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Otto N.'s washing machine broke. It was five years old and cost 500 euros. The device just didn't want to spin anymore. Is it worth having the machine repaired or should Otto buy a new one right away?

Otto N.'s washing machine broke. It was five years old and cost 500 euros at the time. The device just didn't want to spin anymore. The program started as usual, the laundry turned suspiciously, the machine also drained. Only the seven minutes she was supposed to fling were simply ignored. No movement. Nothing. The laundry was soaking wet in the drum at the end of the program.

The guarantee had long since expired. That means that Otto N. was now faced with the decision whether to have it repaired or to buy a new model straight away. And this consideration is on the edge of the rational. In order to decide whether a repair is worthwhile, Otto N. would have to know which defect the machine has. Because the repair can cost between one hundred and three hundred euros. Since he does not know, the following scenario arises:

The price for the repair initially has a lower limit. Craftsmen always ask for the cost of the journey plus a quick look at the machine. Let's say 70 euros in the best case. The manufacturer's customer service costs twenty to thirty euros more. The craftsman can only determine on site why the machine is not spinning. Otto N. then has to consider which repairs are worthwhile. The killer defect is usually the electronics. Replacing them becomes too expensive because it costs more than 300 euros. And Otto N. can get a new device for 400 euros. If you just have to get the engine going again, a quick master craftsman can do just under half an hour and may ask for less than 100 euros.

Otto N. opted for customer service, which is located around the corner. He came, saw and decided: It's the electronics. Too expensive. A realization for 76.16 euros, from which it follows that the customer service would not have been needed because a new machine has to be found anyway. At least the tip from the specialist: It's best to buy a Siemens or Bosch again. They are identical in construction and have a top price-performance ratio. Miele machines are even better, but they are also more expensive. Great, the defective machine that was standing in front of us was a Bosch.

Otto N. will get a new machine this week. Including delivery, he has to spend 440 euros for this. Or more precisely: 516.16 euros, because he also paid the craftsman. Let's see how long the machine will last.

Now to the theory and the question to the readers: Have you ever been in a similar situation? What decision did or would you have made? How do you “calculate” the probabilities in such cases? How expensive must a machine have been to make it worthwhile to have the craftsman come? Could it be rational to have the expensive electronics replaced?

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When the washing machine dies

By Marco Dettweiler

Otto N.'s washing machine broke. It was five years old and cost 500 euros. The device just didn't want to spin anymore. Is it worth having the machine repaired or should Otto buy a new one right away?

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