Appliance Repair Biz in Need of Fixing: Survey

Consumers confirm what servicers already know

By Alan Wolf, YSN

A new consumer survey on the state of appliance repair confirms what most self-servicing dealers already know: the appliance repair business could use a tune up.

Since its inception, AVB’s ServiceSource has chronicled and addressed a litany of industry shortfalls, many compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, including a dearth of trained techs, insufficient labor rates, a scarcity of parts, and increased service demand. The “Major Appliances Blues Survey,” conducted late last year for BrandSource partner Allstate Protection Plans, provides a look at the impact those factors are having on homeowners.

Among the findings, 78 percent of respondents waited more than three days from scheduling to receive an appointment, leaving consumers without functioning appliances for an average of 10.9 days. In addition, it takes 11.7 hours on average to arrange and supervise an in-home appliance repair, the poll found, and 28 percent of all on-site repairs require more than one visit to complete.

More than half of all U.S. homeowners (55 percent) spent money repairing or replacing broken appliances, at an average cost of $713 per incident. In the case of refrigerators/freezers, 39 percent of homeowners (67.1 million households) had to throw away an average of $209 in spoiled food, for a total of $14.1 billion in wasted grub.

 All told, U.S. homeowners have collectively spent 29,651 years contending with in-home appliance repairs, and a whopping $68 billion on repairing or replacing them, Allstate said.

A big part of the problem: overwhelming demand. Nearly all homeowners (95 percent) report having a major appliance stop working at some point, with over half (52 percent) of malfunctions occurring within five years of purchase. Malfunctions occurred most frequently in washers (29 percent), followed by refrigerators/freezers (27 percent); clothes dryers (16 percent); and dishwashers (14 percent). The top issue is a completely nonfunctional appliance, reported by 34 percent, followed by electrical problems (24 percent) and performance concerns, such as not heating or cooling properly (22 percent).

When an appliance does break, the most common course of action by homeowners is replacement (56 percent, up from 46 percent before the pandemic.) Another 24 percent attempt to do the repair themselves, with a success rate of 48 percent, while 23 percent opt to schedule a repair from:

  • an extended service provider (40 percent);
  • a previously used repair service (27 percent);
  • the manufacturer (22 percent);
  • or the retailer where they purchased it (16 percent).

“Our survey found homeowners spend an incredible amount of time and money dealing with appliance issues,” said Jason Siciliano, VP/Global Creative Director at Allstate Protection Plans. “As frustrating as malfunctions are, people say the time it takes to organize and manage repairs only compounds the problem.”

Siciliano’s not unbiased advice is to offer customers an extended service plan from Allstate, whose streamlined service process provides “the fastest response time in the business” and allows consumers to manage appointments by phone, app and online, he said.

The Major Appliance Blues Survey was conducted in November and December 2021 among 2,064 U.S. homeowners by RepData, and included information from the U.S. Census Quarterly Residential Vacancies & Homeownership Report (third quarter 2021) and the U.S. Census QuickFacts Population & Household Estimates (2019 figure).