

It implied that those 18 to 44 would repair the items themselves as we used to do when I was that age. What they are saying is that they want to be able to take them somewhere for repair which is not generally available at present. These days it's chuck out when it goes faulty or has been owned for a couple of years as in the case of cell phones. Most electronic items I have I keep until they die or are past the point of no return.

Doug M.
28 Aug 2021
A survey of little value

It would have been very useful to tell us what sort of appliances were being fixed. Was it electrical or mechanical or electronic items? In the kitchen or workshop or in the car, or where. The survey results were of very limited value.

Also home fixing some electrical items does come with a risk of fire if they are not well repaired.