pen rainbow

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Household Wednesday

Sears Kenmore Elite 24" Stainless Steel Ultra Wash (1312)

Major Appliances — Dishwashers

I happen to love my dishwasher, so I thought I'd post something on my blog about purchases that have been a success!

A good recommendation based on real-life experience can go a long way when it comes to purchasing a major household appliance.

When a dishwasher craps out (that's an old-timey, Nevada gambling term)—it's not the end of the world.  You can always resort to washing dishes by hand.  But, most of us depend on our dishwashers to save time and to simplify our daily household routine.  A dishwasher is one of those appliances that we use every day, so reliability and efficiency are important.

Last year in March, I replaced my one-year old Maytag dishwasher with a Sears Kenmore Elite 24" Stainless Steel Ultra Wash with HE Filtration (1312).  I replaced the one-year old Maytag because the control panel gave out.  I needed to replace the panel, and it was going to cost me more in time, labor, & parts than it was worth.  I figured if the control panel gave out after only a year, then the dishwasher was going to remain problematic.  So, I set  out to find a quality replacement that would last.

After a ton of mind-numbing research on all of the various major manufacturer models, I settled on the Sears Kenmore Elite series.  I've had good luck with Kenmores in the past (great washers/dryers & refrigerators), and I was looking for certain basic requirements.

  • Energy Star compliant
  • 1-hour quick cycle setting
  • Delayed wash cycles (2, 4, and 6 hours)
  • It's quiet  
  • Steel interior (steel lasts longer and does not crack)
  • Nice top & bottom rack space (soup pots, cookie sheets & pizza pans fit on the bottom rack; a coffee pot easily fits on the top rack)
  • Flat, touch-control panel
  • Easy-to-clean steel door 
  • J.D. Power Award for Highest Customer Satisfaction.            
Practical design & a sleek steel interior

Overall, it's a pretty neat dishwasher, and I like its sleek, modern style.  Keep in mind that this machine is automatically set to air dry the dishes.  Unless you use the "heated dry" feature, your dishes will not be completely dry when the "clean" light comes on (the "clean" light indicates that the load is finished).  Residual heat from the wash/rinse cycles will air dry the dishes if you leave them in for a couple of hours.  I usually unload the dishes right away and let them air dry in the dish drainer.

I bought my model online from the Sears website, and cost was definitely a consideration.  I paid $855.99, plus $159.99 for "in-home support," a.k.a. haul away & installation.

Buyer Beware!  I was livid when the servicemen arrived and informed me that there would be an additional $60 cost for a mandatory installation kit that was required for them to install the unit.  Remember, I had just purchased a brand new Maytag (from Home Depot) the year before, and there was no mandatory installation kit required for that unit.  During the purchase process on the Sears website, there should have been some indication that a kit would be required in order to install the dishwasher, but I was able to complete the purchase without knowing this.

Resolution:  I ended up writing a check to Sears for the installation kit, and I tweeted my response with a link to a more detailed review on Epinions.  Almost immediately, I was contacted via twitter by a Sears rep who offered to compensate me with a $75 Sears gift certificate, which I accepted.  I was happy with the machine, and the installers did a good job, but I did feel that the Sears website should have informed me when I purchased the dishwasher that I would have to pay for the additional cost of a mandatory installation kit.  It should not have been necessary for me to write an additional check when I had charged the dishwasher in the first place.

My machine is still doing a bang-up job after 9 months, but I've read a lot of mixed reviews for this unit.  The model numbers of the Kenmore Elite dishwashers can be confusing, and from reading the reviews on the Sears Community website, it looks like the responses are all over the board.  Some give 5-star "excellent" ratings while others angrily declare a 1-star rating with scathing reviews.  I have not had any of the problems mentioned in the poor reviews.  With the exception of the unexpected installation cost, this machine is a great dishwasher, and Sears did make a genuine effort toward a speedy resolution.

If you're thinking about buying this machine, call a Sears appliance department rep and speak to someone directly about the installation kit.  They will be more forthcoming than the website, which imho, needs improvement for better customer service.