A cheap toaster will be toast within two years — but a high-end oven should still be cooking two decades after purchase.
That's according to Australian consumer group Choice, which has issued new guidelines on the "reasonable" life expectancy for household electrical goods.
Using data from Consumer NZ, Choice found that a high-end fridge, TV or washing machine should last more than a decade on average.
The results, intended to provide ammunition for battling retailers over faulty purchases, were based on responses from a survey of more than 1000 consumers, in-house product testing and manufacturer feedback.
"In most cases the lifetime for electrical appliances should go way beyond the one- to two-year manufacturer's warranty," Choice spokeswoman Nicky Breen told News.com.au.
Under New Zealand and Australian consumer law, shoppers are entitled to repair, replacement or refund if a product or service is faulty, even outside the official warranty period.
But Breen said the consumer guarantees could be "a little confusing". "The law says you're entitled to a remedy if a fault develops within a reasonable amount of time, but it's not clear what that reasonable time is," she said.
"You may buy a TV or fridge and it develops a fault within a year or two, you take it back to the retailer and there's an impasse. What we're doing is urging people to use these guidelines."
According to Choice, with basic maintenance a fridge should last between six and 13 years, while washing machines and dishwashers should last from five to 11 years. A laptop should last from four to eight years, while a smartphone should last three to six years.
"Someone should start a GoFundMe to put this on billboards outside of Harvey Norman and The Good Guys," Kristen Hall wrote on Facebook.
Many wondered why products weren't made to last anymore. "Washing machines, the prehistoric ones, lasted and lasted, 25-plus years and still working," Helen Valen wrote.
"Had to replace them just cos we got sick of waiting for them to fail and they didn't look their best anymore. Same with stoves. So it's not the technology, it's the 'design for failure/obsolescence' business model."
Naomi Ager noted that her mum's fridge only died last year — at the age of 47. "My microwave purchased in '88 is still going," she said.
Not everyone agreed with the guidelines, however. "The mobile phone one is a joke," Karla McClelland said. "The latest Samsung and Apple phones don't last more than two years before something stuffs up."
Adam Scott was sceptical a laptop could last eight years. "Where did you get that figure? The life expectancy of a spinning drive is two years, three maximum," he said.
"The heat paste on the CPU will be chalk after a few years, leading to the CPU and GPU overheating. That's if the power brick hasn't died by then. Oh, and the battery will have well and truly died by then."