Hypertwins vs. the Kenmore 44052

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[ The Hypertwins 19:04, 1 March 2006 (EST) ] We bought our unit to replace a broken Kenmore 40052, and it was delivered the next day. The unit was on sale for $650, marked down from $800, but we were feeling paranoid about repairs (having just lost a comparably expensive unit – the 40052 – after only 5 years or so) and so opted for the Super-Duper Repair Plan which covered (for 5 years, with option to renew) annual service visits plus parts and labor if anything needs repairing, for about $260, which drove the total up to well over $900 with tax.

Part of the appeal of this model was the much larger opening, about 14.5 inches, versus less than 12 inches for our old 40052. (A more expensive model, the $900 Kenmore 46462 which was marked down to $850 at the time, had only a 13.75 inch opening and a correspondingly smaller drum, although it had other advantages.)

The first problem we noticed was that the electronic controls do not give you any indication of where you are in the cycle. This is an annoyance. We also noticed that clothes seemed to be coming out of the spin cycle substantially wetter than with our old unit when it was working properly. This is also a relatively minor issue. The real kicker came when we tried to wash some stuffed animals, and the 44052 refused to go into the spin cycle at all; the toys came out soaking wet, even after repeated spin cycles, which negates much of the energy efficiency savings though having to use heat instead of centrifugal force to do much of the drying. We ended up having to wash the toys one at a time, with a sheet tossed in to minimize the "bumping" as the toys were tumbled and thereby avoid setting off the "unbalanced" sensor; after that, all but the largest stuffed animals came out acceptably dry.

At this point, we are seriously considering trading in this unit for a Kenmore 44102, which hopefully will behave more like our old unit. It is not clear whether Sears will allow us to do this without charging further limbs for the privilege; watch this space.

2006-03-20 update

We decided to do the trade. Went to Sears; salesman said we needed to have a tech come out and make sure there wasn't anything wrong with the unit which might be repairable – the problem with the lack of spinning could, conceivably, have been due to a defective unit (although Harena's sister independently bought the same model and agrees that this is how it behaves), and we could probably have lived with the other issues in exchange for the larger opening if the spinning could have been fixed, but the tech could not find anything wrong with the unit.

(The tech also mentioned that using non-HE-compliant washing powder would automatically void the warranty; see the HE article for more on that story. We've decided not to get an extended warranty for the replacement unit unless Sears will guarantee in writing that it will be honored regardless of HE-compliance.)

So we went back out to Sears and talked to the salesman again, who told us to call 1-800-732-7747 extension 95111 (the number worked but the extension didn't seem to have any effect; had to go through the phone system as usual) to arrange for the pickup. Sears will issue a refund check as soon as the unit has been retrieved, and then we can go out to Sears yet again (this is, what, the 5th or 6th visit?) to order the new one.

2006-04-26 update

We finally concluded the whole deal several weeks ago, so I'm reconstructing this from memory as I go along... We arranged to have the unwanted washer picked up on a certain date. Several days after making the arrangements, when we were coming up on a weekend when we were going out of town and really didn't want to unexpectedly be without a washer while packing, we decided to go ahead and order the replacement Kenmore 44102. We got lucky in that the delivery date landed on the same day as the scheduled pickup for the unwanted washer; the Sears delivery people had their act together and were able to arrange things so that the guys who were doing the pickup also had the replacement washer. So we were without a washer for maybe as much as 45 minutes – not bad at all.

We also received a full refund for the unwanted washer, including the cost of the Master Warranty (or whatever it was called). The refund was in the form of a check, mailed to us automatically when the delivery guys reported having retrieved the unit. (The delivery guys themselves weren't clear about whether we needed to go into Sears to get the refund or not; they seemed to think we did, but this turned out not to be the case. Wasted trip.)

The new washer is, as far as we can tell, completely identical to the discontinued Kenmore 40052 except for the controls being on the front instead of in back on the top. So far it has behaved impeccably. We can firmly recommend the 40052/44102, and also recommend that if you are considering purchasing a 44052 you consider the cheaper and smaller but much more usable 44102 instead. (We now know two other people who have bought 44052s; although both of them agree that it has the problems we noted, neither of them felt sufficiently bothered by these problems to do a return or exchange.)

2007-04-11 update

One of the two other people we know who bought this machine says that it has suddenly started turning itself on. Admittedly the wiring in her house is a little wonky, but a well-designed machine wouldn't go on spontaneously regardless of how dirty the power was.