When I agreed to ‘have a look’ at a customer’s beloved broken blender, I had no idea that the market for blenders was so, well, juicy. One can spend anything from £50-£1800 – a huge price range. You have to ask yourself a question; is the juice made by a blender costing 36 times more than a cheaper one, any better? Hmm, the virtues of blender technology, robustness and efficiency could be debated in a future, exhilarating article, maybe. But for now, our attention is on this one, the repair of an Optimum 8200 Blender.
The reason I mention the huge price range is that prices for spare parts also vary wildly too.
Make and model: Optimum 8200 Blender
Fault reported: Leaking, noisy, crunchy, horrible
Cost of replacement: £300.00
Manufacturer support: 5/10
Cost of parts: £18.95
My repair time: 1.5 hours
Tools needed: Screwdrivers, test meter, heat shrink, soldering iron etc
Sundry items: paint, contact cleaner
Cleaning materials: Bleach, bicarbonate of soda, washing up liquid, car polish
Repair difficulty: 3/10
Cups of tea: 2
Biscuits: 2 X custard creams
I received this blender with a broken drive coupler/ socket (the bit that transfers the power to the blades in the jug) and a rough, leaking blender jug. This high-mileage kitchen appliance had been used until it would work no more.
Upon taking the blender into the workshop, I suggested to the owner that ‘it must have been sounding rough’ for a while… There then might have been a small admission of guilt.
Now, I realise that I’m unusual. I regularly service my vacuum cleaners, sandwich toaster and kettle and I know that this isn’t normal, so my views on machine maintenance are a little outside the bell curve.
The owner had done her own research on repairing her blender. She’d located a spares provider and had identified the parts required, to get the blender back making smoothies, which is more than many folk do. The trouble was that the total amount for all the new parts required, was more than the price of a reconditioned unit. This is often the case as some reconditioning agents have access to cheaper parts, not available to regular punters, through economies of scale. To make this repair financially viable, I was going to have to work smart.
As mentioned earlier, blenders vary widely in price and there are established names out there that command a high price. However, look beyond the logo and things are a little greyer. Badge engineering, colour and subtle style changes can literally add hundreds of pounds to the asking price for the same basic machine. This is nothing new. Manufacturers have been sharing designs and production since the dawn of time and when it comes to buying spares for an expensive machine, there can often be a cheaper route for good quality alternative spares that are compatible, intended for the cheaper variation. The skill is knowing where to look.
A picture paints a thousand words as they say and the slide show above shows the stages that I went through with this repair.
Using the original parts listed for an Optimum 8200 blender, the best deal the customer and I could find was:
- Replacement drive socket, £39.95
- Replacement blade and bearing, £69.00
- Tool for blade removal, £11.99
Total, £120.94 (more if you want speedier delivery). Source: froothie.co.uk
Shopping around for alternatives…
- Replacement blade and bearing, £18.95 for a Vitamix blender (Amazon.co.uk)
- Repair to existing drive socket (I drilled and tapped a new grub screw), £ my time
- I used a tool I had already to remove the old blade (a plumbing bracket) so no need to buy one
Total, £18.95, plus my time
I chose a Vitamix blade as I noticed that some Optimum and Vitamix blenders shared the same jug design. I actually saw the blade assembly for £7.99 on eBay, but decided that the warranty offer on Amazon.co.uk, was a better deal.
Now, I know I haven’t been that scientific here, but one suspects that there is little or no difference in blender blade robustness and all the ones I’ve ever seen to date contain the same bearings you might find in a scooter or skateboard. I suspect that the blade assemblies are all made in the same factory, somewhere.
My guess here is that the aftermarket parts supplier must charge a comparitively high price for some items to:
- Cover staff and site overheads
- Provide a sense of reassuring expense compared to the original purchase price
- Potentially recover a high charge from the manufacturer
The trouble with this strategy is that many domestic appliances are worth little once unwrapped compared to the original ticket price. The comparative high prices for aftermarket parts would likely in many cases, put a customer off doing the repair at all. The customer then weighs up the cost of:
- Finding someone to do the repair work
- Doing the repair work themselves
- The price of parts
- The price of labour
Often, when added up, it’s cheaper to replace, rather than repair which in my opinion, not the way to go.
As a repairer, the statement I’m always grappling with is:
Value Repair ≤ Replacement Product Purchase or simply: VR ≤ RPP
So, when someone brings me an item to repair, I’m always looking for:
- An overall repair that costs-in for the customer, encouraging the customer to keep the existing machine for longer, saving it from the dump
- A repair that’s likely to be reliable in relation to the condition of the machine
- An upgrade to the original design (where possible) taking advantage of the innovations or modifications to the original design that enhance longevity or performance
It’s a careful balancing act and one that doesn’t always work first time, but that’s the challenge!
I’ve gone a little off subject but it all relates.
Back to the blender, I saved the customer money on the purchase of a new appliance, saved money on a potential repair elsewhere and saved the broken blender from the chop. The customer was happy. As with all items I receive for repair, I also cleaned and polished the blender to make it shine like new.
Footnote: The repair was over, or so I thought. A week or so later, the customer contacted me again to tell me that a new fault had started. Speed control was now a little erratic and was making the blender hard to use. I said no problem and agreed to have a look. Likely to have happened during my repair work, a small lead on the printed circuit board had become loose. A quick tighten up and normal operation resumed. Phew!